Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Peru Travel Guide

Last Updated: September 1, 2023

Machu Picchu, Peru with light fog flowing through the ruins

Travelers flock to Peru to hike the famous Inca Trail, explore the lush jungles, and devour their way through the incredible food scene of Lima.

But while the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu attract the majority of the attention (2,500 people visit Machu Picchu every day), there is much more to see and do in Peru if you’re willing to get out there and explore.

From the famous Lake Titicaca to the beaches in the north to the vibrant indigenous culture, Peru is bursting with things to see and do.

While many travelers just visit for a week to see the highlights, you can easily spend a month here (or more) and still not see everything.

Best of all, traveling around Peru is inexpensive. You don’t need a lot of money to visit here (even if you hike the Inca trail).

This guide to Peru can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most out of your time in this beautiful destination!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Peru

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Peru

The historic square of Cusco, Pero full of flowers and travelers exploring the city

1. Explore Machu Picchu

This legendary “lost city of the Incas” is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in South America. Here you have the chance to wander around the old Inca city observing ancient aqueducts, granite and limestone temples, and other forms of Inca architecture that are all beautifully preserved. There are two ways to see Machu Picchu depending on the amount of adventure and exercise you want. There is a 4-day/3 night hike that takes you through 43 kilometers (26 miles) of steep, yet scenic uphill terrain along winding Andean mountain trails starting from Ollantaytambo. The Inca Trail gets you to the majestic Machu Picchu at dawn in time to see it before the clouds arrive mid-morning. The alternative is to wake up super early to get the train there and enter along with the tour groups competing for the beautiful morning sunset photos. (There are also longer 7-8 day hikes too if you want an even bigger challenge. Multi-day hikes start around 2,600 PEN. You can also just buy a day pass if you don’t want to hike.

2. Check out Lima

Lima is a chaotic and beautiful introduction to the country. Check out the trendy, vibrant Miraflores neighborhood that overlooks the Pacific and has plenty of restaurants and bars to try. Also, visit the Larco Museum to see its pre-Columbian artifacts, the Aliaga House for Peruvian art and artifacts, and Plaza Mayor for colonial beauty. Tour the city’s colorful markets for both food and shopping, wander around the world’s only Cat Park, or check out the Park of Love for good luck in love. At night, head to the artsy Barranco district for the nightlife and try a local drink with pisco, a local brandy. The city is a foodie hub too so don’t forget to try the ceviche!

3. Fly over the Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs that dominate the San José desert and Nazca Valley. There are over 10,000 lines and 300 different plant and animal figures that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site. No one really knows how they got there (maybe aliens?) but the park itself is free to visit. If you want to splash out and get a better view, take a scenic helicopter or plane tour (they cost around 400 PEN).

4. Relax at Lake Titicaca

This stunning lake covers over 7,790 square kilometers (3,000 square miles) and sits at 3,810 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level, making it the world’s largest high-altitude lake. With deep blue water and spectacular sunsets across the lake lined with snowy mountains, this lake attracts people from all over the world to the nearby towns, which offer a mix of colonial architecture and bustling markets. There are three islands on the lake that are home to pre-Inca ruins: Isla del Sol, Taquile, and Amantani. Every year, the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca at Puno celebrates the Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria in February. However, the best and driest time to visit is June, July, and August.

5. Hike the Colca Canyon

Other things to see and do in peru, 1. hike the inca trail.

Getting to Machu Picchu is best via the famed Inca Trail . This multi-day hike allows you to see the mountains, jungles, and follow the route the Incas used to take. It is a truly spectacular hike, but it is challenging and you may experience altitude sickness. There are two ways to do this hike: you can sign up to be part of an organized tour, or you can hire your own private guide. You cannot hike the trail independently. Tours start around 2,600 PEN for a 4-day, 3-night tour with a reliable, reputable company. The final leg of the hike can actually get a bit crowded, so if you can do a longer 7-day hike you’ll be able to beat the crowds and enjoy the incredible landscape before you arrive. The driest time is May-October but also unfortunately the most crowded. If you go from November-April, prepare for mud and perhaps rain but fewer crowds.

2. Visit the Islas Flotantes de los Uros

The Floating Islands of the Uros may sound like an Indiana Jones title, but it is actually the name of the group of man-made islands in Lake Titicaca. The islands are home to the indigenous Uros people who have built their own houses, islands, and boats from the tortora reeds which grow along the banks of the lake. This is an extremely touristy site and is a bit exploited as such, so it’s not for everyone. The boat tours start at 165 PEN.

3. Surf at Máncora Beach

Great fresh seafood, watersports, horseback riding, whale watching, fishing with locals, visiting the mangroves, and plenty of relaxation are the order of the day at this popular beach resort. Máncora is one of the finest beaches in South America and its year-round sunshine, two ocean currents, and beginner-friendly waves also make it Peru’s surfing Mecca. Accommodation prices can be expensive from December to March, so it’s best to book in advance. Whale watching costs 135 PEN, surfing classes start at 95 PEN, and SUP tours with sea turtles cost 175 PEN.

4. Step back through time at Batán Grande

Batán Grande, also known as the Sicán Archaeological Complex, is an archaeological site comprising 50 pyramids and tombs, which are thought to date to 750-1300 CE. Located near Chiclayo, this site was once the ancient Sicán capital and has yielded many impressive pre-Columbian artifacts. For example, a gold Tumi ceremonial knife weighing almost seven pounds was recovered from one of the royal tombs! Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks for the day.

5. Discover Cusco

This colonial city is a major tourist destination and sits on Inca-built stone foundations not far from Machu Picchu. The area is popular with trail walkers, history lovers, and party goers who come to enjoy the city’s nightlife and festivals. Cusco is the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas and an essential part of your trip to Peru. The Cusco Tourist Ticket grants admission to most of the popular archaeological sites and attractions in the Cusco area (with some notable exceptions, including Machu Picchu). Note that transportation and guide services are separate. You can purchase either a 10-day pass that includes admission to over 16 sites (130 PEN) or one of several different “circuit” tickets that include admission to a smaller number of sites and are valid for one day only (70 PEN). Be sure to visit Coricancha (15 PEN) and Sacsayhuaman (included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket) during your visit. Right outside Cusco, take a day trip to the incredible Rainbow Mountains. For great food, head to Green Point. Plan to spend around 3-5 days in Cusco as there is plenty to see and it’s a good place to acclimate before doing any hiking as the city sits at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) above sea level.

6. Get your Amazon fix in Iquitos

Accessible only by boat or plane, jungle-locked Iquitos is the largest city within the Peruvian rainforest. The city sits at the mouth of the Amazon and is the perfect destination for eco-tourism. The nearby Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is Peru’s largest reserve at two million hectares. It’s home to a huge range of nearly 1,000 birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and more. A 3-day, 2-night tour through the reserve starts from around 1,400-1,500 PEN per person including food.

7. Sandboard in Huacachina

This little town is a desert oasis and a welcome relief after hiking through Machu Picchu. It’s very affordable and hostels here offer great deals for sandboarding and sand buggy tours around the nearby dunes. Two-hour tours cost about 100-125 PEN, which includes a sand buggy driver and sandboard rental. Most tours leave around 4pm so you can catch the sunset on the dunes. There is also a lagoon surrounded by palm trees in Huacachina, and you can rent a rowboat to paddle around it. A half-hour rental costs around 5 PEN per person. Huacachina is easily reached by bus from Lima, Cusco, Nazca, Arequipa, and Paracas.

8. See penguins in Paracas

Paracas is in the south of Peru and is sometimes called the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” for its impressive wildlife, consisting of over 400 different species. Thousands of birds, as well as large sea lion and penguin populations, call the area home. You can visit the Paracas National Reserve via an organized boat tour. Be sure to go early. A full-day tour of Paracas includes a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas and a bus trip around the national reserve in the afternoon. It costs about 150 PEN.

9. Walk through the White City

Arequipa is a beautiful city with a historical center that was constructed primarily from volcanic rock. Start getting to know the city by wandering around the Plaza de Armas and take in the city’s architecture over a glass of wine overlooking the main square with views of the stunning Basilica Catedral de Arequipa. Then, visit the gorgeous, vibrantly colorful Santa Catalina Monastery, see a frozen Inca mummy, and enjoy the local cuisine with favorites like shrimp soup or spicy stuffed peppers. It’s easy to see why Arequipa is undoubtedly one of the most beloved destinations in the country; everyone who visits here loves it.

10. Go to El Parque de la Reserva

This park in downtown Lima is home to the largest water fountain complex in the world, called El Circuito Mágico del Agua . There are 13 distinct fountains in total, including the Tunnel Fountain of Surprises, the Children’s Fountain, and the Fantasia Fountain, whose water jets are synchronized to music during the evening laser light shows. The park is open daily from 3pm-10pm, with beautiful, colorful light shows taking place at 6:50pm, 7:50pm, 8:30pm, and 9:30pm. The entrance fee is 4 PEN. The park also hosts a lot of events and is a popular place with dog owners too.

11. Visit Chachapoyas

This region in the Andean mountains was home to the Chachapoya civilization that lived there between 500-1432 (they were eventually conquered by the Aztecs). Today, you can visit Kuelap, the fortified city at known as “The Machu Picchu of the North.” The ruins are accessible via a guided tour, 4-hour hike, or cable car from the nearby town of Nuevo Tingo for 21 PEN roundtrip. Be sure to also visit Gocta, a beautiful waterfall that, at 770 meters (2,526 feet), is one of the tallest in the world. You can get there by taking a tour from Chachapoyas.

12. Tour Trujillo

Trujillo is the second-oldest Spanish city in Peru, located on the coast with eternal spring-like weather and widely considered the capital culture of Peru. While here, visit the archaeological site of Chan Chan, the world’s largest adobe city ever built and the largest pre-Columbian city. It was built by the Chimu, a civilization that inhabited the area until 1470 when they were defeated by the Incas. Admission is 11 PEN. Be sure to also visit Huanchaco, a small fishing town directly on the beach.

13. See Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountain

Chances are you’ve seen these colorful mountains on social media. Over the past few years, Rainbow Mountain has become a huge tourist attraction. Just keep in mind that the colors are not as vivid in real life and the place is super crowded (it’s a very popular site). Day trips and multi-day hikes are available from Cusco, usually starting around 110-135 PEN per person. There is also an “Alternative” Rainbow Mountain called Palcccoyo where you can enjoy an incredibly colorful scenic panoramic at 5,200 meters (17,060 feet). If you want to escape the hordes of people (though it’s also pretty busy these days).

14. Hike the Salkantay

If you want an alternative to the busy Inca Trail, try hiking the Salkantay. It sees a fraction of the tourists and is half the price of the Inca Trail — but just as stunning! There aren’t as many ruins, but there are epic mountain views and summits of up to 5,200 meters (17.060 feet)! Hikes can vary in length, but the 7-day hike offers the best views. You’ll need to be in decent shape though. 5-day hikes start around 1,700 PEN.

Peru Travel Costs

Machu Picchu, Peru with rolling mountains in the distance on a bright and sunny day

Accommodation – A bed in a 4-6-bed dorm costs 35-65 PEN while a bed in a dorm with 10 or more beds generally costs 32-38 PEN. A private room costs 115-170 PEN per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels also have a kitchen or include free breakfast.

Budget hotel rooms with basic amenities like Wi-Fi, TV, and occasionally free breakfast cost around 85-105 PEN per night.

On Airbnb, which has limited availability in Peru, private rooms average around 100 PEN while entire homes start at 200 PEN per night. Book early though or prices will double.

For those traveling with a tent, wild camping is permitted as long as you’re not on somebody’s land.

Food – Cuisine in Peru varies from region to region, though you can expect to find staples like potatoes (most potatoes in the world originated here), quinoa, seafood, and indigenous animals like guinea pig and alpaca. Be sure to try ceviche, which is the national dish (it’s a seafood dish with fresh raw fish). Other popular dishes include stir-fried beef, roasted cuy (guinea pig), arroz con pato (rice with duck), and roasted chicken.

Overall, dining out in Peru is very inexpensive. Street food is incredibly cheap, costing 5-7 PEN for a meal from a parrilla (grill) set up on the side of the road. A plate of food at a casual takeaway restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine costs around 10 PEN.

A meal of traditional cuisine at a casual restaurant with table service costs around 15-25 PEN. If you want to splash out, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs 45 PEN.

Fast food (think McDonald’s) is 20 PEN for a combo meal. A large pizza is around 28-30 PEN.

Beer is around 8 PEN while a glass of wine or a latte is around 9 PEN. Bottled water is 2 PEN. A cocktail is 15-20 PEN and up, though many restaurants have extended happy hour specials (sometimes even all day).

If you plan on cooking, expect to pay 60-80 PEN per week for groceries such as pasta, rice, seasonal produce, and some meat. The best places to shop are the local markets, though Plaza Vea is the big grocery store chain with affordable prices as well. However, given how cheap food is here, it’s best to just eat out all the time. Buy snacks and fruit at the markets but eat out all other meals.

Backpacking Peru Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker’s budget of 135 PEN per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, eat out for a few meals at cheap local street stalls and cook some meals, limit your drinking, take the bus to get around, and do mostly free or cheap activities like relaxing on the beach and going hiking.

On a mid-range budget of 400 PEN per day, you can afford a private Airbnb room, eat out for all your meals, drink more, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like going surfing or day-tripping to Machu Picchu.

On a “luxury” budget of 700 PEN or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink as much as you’d like, take some domestic flights, and do a longer multi-day trek to Machu Picchu. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in PEN.

Peru Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Peru is generally pretty cheap, but it is easy to splash out here on food and tours. Here are a few hacks to cut down your costs in Peru:

  • Stay at hospedajes – These are family-run hotels and are the cheapest accommodation you can find outside of hostel dorms. Try to stay in these as often as possible.
  • Take public transportation – Embrace public transportation to get around — it’s super affordable so skip the taxis. You’ll save a fortune.
  • Eat the meal of the day – These are set meals, often including multiple plates, that restaurants offer. Look around for set menu meals to eat out on the cheap.
  • Travel off-season – For a low-cost trip, the best times to visit Peru are the fringe months of April and May or September and October. Prices are usually cheaper during these months.
  • Take the colectivos – These are cheap buses that cost around 2-10 PEN for a ride. They are a bit confusing as they don’t necessarily have a schedule, but there is always a door person whom you can ask if the bus is going to your location. There are not always marked bus stops, so look for gathering crowds.
  • Book tours last minute – If you are looking to do the Inca Trail and have a bit of extra time to wait for a deal, showing up in Cusco and booking a last-minute tour can save you lots of money. Booking months in advance means paying the premium price but if you can wait your patience may be rewarded. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get on last-minute if you have your heart set on doing it though since it might not work out.
  • Go on a free walking tour – This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and avoid missing any must-see stops. Free Walking Tour Peru has tours that can guide you around both Lima and Cusco. Just remember to tip your guide at the end!
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here isn’t safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle with a filter to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Peru

Peru has a ton of hostels. Here are some of my favorite places to stay throughout the country:

  • Pariwana Hostel (Lima)
  • 1900 Backpackers Hostel (Lima)
  • Loki Hostel (Cusco)
  • Kokopelli (Cusco)
  • Wild Rover Hostel (Cusco)
  • Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta (Cusco)
  • Arequipay Backpackers Downtown (Arequipa)
  • Loki del Mar (Mancora)
  • The Point Mancora Beach (Mancora)

How to Get Around Peru

Locals on a man-made island on Lake Titicaca in beautiful Peru

Public transportation – City buses cost around 1.50-3 PEN per trip. Microbuses ( colectivos ) are available and prices vary depending on the distance. Trips generally cost 2-10 PEN, though they are a bit hectic and take some getting used to.

Bus – Buses can take you all over Peru and are the most common way to get around for budget travelers. The usual price for a 10-hour bus journey is around 40 PEN depending on how nice the bus company is. You can use Cruz del Sur to look up bus schedules and prices. Keep in mind that any journey through the mountains will be a slow ride! Lima to Cusco takes over 21 hours and costs 185 PEN, though you can get a ticket for as low as 39 PEN if you book in advance.

Peru Hop is another reliable and comfortable bus company designed for backpackers. This bus is a hop-on/hop-off service you can take around the country. Three-day journeys from Lima to Cusco start from 683 PEN, while 7 days in Southern Peru costs 836 PEN.

Flying – Peru has five international airports (Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Iquitos, and Piura), as well over a dozen airports with domestic service. LATAM, Avianca, and Star Peru are the main domestic airlines.

Flying between destinations isn’t always the cheapest option, but it’s a whole lot quicker. A flight from Lima to Cusco takes just over an hour (as opposed to the 21 hours by bus) and prices start around 250 PEN. Lima to Arequipa starts around 200 PEN.

Train – Like the rest of South America, the rail system in Peru is basically non-existent. There are nice tourist options though, like PeruRail and Inca Rail, which both run trains between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo (the gateway to Machu Picchu). On PeruRail, tickets start from 179 PEN. Inca Rail also runs between Cusco and Machu Picchu Pueblo with tickets starting around 220 PEN.

From Lima, there’s just one train: the Ferrocarril Central Andino, the world’s highest passenger train, which travels across the Andes to Cerro de Pasco and Huancayo. One-way fare starts from 230 PEN. However, service is limited — sometimes the train only runs once a month. Journeys are currently suspended due to Covid so be sure to check their website for updates.

Car rental – I don’t suggest renting a car here as the drivers are aggressive, the roads are poorly maintained, and accidents are common. If you do decide to rent a car, use Discover Cars to find the best prices.

When to Go to Peru

Peru has just two seasons: wet and dry. May through October is the dry season, while November through April is the rainy season. The wettest months are from January to the end of April. This isn’t a great time to visit Peru — at least not in the mountain areas, where roads and hiking trails may become blocked or closed.

Most people come to Peru from the beginning of May to the end of November, with July and August being the busiest months. May and September are great months to visit, as tourism slows down slightly but temperatures are still pleasant.

If you want to spend more time in the mountains, June to September has clear, sunny days (but chilly nights). This is a good time to trek the Inca Trail. It’s also the best time to visit the Amazon Basin, when mosquitos are fewer.

Temperatures on the desert coast can get as high as 25-35°C (77-95°F) from December to April, while temperatures cool off from May-October. In the highlands from May-October, you can expect temperatures to reach 20-25°C (68-77°F).

How to Stay Safe in Peru

Peru is a pretty safe place to backpack and travel around, even for solo travelers, and even for solo female travelers. Your biggest worry is petty theft, which is rampant in the bigger cities and on overnight buses. Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or belongings. Avoid taking your phone out in public if you can. Lock your bags on overnight buses and keep your valuables secure and out of sight. It’s easy to get robbed if you aren’t careful here (especially at night).

If you’re in Lima, don’t walk around alone at night, unless you’re in the safer neighborhoods (Miraflores and Barranco). Smaller cities and towns are perfectly safe to walk around alone day and night.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

Scams aren’t super common but if you’re worried about getting ripped off, here’s a list of common travel scams to avoid .

If you’re doing any hiking, check the weather in advance and bring plenty of water. If you’re hiking to Machu Picchu, arrive early to adjust to the altitude. 3-5 days early can make all the difference!

If you experience an emergency, dial 011 for assistance. If you’re in one of the bigger cities, you can also seek out the tourism police.

For more in-depth coverage of how to stay safe in Peru, check out this post that answers some frequently asked questions and concerns.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Peru Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Peru Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Peru travel and continue planning your trip:

The 6 Best Hostels in Cusco

The 6 Best Hostels in Cusco

The 4 Best Tour Companies in Peru

The 4 Best Tour Companies in Peru

Is Peru Safe to Visit?

Is Peru Safe to Visit?

How to Hike the Inca Trail

How to Hike the Inca Trail

How to Turn Right at Machu Picchu and Find Atlantis

How to Turn Right at Machu Picchu and Find Atlantis

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  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

Worldly Adventurer

The Ultimate Peru Itinerary: From One Week to One Month of Travel

By Author Arakita Rimbayana

Posted on Last updated: 6th October 2023

Home to an abundance of cultural and archaeological sites, many of which are surrounded by breathtaking nature, Peru is guaranteed to exceed your expectations. And then there’s the local cuisine: many agree Peru’s culinary scene is one of the best in the world.

Whether you’ve got a week or two weeks in Peru (or perhaps even more), there’s plenty of time to explore the country’s famed archeological sites, hit the beach, or head into the jungle, all the while treating yourself to the country’s unique offering of traditional coastal and Andean dishes.

Machu Picchu is on everyone’s list when it comes to a vacation in Peru, and it’s to understand why. In fact, all of our four Peru travel itineraries include a visit to what is by far the country’s premier tourist attraction. But there’s plenty more to add to your Peru vacation itinerary.

Often forgotten, northern Peru also offers big adventure, from surfing to archeological sites that are significantly older – and perhaps more impressive – than better-known Machu Picchu.

Views from the archeological site over Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, a must-visit on a Peru itinerary

Luckily, these different Peru itineraries can help you explore the country’s most acclaimed destinations and get you off the beaten trail.

Click to navigate this article:

What should you consider before planning your itinerary?

  • Altitude sickness is no joke in Peru , especially if you plan to hike or trek. Our itinerary focuses on helping you adjust to the altitude slowly while exploring the best of Peru. Generally, your body needs two weeks to get used to it completely. However, a couple of days of adjustment is better than nothing. Drinking plenty of water and having enough sleep usually help with altitude sickness. You can also consume coca leaf tea and apply herbal oil made for this type of sickness; both are available in most local markets in Peru. Alternatively, consult your doctor before departing your home country as they can prescribe you medication, such as acetazolamide, to ease symptoms of altitude sickness. It’s worth noting that eating spicy, sour, and greasy seafood combined with alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness. Drinking a cup of coca or muña tea in the morning and after a big meal is one of the known remedies for stomach discomfort.
  • Instead of doing both the Colca Canyon hike and the Inca Trail, it’s best to choose only one, no matter how long your itinerary is. There are so many cool things to do in Peru other than just trekking, and it would be a loss to miss them while you’re here. Besides, both trails are strenuous – especially considering the altitude – and you may end up spending the rest of your vacation recovering – rather than enjoying Peru.
  • Different regions in Peru usually have different weather conditions. For example, Arequipa is a high-altitude desert where the sun is quite intense, yet Lima and its shores have their own microclimate where winter days are mostly cloudy, but it almost never rains. With that in mind, before you finalize your itinerary, it’s worth reading our article on the best time to go to Peru to learn when’s the best time of the year to travel there.
  • Peru is an affordable destination. Dining at a fancy restaurant generally costs less than $50 USD for two, even in the capital city, Lima, while you can expect to spend around $70 USD per night for a decent mid-range hotel, or around $15 USD per night for a bed in a dorm room. Transportation is also very affordable: flights between Lima and Cusco can cost as little as $100 USD one-way, while a bus covering this route can cost as little as $45 USD. As a result, you can cover a lot of distance during even a shorter trip. Read out complete guide to how much it costs to travel in Peru for more information.
  • There are only a few direct domestic flights within Peru that don’t travel through Lima . Most flights have at least one stop in the capital city. There are plentiful bus routes throughout the country, although many routes wind through the mountains and it’s wise to always pay for a more expensive bus company, as cheaper operators can be dangerous; we recommend using companies such as Cruz del Sur , Oltursa , TEPSA , Movil and Civa for their higher safety credentials. Bus Bud is a great site for finding bus tickets before you travel, but they are often cheaper bought at the bus station directly. If you have significant issues with motion sickness, do bring medication.
  • Public transport in Peru is accessible and affordable. Bus routes pass each city’s popular places, while taxis are cheap, too. A one-kilometer trip usually costs around S/4 ($1 USD) or less. Note that most taxis are unmetered, so it’s best to agree upon the fare before you get into one.
  • Packing for your trip to Peru depends a lot on what you plan on doing. To visit Machu Picchu, pack light and comfortable clothing, alongside a waterproof jacket as there’s a high chance of rain. Medication to help you deal with altitude sickness (and motion sickness if you plan on taking long bus rides) is always helpful. Sunblock is very important, particularly in high-altitude destinations such as Cusco where the sun is more powerful. Packing a wide-brim hat is also useful. Check out our complete South America packing list for more details.

Planning Your Trip to Peru?

Save time, stress & money with a customized travel itinerary planned for you by a Peru expert

One week in Peru

Overview of this one-week Peru itinerary:

  • Days one and two: Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Days three and four: Machu Picchu

Day five: cusco, days six and seven: lima.

One week in Peru is enough to explore Machu Picchu and the former capital of the Inca, the historic city of Cusco before heading back to Lima for a final few days on the coast.

Day one: Cusco

Instead of Lima, make Cusco your first stop in Peru. Landing here only requires a further one-and-a-half-hour flight from the capital – and which is definitely the best way to get from Lima to Cusco. And it’s worth the chance to dive into the cultural highlights right away. Cusco also offers some of the best tour companies for Machu Picchu.

The San Blas Plaza in Cusco after rainfall with views across the city

Spend your first day in Cusco taking things nice and easy; at 3,400 meters (around 11,000 feet) above sea level, this city can leave you feeling breathless. Adjust to the altitude and the low oxygen levels by exploring the old town – the focal point of this city – on foot.

Head to the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) to explore over 10,000 Inca artifacts including mummies and gold figurines, as well as the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Museum of Precolombian Art) to admire gold and silver ornaments, some of which date as far back as 1250 BC.

End your walking tour with a visit to the cathedral , where you can find painter Marcos Zapata’s famous rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, just this time featuring a guinea pig as part of the feast.

If you’re still feeling good, take the 15-minute walk uphill to the Sacsayhuaman site , a walled complex that served as both a temple and fortress for the Inca and has fantastic views of the city. An easier alternative is a taxi ride from the city; expect to pay around S/10-25 ($2.5-6.3 USD), although the exact fare depends on which road is accessible on that day.

Where to stay in Cusco: Promising affordable comfort in a charming setting,  El Mercado  ($210 USD double) is a perfect getaway in the city center. The 32 bedrooms are decorated with modern furnishings and artwork, adding a modern twist to a historic  casona . 

Where to stay in Cusco on a budget: Few places offer the degree of comfort and affordability as  MOAF Boutique Hotel  ($80 USD). The rooms are bright thanks to plenty of natural light and have modern furnishings and pleasant neutral decoration. This helps to enhance the rooftop views available in some bedrooms, as well as in various communal areas.

Day two: The Sacred Valley

On your second day, it is time to explore the different attractions of the Sacred Valley , where the Urubamba River brings life to otherwise barren land. Take a colectivo (a public van), bus, or taxi from Cusco to the Sacred Valley and the town of Pisac . The former is the cheapest and easiest option; you’ll find they leave every ten minutes or so from Puputi Street, and cost between S/4-10 ($1-2.5 USD).

Pisac is a peaceful little town where you can hike (or take a taxi) to a magnificent Inca fortress that sits in the hills above. The views of the Sacred Valley from the site are mesmerizing. Located only an hour away from Cusco and also home to a busy daily market (although it’s best visited on a Sunday), Pisac is one of the best day trips from Cusco.

The concentric circles of Moray, an open-air laboratory dating from the Inca and located in the Sacred Valley, Peru

Other great options in the Sacred Valley are Moray , a series of concentric circular stone terraces that were used for testing out growing crops in different conditions, as well as the Salinas de Maras (Maras salt pans), where local people have panned for salt for hundreds of years. You can take local transportation to get to them, or book this tour that’ll take you to each.

From Pisac in the Sacred Valley, you can return to Cusco or continue downriver to Ollantaytambo , another picturesque town home to further archeological sites, as well as horseback riding, rafting and hiking tours. The train to Machu Picchu is available from both.

Where to stay in Ollantaytambo: Right next to the train station, but home to a lush garden and suntrap terrace, El Albergue ($142 USD double) is a tranquil place to while away the evening. They also have a fantastic on-site restaurant that cooks up ingredients from the hotel’s organic vegetable garden.

Where to stay in Ollantaytambo on a budget: Rustic but clean bedrooms are the norm at the affordable Picaflor Tambo Guest House ($42 USD double) run by owners who will ensure you have the most comfortable stay possible.

Head northeast along the train to reach Aguas Calientes , a small town at the base of Machu Picchu and which is filled with bars, restaurants, and markets. The train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes takes four to five hours, while the one from Ollantaytambo only takes one and a half hours.

If you choose the latter option, you can spend your morning visiting Ollantaytambo’s archaeological sites before departing and the afternoon in Aguas Calientes relaxing in your hotel, soaking in the thermal baths that give the town its name, or even checking out the local butterfly sanctuary .

Views across Machu Picchu in Peru as seen from the Sun Gate

The next day, get up bright and early to board the earliest bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu – at 5:30 am. By doing this, you can expect to be one of the first to arrive at the site. What a treat: there’s nothing like enjoying your first view of the ruins accompanied by little else than the sound of birdsong.

For the best weather – and for a clear, unobstructed view of the site’s magnificent stonework – read our guide to the best time to visit Machu Picchu and Peru in general.

Feeling adventurous? Eschew the bus and instead hike from Aguas Calientes up to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

However, depending on your fitness level, the hike can take between one and two hours – so start early if you want to see the site at its quietest.

Be aware when planning your trip to Machu Picchu that you must book tickets well in advance as there is a limit on the number of people who can enter the site per day. Your ticket gives you four hours within the grounds, and it generally takes around two hours to explore Machu Picchu.

Note that it’s now mandatory to visit with a guide, which you can hire at the entrance to the site, although you’ll have more control over the language they speak if you book with a tourism agency in Cusco.

It’s another couple of hours to your visit if you plan to hike up Huayna Picchu, too (just note you’ll need to buy a ticket with permission to visit Huayna Picchu in order to do this). This hike is strenuous, but the views across the entire site are a highlight of any trip to Machu Picchu.

It can be pricey visiting Machu Picchu, so make sure to read about how much it costs to visit the Inca citadel before planning your trip.

Return to Cusco in the evening by train.

Spend one last day exploring historic sites, as well as enjoying the city’s culinary traditions. Explore the imposing buildings of the formerly impressive Inca temple of Q’orikancha, join tourists and locals alike for locally-brewed beer in Cholos, head to the ChocoMuseo for a workshop on chocolate-making and spend an evening sampling heady pisco cocktails and listening to lively local music at the Museo del Pisco .

Wrap up your Cusco itinerary by visiting the Mercado San Pedro (San Pedro market), where you’ll find sweaters, bags, and knick-knacks made from Alpaca wool. While these are also available in other markets around the city, you’ll find them for the best prices in San Pedro.

Head back via plane to the capital city, Lima . Two days in Lima is just the right amount of time in order to get a glimpse of life in this dynamic city. Head to the trendy Barranco neighborhood , home to uber-chic cafes and chic bars in restored mansions, with all of this just a few steps away from the beach.

For an insight into the grittier side of Lima, head by taxi to the Callao neighborhood where Lima’s former shipping district and one of its most dangerous places has been transformed through street art and shops selling local arts and crafts – just don’t stray far aware from local hub Callao Monumental as the area remains dangerous for visitors.

Don’t miss the city’s renowned dining scene. For haute cuisine, head to Barranco and the world-famous Central , or dine on Nikkei (a Peruvian take on sushi) at Maido in Miraflores.

Any visitor to the city can’t miss the quintessential Peruvian dish: ceviche , so head to La Mar or Punta Azul in Miraflores to sample your newest favorite dish – washed down with a crisp glass of white or a pisco sour. After all, Peru is the best country in South America for affordable yet outstanding dining .

Haute cuisine in Maido, one of Lima's best restaurants and an unmissable culinary experience to have on a visit to Peru

Spend your last days here museum-hopping (the Museo Larco is one not to miss), exploring the old town around the Plaza Mayor , or up the ante by testing the waves of the Pacific Ocean on a surfboard.

Where to stay in Lima: The Barranco neighborhood is known as a place of poets, artists and creatives, so there’s nowhere better to stay than in Second Home ($135 USD double), a grand, eight-room guesthouse in the former home of Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin, who you might even spot pottering around the house if you’re lucky.

Where to stay in Lima on a budget: One of our favorite places to stay when we’re in Lima, the Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast ($40 USD double) is run by a Peruvian-British couple and offers a handful of doubles with private bathrooms in a pleasant residential area in Miraflores. The terrace out the back where breakfast is served is a gorgeous place to while away the day.

Where to stay in Lima on a budget: Located in Miraflores and offering a youthful, friendly guide Selina Lima ($53 USD double) is our budget pick. (read our comprehensive Selina Lima review ) . Even though it’s a hostel, comfortable and stylishly presented private rooms with private bathrooms are available.

Got more time to spend in Cusco? Read our Cusco itineraries article for trips from three to ten days in length.

10 days in Peru

Overview of this 10-day Peru trip planner:

  • Days one through three: Cusco and the Sacred Valley
  • Days four through seven: The Inca Trail

Day eight: Machu Picchu

Days nine and ten: lima.

10 days in Peru is the perfect length of a trip that allows you to add the Inca Trail to your Machu Picchu trip. Follow the itinerary above but, instead of taking the train straight to Aguas Calientes on day three of the itinerary above, take a hiking tour of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu .

Days four through seven: Inca Trail

The trails built by the Inca throughout the Andes were used to connect what was once a vast empire to its territories across Peru and into neighboring Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile.

Known as the Qhapaq Ñan (Royal Road), many of these paths remain today and can be explored on foot – much the same way as they would have been used by the Inca royalty and pilgrims.

A hiker stands on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru

Hiking to Machu Picchu on the 40-kilometer (25-mile) Inca Trail generally takes four days and joining a guided tour is required. If you see three-day Machu Picchu tour operators, it is likely only for the fittest travelers, or the tour only includes part of the trail.

We recommend reading our extensive guide on what you need to know about hiking the Inca Trail before signing up for any tour and reading our comparison of the Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek (another popular trek to Machu Picchu) to understand our options.

This hike is strenuous and can be dangerous in some parts. Even for experienced hikers, it’s challenging, so listen to your body, take your time, and pause if you need to.

The good news is you don’t need to pack food or a tent as those will be provided by the tour company. Some companies even offer a porter service, so you don’t need to carry anything during the entire hike!

The Inca Trail leads directly to Machu Picchu through what is known as the Sun Gate – named as such because the sun’s rays pass through here on the summer solstice. The view from here is also legendary and a privilege only to those who reach the site from the Inca Trail.

Once you’ve explored this magnificent stone fortress, descend to Aguas Calientes via the path or take one of the public buses from the gate of Machu Picchu.

Depending on what time you get to town and your train schedule, you can either spend the night in Aguas Calientes or go directly to Cusco, where you’ll find flights to Lima.

As per the previous itinerary, spend the last two out of your ten days in Peru tasting local dishes, visiting museums, or simply relaxing on the beaches of Lima.

Two weeks in Peru

Overview of this two-week Peru vacation itinerary:

Days one and two: Lima

Day three: pisco and ballestas islands, day four: nazca, days five to eight: arequipa and the colca canyon, days nine and ten: cusco and the sacred valley.

  • Days eleven and twelve: Machu Picchu
  • Day thirteen: Cusco
  • Day fourteen: Lima

With two weeks in Peru, you can explore four main destinations – Lima, Nazca, Arequipa, and Machu Picchu – and famous attractions near to these main draws.

Instead of going straight from Lima to Machu Picchu, spend two days exploring Lima as you would on the last days of the previous itineraries, and then take a day trip from Lima to the Ballestas Islands and Nazca.

Take the bus four hours south to Pisco , one of the most popular towns within striking distance of the city because of – well, you can guess from its name – Pisco, the famous Peruvian spirit. In this town, tourists can visit vineyards and sample their products.

However, if you’re short on time, head directly for Paracas , one of the most popular destinations to visit in Peru . This is where the boat trip to Ballestas Islands, aka the Peruvian Galapagos, starts.

A group of Humboldt penguins on the rocky Islas Ballestas, an unmissable place to visit in Peru

While they’re certainly not as impressive as their Ecuadorian namesake, the Ballestas Islands are still full of a rabble of wildlife, that can include everything from Humboldt penguins to sea lions and pelicans.

Since the entire archipelago is a national reserve, you’re not allowed to swim or disembark on any of the islands, but your two-hour boat tour will give you front-row seats to the raucous melee of sea life that lives upon them.

Book with a local tour company on the day or in advance here .

Stay overnight in Paracas, ready for an early bus the next morning.

Where to stay in Paracas: Located just meters from the beach, the chic Casa Paracas ($108 USD double) will make you wish you had more time to hang here and soak up the sunshine. All rooms have their own private balconies, as well as much-appreciated air conditioning.

Where to stay in Paracas on a budget: Basic but budget-friendly, Atenas Backpacker Hospedaje ($18 USD double) is an extremely cozy home-away-from-home, with plenty of communal spaces and an extremely welcoming atmosphere.

Your next stop is Nazca , a four-hour bus journey from Paracas. This is where you’ll find the massive geoglyphs, the Nazca Lines , whose origins – and purpose – remain one of the greatest mysteries in the world.

For the best views of these remarkable lines, which are in the form of hummingbirds, spiders and bold geometric patterns, take a flight over the desert from the airport in Nazca.

A hummingbird drawn into the desert as part of Peru's mysterious Nazca Lines

There’s not much to do in Nazca besides wandering around the Plaza de Armas, so get an early night ready for tomorrow.

Where to stay in Nazca: It’s no looker, but Nasca Travel One Hostel ($22 USD) has everything you need for a comfortable one-night stay and is extremely clean and comfortable, particularly as it’s a little away from the town center meaning you’re guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep.

A six-hour bus journey from Nazca brings you to the White City, Arequipa . Situated in the volcano-studded highlands of southern Peru at 2,335 meters above sea level, Arequipa is your first introduction to altitude, so take it easy once you get off the bus.

Arequipa is a striking place: Volcán Misti stands tall above the city, and the buildings around the center are built using dazzlingly white volcanic stone.

Spend the remaining part of the day exploring Arequipa’s old town – the Monasterio de Santa Catalina , a vast and beautiful nunnery, and the seventeenth-century cathedral are two not to miss – before an evening tasting the lip-smacking rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), a traditional Arequipan dish.

For more highlights of the city, read this article about things to do in Arequipa and our guide to the best places to stay in Arequipa .

A condor flies over the Colca Canyon in Peru, one of the best places for spotting these incredible birds

On the afternoon of day six, hop on a minivan to Chivay (3.5 hours) and then onto Cabanaconde (1.5 hours) and spend the night there in preparation for the Colca Canyon trek .

The next day, embark on the two-day Colca Canyon trek , which starts from Cabanaconde and heads down into the bottom of the canyon.

Unlike the Inca Trail where you sleep in tents, you will be spending nights within rustic lodgings inside Sangalle, the oasis town at the bottom of the canyon, offering you a soft bed and a pleasant night’s sleep. But don’t be fooled: this hike is challenging.

After a day hiking into the canyon the only way back out is up – a climb of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) over a five-kilometer (three-mile) stretch.

Return to Arequipa by bus for an overnight bus to Cusco or for a final night in the city before a bus the next morning.

Where to stay in Arequipa: Set in a charming old house with a gorgeous courtyard for a leisurely cup of coffee or cold beer, La Hostería Boutique Hotel ($72 USD) double) is one of Arequipa’s (and Peru’s) most luxurious hotels . A pool, sun terrace and spa facilities are just some of the highlights here.

Where to stay in Arequipa on a budget: The family-run La Casa de Margott ($30 USD double) has clean and spacious rooms, as well as a pleasant roof terrace for lounging in.

It’s a fair distance from Arequipa to Cusco, so you can expect a ten-hour bus journey to get you from the coastal highlands and up into the Andes.

Unlike flying, which can lead to altitude sickness due to the rapid change in altitude, taking a bus to Cusco is a much gentler form of transport and gives you the opportunity to view some of the country’s incredible mountain landscapes.

Finish your itinerary by following the one-week in Peru itinerary, just shaving off a day in Lima at the very end.

Adapting this itinerary: Want to hike the Inca Trail instead? Spend days fix and six in Arequipa, then head to Cusco for the Inca trail for days seven through ten, with day eleven at Machu Picchu. Spend days twelve and thirteen in Cusco, before heading back to Lima on day fourteen.

One month in Peru

Overview of this one-month Peru backpacking itinerary:

Days three and four: Trujillo and Huanchaco

  • Days six and seven: Cajamarca
  • Days eight to ten: Chachapoyas

Day eleven: Lima

  • Day twelve: Pisco and the Ballestas Islands
  • Days thirteen: Nazca

Days fourteen to seventeen: Arequipa and the Colca Canyon

  • Days eighteen to nineteen: Puno and Lake Titicaca
  • Days twenty to twenty-one: Cusco and Sacred Valley
  • Days twenty-two to twenty-five: The Inca Trail

Day twenty-six: Machu Picchu

  • Day twenty-seven: Cusco
  • Days twenty-eight to thirty: Puerto Maldonado

Do you have one whole month to spend exploring Peru? Lucky you: you’ve got time to add northern Peru to your itinerary. In addition, a slower pace of travel means your body will have the time to adjust to the altitude changes well.

One month in Peru is also plenty of time for seeing the most unmissable destinations in Peru: going to the north but without excluding Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail, as well as stopping in Pisco and the Ballestas Islands and Arequipa, plus a trip into the jungle in Puerto Maldonado.

Touch down in Peru’s lively capital city, Lima . While it might be packed with traffic and a little rough around the edges, this city is a place you’ll soon fall in love with.

The cityscape and shoreline of Peru’s lively capital city, Lima.

Spend your days museum-hopping (the Museo Larco is one not to miss), exploring the old town around the Plaza Mayor , or up the ante by testing the waves of the Pacific Ocean on a surfboard.

You can also head to the trendy Barranco neighborhood , home to uber-chic cafes and chic bars in restored mansions, with all of this just a few steps away from the beach.

Any visitor to the city can’t miss ceviche, so head to La Mar or Punta Azul in Miraflores to sample your newest favorite dish – washed down with a crisp glass of white or a pisco sour.

From Lima, it’s a grueling nine-hour bus journey to reach Trujillo .

A better alternative is to take one of the multiple one-hour, forty-minute flights from Lima to the airport in Trujillo, which is an easy taxi ride into the city.

Trujillo is a city on few travelers’ bucket lists – but the intrepid who make it here are in for a treat. Many are unaware of the civilizations that predate the Inca Empire, but the archeological sites they left behind are often just as remarkable as Machu Picchu – made more so by the relative lack of visitors at these destinations.

The dramatic murals on the outside walls of the Huaca de la Luna near Trujillo and Huanchaco, Peru

Spend half a day learning about Peru’s remarkable past by taking a bus to Chan Chan , an archeological site just five kilometers away from the city of Trujillo.

Chan Chan was once the capital of the Chimú Empire and is the largest adobe brick city discovered anywhere on earth, having been home to 60,000 people at its apogee around 850 AD.

At the heart of this city was a fortress where temples once paneled with gold, and courtyards and walls decorated with finely carved fish and other symbols of the sea can still be explored.

Another unmissable site to explore in the region is that of the Huacas de Moche . The two pyramids known as the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna date from 500 AD and are adorned with polychrome friezes, which have been remarkably well preserved and depict the sacrificial rituals with which the Mochica civilization has become associated.

Best explored by a tour from Trujillo, they’re an easy half-day trip from the city.

Alternatively, spend a day on a tour of the Complejo Archeólogico El Brujo (The El Brujo Archeological Complex), a series of small pyramids in which the mummified remains of the Señora de Cao, a shamanic leader, were discovered.

Her body – bearing tattoos of fish, snakes, and spiders – as well as gold and silver artifacts found within her tomb, are on display in the on-site museum.

The pier in Huanchaco, Peru

For a relaxing afternoon, consider dropping into Huanchaco , a beachside village a 45-minute bus journey north of Trujillo. Oozing buena onda (good vibes), it’s a great place to swim or surf. Read more about this Peruvian beach town in our complete guide to Huanchaco .

Where to stay in Trujillo: Located not far from the Plaza de Armas, Tierra Viva Trujillo ($100 USD double) might be located within a soulless tower block, but the hotel’s design and clean but chic bedrooms make up for this fact.

Where to stay in Huanchaco: Accommodation options abound, including the glorious tranquil yoga hostel,  ATMA  $7 USD dorm, $21 USD double), with cozy rooms and a very chilled vibe.

Days five and six: Cajamarca

Your next stop is Cajamarca , an historic Andean town sitting 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level and a six-hour bus journey east of Trujillo. Home to beautiful buildings constructed during the Spanish conquest, the city’s roots go much deeper.

Head to the El Cuarto del Rescato , the only remaining Inca building in the city and where the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, was captured and later executed by the Spanish and follow this with a trip to the Casa Museo Nicolás Puga, a privately owned museum showcasing 2,000-year-old textiles and other incredible pre-Hispanic treasures.

Adapting this itinerary: Want a more relaxing few days? Head north along the coast (10 hours by bus from Trujillo) for a few days of glorious beach time in Máncora, where the sun shines all year long, and the turquoise water temperature is pleasant for swimming and a popular destination to learn surfing or kitesurfing. A favorite among backpackers thanks to its wild nightlife, Máncora can be replaced with the neighboring surf enclave of Lobitos (1.5 hours south) or the tranquil – and pricey – luxury resorts of remote Las Pocitas. Try the truly remote bungalows at  Yemaya  ($126 USD double), which are right on the beach.

Spend a day outside of the city by taking a bus to the Ventanillas de Otuzco , a pre-Inca necropolis where the Cajamarca people were buried in holes cut into the volcanic rock. On your way back, visit the Baños del Inca, the Inca thermal baths that are still in use today for a relaxing soak.

The Ventanillas de Otuzco, a series of niches carved into the volcanic rock near Cajamarca and an important place to visit in Peru

Bear in mind that the bus ride up the mountains is a rough drive, and you might prefer to fly instead – although it won’t save you a huge amount of time. All flights go via Lima (1.5 hours) before heading to Cajamara (1 hour 15 minutes).

Where to stay in Cajamarca: Just off the Plaza de Armas and with a beautiful, flower-filled courtyard, El Cabildo Hostal ($35 USD double) promises comfortable, if somewhat old-fashioned, accommodation.

Where to stay in Cajamarca on a budget: Extremely comfortable and with a location good for both the Plaza de Armas and the bus station, the family-run Chakra Runa Backpacker ($12 USD double) is guaranteed to offer a warm welcome.

Days eight, nine and ten: Chachapoyas

Deeper into the Andes is the market town of Chachapoyas . Getting here isn’t easy: the most direct route is a ten-hour minibus journey, through damp cloud forest and alongside steep mountainsides. Though surrounded by spectacular views, this route is not for the fainthearted.

With that said, Chachapoyas is worth visiting for one particular reason: Kuélap. This site is known as the Machu Picchu of Northern Peru thanks to its mountain-top location – accessible only via cable car, minibus, or a grueling four-hour hike – and the fact it’s the largest ancient stone structure in Peru. It also pre-dates Machu Picchu.

Backpacking in northern Peru.

Read more about this magnificent fortress city in our guide to visiting the fortress of Kuélap , which is worthy of a full-day tour from Chachapoyas.

Spend the next few days exploring other key archeological sites, such as the row of ancient sarcophagi located on a wall at Karajía or dropping in at the Museo de Leymabamba , where 219 mummies from the Chachapoya people are on display.

Alternatively, take a bus to Cocachimba and hike to some of the tallest one-drop falls in the world, the dazzling Cataratas de Gocta (Gocta Waterfall).

Where to stay in Chachapoyas: The most luxurious lodgings in Chachapoyas are  La Xalca Hotel  ($100 USD), another colonial mansion with large, antique-furniture decorated bedrooms, some of which have pretty balconies overlooking the central courtyard and an extensive breakfast buffet. If you’re visiting in winter, ask for a room with carpet, not tiles.

Where to stay in Chachapoyas on a budget: The best budget option in town is  Chachapoyas Backpackers Hostal ($22 USD), which has well-sized rooms, all with a private bathroom.

Take a flight with ATSA Airlines (only Monday, Thursday and Saturday; 1.5 hours) from Chachapoyas airport, or a minibus to Jaén (four hours) and a flight from there to Lima (1.5 hours).

Street art outside Fugaz in Callao Monumental, the old shipping district of Lima

Spend the afternoon relaxing or catching up on any museums or restaurants you didn’t get a chance to visit on your first stay here.  

Day Twelve: Pisco and Ballestas Islands

A pelican takes off from the Ballestas Islands, off the coast of Paracas in Peru

Stay overnight in Paracas, ready for an early bus the next morning.  

Day thirteen: Nazca

Spend the remaining part of the day exploring Arequipa’s old town – the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a vast and beautiful nunnery, and the seventeenth-century cathedral are two not to miss – before an evening tasting the lip-smacking rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), a traditional Arequipan dish.

For more highlights of the city, read this article about things to do in Arequipa and find out where you should stay in the White City .

Volcan Misty dominates the Arequipa skyline.

On the afternoon of day six, hop on a minivan to Chivay (3.5 hours) and then onto Cabanaconde (1.5 hours) and spend the night there in preparation for the Colca Canyon trek.

The next day, it’s time to embark upon the two-day Colca Canyon trek , which starts from Cabanaconde and heads down into the bottom of the canyon.

Return to Arequipa for a final night in the city before a bus to Puno the next morning.

Day eighteen and nineteen: Puno and Lake Titicaca

Hop on a six-hour bus that’ll promise fantastic views, especially when navigating the Salinas y Aguada Blanca Reserva Nacional, as it climbs further up into the Andes Mountains to arrive at what can seem to be the very top of the world.

At this high altitude of 3,800 meters (12,507 feet) lies Lago Titicaca, a vast lake covering more than 8,000 square kilometers and spit by the border between Peru and Bolivia. It’s Peru’s most impressive body of water – and one of the most scenic lakes in the whole of South America .

You’ll arrive in Puno , the gateway for all destinations in the Lake Titicaca area. Though small, this city houses accommodations catering to travellers.

The floating Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca

Several options for day trips from Puno are available, but the one to Uros Islands is a must. Comprising over 120 islands, this man-made archipelago is the focal point of Lake Titicaca. Also known as the Floating Islands, each of the islands is made of totora or reeds woven by hand.

You can now stay in a reed guesthouse on the islands – just bear in mind that your money won’t necessarily go to the families themselves. All Ways Travel is the only company I know who pay the communities directly and equitably.

Besides Uros, there are two main destinations on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca: Taquile and Amantani. Both are reachable by sailboat and have been inhabited for thousands of years.

Nowadays, they’re best known for their striking textile weaving and you can even spend a night here staying with a local family.

If you can, go further across to the Bolivian side to the Isla del Sol (Sun Island), which is crisscrossed with Inca archeological sites and promises, from every point on the island, spectacular views of Lake Titicaca.

Take your time exploring Lake Titicaca’s secluded corners before you move on to Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Where to stay in Puno: With a flower-filled courtyard and bedrooms tastefully decorated with art, you’ll feel a world away from the bustle of the city at Casa Panqarani  ($40 USD double). It even has an excellent on-site restaurant.

Days twenty and twenty-one: Cusco and the Sacred Valley

You should be nice and acclimatized to altitude by now, but it’s still worth taking things easy by exploring the old town – the focal point of this city – on foot. Head to the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) to explore over 10,000 Inca artifacts including mummies and gold figurines, as well as the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Museum of Precolombian Art) to admire gold and silver ornaments, some of which date as far back as 1250 BC.

If you’re still feeling good, take the 15-minute walk uphill to the Sacsayhuaman site , a walled complex that served as both a temple and fortress for the Inca and has fantastic views of the city.

An easier alternative is a taxi ride from the city; expect to pay around S/10-25 ($2.5-6.3 USD), although the exact fare depends on which road is accessible on that day.

On your second day, it is time to explore the Sacred Valley , where the Urubamba River brings life to otherwise barren land. Take a colectivo (a public van), bus, or taxi from Cusco to the town of Pisac. The former is the cheapest and easiest option; you’ll find they leave every ten minutes or so from Puputi Street, and cost between S/4-10 ($1-2.5 USD).

Local people panning for salt at the centuries-old Salinas de Maras in the Sacred Valley in Peru

Pisac is a peaceful little town where you can hike (or take a taxi) to a magnificent Inca fortress that sits in the hills above. The views of the Sacred Valley from the site are mesmerizing.

Located only an hour away from Cusco and also home to a busy daily market (although it’s best visited on a Sunday), Pisac is one of the best day trips from Cusco.

Other great options in the Sacred Valley are Moray , a series of concentric circular stone terraces that were used for testing out growing crops in different conditions, as well as the Salinas de Maras (Maras salt pans), where local people have panned for salt for hundreds of years. You can take local transportation to get there, or book this tour that’ll take you to each.

Day twenty-two to twenty-five: The Inca Trail

The trails built by the Inca throughout the Andes were used to connect what was once a vast Empire to its territories across Peru and into neighboring Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile.

The Sayamarca ruins on day three of the Inca Trail

Hiking to Machu Picchu on this 40-kilometre (25-mile) trail generally takes four days and joining a guided tour is required. If you see three-day Machu Picchu tour operators, it is likely only for the fittest travellers, or the tour only includes part of the trail.

We recommend reading our extensive guide on what you need to know about hiking the Inca Trail before signing up for any tour; alternatively, if you want even more of a challenge, consider hiking the Salkantay trek instead .

A couple sat in front of Humantay Lake the Salkantay trek, an alternative route to Machu Picchu, Peru

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Alpaca Expeditions are not only one of the most sustainable companies offering Salkantay and Inca trail treks to Machu Picchu, but their guides, porters and chefs are the ultimate hosts.

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Depending on what time you get to town and your train schedule, you can either spend the night in Aguas Calientes or go directly back to Cusco.

Day twenty-seven to thirty: Puerto Maldonado

From Cusco, it’s a 45-minute flight to Puerto Maldonado , the last stop on your adventurous month in Peru.

Located at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers, Puerto Maldonado is unlike all the other regions you have explored so far: here we’re deep into the tropical rainforest, a place renowned for its rich, untouched wildlife and extremely comfortable eco-lodges, many of which are accessed solely by boat.

An otter sites on a tree branch in the Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon

Book a three-night stay in an eco-lodge located in the hard-to-reach and strictly protected Reserva de la Biosfera del Manu (the Manu Biosphere Reserve) or in one of the cheaper lodges located in the Reserva Nacional Tambopata (TambopataNational Reserve) Wherever you stay, you can expect to spot numerous species of monkeys, caiman, capybara and, if you’re extremely lucky, giant otters.  

At the end of your stay, return to Lima by plane (1.5 hours) and onto your flight back home.

Where to stay in and around Puerto Maldonado: Located in the Tambopata National Reserve, the fantastic  Tambopata Research Center  ($236 USD double) is the ultimate place to stay for piranha fishing, nocturnal hiking, birdwatching, ayahuasca rituals, and more.

FAQs about planning a Peru itinerary

How much does a trip to peru cost.

Excluding your flights in and out of Peru, budget travelers can keep their daily travel here below $30 USD per person. But if you plan on staying at hotels and eating at more expensive restaurants, you should budget around $50 USD per person per day. If you’re staying for two weeks in Peru, you’ll need at least $350 USD spending money for expenses outside of tickets and souvenirs.

What should you take to Peru?

Climates and weather conditions vary considerably across Peru, so your packing list will reflect this. Make sure you have light and comfortable hiking clothing, alongside a waterproof jacket for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.

Bring medication to help you deal with altitude sickness (and motion sickness if you plan on taking long bus rides), as well as sunblock and a wide-brim hat.

Comfortable hiking shoes, plus a pair of trainers for inside cities, are invaluable, while plenty of layers should keep you warm as you travel from the hot, humid coast up into the mountains. For more detailed information, check out our complete South America packing list .

How far is Lima from Machu Picchu?

Technically, it’s only around 500 kilometers away. But if you plan on getting to Machu Picchu from Lima by car or bus, the distance covers more than 1,000 kilometers, and it will take more than a day in a bus. The best way to reach Machu Picchu from Lima is by flying to Cusco and taking a train to Aguas Calientes.

How can you plan a trip to Machu Picchu?

Planning a trip to Machu Picchu depends on how you want to see this archeological site. If you’re wanting to hike the Inca Trail, you’ll need to book with a tour operator based in Cusco, who will organize your permits for food, porters, accommodation, meals, transportation to and from Cusco and permits for entry to Machu Picchu.

If you want to visit independently, you will need to purchase your own tickets for Machu Picchu via the government’s website . Note that you will need to decide at the point of purchase if you want to include Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu mountain and the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chavez Ballon (an informative museum about the site located in Aguas Calientes, not Machu Picchu).

You will also need to book your own transportation to and from the site (either via train or minivan), as well as your overnight accommodation in Aguas Calientes. We recommend arriving the day before you visit Machu Picchu but booking an afternoon ticket; by 2pm, the skies should be clear if they’re cloudy in the morning, and most day trippers and Inca Trail hikers will have left by this point, leaving the site must quieter to explore.

What souvenirs should you bring back from Peru?

Peru offers many kinds of souvenirs. We recommend buying handmade Alpaca wool products, such as sweaters and hats. They are available at most local markets, but the best and cheapest ones are available at San Pedro Market, Cusco.

Thursday 28th of December 2023

Great itineraries! Curious what your suggestions would be for 3 weeks in Peru with kids ages 8-14? Any places that would *not* be good with kids? Thinking we'd just take the MP train and not the Inca trail. But would Puerto Maldonado be okay? Tour to Kuelap? Thanks!

Steph Dyson

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Hi Scott, I don't think any of those places wouldn't be good with kids. They're all interesting places to visit and I can't see why it would be an issue. Steph

World Travel Explorers

Sunday 12th of February 2023

Thanks for such a detailed guide and interesting itinerary. We're looking to go to Peru later this year and Cusco in particular sounds amazing.

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

Great - have a brilliant trip! Steph

The Perfect Peru Itinerary

06/12/2018 by Kristin Addis 19 Comments

The best Peru itinerary that starts from Lima, to Huacachina, Cusco, Rainbow Mountain, The Amazon, and so much more. If you are looking for an adventure in Peru, this itinerary is perfect for you. #PeruTravelTips #SouthAmerica

When I started planning out my Peru trip I Googled ‘Peru itinerary’ and found that I had a lot of narrowing down to do.

I had no idea back then how diverse Peru is. I felt like the options were so very good and so incredibly different even though Peru is just one country. A trip there can take you through a variety of experiences, cultures, and especially climates.

Within the span of one week I had gone from the mountains of Cusco to the jungles of the Amazon and then to the sand dunes of Huacachina, finishing in the capital of Lima. At no point over the past six years of my traveling have I experienced so much variety in such a short time and within the same country.

So with that in mind, here’s an itinerary template with different options beginning in Lima:

Table of Contents

peru itinerary

Chances are you’ll be flying into or out of Lima. The city doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of safety, but each time I passed through I ended up liking it more and more. I suggest staying in Baranca, a hipster neighborhood, or Miraflores, which is a seaside neighborhood with lovely Airbnbs.

Check out the catacombs in the city and visit Palomino island to see the sea lions, finishing with a lovely sunset along the promenade in Miraflores.

peru itinerary

Located about five hours south of Lima by bus, this desert oasis is perfect for an overnight. Hop in a dune buggy in the late afternoon and enjoy the ride! You can either sled or sand down the dunes and finish with a lovely sunset. Bonus points if you wake up and climb the dune for sunrise.

This is a tiny town without much to do other than enjoying the dunes, though it is a good jumping off point if you’d like to fly over the Nazca lines.

To get there, take a bus from Lima to Ica and then a taxi to Huacachina. Read the full Huacachina guide here.

peru itinerary

You absolutely can’t go to Peru without visiting Cusco. This is the jumping off point for Machu Picchu, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, which was a big motivating factor for you to go to Peru in the first place, amiright?

The town itself is lovely with Spanish colonial architecture mixed with Incan structures. You’re also close to the Sacred Valley, the beautiful salt mines, and of course, the Inca Trail . Alternatively, you’re also close to the Salkantay and Lares trails.

salinas de maras peru itinerary

Be sure to acclimate in town for a few days before attempting anything too strenuous, as you’ll be pretty high up. There are some nice ruins to check out like Sacsayhuamán, markets with alpaca sweaters, lovely little coffee shops and even a few vegan restaurants. Read the full Cusco guide here.

Rainbow Mountain

rainbow mountain peru itinerary

Rainbow Mountain really is rainbow-y in person! For me, this was a highlight of my Peru trip. You’ll be jumping off from Cusco and driving for three hours, taking off very early in the morning. This trail tops out at over 5000 m, so do this once you’re acclimated. Ideally, schedule it for after the Inca Trail or another trek in the area. It’s the perfect day trip to finish off your Cusco experience. Read more about how to do Rainbow Mountain the right way here .

arequipa peru itinerary

Also known as the White City, Arequipa is a colonial city framed by three volcanoes. For those who love history and architecture, the Plaza de Armas and the 17th-century neoclassical Basilica Cathedral and museum could easily take up a day on their own. This is Peru’s second most populous city and while I haven’t visited myself, I’ve heard only good things.

Lake Titicaca

peru itinerary

Though I did not personally visit Lake Titicaca, it’s on the list because it’s one of the more common stops on most Peru itineraries. I’ve heard mixed reviews to be honest. Some people say that it’s quite touristy and others say that it is quite spiritual. My guess is that if you’re really looking hard for a spiritual experience, you can find it there. The lake is huge, after all. From here you can head south into Bolivia over the water. This is something I would like to try in the future. You can read more about Lake Titicaca on this blog .

Cordillera Blanca

santa cruz trek peru itinerary

Though the whole country truly is beautiful, the Cordillera Blanca mountain range might be the crown jewel of Peru. It’s not nearly as popular as Cusco and Machu Picchu of course, but there are several hikes, and mountain tops, and incredible lagoons in shades of blue that are hard to believe even when you’re staring at them with your own eyes, that all make a visit worth it. I did the Laguna 69  and Santa Cruz hikes  there and both were fantastic. I can’t wait to go back and do Huayhuash!

Access via Huaraz from a stop in Lima. The bus ride takes 9-10 hours, which you can either do overnight or during the day.

amazon peru itinerary

Over 60% of Peru is covered by the Amazon Rainforest, so you really can’t visit Peru and feel like you’ve seen it unless you get a taste of this jungle. For me, it was a journey I’d dreamed about ever since I was a child.

During my five days staying out in an off the grid ecolodge in the jungle, I saw nine sloths, pink river dolphins, went swimming in the alkaline water which honestly felt like a day spa, and got to canoe all in and around the mangroves. If crossing in from Columbia or Ecuador, one could traverse through the Amazon to get into Peru as well.

Iquitos is the perfect jumping off point for this adventure, which you will need to either boat or fly into, as no roads lead into it. You can read a lot more details about how to visit the Amazon here .

peru travel blog

Getting Around:

The easiest way to get around Peru is either by flying with one of the country’s regional airlines, or by taking buses. The buses in South America generally can be pretty nice with fully-reclining seats, depending on the company. Cruz del Sur is widely regarded as the best company in terms of service and the quality of the buses, though it is slightly more expensive than the rest. This is the method that I used to get from Lima to Huaraz and back. For the rest of the time, I either flew or had private transport as part of the BMTM Adventures tour .

If you’re not on a tour, I recommend the methods listed above. There is also a company called Peru Hop which services backpackers with slightly nicer buses, and they make it a bit easier if your Spanish is lacking. However if you can speak even a little bit, I recommend going the independent route as it is much cheaper. You can read more about how to get around, what the accommodation and food is like, and how to stay connected in my Peru guide.

Though this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the places in Peru, it can get you started on planning the ideal itinerary. I didn’t know before going how incredibly diverse this country would turn out to be, and how interested I would be in returning again and again.

Peru, I’ll be back and that’s a guarantee.

Visiting Peru? Here's an awesome Peru itinerary that covers Lima, Cusco, Huacachina, Rainbow Mountain, The Amazon, and so much more. This itinerary is a South American adventure dream come true! #Peru #PeruItinerary #SouthAmerica

READ NEXT: 15 things to Know Before Hiking the Inca Trail

About kristin addis.

Kristin Addis is the founder and CEO of Be My Travel Muse, a resource for female travelers all around the world since 2012. She's traveled solo to over 65 countries and has brought over 150 women on her all-female adventure tours from Botswana to the Alaskan tundra.

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Ijana Loss says

06/12/2018 at 10:01 am

Thank you for having perfect taste in travel destinations and doing so much research for us!! <3

Rebecca says

06/17/2018 at 7:36 pm

I LOVE Peru! It’s such an amazing country – and now reading this post I’ve been reminded that I need to get back there and see so much more.

Kristin says

06/19/2018 at 9:34 pm

I can’t wait to go back and see more too!

05/17/2019 at 10:15 am

Great article. However. Machu Picchu is not one of the seven wonders of the “ANCIENT” WORLD.

05/17/2019 at 12:31 pm

Pretty sure it is a wonder of the world!

Rajkumari says

08/15/2019 at 11:26 pm

Heya…awesome blog!!!! Would like to know more about the city.

08/16/2019 at 8:56 am

Lima? Which city?

Jeremy Gillespie says

08/21/2019 at 1:59 pm

I’m planning a trip to Lima and Cusco for February and this was great info. I’d love to know more about off the grid adventure, the Amazon and more. Thank you!

Neetu Jain says

09/08/2019 at 10:53 am

I am planning to visit Peru next summer with my family and am starting the planning process now. We are a family of five (2 adults three teenagers 18, 16,13). We plan to do the INCA Trail and would like to what other highlights you think we should definitely see. Is two weeks too much??

09/08/2019 at 1:28 pm

The things on this list! No 2 weeks might even feel short!

Shreyas Nair says

11/03/2019 at 3:00 am

Hi Kristin,

This is a lovely blog. Hugely helpful.

We are a group of 8 looking to visit Peru in June 2020 for about 10-12 days.

Have made a draft plan:

14/06/2020 Toronto – Lima 15/06/2020 Lima 16/06/2020 Lima-Huacachina 17/06/2020 Huacachina – Lima – Cuzco 18/06/2020 Cuzco 19/06/2020 Machu Pichu 20/06/2020 Machu Pichu 21/06/2020 Rainbow Mountains & Red Valley 22/06/2020 Cuzco – Lima – Huaraz 23/06/2020 Huaraz – Cordillera Blanca 24/06/2020 Huaraz – Lima 25/06/2020 Lima – Toronto

Do you think this is doable?

Also while we visit Machu Pichu, do you suggest we stay somewhere close by so that we can visit the Rainbow mountains the next day?

11/03/2019 at 5:22 am

I’m not totally sure that you can go from Cuzco to Huaraz in one day, and also consider that the Cordillera Blanca is a large park with multiple options, all high altitude hiking. I’d consider cutting Huacachina and spending more time in Huaraz if you want to hike. You can base in Cuzco for Machu Picchu and the rainbow mountain if you find that easier. This is a lot of transit time so be ready for that!

11/24/2019 at 6:49 am

Thanks Kristin for your advice.

We have changed the plan a bit. We will put up at Cuzco and cover Machu Pichu, Rainbow mountains, Red Valley and Laguna Humantay.

15/06/2020 Lima 16/06/2020 Huacachina 17/06/2020 Huacachina – Lima – Cuzco 19/06/2020 Laguna Humantay 20/06/2020 Machu Pichu 21/06/2020 Machu Pichu 22/06/2020 Rainbow Mountains & Red Valley 23/06/2020 Cuzco – Lima

Thanks again.

11/25/2019 at 9:54 am

I’m still not totally sure you can make it from Huacachina to Cusco in one day but if you found a way then go for it!

Cindy Labish says

04/12/2020 at 8:25 am

Do u think travel will still be restricted ? Changed our travel plans to Jan 2021 ( is January a good month though to travel to Peru?)

04/12/2020 at 9:44 am

Unfortunately nobody can know right now when restrictions will lift 🙁

Aqsa Rani says

04/24/2020 at 10:50 am

Hi, bemytreavelmuse !! That was a very perfect itinerary for a buddy trip.Such a great article. Thanks for sharing this article with us. I really appreciate your work.

04/25/2020 at 10:06 am

Great I’m so glad!

01/22/2023 at 8:46 am

Hi Kristin: Would the recent unrest impact Peru itineraries or is that restricted to isolated areas and it should be fine? Thanks!

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1-Month Peru Travel Itinerary: Where to Go & What to See in Peru

Peru is one of those countries that I keep coming back to again and again. Part of the reason is that I have family there, but the other reason is that there is so much too see and experience. No matter how much time I spend in Peru  – I’ve been there 3 times in the last 2 years alone! – I still keep finding new places to add to my bucket list .

Some travellers quickly skip through Peru only making time to visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but there is so much more to this country than Inca ruins. Today I’m going to share my 1-month Peru travel itinerary , which to be honest, I feel barely skims the surface and only touches on some of the country’s main highlights, but you have to start somewhere! Consider this travel itinerary an introduction to Peru and if you enjoy the country as much I do, then you can always plan a return and head into the more remote and harder to access regions. Now here’s a look at how to spend 1 month in Peru.

Peru Travel Itinerary

1-Month Peru Travel Itinerary: Where to Go & What to See in Peru Things to do in Lima and why you should add it to your Peru travel itinerary.

Let’s start in the capital, Lima, since that is where you’ll likely be flying into. Lima is the second most populous city in all of South America and it can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to go. People will often tell you to skip it entirely and just continue on to Cuzco, but I like Lima and I think it has quite a bit to offer, so I’m going to try to convince you otherwise.

There are 3 neighbourhoods, which I think are great for first-time visitors: Miraflores, Barranco and Centro. Miraflores is located along the water and it is an affluent neighbourhood with seafront properties, beautiful parks and lots of great restaurants. Here you’ll want to visit El Parque del Amor , shop at the Hippie Fair in Parque Kennedy , and if you’re feeling brave you can even try paragliding .

Barranco has more of an artsy bohemian flair and it’s also known for its nightlife. In Barran, o you’ll want to enjoy all the street art , walk across the Bridge of Sighs , and pop into the various museums and art galleries .

Lastly, in Centro you can visit Plaza de Armas , tour the catacombs inside the San Fracisco Monastery , and watch the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace . And that is just a quick introduction; you can read this other article for more ideas of things to do in Lima  and this other one will give you ideas of easy weekend trips .

Now let’s move on to the food. Since Lima is on the coast, you’ll have to sample ceviche , a raw fish dish that has been cured in lime, and is served with corn, sweet potato, and red onions. It is delicious and a must try ! If you’re more adventurous, then go for anticuchos , which are grilled meat skewers (typically cow heart!) served with a side of corn. I know it sounds a bit strange, but it tastes just like steak.

Where I stayed:

I usually stay with family when I visit Lima, but regardless, I would recommend staying in the neighbourhood of  Miraflores . Located right by the seaside, this is one of the nicest areas in the city, plus you also have easy access to Barranco and plenty of tours into the historic centre. There are plenty of hotels, hostels and guesthouses in this neighbourhood, plus AirBnB has a great range of properties, and if it’s your first time using it, you can get a $40 discount code here .

Things to do in Cuzco and why it needs to be on your Peru travel itinerary.

I would suggest spending at least 3-4 days in Cuzco since the first two days will likely be a write off depending on how well you handle altitude sickness . When you fly into Cuzco, it’s recommended that you spend your first day resting and that you follow that up with some light sightseeing on the second day. Some people aren’t affected by the altitude and can hit the ground running, but I’ve seen other people be standing one minute and then hit the ground like a sack of potatoes the next, so it’s better to take precautions.

Once you’ve been able to acclimate, it’s time to start exploring and luckily there’s plenty to see and do in Cuzco. Some of the main sights in Cuzco include: Qorikancha , the most important temple in the Inca Empire which was dedicated to the Sun God; Plaza de Armas , the main square where you’ll find Cuzco Cathedral; the  Pre-Columbian Art Museum , which houses an art collection in a mansion-turned-convent; and the Inka Museum , which showcases gold-work, pottery, textiles, and even mummies.

For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, you may be interested in the ChocoMuseo , which covers the history of chocolate, and the Pisco Museum , which is a bar that offers pisco tastings.

Foodwise, the cuisine in Cuzco is quite different from what you’ll have experienced in Lima . We found the meals to be a lot heartier. Some traditional dishes you may want to sample include: chairo , a thick soup made with lamb and vegetables; alpaca skewers , very tender cuts of alpaca meat cooked over the grill; and guinea pig , which is usually served roasted (be prepared to get the whole animal on your plate!) Dishes feature a lot of potatoes, corn, and various root vegetables, and coca tea is a staple at every meal.

While in Cuzco I stayed at  Tika Wasi , which is a boutique hotel that sits on the neighbourhood of San Blas overlooking the city. It was a peaceful setting with a cool courtyard and plenty of lounging space, and I also liked that each of the rooms had its own unique design. It was a 7-minute downhill walk into the town, and I feel like this helped us train for the Inca Trail!

Sacred Valley

Keep in mind that you can also take various day trips from Cuzco. Some of your options include: Maras Salinas , the famed terraced salt flats;  Pisac , a small town known for its huge Sunday market;  Ollantaytambo , the place where the Incas retreated after the Spanish seized Cuzco; and Moray , an agricultural laboratory known for its round terraces where the Incas were able to cultivate resistant varieties of plants high in the Andes. Alternatively, you could book yourself on a full-day tour of the Sacred Valley which hits some of these as well as other sites along the way. Whichever way you do it, the Sacred Valley is a place that you should definitely tack on to your Peru travel itinerary .

Hidden ruins on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Inca Trail + Machu Picchu + Aguas Calientes

We did the 2-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and it was hands down one of the coolest adventures of our visit to Peru. Our first day involved a full day of hiking, and then the second day we had a guided half-day tour of Machu Picchu where our guide brought the city to life with his storytelling. We then had free time that afternoon, so Sam and I spent that time filming and taking pictures.

If you’re walking the Inca Trail or spending more than one day visiting Machu Picchu, then you’ll end up spending at least one night in the town of Aguas Calientes. If you’re feeling sore from all the hiking, you can enjoy a soak in the hot springs that give the town its name , or you could treat yourself to a massage. Alternatively, there are a few easy hikes from Aguas Calients, or you can shop for crafts and souvenir at Mercado Artesanal.  Lastly, if you really want to treat yourself to a good meal, head straight to El Indio Feliz , which is run by a French cook who knows how to combine French and Peruvian cuisine to create a culinary masterpiece.

Where I stayed: 

In Aguas Calientes, we stayed at Terrazas del Inca which sits right by the river. All I remember is that the hotel had really hot showers and a super comfortable mattress, which was greatly appreciated after all that hiking. They also had a really hearty breakfast, which we gladly gobbled at 4:30 in the morning before heading over to Machu Picchu.

I have to admit, Puno was not one of my favourite stops in Peru, however, if you want to do one of the overnight Lake Titicaca tours there’s really no other way around it. We ended up spending one night in the town before our tour and another night after. During that time we managed to visit the main square, shop along the pedestrian street, and eat at a few different restaurants. Here’s a look at what to pack for Lake Titicaca   if you’re doing an overnight stay.

Where I stayed: After one awful night at Duque Inn, we checked ourselves into Hotel Hacienda Plaza de Armas which is located right on the main square and it was worth the small splurge. The rooms were very comfortable, the staff was incredibly helpful, and the location was much more central as opposed to the former property which was located up a very steep hill.

Visiting the islands of Lake Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca

When it comes to visiting Lake Titicaca , you can choose between a day tour or an overnight tour that includes  a local homestay . The day tour only takes you as far as the reed islands which are settled by the Aymara, whereas the overnight tour takes you a bit further to some of the island communities settled by the Quechua.

We opted for the 2-day overnight tour (you can do longer ones) which took us to a total of 3 islands: Uros , Amantaní , and Taquile .

In Uros, we visited a reed island called Corazon del Lago , where we met the families who live there and learned about their daily life on a floating island. We had an interpreter with us the whole time, which allowed us to ask the types of questions that cross every visitor’s mind: Where are the bathrooms? How do you have electricity? Isn’t it dangerous for young children to live so close to the water? The answers: They now have outhouses. Solar panels have been installed. And children learn to swim at a very young age.

The second island we visited,  Amantaní , was my favourite since we got to stay with a host family and this gave us a unique glimpse at their culture and way of life. Our host mom cooked us a delicious lunch, then we did some hiking in the afternoon, we later had a delicious dinner which was also prepared by our host mom, and after that, we were taken to the local community hall for some music and dancing.

On our final day, we hiked around Taquile , which is an island with UNESCO status for its “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, namely handwoven textiles and knitting. It was also fascinating to watch our guide interpret the local dress for us; the way men wear their hats can indicate whether they are happy, sad, having an average day, single, married, or an authority figure in the community. That’s a lot of meaning based on the way you wear a hat!

During our tour, we stayed with a local family on the island of Amantaní. We booked our tour through  All Ways Travel  and once we met our guide, she gave us the option of doing a rustic homestay (no electricity and outhouses) or a more modern homestay (electricity and toilets with running water).

Day trip to Paracas and Islas Ballestas in Peru

Paracas + Islas Ballestas

If you’re doing a big trip around South America but you don’t have time for the Galapagos Islands, Peru’s Islas Ballestas are often said to be the next best thing; and while they may lack the size and diversity of the Galapagos, the Peruvian islands are an important sanctuary for wildlife plus they do give you a chance to see animals in their natural habitat.

The boat trip from Paracas to Islas Ballestas is just 24 kilometres and it is 30 minutes each way with one hour of sightseeing in between. We got to see a lot of really cool animals   including Humboldt penguins, sea lions, sunfish, pelicans, cormorants, terns and more.

If you suffer from motion sickness this may not be the best excursion for you since the waters can be a bit choppy, but otherwise, it’s a nice way to break up the journey down to Huacachina.

Visiting Huacachina, Peru to see its massive sand dunes!

So I only visited Huacachina as a day trip , but once I got there I was wishing I had booked something longer since it’s such a cool destination. Huacachina is a tiny oasis in the middle of the desert; you have a green lagoon surrounded by palm trees, and around that you have a small village that only stretches a few streets back. The place has a very laid-back hippie vibe , and if you’re tired from your travels, this is a great place to just relax.

There are two main activities in Huacachina: sandboarding and dune buggy riding . We tried both. The steep dunes make this the perfect playground and it really felt like we were on a rollercoaster. We booked our tour through a hostel once we arrived in town, and we were out on the dunes within 10 minutes. Our driver also had boards in the buggy, so after tossing us up, down and around, he finally parked atop one of the steepest hills and let us try our hand at sand boarding. Apparently, sandboarding can be a little tricky if you don’t have any previous snowboarding experience, so I ended up sliding down headfirst on the board. Yes, it was terrifying, but it was also a blast!

If you’re looking for something a bit tamer, you can rent paddle boats to take out on the small lagoon, or you can hike up the dunes to watch a killer sunset.

Doing a vineyard stay in Ica, Peru.

If you’re already going to Huacachina, you may also want to consider adding a couple of days in Ica to your Peru travel itinerary . While Ica itself is far from being a beautiful city, the area is home to many vineyards and wineries , and once you’re in the outskirts of Ica it’s a whole different world. If you’re looking for a bit of a luxury weekend where you can unwind and relax , this may well be the place for you.

Sam and I booked ourselves in at Viñas Queirolo and we basically stayed on the premises all weekend. We went on a vineyard tour, attended wine tastings , and ate at the in-house restaurant which had some of the most beautiful plates of ceviche I have ever seen in my life.

We stayed at  Viñas Queirolo , which is in the outskirts of Ica. It’s a beautiful property and well worth the splurge for a night or two.

Things to do in Iquitos, Peru.

Iquitos marked the start of our trip into the Peruvian Amazon, and again, while many people tend to skip over this city, I enjoyed having a few days to experience it. Here you can visit the stilt village of Belen , stroll along the promenade at sunset , enjoy the colonial architecture, or cool down with a drink at one of the many riverfront cafes on Malecon Maldonado . You can read the following article for some ideas of things to do in Iquitos .

Since Iquitos is in the heart of the jungle, the food is quite different from what you’ll have experienced along the coast or in the sierras. The majority of the dishes here feature fish, rice and tropical fruits. If you’re a foodie , you may want to sample: tacacho y cecina , roasted plantain balls served with a side of dry pork meat ; juane , a steamed dish made of rice and chicken cooked inside a giant leaf; and  patarashca de paiche , a large freshwater fish which is steamed in a leaf.

While in Iquitos I stayed at the  Epoca Hotel , which is a beautiful heritage property right on the shores of the Amazon. The hotel has a colonial hacienda feel with tall ceilings, iron balconies, and a beautiful tiled exterior. Also, the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, so I can happily recommend them.

Doing on excursions in the Amazon Jungle in Peru

Our visit to the Amazon started out with a treehouse stay in the middle of the jungle . We booked 2 nights at the Treehouse Lodge, and it was one of the coolest experiences ever. When we weren’t hanging out in our cool treehouse, we were going on wildlife excursions , fishing for piranhas , or visiting local villages . If you’re adventurous and want to live up in the trees a la Jane and Tarzan, this is a cool experience to consider.

After our treehouse stay, we did a 4-day cruise on the Amazon River   which saw us travelling up and down the mighty river. Once again, there were plenty of excursions to keep us busy. We went  kayaking along the tributaries , did a canopy walk across a series of hanging bridges , and saw all sorts of wildlife . This was one of those lifelong bucket list experiences and a must add to your Peru travel itinerary!

I spent the first two nights at the Treehouse Lodge and from there I spent the next 3 nights aboard the Delfin I . If you’re thinking of doing both, I would suggest doing the treehouse stay first since it’s a more rustic experience, and then finishing things off with a the cruise since that offered a bit more pampering. Also, here’s a look at  what to pack for your trip to the Amazon .

One month in Peru

So that brings us to a grand total of 28 days of travel around Peru . Tack on a few transportation days, including flying and out of the country, and you’ve got yourself a whole month dedicated to exploring some of the gems Peru has to offer. Like I mentioned earlier, I feel this itinerary barely scratches the surface and it only focuses on some of the better known destinations in the country, however, it does cover a mix of cities and rural areas , as well as destinations along the coast, sierras, and jungle. I hope this one month Peru travel itinerary will help whet your appetite and hopefully you’ll be back for more!

PIN ME FOR LATER!

Peru Travel Itinerary - Where to travel in Peru with 1 month in the country.

What are your favourite places in Peru? Any other destinations you’d add to this Peru travel itinerary?

14 Comments

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Ica looks so beautiful!

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I loved the winery in Ica! It’s such an easy weekend getaway and it’s quite the change from the city.

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Seems like you saw a whole lot of Peru in just a month. You really had some incredible experiences; it’s no wonder a lot of travellers always want to get back to Peru again. I hope I’ll get to visit Peru too!

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Wow! This is a packed itinerary… Peru is definitely on my list. 🙂

Looks like you had good weather for Machu Picchu — that would be my biggest concern!

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I’ve always wanted to go to Peru. Do you think there’s enough there to keep children happy?

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how much would u say 2 people will spend in peru if they wanna go for a month. it looks amazing, i would love to go to lima, cuzco, the amazon and see the north of peru i have heard the beaches are beautiful. do u have any idea?

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How much money did you spend?

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What was the estimated cost for this 1 month trip?

Hi Callie, It’s hard to give you an exact figure because this will all depend on your personal travel style. Will you be doing hotels or hostels, dining in restaurants or cooking for yourself, taking guided tours or exploring places on foot, etc. I would start off by looking at accommodations in your price range, and then you can decide what tours you’re most interested in and research the costs. Best, Audrey

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We are hoping to travel Peru for a month next year for our honeymoon as this has been massively useful to us, thank you. I’ve done a bit of travelling myself and i always think its best to get opinions and recommendations from others.

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Such a great article Audrey, I literally feel how much you love this place and amazing, that you’ve been there 3 times already! Must be special 🙂 Thanks for sharing all those tips with us, appreciate that!

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Thanks for the great info about the different places, helped me a lot to plan my trip. I really loved the alternative tour to the rainbow mountains in Cusco, that I did on my last day in the city of the Incas haha. It was a lot better than the normal tour that almost everyone does because we left Cusco later (at 5:00am) so I could sleep a little longer, we only hiked for 45 minutes (instead of 3 hours) and we saw various rainbow mountains (not just 1)…and we also hiked through the red valley!! Just amazing 🙂 Did the tour with exploorperu, a local Peruvian travel company and they were great. I found out they have a article about the rainbow mountains, I’ll just leave it here for anyone interested (and hope you guys can visit it the next time you’re in Cusco) https://exploorperu.com/blogs/exploor-peru-travel-blog/discover-the-best-route-to-the-famous-rainbow-mountains-of-peru

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How did you guys travel around? Did you rent a car or take the bus? I’ll be going for 3 weeks solo and am curious whether its cheaper to rent a car.

Hi Kiah, we did a combination of flights and overnight buses since the distances between these destinations are quite far. You could technically drive from Lima to Ica and Huacachina, but it’s so much easier to take the bus, especially considering what traffic in and around Lima is like.

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LivingOutLau

2-Week Peru Itinerary: Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu + More

If you are planning a trip to the heart of South America and explore the wonders of Peru, then you are in luck. Peru is one of my favorite countries in the world and my intended 1-month Peru trip actually turned out to be several months.

But I won’t bore you with every detail of my Peru journey (including an excruciating 24-hour bus ride), so I condensed all the highlights into an amazing 2-week Peru itinerary that’s going to give you a taste of the best this beautiful country has to offer.

From the ruins of Machu Picchu to the ancient city of Cusco and the vibrant seaside of Lima, our 2 weeks in Peru itinerary has something for everyone, whether you are you’re into adrenaline-pumping activities, culinary adventures, or historical exploration.

So let’s wait no further, let’s see the highlights on our Peru two-week itinerary!

Where To Fly Into? Lima or Cusco?

Bridge-of-Sighs-Lima

The first question many travelers have when planning their trip to Peru is whether they should fly into Lima or Cusco. Both cities seem like a good starting point for your 2-week Peru adventure.

When it comes to sightseeing, flying into Cusco or Lima does not make much a difference. Because we’ll see both in our Peru travel itinerary, it’s only a question of whether you are seeing Lima last or Cusco last, or vice versa.

The only important thing to note is that Cusco is at 3400m high and Lima is at sea level.

My expert recommendation is that if you are flying from somewhere that is already quite high in altitude (1500m+), it is better to fly into Cusco because you’ll adjust to the altitude quicker.

If you are flying from a city that’s near sea level, then it doesn’t make much a difference, especially if you plan on flying from Lima to Cusco or vice versa anyways.

The only exception is if you plan on taking a bus from Lima to Cusco (as this will help you slowly acclimatize as the bus moves to higher elevation), but it is a 24-hour ride and you don’t really have time to for in this itinerary.

💪 Pro Tip: When booking your flights, make sure you are flying into Lima and out of Cusco or vice versa. This’ll save you time and money!

Peru 2 Week Itinerary Map And Overview

Above is a personalized map for your two weeks Peru itinerary. Our itinerary will focus on the southern part of Peru , where most of the best attractions such as Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain and Cusco are located. The Northern parts of Peru do have their own charm but they are off the beaten path. If you have more time, I recommend you to include them in your Peru itinerary. In crimson red are the places you will visit in Peru. They are numbered from 1 to 6, with number 1 as Lima and number 6 as Puno. This is the order you will follow for your Peru vacation. If you have more than two weeks in Peru, check out the extra attractions we have indicated with the blue stars.

📝 Note : You will notice that there is a pin in Bolivia. That pin is the Uyuni Salt Flats. Though it is far away, there are tours from Puno (number 6) all the way to the Salt Flats in Bolivia. If you have a few extra days, consider adding it to create a Peru and Bolivia itinerary.

14 Days In Peru: The Perfect 2-Week Peru Itinerary

Day 1-2: lima (peru’s capital).

peru travel blog

Pariwana Hostel is one of the best hostels in Lima for any type of traveler . Are you traveling solo and wanting to meet other travelers? There are a bar and a ping pong table on the terrace for socializing. Are you traveling for work? You can take advantage of their business center.

The dormitory and private rooms are both clean and spacious. Located in the safe neighborhood of Miraflores, you will have access to nightlife and some of the best seafood restaurants in Lima.

Best Hotel In Lima –  Miraflores Park, A Belmond Hotel

Best Luxury Hotel in Miraflores

Miraflores Park is one of the highest-rated hotels in Lima and it is not surprising why. This 5-tar hotel is guaranteed to offer guests a luxurious stay, especially with its charming rooms and bathrooms decked out with expensive marble.

The hotel is situated on the promenade, so every day guests can wake up to sweeping ocean views and a nutritious breakfast buffet. If you want to feel like kings and queens on your trip, Miraflores Park is the place to stay in Lima.

Day 3-5 (3 Days): Ica, Huacachina, Paracas

peru travel blog

Located in Ica, Ica Adventures II is a hostel for budget travelers . With comfortable beds, a rooftop terrace , and an amazing breakfast, you can’t get a better deal anywhere else! No wonder why it is one of the highest-rated hostels in Ica!

Best Hotel In Ica/Paracas/Huacachina –  Hotel El Huacachinero

Where to Stay in Huacachina

Located in Huacachina, Hotel El Huacachinero is a hotel close to the action . Featuring an outdoor swimming pool where guests can relax and admire the soft and silky dunes around them, Hotel El Huacachinero is one of the best hotels in the area.

Their breakfast is the perfect way to prepare yourself for a day of exploring!

Things To Do In Ica/Huacachina/Paracas

1. huacachina oasis.

peru travel blog

Cusco is the hub for all local artists, merchants, and vendors. Without a doubt, it is the best place to get yourself some Peruvian souvenirs to remember your trip by.

Alpaca products such as sweaters and scarves are abundant, and visitors don’t have to spend a ton of money to buy something of decent quality. However, if you are interested in the legendary 100% baby alpaca stuff, expect to pay a fortune!

📚 Read More: How To Get To Machu Picchu From Cusco: All Ways Explained!

Where To Stay In Cusco, Peru

Because of the high elevation in Cusco, it is a lot trickier to find the perfect place to stay. For example, you might need an oxygen-enriched room to help with altitude sickness, one of the biggest dangers in Cusco .

Therefore, we have written a complete guide on  where to stay in Cusco here .

Best Hostel In Cusco –  Nao Victoria

Nao Victoria Hostel Cusco Peru

Closely located to Cusco’s best sights, Nao Victoria is one of the best places to stay in Cusco. The main square Plaza de Armas is located a few minutes away. Though its location is amazing, it isn’t even close to Nao Victoria’s best features.

The hostel’s stylish and modern decoration along with its cleanliness makes it feel like a hotel more than a hostel.

Each dormitory bed is equipped with individual lights, a curtain, and an electric socket. The staff becomes your best friend on your arrival day and helps you with your visit to Cusco, including information about Machu Picchu.

Best Hotel In Cusco –  Tariq Boutique Hotel

Tariq Boutique Hotel Cusco

Tariq Boutique Hotel is my favorite hotel in Cusco and it is easy to see why. The boutique hotel is small enough to get the individualized attention you need in case you fall ill. Their rooms have huge windows with jaw-dropping panoramic views of Cusco.

It is also much more affordable than all the other “big name” hotels in the area!

Day 12-13 (2 Days): Puno and Lake Titicaca

peru travel blog

Inka’s Rest Hostel is one of the few good hostels in Puno. Featuring comfortable single beds in dormitory rooms, guests can finally have undisturbed sleep. The showers are hot, which is something rare for a cheap hostel. Their free breakfast is also very tasty and filling.

Common areas have Netflix and computers for all your relaxation needs, and the owners are super friendly!

Best Hotel In Puno –  Tierra Viva Puno Plaza

Hotel Puno

Located next to Puno’s main plaza, Tierra Viva Puno Plaza is one of the prime hotels in Puno. Everything from the spacious rooms and comfortable beds to the helpful staff was amazing. You cannot go wrong with this hotel in Puno!

Day 14: Back To Cusco for Your Flight

It is highly recommended that you leave from a city different than the one you came in. If you came into Peru from Lima, then exit in Cusco and vice versa.

If your flight out of Cusco is at night, you can take one of the morning buses from Puno to Cusco. If your flight leaves in the morning or afternoon, you should leave in the night on Day 13 to arrive in Cusco early morning. Either way, check  busbud.com  for all bus schedules in Peru.

It will be sad to leave such a beautiful country but don’t worry, you can always come back. Northern Peru has plenty of hidden gems such as  Chachapoyas  for you to explore next time!

2-Week Peru Itinerary With Inca Trail

Inca-Trail-Peru-Sign

If you are planning on doing the Inca Trail in your two weeks in Peru, your itinerary will definitely look different. After all, the Inca Trail is a total of 4 days, which is a huge chunk of time of your trip. But believe me, it is totally worth the trek!

If you are doing the Inca Trail, we would recommend you to skip Puno and Lake Titicaca. Your Peru itinerary should look like this:

  • Day 1-2 (2 days): Lima
  • Day 3-5 (3 days): Ica, Paracas, Huacahina (Long-distance night bus to Cusco on Day 5 if not flying)
  • Day 6-14 (8 days): Cusco and Inca Trail (Stay 2 days in Cusco before going on the Inca Trail for acclimatization purposes)

Right days might seem quite a bit for Cusco, but if you take in account. the two days you’ll need for acclimization and the one day you’ll want to relax after your hike. You don’t really have much time left.

📖 Note: If you are doing the Salkantay Trek inside of the Inca Trail, follow the same 2-week Peru itinerary just above. You’ll just spend 1 less day in Cusco.

More Than Two Weeks In Peru?

Do you have more than two weeks in Peru? If you have 3 weeks in Peru or even 1 month in Peru, here are some recommendations to add to your Peru itinerary.

Huaraz, The Hiking Captial of Peru

peru travel blog

2. Arequipa, Peru’s White City

peru travel blog

Peru is one of the safer countries in Latin America, but since it is still a poor South America country, there are inherent dangers when traveling in Peru. Some of the most common types of dangerous situations you’ll encounter are:

  • Altitude Sickness – Altitude sickness is common for tourists, especially those visiting Cusco or anywhere near the Andes Mountain. Make sure you acclimatize properly to minimize your risk.
  • Pickpockets and Thefts – This is fairly common in Peru, especially in nightclubs, bars, and other tourist areas. Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
  • Robberies – Not as common as the other types of risky situations, but robberies have occurred to multiple travelers I’ve met in Peru, with most of them happening in Lima.
  • Food Poisoning – It is bound to happen to travelers that are backpacking Peru. Avoiding street food will help with food poisoning, but there is no guarantee.

If you are visiting Peru (or any South America country), we highly recommend that you get travel insurance. It’ll also give you the peace of mind to fully enjoy this beautiful country!

Getting Around Peru

peru travel blog

This is the end of our 2 week Peru itinerary! I hope this at least gave you a rough idea of the things you can do in Peru in 2 weeks. Any questions? Leave a comment!

Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links. That means if you book or make a purchase through the links, we will earn a small commission at  no extra cost to you ! The money will help run this site! Thank you !

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World Traveler, Travel Blogger, Photographer

LivingOutLau

Sean is the founder of the travel blog, LivingOutLau. He has been to over 30 countries in over 5 years of travel. Every day, he is traveling and sharing his discoveries of the world through exceptional travel guides on his blog!

2 thoughts on “2-Week Peru Itinerary: Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu + More”

Thanks most helpful planning to go in November 🙂

Hi! Thank you for all the useful information. I hope to be able to visit Peru soon. I’ll keep reading your blog, it’s amazing!

Greetings from Panama 🙂

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Borders Of Adventure

Borders Of Adventure

Leading Culture and Adventure Travel Blog by Becki Enright. Looking at the world with a different angle to change perceptions of misunderstood places, for the best in travel.

The stone Inca ruins of Machu Picchu set within the pinnacle mountains of the Sacred Valley in Peru.

Adventure Travel , Peru

This Is How to Travel to Peru – All You Need to Know Guide

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to handpicked partners, including tours, gear and booking sites. If you click through or buy something via one of them, I may receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and allows this site to keep running.

A Peru travel guide to show you how to travel to Peru adventurously and safely, with tips on transport, treks and sightseeing highlights.

Those who travel to Peru are usually those also stepping foot on the South American continent for the first time since the country serves as an easy gateway to wider adventure.

Peru is a diverse spectrum of landscapes beyond its famed jungle and highlands and the stretch of desert on the west coast. It dazzles with its Colonial architecture, marvels with mystery as people seek out its ancient Inca sites and the pilgrimage to Machu Picchu, and tempts people into its untouched nature from deep canyon to high mountain peak as travellers seek out adrenalin fuel with a view.

Despite being more on the trodden path (with a chance to get off it a little), and because it is one of the cheapest of the 12 countries that make up the continent, travelling to Peru can still seem overwhelming for the first time visitor.

My visit to Peru also marked my first time in South America. I searched high and low to gather all the information I needed to capture the scenic and historical highlights, make the most of my budget and time, and stay safe when South America still has a less than desirable reputation in parts.

Here, I’ve pulled everything you need to know as a comprehensive one-stop Peru travel guide, from what to see and how much you spend, to safety and the most responsible, ethical travel choices you can make here.

A tourist in Peru standing with a man and his alpaca at Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) in the Andes.

Wet vs. Dry Seasons in Peru

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The easiest way to determine when is the best time to travel to Peru is by breaking it down into the country’s wet and dry seasons:

  • May to October / November is the dry season in Peru
  • December to March / April is the rainy season in Peru
  • April and November are typically considered the shoulder seasons in Peru, where anything goes as the seasons pass over
  • February is the hottest month in Peru, and August is the coldest.

Peru is an adventure holiday capital. Therefore, considering the country’s diverse topography from desert to jungle, the weather outcome also depends on where you plan to visit in Peru and what activities you will be doing.

For example, it’s not a good idea to visit the jungle highland and mountain areas to the north and those around Cusco and the Sacred Valley during the rainy season, where there is a high possibility of trails and pathways even to Machu Picchu being closed. Lima, conversely, would be more accessible since it is situated on the desert coastline.

As the Tourism website states, Peru is “a country of open doors,” and for American and Western European countries, no visa is required for travel.

The citizens of the following countries do not require a Peru visa :

  • North America: the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  • South America: All South American countries.
  • Central America: All Central American countries except Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
  • Europe: All countries within the European Union (EU) and Switzerland.
  • Africa: South Africa.
  • Middle East: Israel.
  • Asia: Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
  • Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.

However, check your country’s consulate for up-to-date information and any changes before you embark on your Peru holidays.

You can check if you need a visa and how many days you get upon entry here .

Tourist entry to Peru is a single entry stamp at the airport or land border that grants you a maximum stay of 183 days. You need a passport valid for at least six months and with at least two free pages. The entry stamp cannot be extended once you are inside the country, and any overstay time can be met with a fine.

Travel to Peru from Neighbouring Countries Overland

A Peru trip is surrounded by travel temptation, with borders to Ecuador and Colombia in the north, Bolivia and Brazil in the east, and Chile to the South. That makes Peru a perfect starting point for onward travel or the ideal country to travel to, paired with a neighbour.

Entering Peru from neighbouring countries overland requires you to do some immigration legwork afterwards. Immigration authorities may not allow you to leave Peru without proof of a valid exit stamp from the last country you visited, and it is required by law to apply for an entry stamp once you are in Peru. That is if you didn’t get an entry stamp at the land border. You will need to show authorities various documentation of your travel journey.

Via Huaquillas (the most popular), Macará or La Balsa at Zumba . If you enter Peru overland from Ecuador, you will need to get your passport stamped with a Peruvian entry stamp at the local immigration office where you are staying.

If you enter Peru from Bolivia via Copacabana , make sure your passport is stamped with a Peruvian entry stamp at the immigration office in Desaguadero or Copacabana (near Puno, which is a known traveller hub).

What is the Best Way to Travel Around Peru?

A large country with a lot of ground to cover, it’s important for this Peru travel guide to cover the best, safest and most cost-effective way to get around. Through means I’ve tried and tested. 

Furiously researching how I would travel from Lima to Cusco and see everything from the sand dunes, colonial cities and the manmade habitable lake islands in between, I mostly came across stories of dodgy local bus rides and rip-off taxi drivers.

Travelling within Peru is no longer difficult. In this research, I came across a great and relatively new bus service in Peru called Peru Hop, which gave me a pass to try out during my two-week journey from Lima to Cusco.

Peru Hop offers a multi-stop Flexi ticket in either direction between Lima and Cusco (and one that also takes you to La Paz, Bolivia), stopping at Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa and Puno in between. More than just a transport service, it acts as a flexible experience where you can tour Peru independently, adapting to your interests and itinerary. There are even extra, exclusive stops and Peru tours along the way.

It means having one ticket, one easy-to-use online booking system, maximum flexibility, and not dealing with rogue travel agents or the hassle of local bus stations. You can see the major cities and hotspots easily and safely (everyone who boards the bus has to have a valid seat booking, from which their passport details are logged) , be picked up and dropped off at your hostel, and have the help of an onboard local guide who speaks English and Spanish.

Tickets start from $159 (valid for one year); you can read my full Peru Hop review here .

The Peru Hop tourist bus in the Paracas National reserve desert.

Buses are the easiest means of getting around Peru, with the Peru Hop service being great for accessible travel on the southern loop through major sites.

The best-priced flights to Peru usually get you to Lima, which becomes the main starting hub for the majority of travellers. The company behind Peru Hop also operates the Airport Express Lima bus that has multiple stops in the city centre.

You can book online or show up and hope for space. This is a cheaper option than the taxi pick-ups organised by many hostels, although I much preferred the organised taxi option late at night.

Peru Hop currently doesn’t offer any bus service in the north of the country, which is a shame and is a service I hope comes in time. Many travellers I met making their way to northern Peru for grand treks such as Laguna 69 used local buses (with many citing there were enough gringos riding them not to feel too sketchy and isolated).

You can book buses here via the Cruz Del Sur website .

If you want to travel from Lima to Cusco (or vice versa) without any stops in between, the easiest way is via an internal flight. Many use Lima as a cheap flight route from their home city to then fly to Machu Picchu, making it a more popular direction.

While you might find a good deal with Peruvian Airlines, I recommend Latam, which has a good safety record, is more of an established pan South American airline, has regular routes between cities, and isn’t too expensive. You can land a flight for around $60 if you get lucky.

Sightseeing Peru – Where to Visit

Typically on the first visit to Peru, travellers will visit the ‘southern loop’ between Lima and Cusco, with Cusco often the only or main stopping point because of getting to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. This is a shame, as there are plenty of places to visit in Peru on this loop with great historical interest or famed natural landscapes.

Those with more time typically venture north for the famed Laguna 69 trekking route or do so on a second visit.

You will likely start in Peru’s capital because of the regular flight routes. Lima is a sprawling coastline metropolis, with much of its outer residential areas completely off-limits. Most visitors stay in the safer touristic neighbourhood of Miraflores, from which you can mix modern city hangouts with Inca ruins and beaches. Others stay in the bohemian area of Barranco, known for its artist and alternative scene.

Downtown Lima is accessible from both and is usually visited as part of a day trip. It’s largely sketchy beyond the small cluster of squares and streets where you’ll find grand buildings from cathedrals to Palaces around Plaza de Armas and colourful streets peppered with ornate wooden balconies as you wander between local cafes, restaurants and stores.

A tourist visiting the Huaca Pucllana Inca Ruins in Lima, Peru.

Huaca Pucllana Inca Ruins in Lima.

Coastal Paracas may not have much going on apart from its super chill vibes, but people come here to head out on a speedboat to visit the protected Ballestas Islands. Dubbed the “Poor Man´s Galapagos”, this is a chance to spend two hours spotting wildlife, including pelicans, penguins, birds and sleepy sea lions in the Paracas National Reserve. 

The contrasting sweeping desert plains of Paracas National Park, marked by cliff drops and jagged rock formations, are also another highlight. However, there are plenty of nature-focused things to do if you decide to stay for a few lazy days.

The sandy ocean oastline cliffs of the Paracas National Reserve in Peru.

The coastline of Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands, Peru.

Peru sightseeing by boat to view the Paracas Candelabra carving in the rock hill in Ballestas Islands.

See the famed Paracas Candelabra geoglyph rock carving.

Huacachina is all about the mighty sand dunes. As soon as you arrive in this desert oasis town, you’ll realise it’s surrounded by a ring of golden mounds.

The best way to experience them is by strapping yourself into a sand buggy and enjoying a fast and bumpy nature coaster ride to some of the highest points and stomach-churning ploughs down. Alternatively, you can also learn how to Sandboard down, which is a real thrill ( beginner tips here ). Travellers also come here to indulge at the nearby Pisco vineyards.

A woman sits on the red Sandbuggy parked on the Huacachina sand dunes in Peru.

The sand buggy ride to the Huacachina sand dunes in Peru.

The 2,000-year-old geometric Nazca Lines are a world-famous site, despite the fact we still do not know exactly why these markings in the desert were created . This UNESCO world heritage site remains a mystery, and you can’t pass through without taking a look for yourself.

Three of the Nazca Lines can be viewed for free from a tower that is perched along the Trans American Highway. Still, the best way to see all the mysterious shapes and symbols is via a dizzying plane flight as you curve around the desert basin trying to spot the spider, condor, monkey, whale and astronaut.

A road cuts through some of the Nazca Lines in Peru, where a viewing tower has been placed.

View from the plane shows a road cutting through some of the geoglyphs carved into the Nazca Desert. A viewing tower has been set up for those who do not want to fly over. 

A brown rocky desert landscape with an astronaut carving on the bottom rock - one of the Nazca Lines you can fly over and see on a Peru trip.

Can you spot the astronaut? It’s one of the famed desert soil-carved Nazca Lines in Peru.

Arequipa is a beautiful city decked in colonial architecture, with a panorama of mountain peaks, including the dominant Misti volcano. For a historical introduction and some hidden neighbourhoods and viewpoints, take the free walking tour offered daily.

A full day alone can be granted to the Santa Catalina Convent (Monasterio D Santa Catalina), dubbed “a city within a city.”

The snow-capped Misti Volcano rises behind the colourful old streets of Arequipa, Peru.

The Misti Volcano can be seen from the streets of Arequipa, Peru.

A woman enters a blue room at the Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa while traveling in Peru.

Visit the Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa.

Four hours from Arequipa is Colca Canyon – the second deepest canyon in the world that is said to be twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

Attracting everyone from day-trippers to hardened trekkers, not only can you view the Andean Condor birds in flight from above, as well as find majestic viewpoints to surrounding volcanoes, but also you can hike down into the Canyon, stay overnight in the oasis below and hike out at sunrise. It was a painful, but unforgettable landscape to experience.

A Peruvian couple in traditional dress at a viewing point overlooking Colca Canyon near Araquipa, Peru.

Join the locals visiting Colca Canyon on a day trip from Arequipa, Peru.

Condor in flight in Colca Canyon, Peru.

A condor in flight in the Colca Canyon – a highlight of a visit here.

Puno is famous for Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake on Earth at over 3,800 meters above sea level.

It’s here that people visit the man-made floating reed islands, with the chance to stay overnight with a local family on one of the remote islands a bit further out. I recommend this option if you have time, as I found the half-day and day tour trips set up only for tourists. Not to mention it has induced a culture of begging, even amongst the local children.

Others come to Puno, extending their lake visit as a means to also connect into Bolivia via Copacabana.

Elevated view over the compact town of Puno next to Lake Titicaca in Peru.

Visit Puno to see Lake Titicaca.

A row of reed houses on a floating island in Lake Titicaca in Puno.

Travel to Peru and visit the unique reed houses on the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, Peru.

Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, is, of course, the starting point for those on their way to the famed Machu Picchu – the grand highlight of any Peru trip.

However, there’s more to Cusco than a gateway for those making the pilgrimage to the ancient Inca Site. The centre of Cusco itself is full of sites, including Colonial architecture and stone walls and ruins of Inca days that line the steep cobble-stoned streets.

Fun tours in Cusco can be found in abundance if you want deeper historical and cultural insights. Hip coffee shops, vegan cafes and restaurants, independent design stores and funky hangouts define the city, especially in the bohemian San Blas neighbourhood.

A woman walks down the stone steps of an elevated cobbled street of Cusco overlooking the valley.

The high altitude cobbled streets of Cusco valley.

There are also a few key sites and treks that make for great day trips from Cusco, including.

The Salinas Salt Ponds are a terrace system of evaporated salt ponds a short drive from the town of Maras, located around one hour outside of Cusco. A man-made layered landscape in the Sacred Valley, these salt basins have been in use since the days of the Incas, with a section now open to the public to marvel at.

Woman sitting at Salinas salt ponds in Cusco, Peru and the sacred valley.

One of Peru’s best places to visit is the Salinas Salt Ponds in the Sacred Valley, Cusco.

Moray is an archaeological site of ringed Inca ruins in a remote area near Maras (and easily combined with Salinas). Defined by its circular terraces at a plateau of 3,500 metres, it is believed this was used for agricultural research, with the different terrace levels having unique microclimates.

Sacsayhuaman is a hilltop Inca citadel that sits on the northern fringes of Cusco and is said to be a fortress overlooking the city. It is known for its huge dry stones that fit together in the same way as those on the old Inca walls in Cusco – without any mortar or filling such as soil or clay.

Things to Do in Peru – Further Suggestions

In Lima, Cusco and Arequipa, I used free walking tours (payment based only on tips). I used the company Free Walking Tour Peru in both Lima (for Downtown Lima and Barranco walking tours) and Cusco (for an orientation and history walk) and highly recommend them both for cultural and historical insights, as well as a good balance of fun.

A Free Walking Tours Peru guide in a blue t-shirt with a Peruvian man in traditional dress holding a drum.

Go on a free walking tour in Cusco for orientation and an introduction to Inca history and culture.

Most hotels and hostels offer ideas and services for excursions and experiences. Many are packed full of maps and leaflets detailing local companies. Others offer their own, like cooking classes and Spanish lessons. When booking day trips or short excursions, I used Find Local Trips, one of South America’s largest and most trusted tour booking platforms and GetYourGuide

Where to Stay in Peru

I lived it up in a luxury hotel and stayed in a dorm and private room at a hostel. There’s a mix of everything in the city to suit all budgets and preferences of atmosphere from quiet to party.

  • Casa Andina Premium – Beautiful boutique-style hotel on a quiet street just a few blocks from Parque Kennedy.
  • Pariwana Hostel – One of the hostels you hear about on the grapevine. Close to the beach and complete with terrace and bar, table tennis table and continental breakfast.
  • Alpes Lima – I stayed in both their dorm room property (home to the rooftop bar) and their second property two blocks away that has private rooms and a quieter environment.
  • Pool Paradise Lima – The only hostel in Miraflores with an outdoor pool.
  • The Point – For those wanting to hang out in the arty, hip neighbourhood of Barranco.
  • Paracas Backpackers House – More chilled, family-run hostel just a five-minute walk to the coastline.
  • Kokopelli Backpackers – More of a party hostel, with its own pool and lively bar.
  • Banana’s Adventure Hostel – New, funky, modern touches and great atmosphere. The place I wish I had stayed after finding it.
  • Casa de Arenas – The biggest hostel in this tiny town, complete with bar and pool but is a little worn and the staff attitude isn’t very welcoming.
  • Le Casa de Bamboo – The quiet traveller’s option, complete with a small bar.

Not many people stay overnight in Nazca. Instead, they pass through on the way to Arequipa. For those wanting to chill here and break up the journey, the following places were recommended.

  • Nazca Travel One – Central, family-run establishment.
  • Hotel Alegria – Considered one of the best hotels in this area, and the bonus is it has a pool.
  • Casa de Avila – I adored this cosy, quiet 3-star hotel and treated myself to four nights here (at only $40 a night) to get some proper rest pre and post-Colca Canyon trek. It’s less than a 10-minute walk to the very centre and the Plaza de Armas. You can also take a Peruvian cooking class here.
  • Wild Rover – The party hostel with a pool. Part of the Irish hostel chain in Peru.
  • Flying Dog – The quieter, chilled out hostel with lounge areas and easy access to the centre of the city.
  • Suites Independencia – We left our bags here as we explored on day trips before catching the night bus, but a friend stayed overnight so I got to see the rooms. Basic, spacious room right in the very centre of town.
  • Pacha Suites is also a centrally based accommodation and was a mid-range option that was recommended.
  • Staying with a local family found on Airbnb was an option fellow travellers recommended me for those wanting a proper homestay experience on Lake Titicaca. 
  • Casa del Carmen – A family-run, quiet, cosy residence located in the cool arty district of San Blas. Carmen is very motherly and always on hand to help, although the only downside is you may be asked to move around if you are there for many days as there doesn’t seem to be a set system in place for the rooms. But for $25 for a private room in central Cusco, I wasn’t going to complain too much.
  • Wild Rover – The party hostel option in Cusco for revelling travellers.
  • The popular  Kokopelli Backpackers chain in Peru also has a base in Cusco. It’s right on the main square, although it can be pricey.

The Best Way to Visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

Getting to Machu Picchu is undoubtedly the highlight of Peru, and figuring out the best treks and Machu Picchu tours and days trips is the eternal question in planning.

The stone Inca ruins of Machu Picchu set within a the mountains of the Sacred Valley in Peru.

Trek through the mountains of the Sacred Valley to reach Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Treks

The most popular of all, this four-day trek takes you through various communities and the ancient Incan ruins of the Sacred Valley, set within stunning Andean scenery. The final day marks the start of a pre-dawn to reach the Sun Gate before sunrise as you enter the magnificent Machu Picchu.

A lifeline of Peru tourism, it is important to visit Machu Picchu as responsibly and ethically as possible.

G Adventures Inca Trail Tours – Awarded the best operator for the Inca Trail route. 

Inca Trail 4-Day Trek – A highly rated trek on GetYourGuide with a local operator.

Huayna Picchu Hike — This entry ticket grants access to the 2,693 m peak, which offers elevated views over Machu Picchu’s Inca citadel. Only 400 people per day are allowed to visit Huayna Picchu, so book ahead. 

Dubbed an alternative trek to the Inca Trail, this route crosses the Salkantay Pass at 4600m, following a trail descending into cloud forest. The final point of the hike is to the Inca site of Llactapata, where you get the first look at Machu Picchu from a distance.

See Salkantay trek dates and book here . 

This three-day hike through the mountains of the Sacred Valley is more about the untouched natural scenery than Inca ruins, reaching highs of 4800m. The scenic train journey from Ollayntambo to Aguas Calientes completes your trip to Machu Picchu.

See Lares trek dates and book here .

A woman stands on a grassy platform overlooking the stone ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru.

There are plenty of ways to get to Machu Picchu – which will you choose?

For those who do not embark on the Machu Picchu trek that leads you directly to the site by foot, the train is part of the final journey to this ancient Inca citadel, 2430m above sea level.

A train is also a great option for those who do not wish to trek or who cannot fit time for a trek into their Peru itinerary. It means everyone gets a chance to view Peru’s most renowned pilgrimage site, which remains a mystery as to why it was built.

A Passenger disembarks the blue and yellow Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu.

The Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu.

The Peru Rail trains depart from either Porary or Ollantaytambo station, located in the Sacred Valley. It’s an incredibly scenic three-hour and 50-minute or one-hour and 50-minute journey to the station of Aguas Calientes.

From here, you catch a bus up the winding valley to the entrance to the Machu Picchu site. It is advised to book your bus ticket in advance to avoid the long queues.

Permits are only needed for the Inca Trail and not for entrance tickets to Machu Picchu . However, your entrance tickets need to be booked in advance, alongside your train ticket. You must bring your passport – it is checked both at the Machu Picchu entrance and when you board the train.

Tours of Machu Picchu with a registered guide are highly recommended for those who want detailed insight into each aspect of its design and the history of the Inca people.

Passengers inside a Machu Picchu train carriage in Peru.

One of the most beautiful train journeys you can take.

Peru Rail Ticket to Aguas Calientes (one way): $50 – $70+

Book Here  direct at Peru Rail

Bus Ticket: $12 one way / $24 return

Book Here  via the Machu Picchu ticket service or order a pre-booked round-trip bus ticket here .

Machu Picchu entrance ticket: €38 / $46 (152 Peruvian Soles)

Trekking in Peru

Aside from the Machu Picchu treks, Peru has a variety of stunning trekking options tempting the explorer, whether that’s day trips from Cusco, canyons in the south or more technical lagoon hikes in the north.

This super scenic trek is located in Huascaran National Park – a two-hour bus journey from Huaraz (nine hours northeast of Lima), which travellers use as a base for this expedition. Forest tracks, snow-capped mountains and steep rocky pathways lead to the magnificent turquoise mountain lagoon at 4500m. This can be completed in one day, but more adventurous souls choose multi-day trekking routes to cover more ground in the region.

Rainbow Mountain has become a very popular trek in recent years after the site was discovered when snow on the mountains melted to reveal the incredible lines of colour, giving the Vinicunca mountain (also called Montaña de Siete Colores – Mountain of seven colours) its name.

A hard day trek, which peaks at 5,000 metres above sea level, the struggle of the altitude is worth it for the unique view at the end. Get yourself on a Rainbow Mountain trek with a very early start to avoid the crowds (we left Cusco at 3 am), and look for a trek that takes in the Red Valley on the way back. *Article coming soon*

A woman stands in front of the multi-coloured peaks having completed the Rainbow Mountain trek in Peru.

The views you reach when trekking Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

Trekker photographing a sheep in Red Valley on the way back from the Rainbow Mountain trek in Peru.

Trekking in the Red Valley on the way back from Rainbow Mountain.

And don’t believe those who say it’s a secret they wish they had kept. Over 1,000 people from the local community are employed, including over 200 people renting the horses. That’s a lot of community regeneration and a community thanking us over and over for sharing this wonderful site.

Trekking in Colca Canyon is no easy feat, yet it is just as much an accolade as it is a chance to be embedded in some of the most incredible scenery in Peru. Why? It’s the second biggest and second deepest canyon in the world.

I chose the two-day trekking option to get more immersed in the canyon landscape and national park, located four hours drive from Arequipa.

A tourist on a rock ledge path trekking in Colca Canyon in Peru.

The start of the two-day Colca Canyon trek.

This trekking route also included short stops at the best scenic viewpoints throughout the canyon, before and after the trek, which included long winds down and a VERY steep (and relatively painful) three-hour climb out on the last morning starting at 5 am.

Not everyone wants to travel solo; others may be limited on time and want the ease of having everything organised with a local guide. In Peru, I mixed small group trips with solo travelling.

Peru tours are also a great starting point to cut your teeth on the South America travel circuit, where a tour might be just the familiarity and confidence you need to get started. Here’s a taster of some small adventure group tour options and itineraries, including those that mix Peru with neighbouring countries.

Browse and book 50+ Peru tour options here.

As an official ambassador for G Adventures, I encourage taking their tours to Peru, having met some travellers using them as their introduction to South America. I have been travelling with G Adventures for over a decade, and they advocate responsible travel.

In Peru, where differing levels of poverty and corruption still exist, it’s important to travel as ethically minded as possible, where local communities and social enterprises can benefit from your visit.

Responsible Travel in Peru – Social Impact

One of the main reasons I was in Peru was to visit a collection of incredible projects of positive social impact in Lima and Cusco, set up by G Adventures and their charitable arm, Planeterra. These are projects where tourism footfall and the money we spend benefit local communities when travelling through. It can also serve as a means of empowerment, helping preserve culture and allowing for the continuation of micro-enterprise within communities as one person’s success can fund another business idea.

Travellers pass through these projects on G Adventures’ small adventure tours in Peru or on their way to Machu Picchu on the renowned Inca Trail trek , or you can also visit these sites independently with a bit more planning. 

Positive Social Impact Projects in Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op was G Adventures’ first social enterprise project. While men in the Sacred Valley are often employed in agriculture or as porters for treks, women now have the opportunity to work and continue a beautiful tradition.

Here, travellers have the chance to not only visit the community and see how the weaving co-op is set up but also have a chance to buy a range of handmade souvenirs from jumpers, scarves and items for the home.

A Peruvian woman in traditional dress shows the handmade souvenirs the Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op in the Sacred Valley.

Buy handmade souvenirs from the Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op in the Sacred Valley.

A Peru tour group visiting the village of the Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op in the Sacred Valley, Peru.

The group learns about how the women of this area continue the beautiful tradition of weaving. 

50km from Cusco, in the village of Huchuy Qosqo in the Sacred Valley, a community struggled due to limited access to economic opportunities. Yet travellers were passing nearby, and so an idea was set in place for the construction of the Parwa Community Restaurant.

Over 1,500 G Adventures travellers pass through each month, eating meals using ingredients sourced from local farmers, served by those who are given hospitality training and employment benefits. All income earned by the restaurant is reinvested back into community social projects, including separate micro-enterprises, like Warmicha, which sells various locally made snacks to travellers hiking their way to Machu Picchu.

Trekkers on the Inca Trail dine at long tables at the Parwa Community Restaurant in the Sacred Valley.

The Parwa Community Restaurant in the Sacred Valley near Cusco.

The indigenous Parwa community in the Sacred Valley, Peru.

Meeting the indigenous Parwa Community in the Sacred Valley, Peru.

Parque de la Papa (Potato Farm) is a conservation project dedicated to potato seeds. Over 6,000 indigenous community members work together to preserve the 3,000 species of potato in this area. This provides not only economic opportunities and the preservation of indigenous culture but also preserves agricultural biodiversity unique to this region of Peru.

An indigenous man explains the 3,000 varieties of potato in Peru at the Parque de la Papa conservation project

Learning about the 3,000 varieties of potato in Peru at the Parque de la Papa conservation project.

A former G Adventure Chief Experience Officer (CEO) set up Nunay Reimy restaurant in Cusco. Travellers on G Adventures trips visit this restaurant, where a portion of the establishment’s profits is returned to the community.

The owner of Nunay Reimy restaurant in Cusco explains traditional food and drink of Peru with produce displayed on a white cart.

Cuisine insights at Nunay Reimy restaurant in Cusco.

One of the first big Planeterra projects for G Adventures, money to build the centre was raised by a huge five-year-long international fundraiser by G travellers. Children who live in extreme poverty in Cusco are usually forced to drop out of school and beg on the street to help their families.

You will be contributing to a project that provides children from poor families with a place to get guidance and support. You can support the centre in your visit by buying handicrafts produced by the children who have the opportunity to train in various workshops such as leatherworking and jewellery-making.

Bite Peru was the first project to come out of the ‘G Values Fund’ where former CEOs looking to move on from their role are given the opportunity to submit a business plan for an idea they can set up at home, with the best and most socially viable being granted the funds for it to start.

What was initially set up to provide culinary journeys in Lima and its thriving food scene soon turned into other offerings which help change the perception of the city. It was with these guys that I visited the San Juan barrio, as well as the street art project emerging in the socially displaced neighbourhood of Callao. I can also recommend ceviche making classes and market tours with a special focus on fruit tasting.

A Peruvian tour guide and a tourist sit at a stone ledge looking out over the San Juan barrio of Lima, Peru.

A perception changing tour of the San Juan de Miraflores barrio in Lima, Peru.

Elevated view of the Callao neighbourhood in Lima, Peru with street art and colourful buildings.

Art is transforming the run-down, dangerous and forgotten neighbourhood of Callao in Lima.

Money in Peru

The currency in Peru is the Sol. It doesn’t take long to get used to it. There are just over three Soles to the US Dollar (USD), around three and a half Soles to a Euro (EUR) and just over four Soles to the Pound (GBP). Rounding up helps you make quick conversions when deliberating prices and making payments.

While some businesses accept US dollars and some ATMs allow you to withdraw it even, it is much easier to pay for day-to-day things with Soles, including food and drink, shopping at local markets and entry to local attractions.

We found that Dollar payments were applied for bigger things and where it was easier to pay by debit or credit card like booking the Rainbow Mountain and Colca Canyon treks and hostel and hotel stays.

I also kept 200 Dollars hidden away in case of emergencies.

There are ATMs in every major city in Peru, typically found near each city’s Plaza de Armas (the main square) . It’s highly unlikely that you will find any ATMs in more rural areas, including villages and small towns.

Like most ATMs in South America, it is wise to use those inside a bank or to avoid using any located on the street at night. I always withdrew money in the middle of the day when plenty of people were around.

I was able to use my Mastercard and Visa debit cards. Despite having a pre-loaded travel card that limits being charged extra ATM fees, I was charged a small fee at every ATM transaction in Peru, no matter what card I used.

The fee for withdrawing money at the Peru ATM was always around $5-$7 per transaction , so I soon learnt to take out hearty amounts each time to cover me for a while. The maximum withdrawal was around $200 – $250 per transaction.

How much does it Cost to Travel in Peru?

Peru is significantly cheaper than the other countries in South America, which adds to its popularity. Like anywhere, your daily budget depends on your style of travel and whether you want to live like a local or live it up in comfort.

The biggest cost for a traveller in Peru is normally a trek, connected to visiting Machu Picchu. My other biggest costs were accommodation, since I always took a private room (average prices for a dorm room in Peru are also listed), alongside more convenient means of transport such as a flexible bus pass and an internal flight.

Costs of Travel in Peru (Average Prices in US Dollars)

  • Local, long-distance bus rides: $5-$15
  • Intercity El  Metropolitano bus in Lima: Under $1 (S/. 2.50)
  • Peru Hop ticket: $159 for a ‘Get Quick’ pass / $199 for a ‘Full South’ Pass
  • An internal flight between Lima and Cusco: $60-$70
  • A taxi between Lima airport and a hostel: $20
  • A taxi between Cusco airport and a hostel: $5
  • Big Treks like Inca Trail or Salkantay – $600 – $1,000+
  • Small two-day treks like Colca Canyon – $50
  • Day treks from Cusco like Rainbow Mountain – $50 – $100
  • Dorm in a hostel – $10-$15
  • Private room in a hostel – $25
  • Room in a mid-range hotel – $35-$50
  • Two-hour speedboat tour from Paracas to Ballestas Islands: $15
  • Two-hour sand buggy tour in Huacachina: $15
  • Nazca Lines flight: $80 + 30 Soles ($9) airport tax
  • Day trip to Colca Canyon: $25-$30 + 70 Soles ($20) tourist entry ticket fee
  • Half-day tour to Lake Titicaca, Puno: $10-$15
  • Full-day tour to Lake Titicaca, Puno: $20-$25
  • Food in a local restaurant (two courses) –$2-$5
  • Food in a gringo restaurant – $10-$20
  • Food at a local market – $1- $2
  • Coffee: $2-$4
  • Local beer: $2

Is Peru Safe to Travel to?

While I have never encountered any major problems in Peru, like anywhere in South America, you need to exercise more caution following the region’s turbulent history, which has largely dissipated and hasn’t affected major tourist areas for over a decade. However, it is good to be aware of petty crimes and scams that can still occur and to keep up to date with any Peru travel alerts from your home country.

‘Express Kidnappings’ – This is where travellers are taken to an ATM and forced to withdraw money, normally as much as they can get and effectively held against their will until they can extract the money. This is said to be a common occurrence, particularly at Lima airport.

Muggings – This form of petty crime in Peru usually occurs in more dark and isolated areas. There have been some cases at major monuments such as Sacsayhuaman in Cusco, the hilltop monument in Arequipa at sunrise and sunset when the crowds disperse. I also never walked alone in Lima at night, even in Miraflores, away from the busy areas like Parque Kennedy.

Something-On-Your-Shoe Distraction – There have been a few stories of someone spilling something on your shoe or dropping money in front of you where you feel inclined to help and pick it up. Distraction is the greatest tool for those wanting to commit petty crimes. Don’t fall for it.

Short-changing – I encountered this on many occasions in both shops and hostels. Always, always check your change. I’ve had everything from being given four 10-cent coins when my change should have been four Sole coins to a hostel receptionist giving me change in coins and conveniently leaving out the 10 Soles note that should have come with it. Refuse to leave until you get your right change. I never gave in.

Always carry a photocopy of your passport and not the real thing! I used a Pacsafe Portable Safe the entire time I was in Peru and locked it to the bathroom sink pipes and/or furniture attached to the wall. I also had photocopies of my travel insurance, vaccinations and relevant trip documents.

Only carry enough cash that you need for the day. I only took my credit or debit cards when I knew I had to withdraw cash. I didn’t carry them around daily and kept them stored with my passport in the safe mentioned above.

Keep your bag with you and in sight at all times. I always had my daypack/handbag slung over my shoulder or on my lap, especially in crowded places.

Avoid travelling at night in Peru. Travelling by night is still not considered the best option, as armed holdups on buses and other transport routes still occur, more so in the far northern reaches of the country and on the Peru-Bolivia border at Lake Titicaca. I only travelled overnight on the Peru Hop tourist bus.

Be aware of what border crossings are accessible or not. For example, many official websites mention that the border to Colombia is best avoided due to narcotics (drug) trafficking.

Don’t withdraw money from ATMs at night, and don’t withdraw money from an ATM in an unpopulated or dodgy-feeling area. Withdraw enough money from an ATM in the centre of major cities so that you have enough with you to last through less busy and remote areas.

Don’t flash your valuables. This might sound obvious, but the number of travellers I saw with a camera hanging off their neck or dripping in expensive jewellery and clothing was abundant. Don’t be an obvious target when you already look ‘gringo’ enough. And especially hide your stuff in less affluent and less touristic areas.

Use Uber, especially at night. As a solo female traveller in Peru, there were times I met friends in town for drinks but didn’t want to walk back through quiet, narrow streets at night, especially in Cusco. Uber was a great choice, and I never had any issues. My Peruvian friends always recommended it.

Hold onto your bag when riding local buses, and don’t put it in the overhead compartment. There are countless stories of theft on buses, as well as a classic tale of someone telling you that you have to move seats when you don’t (this is a strategic move to be able to rob you more easily).

The smaller cities in Peru, as in South America generally, are no more of a major threat than other large cities worldwide. However, the Capitals have a lot of major no-go areas. Therefore in Lima, you absolutely need to know where you can and can’t go and what areas are absolutely and completely off-limits.

It’s wise to do some digging on Lima before you arrive. A handful of neighbourhoods in Lima, in particular, should be avoided – like the Callao district next to the airport and Rimac just across the bridge from Downtown Lima and the Presidential Palace.

Miraflores is the safest neighbourhood in Lima and where you should, ideally, stay. It is the more affluent one where locals can afford security guards at both their homes and to sit guard outside of their business premised all night. Miraflores is, therefore, fine to roam by day, yet I would still exercise caution at night when the residential streets are quiet and there is not a security guard on every corner like those roaming at Parque Kennedy.

Barranco, the more artsy and bohemian neighbourhood south of Miraflores, is also a good choice to either visit or stay when in Lima.

When a new district turns into another, it is not marked, and it is easy for your curiosity to get the better of you. A friend and I accidentally wandered into the neighbourhood of Rimac during our day exploring Lima Downtown. If it wasn’t for a local woman on a balcony furiously waving for us to get the hell out, who knows what might have happened? A Peruvian friend later told me we would have 100% been robbed if we were just one more block east.

Impoverished neighbourhoods back onto the affluent ones like Miraflores, and the city widely sprawls to include some VERY dangerous places. For example, next to the Mercado on the fringes of Miraflores is the neighbourhood of Surquillo. Wander too far in, and you may stand out too much. One traveller’s curiosity saw him robbed and beaten, as was his wife, who was wearing a camera around her neck.

Lima is not the place to show your riches. You can feel the atmosphere drop to another level. Don’t take the risk if you haven’t done your research.

On the other hand, Lima is developing with social enterprise schemes and local tours booming. These are helping the areas to regenerate and educating visitors about Peruvian politics, society, culture and what is happening today. I visited an art project in Callao and the San Juan favela/barrio in the east, guided by locals and with genuine insight into how things work and the changes taking place that could turn things around for those less prosperous here.

Lima is so complex, and it is all too easy to dismiss by spending two days in Miraflores before leaving altogether.

Street art on a small cafe and store building in the Miraflores neighbourhood of Lima.

The Miraflores neighbourhood of Lima.

Ceviche is Peru’s classic dish, and Lima is the heart of the dish’s origination. A melody of fresh fish, lime juice and the rich flavours of pepper, onion and chilli combined, it has to be tried at least once as a rite of passage to Peru. You’ll find everyone from local markets to high-end restaurants serving it with their own little twist.

People sit around a Ceviche stall in a market in Lima, Peru.

A Ceviche stall in a market in Lima, Peru. 

Lomas Saltado is ‘salted beef’; marinated strips of beef are combined with a stir fry type mix of pepper, onion and tomato and served with rice. It’s often also served with fries or a mix of both.

Aji de Gallina is well worth a try, especially since it’s always on the menu when you eat in a local establishment. It’s a yellow cream sauce made from yellow Aji peppers, usually served with meat such as chicken, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and rice. The best ones normally have a light spicy flavour for an extra kick.

A Peruvian couple (the woman in traditional woven clothing and a red hat) eating in a market in Cusco, Peru.

Locals dining at the San Blas market in Cusco.

Pisco Sour. Ok, this is not food, but it’s technically a staple part of the culinary menu. Lemon juice, egg white and Peru’s Pisco (a fermented wine) on ice, topped with bitters, make up this famous and timeless classic cocktail. Of course, in Peru, it’s cheaper and made to perfection.

The Internet in Peru can be patchy and not always fast or reliable, which makes travel in Peru and planning a little frustrating. Get yourself a local SIM card, which saves you from relying on the patchy hostel and guesthouse Wi-Fi. A SIM card in Peru costs about 15 Soles (about $5 USD), and I got a starter package with a local carrier, Claro, for 30 Soles (about $5 USD), which gave me 3MB of data.

Remember to take a copy of your passport to purchase the SIM. The main two carriers are Claro and Movistar, and you will find many convenience stores, supermarkets and other outlets where you can top up. Just look for the flag signs and shop window stickers for Claro and Movistar.

Peru is the largest exporter of cocaine to the western world, with this trading belt up into Colombia enticing ‘Narco Tourism’. While offers of cocaine and cannabis frequently occur on the street, especially in Cusco, don’t be that tourist whose curiosity gets the better of them.

Punishment for drugs in Peru is severe, especially if you try to take drugs out of the country (Google ‘Peru Two’ for an example).

Travel to Peru adventurously, safely, and responsibly. Is there anything else you would add to this list?

Planning a Peru Trip? – Pin It! 

A panoramic view of the green Machu Picchu, the yellow desert sands via buggy, local weaving women with a tourist, the multi coloured Rainbow Mountain and the round ponds of the Salt Plains, all in Peru

About Becki

Becki Enright is a British Travel Press Award-winning writer whose work focuses on changing perceptions about misunderstood aspects of destinations. Her writing combines storytelling with insight into the social, historical, political and economic factors that shape the country or place in relation to tourism. Becki has appeared live on Sky News and CNN and has contributed to high profile media including National Geographic, Time.com, Guardian online, New York Times, Grazia and Buzzfeed.

4 April 2024 at 7:11 am

Great article 🙂 I’m hitting up Peru for the first time with G Adventures this summer and all the info you provided on their community work was helpful. Cheers! Kim

4 April 2024 at 2:48 pm

Glad it was helpful, and have a great time touring Peru!

10 July 2023 at 9:06 pm

Hi! This was very helpful, I am traveling solo in August and I was wondering if you had an opinion on which city to visit first between Cuzco and Arequipa? Also safety wise what are the best ways to get from airports to our hostels?

17 July 2023 at 4:41 pm

Lima, Arequipa and Cuzco are almost a triangle of cities, so depend which direction you are travelling in. Safety wise, most hostels can arrange an airport pick up for you. Just email them before with plenty of time. And try to get flights that arrive in the day.

29 September 2022 at 3:10 pm

I’m new to solo travelling, as in never done anything more than an overnight by myself. Peru is first on my list. As someone in my shoes, do you think it is best to find an all in one package for my first trip or attempt to plan everything separately, on my own?

1 October 2022 at 8:41 pm

If you are new to solo travelling, maybe find a fun group tour for Peru. South America is a little more tricky to cut your teeth on than say, Asia.

13 October 2022 at 8:55 pm

Great thank you!

Gloria Butner says

8 August 2022 at 4:03 pm

Hi there, interesting information but how do I visit Amazon rainforest, macho picchoo and galapoluos islands in one trip?

8 August 2022 at 6:05 pm

You can’t. The Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador, and Machu Picchu is in Peru. You can visit the Amazon in both.

20 February 2020 at 4:26 pm

Great guide! I am going in April. Wondering which travel guide to buy now. I always go for Lonely Planet, but wondering if I should try something new that you could recommend?

1 March 2020 at 10:24 am

You could try Rough Guides as well. People are usually in one camp or the other.

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Home » South America » Peru » Backpacking Guide

Backpacking Peru Travel Guide (2024) • Budget TIPS & SECRETS

Peru is a place most people keep high on their bucket lists. Not only is it home to one of the worlds wonders, (Machu Picchu) but it is also is home to an array of cultural and natural attractions. Backpacking Peru offers up the unique opportunity to explore all of the  richness this truly fascinating country in south America holds.

Traveling Peru means experiencing world-class surf beaches on the coast and witnessing the desolation and raw beauty of the Nazca desert. You can trek amongst towering snow-capped peaks in the Andes before descending down into the Amazon jungle.

For me, It was a truly life-changing experience. It was my first international backpacking trip and i left Peru feeling inspired to see the whole world. I’ve put together a Peru travel guide including my favorite spots,  what to do and where to stay.

Lets get into it!

girl standing next to a waterfall while hiking in peru

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Why Go on a Peru Backpacking Trip?

Before visiting Peru for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Beyond Machu Picchu, I didn’t know much about the country. After spending a few months backpacking Peru I fell in love with it. Backpacking in Peru remains one of the greatest highlights while traveling to South America .

This backpacker’s guide to Peru will help unpack the mysteries of traveling in this truly spectacular country and will teach you everything you need to know to have the adventure of a lifetime.

a statue in a museum in peru

Got your attention? Vamos!

If you know you are short on time, I recommend picking a region and focusing on exploring that particular place. Peru is a large country and the travel can be slow going at times. Deciding where to stay in Peru can be a struggle too. To travel to Peru cheaply, travel slowly and absorb the country. Attempting to dart around in a mad rush won’t allow you to experience a place in any kind of rewarding way.

Best Travel Itineraries for Backpacking in Peru

Below I have listed several routes and backpacking itineraries for Peru! There are Peru backpacking trips for everybody here. If you have a month or more and the budget for Peru, it’s easy to combine a couple of these itineraries.

2 Week Itinerary: South Peruvian Coast and Desert

Map of South Peru itinerary

For this itinerary, we will start in Peru’s capital, Lima . I recommend 2-3 days here. Quickly head over to  Arequipa,  a cute little colonial town in Peru. Backpackers usually use it as a pitstop to get to one of the world’s deepest canyons- the Colca Canyon,  one of the deepest places on Earth!

Then head to Huacachina,  a natural lake called the “Oasis of America” . You can do some awesome dune bashing in the desert on these Mad Max-like beasts. Tour operators can also take you sandboarding down the dunes if you need an adrenaline boost.

The next stop is the  Nazca Lines, a series of large ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru. A majority of the lines are simple geometrical shapes while some resemble plants and animals. The only way you can see the lines is by flying in a (rather expensive) helicopter over them as they are massive and only make sense when looked at from an aerial perspective.

3 Week Itinerary: The Peruvian Andes and the Sacred Valley

Map of Peru's Sacred Valley itinerary

This 3 weeks itinerary for Peru brings you to the heart of the Peruvian Andes. The cool fresh air will be a welcomed change from the desert or the coast! Once you arrive in Cusco, the vibrant Quechua culture is immediately apparent.

Cusco is your gateway to the Andes and all of the treasures to be found there. The Peruvian Andes are home to many interesting preserved Incan ruins and of course, the famous Machu Picchu . This wonder of the world is a likely tourist spot in Peru for most backpackers. During high season, however, you may have to book far in advance, so do your research before you travel to Peru and scout out which treks you’re interested in doing.

Be sure to spend some quality time in the Sacred Valley  which is at the foothills of the magnificent Andes mountains. It is home to a handful of small towns and weaving villages that are still inhabited by traditional families. The best way to explore the Sacred Valley is by bike or motorbike. The towns of Pisac , Yucay , Urubamba , Ollantaytambo , and Chinchero are all worth a visit.

Next would be the time to make it to Vinicunca , also called Montaña de Siete Colores. Montaña de Colores  or Rainbow Mountain is a mountain in Peru with an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level.

Now would be a good time to head back to Lima, or onwards to  Puno  to get to Bolivia. If you have an extra week or two, first head for Iquitos  and the Peruvian Amazon because they’re spectacular! Keep in mind you must fly into Iquitos and it is connected by domestic flights to Cusco and Lima.

 Peru Backpacking Trip 10-Day Itinerary #3: Surf and the Beaches

Backpacking Peru itinerary for the beaches

So far I have covered the best places to go in the Peruvian Andes and desert whilst on your budget backpacking Peru adventure. For you beach bums and surf fanatics out there, fear not! I haven’t forgotten you!

For this itinerary, I dive into a few of my favorite places in Peru to soak up some sun and catch some world-class waves. Peru’s beaches are some of the best places on earth to surf. Its 1,000km coastline receives consistent Pacific swell and is nicely situated away from the grey sea fog that shrouds the south coast for most of the year.

Peru’s north coast bathes in near-endless desert sun, so pack your sunscreen!

First up, Trujillo , a small beach town near some notable ruins and on the edge of a vast desert. Then head up to  Huanchaco a sleepy fishing village. Next, head to  Playa Chicama, which is internationally recognized for the longest left-breaking wave with perfectly shaped waves and barrels. Chicama is a popular surf destination for professional and novice surfers alike.

Finally, head to  Mancora for a few days. The beaches in Mancora are bloody fantastic. If you are going to pick one place to surf in all of Peru, this will probably be it.

 Best Places to Visit in Peru

Backpacking in Peru is one wild ride. As a place with so much diversity, the only real question is…

What are you in the mood for? Whether you have a few weeks or a few months there are many exciting places to visit in Peru.

Now that I’ve covered the itineraries, let’s talk about where to travel in Peru in greater detail. There are a lot of gorgeous places to visit in Peru and it’d be a shame to rush them.

Remember! Nice and slow.

Backpacking Lima

Lima is the super busy capital city of Peru. I wouldn’t recommend more than 2-3 days in Lima while traveling around Peru as anything more may send you loopy. If you are wondering where to stay in Lima head over to Miraflores which is the most happening part of Lima.

a girl in lima, peru with skyscrapers in the background

I then recommend staying at the Ancestral Hostel Barranco in Miraflores if you decide to explore the city for a few days!

An interesting thing to do in Lima is visiting the Catacumbas which are the underground burial sites that were designed to avoid the spread of diseases from decomposing bodies back in the 16th century.

If you are interested in museums, you could visit the  San Inquisición Museum  which has old torture chambers. There is a pretty dark vibe and it has mannequins that have been placed in torture machines to show how painful it must’ve been for those who defied the church. History is so uplifting at times eh?

You can also do a bit of paragliding in Lima over Costa Verde , a road that follows the Pacific coast atop Lima’s cliffs and gives you a great aerial view of the city. It also has some of the BEST ceviche shops where you can try some of the tastiest ceviche in the world.

Backpacking Arequipa

Arequipa is a cute little colonial town in Peru and a connection in the route to one of the world’s deepest canyons – the Colca Canyon.

If you are interested in the colonial history of Peru and its museums, you will find Arequipa interesting. Try and visit the Arequipa Cathedral or the Santa Catalina Monastery . Make sure to check out the restaurants at the town square. It looks especially gorgeous at night!

As for accommodation, there are some amazing hostels in Arequipa .

a church in lima, peru with a painting

If you are up for a big party night, stay at Hotel Casona Solar in Arequipa. The cool thing about Wild Rover’s is that it is in every major city in Peru and you can get a free night’s stay. They usually have great deals going on for anyone who stays in 3 or more of their properties while backpacking around Peru. This one is located in one of Arequipa’s coolest neighborhoods.

Backpacking Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon is located at the north of the city of Arequipa and is one of the deepest places on this planet. A hike to the canyon should not be missed!

Ideally, you should keep about 2-3 days to do the hike comfortably. There are many tour operators in the area offering trips at a steep price. If you have your camping gear, you can easily do this trek with no guide. Having some solid backpacking gear suitable for camping in Peru will open up many doors for you to explore on your own.

mountains and a lake in the country side of peru

Killawasi Lodge  makes for a good base to explore the area.

Backpacking the Huacachina Desert

Built around a small natural lake sometimes referred to as the “Oasis of America”, Huacachina Desert is a playground for some excellent sand adventures! Sandboarding, rolling down dunes getting sand in your undies, probably building a sand castle: it’s all good!

Camping in the Huacachina desert with your mates is also bound to be an amazing experience. The stars only get better out there.

sand dunes in peru

If you’re interested in photography, you’ll love this place! The milky way is crystal clear and the dunes below make for some insane photo ops! Huacachina town is pretty small but there are a few  Huacachina hostels offering accommodation – I especially love the eco-friendly Upcycled Hostel .

Backpacking Ballestas Island

Ballestas Islands are an island chain that shares some species of animals with the Galapagos Islands.

You can take a speed boat tour from the little town of Paracas around the islands and spot penguins, sea lions, pelicans, and dolphins. If you are not planning on doing the Nazca Lines coming to Ballestas is a good substitute.

a large cave in peru with seals in the distance

Make sure you bring good quality sunglasses , a hat, and a jacket as the winds and the sun can get pretty harsh during the trip.

Backpacking the Nazca Lines

The mysterious Nazca Lines are a series of large ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru. A majority of the lines are simple geometrical shapes while some resemble plants and animals. The only way you can see the lines is by taking a rather expensive helicopter flight over them as they are massive and only make sense when looked at from an aerial perspective.

roaming the streets of peru

Spread out across several hundred kilometers of the Peruvian desert, these drawings have been remarkably preserved over hundreds of years. In any other climate, these drawings would have been obliterated in months. Since the Nazca Desert is one of the driest regions on earth, the environment has helped to preserve these ancient and mysterious treasures.

I recommend staying at the Nanasqa Hostel  if you plan on coming to check out the Nazca Lines.

Backpacking Cusco

Cusco is, hands down, the most fascinating city in Peru. There are not many other places in the world where ancient Inca walls stand side by side with Spanish architecture.

The ruins at Sacsayhuaman are worth a look. More easily remembered by the English pronunciation ‘sexy woman’, the name Sacsayhuaman means ‘satisfied falcon’ in Quechua, the language of the Incas. Cusco hostels range from the sublime to the terrible so choose wisely.

a stray dog sitting near a bush in peru

I stayed at the Wild Rover Cusco which is great if you’re up for a rowdy time,  Cusco is an excellent place to meet up with fellow backpackers in Peru.

In Cusco, you can get yourself sorted with a trekking company if you want to hike the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek. It is possible to do the hike to Machu Picchu on your own if you have your gear.

Want to live like a local? Then find out where the best places to stay in Cusco are!

Backpacking Machu Picchu

Ready for the big mama? Machu Picchu is one of those amazing places in the collective backpacker imagination. This UNESCO world heritage site is famous the world over and for a damn good reason. No Peru backpacking itinerary is truly complete without a little bit of MP.

How you choose to arrive at Machu Picchu is up to you. Arguably the best experience I had during my trip to Peru was my 5-day hike to Machu Picchu via the Salkantay Trek. The trek itself was better than the few hours I spent exploring Machu Picchu. Backpacking in the Andes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

a few sculptures in a museum in peru

If you are going to spend money on any experiences in Peru, I believe you should put it towards a trek of your choosing. These days hiking to Machu Picchu is accessible to anybody with a strong set of calf muscles and some intrepid families even tackle the hike together. For that reason, it’s worth considering skipping Machi Picchu, and the throngs of tourists, and instead checking out some of the other Inca sites around the Sacred Valley .

Apart from the Salkantay Trek, which I recommend, is the equally beautiful classic Inca Trail. Again, be warned, it gets busy at the wrong time of year.

Backpacking the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is at the foothills of the magnificent Andes mountains and is home to a handful of small towns and weaving villages that are still inhabited by traditional families. The best way to explore the Sacred Valley is by bike or motorbike. The towns of Pisac , Yucay , Urubamba , Moray, Ollantaytambo , and Chinchero are all excellent adventures in their own right and awesome alternatives to Machu Picchu… or just see them all!

The Sacred Valley is brimming with pre-Hispanic archaeological ruins that were built by the Incas and used as citadels or resting places. The small villages of the Sacred Valley are ideal places to buy beautiful local handicrafts. There are also a ton of exciting trekking routes that are deservedly gaining popularity.

wondering through the mountains of peru

High-adrenaline activities in the Valley range from rafting to rock climbing. Most activities can be organized in Cusco or at some hotels in Urubamba if you are looking to go down that road. Booking a  hotel in Urubamba  is highly recommended if you are looking for a solid base in the area.

Backpacking Pisac

Apart from the much revered Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuaman, Peru is full of interesting ruins like the ones in Pisac, Moray, Ollantaytambo, and Vilcabamba. Each of the ruins offers something unique to enjoy.

I enjoyed visiting the village of Pisac. I camped out near one of the Shamanic retreat centers for a few bucks a night. After spending nearly two weeks in Pisac, I felt quite connected to the land and the local people.

father and son hiking the mountains of peru

The people and culture of the Highlands are something truly special. I highly recommend taking the time to get to know a village in the Sacred Valley and experiencing all it has to offer.

If you are keen just to visit Pisac for the day, however, you can always sleep at a hostel in Cusco for the night.

Backpacking the Rainbow Mountains

Vinicunca, also called Montaña de Siete Colores, Montaña de Colores, or Rainbow Mountain is a mountain in Peru with an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level.

There is no doubt that the Rainbow Mountains are stunningly beautiful. However, as it turns out, hordes of tourists agree and the place has turned into a full-on gringo trap. In my humble opinion, the large percentage of the people coming here, only do so to take a fucking Instagram photo. That doesn’t sit too well with me.

two girls that are hiking in peru

If you have expectations of the Rainbow Mountains being a place where you can find solitude and enjoy the high mountains, don’t kid yourself.

Note that altitude sickness kicks in above 3500 feet. Allow yourself time to adjust and drink plenty of water.

If you do decide to make the journey to the Rainbow Mountains, do so as early as humanly possible to avoid witnessing this beautiful landscape turn into the dreaded sea of selfie sticks it becomes every afternoon. You can also stay in Cusco to make your visit a day trip.

Backpacking Puno

Puno is a small town in Peru that people use as a stopover point en route to Lake Titicaca or to La Paz in Bolivia. It has a regal plaza, concrete block buildings, and a range of great restaurants with local and international food that blend into the hills surrounding it. It’s kind of an ‘old charm meets new’ vibe.

a waterfall in the mountains of peru

A highlight of my visit to Puno was my homestay experience at Amantani. Amantani is one of the islands in Lake Titicaca where families make money by hosting backpackers. They are actual homestays with families that cook for you and take you for a super fun traditional dance night later in the evening. So book your hostel in Puno and get your homestay sorted from there.

Backpacking Iquitos

If you plan to explore beyond the Andes and into the Amazon basin, then certainly make the journey to Iquitos.

Linked to the outside world by air and by river, Iquitos is the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road. If you want to get to Iquitos, you need to fly in either from Lima or one of the other cities in Peru. You could also get here by boat from Ecuador or Colombia.

A floating lodge in the Amazon

This is becoming more and more of a backpacker destination every year, but it’s more popular as a base for exploring the Amazon. It’s a great adventure to stay in a lodge in or around the city.

This town overlooks the dense Amazon rainforest and has a crazy nightlife, interesting cuisines to try, and fascinating markets. Iquitos interestingly is also called the “Capital of Ayahuasca” with a fast-growing number of Ayahuasca and yoga retreats surrounding the city area. Be very careful of touts though. Make sure you do your research and go through a proper shaman if you wish to try it.

Backpacking Amazonia

If exploring deeper into the Amazon interests you, then Iquitos is the place to hunt for a guide to help you fulfill that dream.

Whilst exploring the Amazon of Peru, you will require a guide at times. The jungle is one fierce place to be lost or sick, so if you plan to come here be prepared to pay for the pleasure. Make sure you take a local guide, not some hack from Lima who is only interested in the jungle because you want to pay him.

must do in peru - visit the Amazon j

All of life’s worthy adventures require a fair bit of effort, and the Amazon is no different. Treat it with respect and you are sure to leave with the memories of a lifetime. This is what backpacking Peru is all about!

Backpacking Trujillo

The small beach town of Trujillo has grown up in recent years. Trujillo is located on the seaward edge of the vast desert plain at the mouth of the Moche Valley. Its attraction lies mainly in its nearby ruins – notably Chan Chan and the huge, sacred pyramids of the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna – but also partly in the city itself. The excellent laidback beach communities are a nice bonus too.

The town of Trujillo close to more of Peru's beaches

Trujillo makes for a good stopping point if you are headed up the north coast from Lima. I met a few travelers who had been living in Trujillo long term, which I thought was pretty cool, because, at the time, the place was not so well-tread on the backpacking circuit.

Yaqta Hostel is the place to stay if want a nice little laid-back hostel with a good location.

Backpacking Huanchaco

The next sexy little beach town on the list is Huanchaco, just north of Trujillo. The vibe in Huanchaco is that of the days of old. Fishing and surfing are the main activities here.

If you are keen to head out for some deep-sea fishing, I am sure some of the locals would be happy to take you out for a few bucks. Ask around and see what you can find. Certainly don’t pay a fortune to go fishing, but expect the day to not be dirt cheap either.

Peru fishing boats at Huanchaco

Still, waiting to get your hands on a surfboard? Time to get in the water and give it a go if you haven’t already! Huanchaco is a fabulous place for surfing in Peru!

ATMA Hostel & Yoga makes for a good place to get a well-earned sleep. If you catch a fish or two, you can cook them up here when the fishing day is complete! Fish tacos anyone?

Backpacking Playa Chicama

Playa Chicama is internationally recognized as the longest, left-breaking wave in the world, known for its perfectly-shaped waves and nice barrels. Chicama is a popular surf destination in Peru for professional and novice surfers alike. Located in the northern coastal desert of Peru, about 20 miles north of Trujillo, the weather is mostly sunny and dry all year with an average temperature of 75°F.

Surfing in Peru at Playa Chicama's surf spot

If you can believe it, a ride on a wave here can last for a mind-boggling 2:30 minutes! You almost have time to have a cup of coffee while you ride this wave! Surfing is the main draw here (clearly), but of course, the beaches are quite nice too if you just want to kick back with a book and read. Though, to be fair, you could probably read while riding that wave.

For a good place to lay your head, I recommend staying at Hospedaje Restaurante El Hombre . The hostel is located right on the beach and a dorm bed will run you back about $10.

Backpacking Mancora

Oh, Mancora… When you arrive in Mancora, your initial impression is of a beat-up town with the Pan-American highway running directly through the center of it. Over the last ten years, development here has risen and Mancora has subsequently become the defacto backpackers capital of Peru’s north coast.

If a backpacking trip in Peru has brought you this far north, then you should check out Mancora for a few days at least. The beaches in Mancora are bloody fantastic. If you are going to pick one place to surf in all of Peru, this will probably be it.

Surfing in mancora, peru

From the center of Mancora town, you’ll need to take a cheap tuk-tuk (5-minute ride) to one of the many backpacking hostels, which are located on the beach, away from the town center.

If you looking to party hard after working your ass off in the waves, look no further then The Point Hostel . Normally I would not directly recommend big party hostels, but The Point Hostel is something special for sure. I ended up getting stuck here way longer than I should of, but I made some great friends and memories along the way. It’s all part of the Peru journey!

From Mancora, it is possible to catch a direct bus to Guayaquil in Ecuador if you are heading north. The middle of the night border crossing into Ecuador was a positive experience!

Getting Off the Beaten Path in Peru

Peru is lucky enough to have some of the wildest places on earth within its borders.

Certainly, adventure travel in Peru provides numerous opportunities to explore away from the tourist crowds. The Amazon basin is just about as wild as it is possible to go. Civilization is far and few between and you can go days, or even weeks, without seeing any other foreigners.

I recommend seeking out a good guide with at least one of your travel mates. That way you can split the cost and keep your Peru backpacking budget tight and seamless.

trekking in the andes mountains

The mountainous terrain of the Andes is a whole other ball game. The highlands in the Andes are home to world-class trekking and mountaineering. The majority of people traveling in Peru will not leave the comfort of their shitty tour group bus or the relevant lookout points. All it takes is a little preparation and a little investment in good adventure gear , and you can be off exploring the wilds of Peru in a unique and personal way.

Aether Backpack

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so  damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

Top Things to Do in Peru

Many of the main tourist attractions in Peru get a lot of attention and many for good reason. That said, there is a seemingly unending variety of activities in Peru to keep you busy on your backpacking adventure. Let us take a look at some of the top things to do in Peru!

1. Hike to Colca Canyon

hiking the Colca Canyon landscape

A backpacking trip to this fascinating landscape will be one of the most rewarding journeys in Peru. Camping out in the canyon, under the silent night and bright stars is truly a priceless experience. Bonus points for you if you book a guide to show you the best spots!

2. Surf in Peru

With over 1,000 km of coastline, you won’t be able to say you never had the opportunity to surf in Peru Peru. From party central beach hostels to quiet fishing villages, Peru’s surf culture is thriving in a variety of settings across the country. Renting a surfboard costs next to nothing and Peru’s beaches offer waves for all skill levels.

Surfing in Peru

Don’t be disheartened when the 10-year-old Peruvian girl carves wave after wave right in front of you. She has been surfing longer than you have.

3. Couchsurf in Lima

There is nothing like getting to know a city with some quality locals. Couchsurfing is that beautiful bridge between backpackers and willing hosts. Experience what life is like for Peruvians in this massive sprawling city.

The city of Lima in Peru

Shout out to Franco! Thanks for the hospitality, amigo!

4. Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic and visited places in Peru (not to mention on the planet). A staggering one million people A YEAR visit these beautiful Incan ruins. Well, I can say I know why people visit: Machu Picchu is truly phenomenal.

trek to Machu Picchu by the Inca trail

As much as I want to tell you not to go there, go there with a local ! MP truly is too stunning to miss. However, the sensitive archeological site that makes up the Machu Picchu complex is put under enormous pressure from visitors each year. Be extremely respectful to all the sensitive ruins, and for god’s sweet sake, don’t draw on anything!

There is talk that the Peruvian government will stop allowing people to access the site directly. Honestly, I don’t see this happening; MP brings in too much money. Better go sooner than later though just in case I am wrong.

5. Hike the Salkantay Trek

snowy mountains in peru

The Inca Trail seems to get all the attention. My opinion: the footpath traffic jams combined with the overworked porters and animals, as well as the damage to the environment, sounds more frustrating and sad than pleasurable. If you are looking for a budget-friendly and ethical alternative hike to Machu Picchu, then the Salkantay Trail is for you.

My time hiking the Salkantay was probably my favorite part of my backpacking Peru experience. The track shows you what the Andes are made of. Properly adjust to the altitude before setting off on the Salkantay Trek – altitude sickness can be deadly up on the mountain peaks.

6. Learn Spanish in Peru

Learning spanish in Peru

Want to jump-start your Spanish language skills? In Cusco, there are many affordable Spanish schools offering classes at a reasonable rate. Shop around and compare the prices before you settle on one. If you want to spend a few weeks studying Spanish, Cusco is a fantastic city to do it in.

If you are serious about learning Spanish, a language school is the way to go!  Vamos pues !

7. Hike the Cordillera Huayhuash, Huaraz

A truly epic and stunningly beautiful trek in Peru can be found in the Cordillera Huayhuash. Hikers bound for the trekking mecca of Huaraz invariably dream of tackling this nine-day, 115 km., circular route, factoring in all the most beguiling aspects of these mountains.

a lake in Peru with a view of the mountains

The Cordillera Huayhuash is normally less traipsed than the Cordillera Blanca, due to its distance from Huaraz and its incredible difficulty (it ranks among the most demanding hikes in the Americas). This is the kind of no fucking around sort of hike. If you are properly prepared for a hike, get ready for the trek of a lifetime!

Don’t miss out on staying at the social hostels in Huaraz before your hike, and meet some epic people who can join you on your journey.

8. Mountain Bike From the Andes to the Jungle

It is entirely possible to rent a bike in Cusco for a few days. Head out of Cuzco to the lush, thick jungle of Manu National Park many thousands of feet below. And, unlike the tourist hordes, you’ll get acquainted with a side of Peru very few people do – by visiting remote villages virtually unchanged since Inca times and staying in locally-owned lodges… or wild camping!

Manu National park in Peru

This takes a little logistical planning of course, but if you do this trip on your own or with a mate, you’ll save lots of cash.

9. Motorcycle Through the Sacred Valley

If you prefer motorcycles to bicycles, fair enough. Motorbikes are funnnn . The Sacred Valley outside of Cusco is one of the cultural and natural gems of Peru. For someone who loves motorbikes, it will be a match made it heaven.

Sacred Valley motorbike tour

Exploring the valley by motorbike allows you total freedom. When backpacking in Peru – or anywhere else – having your wheels for a few days (or longer) makes you feel like a kid who has been cut loose in a candy shop. So friends, enjoy your candy shop: an epic motorcycle ride through the Sacred Valley.

Have a fucking blast and stay safe!

10. Explore the Amazon Rainforest by Boat

The primary means of transport within the Amazon River system is of course by boat. Hire a guide in Iquitos and set off to explore the jungles of your wildest imagination. Just don’t fall in the river!

traveling by boat in the Amazon rainforest

Treat your guide fairly and with respect; your life depends on it, mate.

peru travel blog

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

Backpacker Accommodation in Peru

Luckily, there is a huge network of hostels in Peru , which range from chill and cozy to the insanely hedonistic party house variety. Booking in advance isn’t always necessary, but sometimes if you want to score the best deal for yourself, booking ahead will save you a lot of money.

Otherwise, CouchSurfing is the cheapest way to go and a great way to meet other travelers. I recommend Couchsurfing as much as possible! Alternatively, camp and camp hard. Free is the best word in the budget backpackers’ lexicon.

The Best Places To Stay in Peru

Peru backpacking costs.

Is Peru cheap? It can be. My experience backpacking in Peru was spread out over 2 months on two different trips. During that time I spent, on average, about $700 a month . My biggest cost was joining a guided trek; the Salkantay Trek cost me about $200 (entry into Machu Picchu included) and was worth every goddamned penny. I did the Salkantay Trek back in 2012 during my second visit to Peru, so naturally, the costs may be a bit higher now.

For most treks and other activities in Peru, you do NOT need to book them in advance. You will get a much better price negotiating with local operators once you have boots on the ground.

I was doing a lot of camping in the Andes and used my tent often to avoid booking at Peru’s hostels every night. A free night’s sleep goes a long way.

girl admiring the view of the mountains

Food in Peru can be wonderfully cheap and delicious. Avoid the touristy restaurants and you will save big time!  Eat what locals eat, not just because it’s cheap, but because it’s fucking delicious! Public transport is also very conducive to backpacking Peru on a budget.

Peru will take on more travel costs if you are staying at fancier hostels/hotels, traveling by plane, eating out for every single meal, or purchasing a tour package, but I would say that it is entirely realistic to backpack Peru for as little as $20-45 a day…

A Daily Budget in  Peru

Money in peru.

Peru’s currency is the sol . Find out how much your money is worth today by using the up-to-date converter below.

ATMs in Peru are widely available throughout the country but take out enough cash when you head into the mountains or jungle.

Travel Tips – Peru on a Budget

Backpacking Peru on a budget is not too difficult but there is always a nuance to these things, I recommend sticking to the basic rules of budget adventuring :

two girls at a lake in Peru with mountains in the background

  • Camp – There are plenty of gorgeous natural places to camp in Peru and you can often camp out in the open when trekking. For this, you’re going to want the right camping gear: a backpacking tent, a choice sleeping bag, and a backpacking sleeping pad too (the Andes are beautiful but neither warm nor soft).
  • Eat local food – You can get yummy street food for real cheap. If you’re on a really tight budget; it’s worth taking a portable stove too – check out this post for info on the best backpacking stoves.
  • Hitch hike –  In Peru, it is relatively easy to thumb a ride. Hitchhiking is an ace way to keep your transport costs down. Some Peruvians might expect you to contribute to fuel costs, but if you make your intentions clear you should be okay.
  • Stay at Hostels – Staying at a hostel can lower your costs significantly! With average prices in Peru ranging from as low as $5 per night to a maximum of $20 per night.
  • Try using Public transportation – By using public transportation you can reduce your travel costs significantly. I took buses often and found them to be a reliable way to get around in Peru!
  • Try Volunteering in Peru – By using platforms like Worldpackers , you can enjoy cost savings on accommodation and meals by offering your help to your host. It’s a fantastic way to make your travel budget stretch further!
  • Pack a travel water bottle – And save money every day!

Why You Should Travel to Peru with a Water Bottle?

Plastic washes up on even the most pristine beaches… so do your part and keep the Big Blue Beautiful

You aren’t going to save the world overnight, but you might as well be part of the solution and not the problem. When you travel to some of the world’s most remote places, you come to realize the full extent of the plastic problem. And I hope you become more inspired to continue being a responsible traveller .

Plus, now you won’t be buying overpriced bottles of water from the supermarkets either! Travel with a filtered water bottle instead and never waste a cent or a turtle’s life again.

backpacker drinking using grayl geopress filter bottle

Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the worlds leading filtered water bottle protecting you from all manner of waterborne nasties.

Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Save money and the environment!

We’ve tested the Geopress  rigorously  from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Bali, and can confirm: it’s the best water bottle you’ll ever buy!

Best Time to Travel to Peru

The Peruvian winter, which is from May to September is generally the driest season and therefore the best time of year to visit Peru, especially if you are planning to visit the Cusco area. This is the best time to visit Machu Picchu and to do some hiking in the Andes.

The summer which starts in December and ends in March is the wettest season, with frequent heavy showers, depending on where you go in Peru. The coastal region receives less rainfall than the mountains during these months and this time is considered the best time to visit Lima and Mancora.

a graph showing the weather in Peru

What To Pack For Peru

Earplugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

nomatic_laundry_bag

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

sea to summit towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Monopoly Card Game

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Grayl GeoPress Water Filter and Purifier Bottle

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Festivals in Peru

Peruvians like to party. There are plenty of awesome festivals happening throughout the year.

  • The Festival de Marinera  (January)–   A massive party in Trujillo that features dance competitions, parades, and even exhibitions of the Peruvian Paso, a breed of horse also recognized as part of the cultural patrimony of the Trujillo region.
  • Fiesta de la Candelaria ( February ) –  The Fiesta de la Candelaria is not only the largest and most famous festival in Peru, but also one of the largest in South America as a whole. In fact, throughout the continent, it’s only dwarfed by the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and the Carnaval de Ouro in Bolivia.
  • Festival Internacional de la Vendimia  (March)  –  Peru is famous for several things, the Nazca Lines and the desert oasis of La Huacachina among them, but those in the know also recognize it as the finest wine-producing region in the country. This role has been celebrated annually in March since the 1950s during the Festival Internacional de la Vendimia, or the International Harvest Festival, in which a queen is famously chosen to ceremoniously stomp the first grapes of the season.

An excellent local party in Peru

  • Festividad del Señor del los Temblores del Cusco  (April)  –  El Señor de los Temblores, or the Lord of the Earthquakes, is the patron saint of Cusco and the celebratory focus of this major Holy Week celebration.
  • Inti Raymi  (June)  –  Inti Raymi, the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals.
  • Día de Santa Rosa de Lima   (August) –  Santa Rosa de Lima was the first native-born American saint canonized by the Catholic Church, and her legacy is celebrated throughout the world.
  • Mistura Culinary Festival   (September)  –  If you like Peruvian food, street meats, and food carts, this Lima festival is for you.
  • Puno Week   (November)  – Legend has it Manco Cápac was the first Inca. Puno Week is dedicated to celebrating his birth as much as it is just an excuse to party hard for a week!

Staying Safe in Peru

Whilst Peru can be dangerous , most visits end trouble-free. As always, practice common sense when traveling in Peru i.e. don’t walk into dodgy neighborhoods or walk about alone at night.

Carry as little money as possible and do not flash jewelry or electronics. Be wary of petty crime and keep your valuables locked up and safe.

Man waiting topless by the roadside infront of a white wall with 'camping' spray painted in red.

I strongly recommend traveling with a headlamp whilst in Peru… or anywhere really – every backpacker should have a good headlamp!

Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in Peru

Yep, of course! It’s all there. You’re going to South America: you’re guaranteed to find sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Party hostels in Peru are bountiful and as debauched as you’d expect with the smoke and drink flowing in delicious quantities. As always, check the beaches. Backpackers love slowly killing themselves on beautiful beaches; it’s part of our culture.

painting of a medicine man in Peru

Looking for more parties in Peru with an alternative vibe? Head to Pisac. Pisac has long been something of a congregating point for hippies and psychonauts.

Ayahuasca in Peru

Peru is known for its shamanistic practices worldwide and regularly attracts hundreds of travelers wanting to try Ayahuasca or Wachuma to have life-changing experiences. Some important things to note:

An old man in Peru playing the flute

  • Find yourself a trustworthy shaman – Go with someone who has been recommended to you by someone. A shaman can make or break your trip. Make sure you feel comfortable around him.
  • Follow the shaman’s recommendations – Understand that Peruvians consider Ayahuasca and Wachuma as medicines and use them for healing purposes so please respect that and follow the dietary restrictions that they suggest.
  • Understand Ayhuasca’s Uses – Shamans or ‘medicine men’ take Ayahuasca to communicate with nature or to see what is causing a patient’s illness on a spiritual level. This isn’t ecstasy in Europe; this isn’t even in the same dimensional realm.
  • Find the right place to do Ayahuasca – If you want to do Ayahuasca , do it in the Amazon as the plant is endemic to that area, and do Wachuma in the Andes as that’s where the San Pedro cactus grows.
  • Respect! – Respect the drug and your shaman. I can’t stress this enough!
  • Be open to its effects – If you’re doing it purely for recreational purposes fine, but if you are doing it to heal psychological problems like addiction, spend some time with your shaman discussing the effects and do it only if you are completely open to the experience.
  • Find an actual shaman – There are tons of shamans all over Peru so make sure you are not conned by the fake ones.

Tree Frog Medicine

Another medicine that is fast becoming popular in Peru is the poison from a tree frog. Deep in the Peruvian Amazon lives a giant tree frog that is in high demand for its natural toxins which people are using to poison themselves in a ceremony that has become the latest super-cleanse trend.

A shamanic ritual in Peru

The person first burns a small area of skin and then applies the frog toxins, called kambo or sapo , to the burned spot so they’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Much like Ayahuasca, at first, the person feels a few moments of serenity, but within seconds, that feeling turns to suffering and can force the person to vomit. The effect shortly fades away, and practitioners say it’s worth it, claiming the process can cure depression, drug dependency, heart problems, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal issues.

I have a lot of friends who have done it and swear to its benefits but, as with anything, there is no one-size-fits-all. The secret of any healing service is responsible, safe, and authentic care. Do your research, be safe, and open yourself to the experience.

Dating in Peru

On the coast and in major cities, it seems the rules of the dating game are not so different from what you would expect in a Western country. Though conservative catholic culture still hovers over relationships at times, for the most part, I think that will be gone within a generation.

Indigenous cultures in the Andes tend to be far more conservative in both dress as well as behavior. You might get some big smiles from some of the young ladies in the hills but don’t take it as a come on, mostly they are just curious about you.

Peru, like most of Latin America, is dominated by machismo culture. At many levels of the society, women occupy a more traditional role as stay-at-home moms. Sadly, sometimes Peruvian dudes just straight up act like women are inferior and they are God’s gift to them.

Hot stud in Peru

In the big cities, however, this generally is not the case. The balance seems to be going the way of equality regarding the status of men and women. This is a positive step for Peru and for all of Latin America in general found that Peruvian people like to have a good time. If you are interested in meeting someone from the opposite (or same) sex, it shouldn’t be too difficult if you just put yourself out there. I have heard positive reports for the use of social apps like Tinder, especially in places like Lima and Cusco.

Travel Insurance for Peru

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

peru travel blog

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

How To Get Into Peru

First up, arriving in Peru! Let’s assume, for the sake of simplicity, you land at the international airport in Lima. We’ll get to Peru’s borders in a minute.

a group of friends in front of a glacier in peru

Entry Requirements for Peru

Tourists from most countries around the world can enter Peru without a visa for visits of up to 183 days. Tourists from some countries like Russia get up to 90 days. If you belong to a country that needs a Peruvian Visa but have a 10-year US visa, you can enter Peru for free up to a maximum of 183 days. You can check for more info on Peru visas here .

Rumor has it that the overstay fine is only $1 US per day, so if you stay an extra 30 days beyond your visa limit it will cost you $30. Many broke backpackers concerned with the trip cost in Peru prefer to do this since it’s much cheaper than leaving the country and returning.

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Get 15% OFF when you book through our link — and support the site you love so dearly 😉

Booking.com is quickly becoming our go-to for accommodation. From cheap hostels to stylish homestays and nice hotels, they’ve got it all!

How To Get Around Peru

Buses in Peru are frequent and they are cheap. You can typically get to where you need to go by bus.

A bus in Peru - the best way to travel

Avoid flying unless necessary. Slow travel is cheap travel. Whilst backpacking Peru, embrace this philosophy and you will save a lot of cash.

Traveling in Peru by Motorbike

Motorcycles and scooters are a big part of the culture for young males in Peru. They are abundant in just about every place you go and you can find some pretty good deals if you are looking to score a bike. Always use your best judgment when going through the process of buying a motorcycle. Don’t buy a piece of shit that will leave you stranded in the middle of the Andes.

Riding a motorbike in Peru

It is possible to rent motorbikes in Peru in some places where tourism is a bit more developed, for example in Cusco. The prices vary but, typically, aren’t crazy expensive.

Having your wheels is a fantastic way to explore places that buses in Peru can’t take you. It is generally a good idea to have some degree of familiarity with motorcycles before you set off down some mountain road in the Andes. As always be safe and always wear a helmet!

Onwards Travel From Peru

When you’re backpacking in South America, you have a lot of beautiful countries bordering each other and a lot of options for onward travel between. Lima is home to a major international airport if you are looking to fly to another destination in South America or beyond. Or, you can cross a border because you’re a badass adventurer and that’s what badass adventurers do!

a mural in lima, peru

If you’re planning on traveling to Peru, you can either fly into the airport in Lima or take a bus from one of these countries. Airlines like Latam offer cheap flights into Peru but buses, though taking longer, are the much cheaper option.

  • Backpacking Bolivia 
  • Backpacking Colombia
  • Backpacking Chile 
  • Backpacking Ecuador

There are three important border posts connecting Peru and Ecuador.

  • Huaquillas –  This crossing, south of Machala, gets most of the international traffic between the two countries. Buses to Huaquillas don’t stop at this border post, though international buses (Ecuador–Peru) do stop there and wait for everyone to complete the formalities.
  • Macará –  is increasingly popular because it’s more relaxed than the Huaquillas crossing, and the journey from Loja to the southern highlands is beautiful. Direct buses run between Loja and Piura, Peru (eight hours) via Macará, and wait for you at the border while you take care of formalities; it’s easy.
  • La Balsa at Zumba –  South of Vilcabamba, this little-used crossing is remote and interesting and gets little traffic. People often hang out in Vilcabamba for a few days before heading to Zumba and Peru.

Bus From Bolivia to Peru

  • Copacabana-  There are two main points for crossing the Peru-Bolivian border by land. Most travelers opt to take a bus to Puno, on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, from Copacabana, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca.

It’s also quite easy to find long-distance international buses departing La Paz for Lima. These buses are very long, but this is the cheapest and easiest option if you are keen to get from city to city.

By River from Colombia to Peru

This option is by far the most time-consuming but arguably the most rewarding.

From Leticia, Colombia you will take a boat to Iquitos .  I have heard this journey can take 3 days.

Working in Peru

There are opportunities for work in Peru particularly in and around Lima working in mining, export, or as an English teacher. You will need to speak Spanish pretty well. Note that the standard work week is 48 hours (if you work 40 you are lucky) and the average salary is $300 per month.

mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and  ditch the plastic .

Work Visas in Peru

The work visa situation does seem to fluctuate quite a bit. If you wish to work and live in Peru you should enter on a 90-day business visa and then apply to extend it.

If you plan to work online in Peru then the easiest way is to enter on a tourist visa.

Teaching English in Peru

Are you a native English speaker looking to earn cash whilst traveling the world? Well, have you tried teaching English!? We’ve taught English in Peru before (Cusco actually) and have given you everything you need to know in this handy guide to basically  everything about ESL in Peru .

Teaching English online is another great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection. Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills!

mytefl

Volunteering in Peru

Volunteering abroad is an amazing way to experience a culture whilst giving something back. There are loads of different volunteer projects in Peru ranging from teaching to animal care to agriculture to pretty much everything!

Peru is full of volunteer opportunities for travelers, whether you’re staying near bigger cities or in remote villages. Skills in farming, English teaching, and social work are often in high demand. Other opportunities include decorating, administration, and web development/marketing. Peru doesn’t offer a volunteer visa, but your tourist visa should suffice as long as you’re not getting paid. Regulations tend to change frequently though, so it’s always best to double-check!

Worldpackers

If you want to find volunteering opportunities in Peru, then we recommend that you Sign up for Worldpackers –  a volunteer platform that connects local hosts directly with traveling volunteers. As a Broke Backpacker reader, you’ll also get a special discount of $10 when you sign up. Just use the discount code BROKEBACKPACKER and your membership is discounted from $49 a year to only $39.

Volunteer programs run through reputable work exchange programs like Worldpackers are usually very well-managed and reputable. However, whenever you are volunteering, do stay vigilant especially when working with animals or children.

Global Work and Travel

Last, but certainly not least, Global Work and Travel is another viable option for finding volunteer opportunities in Peru. What sets Global Work and Travel apart from other volunteering platforms is the amount of assistance they give, from a 24/7 global helpline, help with VISA processing to airport transfers, and continued support once you are in Peru. It may be a smaller platform, but the projects you’ll find are high quality and immaculately organized. There are new programs and opportunities listed constantly as Global Work and Travel continues to grow its reach.

For those interested in volunteer work in Peru, Global Work and Travel offers a fantastic Amazon shelter project for those wishing to place themselves in the heart of the rainforest. You’ll be helping conserve and improve the existing biodiversity present in the Amazon and eating tasty Peruvian cuisine while you do it! There are options to stay anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks with weekends off. As with all volunteer abroad programs, there’s a cost, but you’ll be able to pay it off in interest-free installments. Don’t forget to bring your camera and make sure you are between the ages of 18-85 to qualify!

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Peruvian Culture

I feel Peruvians are some of the best people I have ever met on my travels. They are honest, kind, and so easy to get along with. While most Peruvians speak Spanish, highlanders and indigenous communities speak Quechua, the language of the Incas.

You’ll find a lot of indigenous people dressed in traditional clothes and still living simple lives as farmers and weavers. If you want to experience the true Peru, go off the beaten track a bit and into the Andes, live with a family in a homestay, and see the Peruvian way of life for yourself.

The things you’ll learn about the beautiful Incan tradition will blow your mind. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They are super proud of their history and love talking about it. The people are what make Peru so goddamn special!

Peru Cuzco

Useful Travel Phrases For Peru

I cannot stress how important a basic knowledge of Spanish is while backpacking in Peru. It saves you time, energy, and money. If you know basic Spanish, you get much more out of your experience backpacking in Peru.

Here are a few useful phrases in Spanish for your backpacking Peru adventure:

Hello –  Hola 

How are you? – Cómo estás?

Very good – Muy buena

Please –  Por favor

Cheers –  Salud

Shit – Mierda ! (a very light weight insult)

Shit eater – Come Mierda (for better effect!)

What? – Qué?

Where? – Dónde? 

Do you have a lighter? – Tienes un encendedor?

No plastic bag –  Sin bolsa de plastico

No straw please –  No paja por favor

No plastic cutlery, please –  No hay cubiertos de plástico, por favor

Two beers please – Dos cervezas por favor 

Down that beer! –  Hasta que la cerveza!

Can you give me a ride – Me puedes dar una vuelta?

What is your name? – Cómo te llamas ? 

How much does this cost?  – Cuánto cuesta ? 

Can you give me a discount? – Me puede dar un descuento?

What To Eat in Peru

Peruvian food is yummy as hell! They take pride in some pretty quirky dishes so if you are the adventurous sort who loves trying out new, strange foods, you’re in for a delightful ride!

a plate of Peruvian food

  • Ceviche – Of course, THE most Peruvian dish there is. This is raw fish cured in lemon juice. The acid in the fruit “cooks” the fish, giving it a delicate flavor and slightly chewy consistency. The dish is usually spiced with red onion and aji pepper and served with sweet potato. It is spicy, tangy and delicious. Make sure to try Ceviche in Lima.
  • Cuy – Not the animal some of us grew up with as pets. These guinea pigs are massive and usually cooked whole over a fire, BBQ style. They can be a bit greasy, though quite tasty. The best place to try Cuy al horno (baked) in Peru is without a doubt in the highlands.
  • Aji De Gallina – This dish is bright yellow and is a rich, velvety stew made with chicken and condensed milk and thickened with de-crusted white bread. It is served with potatoes.
  • Alpaca-   Alpaca meat is served extensively across Peru and is considered one of the healthiest meats in the world because it has low fat. It tasted somewhat like beef.
  • Inca Kola – You can’t go to Peru and not try this ultra-sweet, bubble gum-flavored soda that has given Coke a run for its money. It is good to try once but the sweetness is pretty overpowering.

A Brief History of Peru

In the South Americas, the area now known as Peru was deeply affected by the imperial nature of colonialism because the targeted people and resources became the pawns of the Spanish monarch during the early 15th century.

The Spanish first arrived on Peruvian soil in 1531, led by Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador who also led the invasion against the Inca Empire. Tupac Amaru was the last official emperor of the Inca. The Spanish invasion was a genocidal bloodbath and initiated the total collapse of the mighty Inca empire.

The Spanish colonization and persecution of Peru’s indigenous communities lasted around 300 years before Peru gained its independence from Spain on July 28, 1821.

Peru Travel

Post-Colonial Peru

At the beginning of the 20th century, Lima the capital city of Peru enjoyed an era of affluence and riches. The most iconic buildings in Lima were built during this era, mostly in a grandiose neoclassical design that copied the early colonial era. Big boulevards were also built to link the coastal dwellings such as Barranco and Miraflores.

By the middle of the 20th century, Peru was entangled in economic and political turmoil with interchanging episodes of democratic administrations and military tyrannies. The military regime was led by General Juan Velasco who nationalized the media and oil and made reforms in agriculture.

The country, however, sank into a serious economic catastrophe with very high levels of inflation. At the same time, two terrorist groups surfaced and brought a lot of violence to Peru.

Modern Day Peru

By the year 2000, Peru had successive democratic regimes having been led by Alejandro Toledo, Alan García, and presently Ollanta Humala Tasso. By 2015, the country’s population was estimated at 31.2 million. About 30% of this population lives in Lima, the capital city.

A church in Lima and place to go in Peru

Peru also presently enjoys high growth in its economy and has reached growth levels that the country has never experienced before, and has risen above the catastrophe of the past years.

Indigenous Peoples Rights In Peru

In recent years, large advances have been attained regarding the rights and protections of Peru’s indigenous peoples. This is an extremely positive victory for indigenous people in Peru and throughout the world for that matter.

The Constitution recognizes Peru as a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country (Art. 2.19) in which 47 different languages are spoken and about 55 indigenous peoples (approximately 4 million people or 14% of the population) live.

Indigenous people in Peru

In Peru, ILO Convention 169 entered into force in 1995, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DNUPI) in 2007. Both constitute the most important international framework in the guarantee of Indigenous Peoples’ collective rights.

22 years after the ratification of Convention 169 and 10 years after the signing of the DNUPI, Peru shows various advances and challenges in its policy of promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Some Unique Experiences in Peru

It can’t all be selfies on majestic mountaintops! The people are gorgeous, the food is delicious, and the hardcore shamanic brews are excellent – soak it up!

packable travel medical kit

Things go wrong on the road ALL THE TIME. Be prepared for what life throws at you.

Buy an AMK Travel Medical Kit before you head out on your next adventure – don’t be daft!

Trekking in Peru

Peru is one of the top destinations in the world for trekking owing to its incredibly diverse landscapes. It is adorned by the incredible Andes and has one of the world’s deepest canyons, as well as the dense Amazon rainforest, all of which offer a variety of trekking experiences and varied degrees of difficulty.

The most popular treks are the ones leading to Machu Picchu which are the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek, the Jungle Trek, and the Lares Trek. Depending on your trekking tastes you can choose the kind of trail you want to attempt.

  • The Inca trail is very rewarding but is also the most popular.
  • The Salkantay trek is very beautiful as it takes you through some incredible Andean landscapes.
  • The Jungle Trek is a hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping adventure that includes mountain biking and zip lining before taking you to Machu Picchu.
  • The Lares trek   starts at the tiny town of Lares, home to a famous hot spring, and passes through several villages and gives you a glimpse into the lives of traditional Peruvian families.
  • Laguna 69  is often referred to as the bluest lake in all of the Andes, check out this post to find out more about  hiking to Laguna 69.

girl zip lining in peru wearing a helmet for safety

Apart from the treks to Machu Picchu, the other exciting treks include the Ausangate trek that takes you through the multiple lagunas (lagoons) in the Andes, the Colca Canyon trek that takes you down one of the world’s deepest canyons, and the Huaraz trek, a difficult but rewarding hike.

Trekking in the Andes is just too much-goddamned fun.

Joining an Organised Tour in Peru

For most countries, Peru included, solo travel is the name of the game. That said, if you are short on time, and energy, or just want to be part of an awesome group of travelers you can opt to join an organized tour. Joining a tour is a great way to see a majority of the country quickly and without the effort that goes into planning a backpacking trip. However—not all tour operators are created equal—that is for sure.

If you’re interested in Peru backpacking tours then G Adventures  is a solid down-to-earth tour company catering to backpackers just like you, and their prices and itineraries reflect the interests of the backpacker crowd. You can score some pretty sweet deals on epic trips in Peru for a fraction of the price of what other tour operators charge.

FAQ’s About Backpacking Peru

A few of the most commonly asked questions about backpacking in Peru…

Is Peru safe for backpacking?

During my time backpacking in South America, I found Peru to be one of the safer places I have traveled to. So YES, Peru is safe for backpacking.

Where should I go backpacking in Peru?

Peru is HUGE! There’s so much to see… Here are three of my favorite places: -Machu Picchu -Rainbow Mountains -Laguna 69

Is 2 weeks enough for Peru?

I spent a total of 18 days in Peru and left knowing I still had so much to see and that I would soon return. If you are on a short holiday and want to see Peru’s famous attractions, I think it is doable in 2 weeks, but if you are a slow traveler like me, you won’t regret staying a few months! Peru has so much to explore.

Is Peru cheap for backpacking?

Compared to Canada and the US, it is one of the cheaper places to travel to in the Americas. If you want to budget travel in Peru, you can expect to pay around $20 a day for accommodation, food, and transportation.

Final Advice Before Visiting Peru

So there it is friends! The ultimate travel guide to backpacking Peru on a budget! What can I say? Well… that Peru is mega spectacularly gorgeous!

From the peaks of the Andes to its deepest canyons, Peru is a true wonder to explore. From its yummy ceviche to its most mind-bending shamanic brews, something will touch your heart.

I can’t tell you what to do; I can only tell you of my experience. I can only tell you what Peru is like. I can only tell you of the joy and majesty scouring through its rises and falls learning from its people.

So, no, I can’t tell you what to do. But, let’s say, hypothetically, you asked me if I thought you should go to Peru, then, yes, the answer would be simple.

  • What to pack for South America?
  • South America Travel Tips!
  • Guide to Volunteering at a Hostel
  • How to Hitchhike Tips

a girl exploring a lake in the mountains of Peru

Updated November 2023

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Ankita Kumar

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Hey!! How long did you spend travelling Peru? I’m thinking 2-3 months but not sure if that is too long?

Thanks, Lia

Hi Lia, 2-3 month for slow travel through a country is a good amount of time to really get to know that place. A real treat if you have time on your side.

Thanks for this. One of the best guides to Peru I’ve read. I’m planning to travel there next year and this gives me loads of ideas of where to go and what to see. Great work 🙂

What is the best company to book with for the Salkantay trek?

There are many, many companies online offering this trek. Some will charge you double of what local operators charge on the ground in Peru. Your best bet is to not book in advance and to just show up in Cuzco and try to find the best deal. You will ALWAYS pay more for the Salkantay Trek if you book it online. If you find other backpackers in Cuzco wanting to do the same trek (which is likely), you may be able to find a cheaper rate if you all book together. Good luck!

Thank you! How strenuous is the hike? We are 37 and healthy. I do CrossFit 3x’s a week. My husband does not but has crazy stamina and legs of steel when it comes to hiking. But we are not seasoned hikers. Also, is the camping gear provided or do we need our own? We will be backpacking in Ecuador and Peru, but not in the camping way. We will travel light with just a backpack but stay at hostels or Airbnb.

Does anyone know a way I could arrange a homestay with locals in the Andes?

Peru is a lot prettier than I thought it would be. It’s already been on my list of places to go but now I’m less nervous about it.

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COMMENTS

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