Traveling to Peru? Consider yourself lucky! The South American country is astonishing, whether we’re talking about the ancient ruins, the mesmerizing Amazon Rainforest, or the beautiful architecture.
Peru is such a beautiful country with so many different things to offer to travelers. Whether you’re into walking around the cities, riding in a dune buggy across the desert, or hiking for days at a time, you’ll have plenty of things to do in Peru.
This detailed itinerary for two weeks in Peru includes all of those things, and a lot more. Read on to learn about the best places to visit in Peru, as well as some useful tips every traveler should know before visiting the South-American country!
Getting around Peru is an adventure in and of itself, but it’s possible. Driving is one of the better options to reaching those remote places, plus cruising the Pan-American highway rewards with some beautiful views.
But driving in Peru can also be quite dangerous. Don’t stop for anyone, always lock your car, put everything in the trunk, and don’t even think about driving around Lima. Seriously – Lima is a traffic nightmare. Rarely anyone respects traffic signals and road signs, there are pedestrians everywhere, and rental cars are often a target for thieves.
On top of that, you shouldn’t drive around Peru if you don’t speak Spanish, particularly not after nightfall. There are random checkpoints on the main roads, which are primarily there to stop people from smuggling drugs. You’ll be fine if you’re polite, patient, and don’t have any contraband. But in most cases, you’ll need to speak Spanish to communicate with the guards.
Buses are quicker than trains, but the frequent accidents discourage quite a lot of foreigners from traveling via bus. Peru Hop is the safest bus company in the country, and I would recommend using them to travel around Peru.
Trains offer scenic views, but there are only two main lines in the country. Also, trains are painfully slow and full of thieves, particularly in the economic class. Honestly, train travel in Peru is more of a novelty than anything else, and you shouldn’t rely on the trains as a big part of your journey.
So, what’s left? Well, you can fly to most places with local airlines. An 18-hour drive is equivalent to a 90-minute flight, so it’s great for both saving time and money. One-way tickets are generally cheaper than paying for car rental and gas, but they remain too expensive for most locals.
Lima to Cusco is a 90-minute flight, and the tickets are about 30-40 Euros. It’s not cheap, but a bus ride is 21 hours, and driving on your own is only two hours faster. Because of the state of the roads and mountainous terrain, flying is by far the safest and quickest way of getting around Peru. But then again, you can’t fly everywhere, and there are a lot of delayed and canceled flights.
Timezone: The timezone in Peru is PST – Peru Standard Time. That is five hours behind GMT, two hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, and one hour behind Eastern Time.
Currency: The official currency of Peru is Sol, although it’s often marked as PEN. 1 Sol is equal to $0.27 or 0.23 Euro.
Language: The official language in Peru is Spanish, and it’s best to learn at least some of the key phrases before traveling to Peru. English proficiency in Peru is very low, and you’re most likely to encounter people who can communicate in English in bigger cities like Lima and Cusco.
Visa: Americans and nationals of most western countries do not need a visa to enter Peru. Nationals of some South American countries can enter Peru with just a valid ID.
Credit Card Acceptance: Hotels and some major stores might accept cards, but they’re not commonly used in Peru. ATMs around the country accept foreign cards, and that will be the easiest way of getting cash in Peru.
Electricity: Peru uses 220V electricity and most plugs are two-pronged flat plugs, like those used in the US. Other types of plugs and outlets are also used in Peru, but travelers from Europe will most likely need adapters.
Be patient. If you have a short fuse, you might just lose your mind in Peru. Buses are late, the crowds are huge, traffic is a nightmare, and flights are often delayed or canceled. If you’re the type of person that likes planning things down to the last detail and gets annoyed when something isn’t going according to plan, you should reconsider traveling to Peru.
Keep an eye on your luggage. Whether you’re in a train carriage or at the bus stop, don’t ever leave your belongings unattended. Trains, buses, and even bus stops are common hangout places for thieves who prey on unassuming tourists. Unless you want to deal with the hassle of having all your belongings stolen, you should keep an eye on your stuff at all times.
Leave the bling at home. Tourists stick out like a sore thumb in Peru, and it’s in your best interest to try and blend in as much as possible. Pack your old sneakers instead of the brand new ones, and leave your expensive jewelry at home. Ditch the designer labels in favor of cheap clothes, and keep your phone and wallet in the inner pocket of your jacket.
Get your vaccines. Although it’s not a pre-requisite to entering Peru, it’s smart to get a full set of vaccines if you’re following this itinerary to the end. The last several days are spent in the Amazon Rainforest, which is laden with all sorts of bugs. The deeper you go into the forest, the higher the chances of encountering bugs that carry some nasty diseases. It’s recommended to vaccinate for malaria, yellow fever, meningitis, rabies, dengue, and hepatitis.
Most travelers fly into Lima, so that’s where our itinerary starts. The best place to stay in Lima is Miraflores – the upscale province is the safest in the Lima district, and it’s generally considered a tourist hub with an abundance of hotels and AirBnBs to choose from. An express bus will take you there directly from an airport, and the ride is only about an hour long.
Miraflores is best known for its many beautiful parks and vast sandy beaches. If you have some time to explore Miraflores on day one, you should definitely head to Miraflores Central Park. The triangular park is landscaped with lots of beautiful flowers, manicured lawns, colorful statues, and even a playground for the kids.
Right next to it is Kennedy park, and I’m pretty sure all cat lovers could spend the entire two weeks they have in Peru just sitting in this park. There are a lot of resident cats in the park (about 100), so you might want to bring along some cat food!
If you have time to just see one attraction in Miraflores, make it the Huaca Pucllana. It features a museum plus remains of a pre-Incan pyramid, and it’s an excellent way to kick off your two weeks in Peru!
A free walking tour is the best way to explore Lima and get to see all the major tourist attractions. Naturally, the tour is not entirely free – you’re expected to tip the guide, so be generous if you really enjoyed the tour.
The free walking tour of Lima starts at 9:50 AM, so you’ll want to get up pretty early. The good news is that the meeting place is Tourist Information Center in Miraflores. You’ll walk around Miraflores for a little while, and then catch a bus to downtown Lima.
San Martin Square, Main Square, Chocomuseo, The House of Peruvian Literature, Santo Domingo Church and Indian Market, and Chacabuca Granda Boulevard are all included in the free walking tour. Chabuca Granda is the final stop, and after that, the tour returns to Miraflores around 2 PM.
A walking tour of Miraflores is next at 3 PM. Even if you did visit the parks and pyramid ruins the day before, those are only two of the eight different attractions in the walking tour, so it’s definitely worth it to just continue walking. The Miraflores tour takes you to Kennedy Park first, then to Miraflores church and the Market 1 of Surquillo – a great opportunity to shop for some fresh local produce and snacks.
From there, the tour takes you to the Indian Market, Huaca Pucllana, Choco museum, Park of Love, and Larcomar shopping center. That’s the most famous shopping center in Miraflores, with 115 different stores and some 17 restaurants – just in time for an early dinner! Head back to your room and rest – you deserve it after spending so many hours walking around Lima!
Day three is perfect for catching up on everything you didn’t get to see on the free walking tours. This includes everything from art museums to a fountain with light shows.
Larco Museum is the most popular museum in Lima, with an expansive collection of pre-Colombian artifacts. This includes jewelry, sculptures, and some weird erotic artifacts that are certainly intriguing.
Next, I would recommend visiting Parque de las Leyendas. It is primarily a zoo with animals from all over the world, but there’s also a botanical garden on the grounds, as well as ancient ruins, and even a museum. There’s quite a lot to do and see here, so plan to spend at least a couple of hours in the area.
From there, head back to downtown Lima. Park of the Exposition is another spot worth checking out more thoroughly, especially if you didn’t get a chance to enter the Museum of Peruvian art the day before. Another museum worth visiting here is the Metropolitan Museum of Lima.
Everything in that museum is in Spanish, so it’s a great opportunity to brush up on the language! It takes about three hours to explore the entire museum, and during that time you will get to see some spectacular paintings, learn about the history of Peru and Lima, and even see some holograms.
Is it finally evening? After the sunset, head south from the museum to Park of the Reserve. The vast green space in the middle of Lima is best known for the Magical Water Circuit, which puts on some awesome choreographed shows at night. End your last day in Lima with a fountain that dances to lights and sounds – is there anything else that sounds better than that?
Head to Ica on day four. It’s best to take the bus – the ride is about five hours long and the tickets are only about 10 Euros. In Ica, the best place to stay is without a doubt Huacachina. Accommodation options range from dorms to hotels, and none are very expensive.
Huacachina is a desert oasis west of downtown Ica, and it’s a surreally beautiful place. A lagoon surrounded by palm trees is at the center of the village, and it’s actually thought to have therapeutic properties. Boat rides across the lagoon are very popular, but not quite as thrilling as other thrilling things to do in the area.
Adventurers will love their stay in Huacachina because there are a lot of opportunities for fun on the sand. Sandboarding and sand-skiing are extremely fun and unique to this place. You can also go on dune buggy rides if that’s more your thing! Roaming around the desert in the dune buggy with spectacular views of the oasis is a great way to spend the day, and an exciting adventure you’re unlikely to forget soon.
Spend your first day in Huacachina having fun and going on adventures. In the evening, you can settle in one of the many restaurants, bars, or clubs near the oasis – the fun never stops in the desert!
On day five we’re heading to downtown Ica. Grab a taxi to the Brujas de Cachiche Park – it’s a cheap, 10-minute ride so you’ll be there in no time. The phenomenal park is famous for its countless sculptures that look absolutely stunning. Gargoyles and witches await at the park, and they’re all an incredible sight. You’ll want to take a lot of photos here, so make sure you bring your favorite camera.
From the park, head north to do a proper walking tour of Ica. Visit the Regional Museum of Ica Adolfo Bermúdez Jenkins, stop by the Lord of Luren church, and make your way to Plaza de Armas de Ica.
Don’t forget to check out the St. Jerome Cathedral, and if you’re open-minded, you might have a good time at the Museo Científico Javier Cabrera. Just read up on the owner beforehand, and decide whether or not that museum is something you might enjoy.
If it’s late enough in the day, you might as well grab a taxi to Hacienda Bodega Tacama – the taxi ride is about 5.5 Euros, and a tour of the spectacular winery is even cheaper. Choose from several different tours with tastings, and get to know more about Peru’s oldest winery. Naturally, don’t forget to stock up on some delicious wine! They taste great and are very inexpensive compared to what you’re paying for a glass of wine at your favorite restaurant.
Make your way back to the oasis when you’re done with the tour, and get some rest before day six.
Day six is the best time to head to Cusco, so you can start exploring some of the more famous attractions of Peru. This includes the Machu Picchu, the Rainbow Mountain, and the spectacular Sacred Valley!
It’s best to fly from Ica to Cusco. It’s a 90-minute flight and the tickets are about 35-40 Euros. Busses are available, but they’re just as expensive as plane tickets. Plus, the shortest bus ride is 18 hours, with some options lasting nearly a day and a half and stopping in Lima.
The best place to stay in Cusco is the historic center, more specifically the San Blas and Plaza de Armas neighborhoods. You will find a lot of hostels, hotels, and AirBnBs in this area, so there are plenty of options no matter what your budget is.
The best thing to do on your first day in Cusco is get to know the city, which means a self-guided walking tour. This beautiful city was built on Incan foundations, and it features quite a lot of Spanish colonial architecture. There some stunning sights in Cusco, starting with Plaza de Armas and Companía de Jesús church.
Don’t miss out on the Cusco Cathedral, the Inka Museum, the Twelve Angled Stone, the San Blas church, the Casa Concha museum, and the Qorikancha ruins. All of these places are within walking distance of one another, and it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to walk around and see everything notable.
Vinicunca, more commonly known as the Rainbow Mountain, is slowly but surely becoming the second most popular attraction in Peru, right after the Machu Picchu. It’s enough to search for just “Peru” and images of the colorful mountain are one of the first things that pop up.
For a proper trip to the Rainbow Mountain, you’ll want to go on a guided trek that you can book in Cusco. It’s a three-hour ride over narrow and bumpy roads to the trailhead, and then a pretty long hike to the colorful mountain. Also, going with an experienced guide will help you prepare for the hike, which includes dealing with the altitude change and having a minimal impact on the environment.
The Rainbow Mountain is an utterly beautiful sight and the perfect backdrop for Instagram selfies. However, a lot of people picked up on that. Hundreds, if not a thousand other hikers on the trail alongside you are a common occurrence and the reason behind such treacherous trail conditions.
Additionally, because so many tourists are coming to visit Vinicunca, the environment is feeling an impact. It might be gone one day because of that, so try to practice minimal impact hiking.
What’s even more interesting is that several years ago this mountain didn’t even exist! Well, it was always there, but the peak was constantly covered with snow, which hid the beautiful colors underneath. Thanks to climate change, the snow eventually melted, possibly having a detrimental effect on the environment – time will tell.
Sacred Valley of the Incas is a popular day trip from Cusco – after all, it is where Machu Picchu is located. You have to pass through the valley on your way to the famous ruins, and it’s better to do it slowly, exploring as much of Peru’s ancient ruins as possible on the way.
With Inca ruins throughout the valley, there’s quite a lot to do and see in the area. The rich history and culture make it even more interesting for non-Peruvians who want to know more about the cultures and traditions of the ancient civilization.
Urubamba Valley is most popular for Machu Picchu, naturally, but that’s only one of the spectacular sights in the area. Ollantaytambo ruins are a close second. The remains of the town are about halfway from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and they feature probably the best stonework you can see outside of Machu Picchu.
Additionally, don’t miss out on the see salt pans of Maras and Moray. They’re designed like an amphitheater dug out in the ground, and they’re fascinating. Scientists are still not entirely sure what exactly the site was used for – so far, there are only countless theories about their purpose.
Apart from ancient ruins, the Sacred Valley is also known for adrenaline-pumping activities. Rafting, paragliding, and ziplining are all popular here, so it’s a great place for adventurers. Have some fun and do some exciting things before you eventually make it to Machu Picchu!
Most people who travel to Peru go there to see Machu Picchu. The 15th-century Incan citadel is utterly fascinating, and it’s on most people’s bucket lists. You can reach the hilltop city ruins two different ways – one is to hike for 4-5 days, and the other one is to ride the train.
I’ll focus on the easier option here but know that you’re ditching the rest of this itinerary if you choose to hike the Inca Trail. It’s an 80-kilometer out and back trail with a maximum elevation of more than 4000 meters, and you need a permit for the hike.
Taking the train is how most travelers get to Machu Picchu. Two companies operate trains to Machu Picchu, with several stations where you can board. That’s why we’re still in Cusco – Ollantaytambo is the best station to board the train to the Inca ruins. It’s about two hours to the station, and then another two hours on the train to Machu Picchu.
Train tickets are quite pricey, especially for Peru, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering this is literally the most popular tourist attraction in the country, if not all of South America. Additionally, you can also take a train from Cusco, but the ride won’t be quite as scenic.
Once you’ve arrived, you can try to climb Huayna Picchu for some of the best views of your life. It takes an hour, on average, to reach to summit, and it’s a demanding ascent. You’ll need to use your hands and your feet, and you will really need to watch your step. That being said, most hikers have no problems climbing the mountain, and even children over the age of twelve are welcome to attempt.
Head back to Cusco when you’ve sufficiently explored the phenomenal Machu Picchu and start packing. We’re heading to Tarapoto the next day!
Cusco to Tarapoto is about a 4-hour flight with a layover in Lima and tickets are about 40-50 Euros for a one-way flight. Bus tickets are slightly cheaper, but the journey lasts for more than two days. Since time is money, I honestly don’t think it’s worth it to spend 40+ hours on a bus, just to save $20.
Tarapoto is the first stop on the exploration of the Amazon Rainforest. It’s not quite the jungle experience, but it’s a beautiful town with some great hiking trails in the area. The climate is much milder and mosquitos are virtually non-existent, so it’s a very different experience from the depths of the jungle.
When you first arrive at Tarapoto you can do a quick walking tour if you want, but it’s not necessary. The city itself is not that interesting and certainly not as interesting as its surroundings. Plaza de Armas de Tarapoto is a popular park in the city center, but it desperately requires maintenance, and it’s only interesting when it’s decorated for holidays and events.
What you should do is book an experience with Vertical Journey – the Peruvian company is based in Tarapoto, and it offers some exciting adventures in the surrounding nature. Whether it’s rappelling down a waterfall or exploring caves, they’re definitely the best option to have some fun in Tarapoto!
The company organizes transport in an air-conditioned vehicle and they provide lunch. This is so much more convenient than setting out to find the Pucayaquillo waterfall on your own!
On your second day in Tarapoto, head to Cascada El Tamushal. The nature preserve is best known for hiking trails that take you to see some beautiful waterfalls, and this part of the trip is something avid hikers will undoubtedly enjoy.
There are several treks in the nature preserve – some will take you directly to the waterfalls, and others will take you to observation decks where you can enjoy some extraordinarily beautiful views. Nature in the preserve is incredibly beautiful, everything is surreally green, and there are even some monuments throughout the forest. On top of that, you’ll find a few different restaurants in the area, so you don’t have to worry about food.
This area near Tarapoto is also popular for bird watching. There are several different species native to Peru that can be observed here, and I’m not talking just about the birds. You can spot some beautiful butterflies in the forest, but also all sorts of insects and snakes. Don’t forget the bug repellant, and watch your step while walking around the forest.
It’s worth noting that Ahuashiyacu waterfall is also a popular swimming area, so you might want to bring your swimsuit. It can get really crowded though, so don’t expect to have the place to yourself.
In any case, once you’ve finished exploring the beautiful nature around Tarapoto, head back to your accommodation and pack – it’s time to head to Iquitos, the final destination of this two-week adventure through Peru!
Iquitos is a busy town in the jungle and it’s very popular with tourists. The fact that there are direct flights to Iquitos from several Peruvian cities says enough about how busy the town can get. There are direct flights from Tarapoto to Iquitos – they’re operated by Star Peru, and it’s only an hour-long flight.
There are a few different things you should know about Iquitos if you want to prepare adequately. First thing’s first – stock up on insect repellants, and, maybe bring a pair of jungle boots! Get those bracelets that repel mosquitos, apply Autan to every inch of your body, and don’t even think about wearing short sleeves. Pair a long-sleeved shirt with pants and tuck your pants into your socks.
The next step of exploring the jungle is finding an appropriate jungle tour. With all the bugs, wild animals, and snakes, it’s not a smart idea to wander off in the Amazon on your own. Even if you can avoid all the insects and predators, the chances that you’ll get lost are pretty high, which is why it’s best to go with an experienced guide.
Iquitos is the most popular place in Peru for exploring the jungle, and there are quite a few different options to choose from. This itinerary can fit a three-day exploration of the jungle, but if you have more time on your hands feel free to book something longer.
The best Amazon tours from Iquitos will take you to some spectacular nature preserves where you’ll be able to see many different indigenous animals. This includes everything from sloths to pink river dolphins, so make sure to bring enough backup batteries for your camera. Some tours will take you fishing trips on the river, others are designed around bird watching, and you can also combine several day trips instead of one multi-day expedition. In any case, some of the best tours of the Amazon are on Viator, so be sure to check them out.
There are direct flights from Iquitos to Lima, and you’ll be back in the Peru capital in about an hour when it’s time to head back home. That’s it for this two-week itinerary for Peru! There are other places in the country worth seeing – Arequipa, Trujillo, and Huascarán National Park are all worth visiting, but it was impossible to fit them into this itinerary due to long travel times. Save them for the next time you visit Peru!
As someone who spent over a month in Peru a few years back, I can tell you there are way too many options. And choosing between them is hard.
If you are more of a hiker or outdoor lover, you could head north of Lima first and add on a visit to the mountains around Huaraz. There are lots of day hiking options as well as longer treks such as the 10 day+ circuit of the Huay Huash. If you know the Joe Simpson novel/film Touching the Void, that took place in those mountains and attracted us to visit!
Another great stop on the way down from Lima towards the south is Arequipa. The city itself is worth a day or two, and the Colca Canyon is a must-see day or two trip while you are there.
Also, as you head south towards Bolivia, if you go that way, you can also stop at Puno to visit Lake Titicaca. This was the least impressive thing I saw in Peru, but it’s worth a stop if you are passing through.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!