The Ultimate Peru Itinerary - 2 Weeks Exploring the Highlights

A photographic travel guide and 2-week itinerary for Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #travelguide #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 
 

Chances are, if you’re looking to travel to Peru it’s because of Machu Picchu. I get it, I was the same. And yes, it was just as beautiful in person as I had hoped but was it my favourite experience in Peru? Hmmm, maybe not.

What I didn’t expect to find was such geographic diversity. Peru has costal cities, arid deserts, villages in valleys, villages in mountains and even villages on lakes! As I moved through the country I was constantly surprised by new landscapes, it never got boring.

My 2-week (ok 16 days) itinerary covers all these great highlights. From hiking through lush valleys, to meeting communities from the mountains, sliding down sand dunes and eating delicious food. It’s a great first taste of Peru that left me wanting more.

 
 

GO IF YOU LIKE:

DIVERSE LANDSCAPES | BUDGET TRAVEL | ANCIENT CULTURES | LLAMAS | The Outdoors

 
 

ITINERARY for 2 WEEKS IN PERU - The Overview

Day 1: Lima

Day 2: Ica and Huacachina

Day 3: Ica and Huacachina

Day 4: The Sacred Valley (Urubamba)

Day 5: The Sacred Valley (Urubamba)

Day 6: The Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo)

Day 7: Hike to Machu Picchu

Day 8: Visit Machu Picchu & Hike Huayna Picchu

Day 9: Cusco City Center

Day 10: Cusco Outskirts

Day 11: Train to Lake Titicaca

Day 12: Homestay on Amantani Island

Day 13: Taquile Island

Day 14: Go Home or if you have two extra days visit Arequipa

 

And Then I Met Yoko is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. Some links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a booking. As always, I only recommend products and services I trust.

 
 
 
Sunset along the Pacific Coast, Lima, Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 
 

Day 1: Lima

If you’re flying into Peru then Lima is a great place to start your travels. The capital of Peru is known for its beautiful coastline, UNESCO World Heritage historic center and fresh ceviche.

I opted to only spend a day and a half in Lima. I would have spent more time if I could but I was eager to explore the other regions of Peru and prioritized those instead.

If you’ve got the time and budget consider visiting one (or more) award-winning restaurants; Maido and Central are the most popular. They both offer tasting menus but couldn’t be more different. You’ll have to book well in advance so read my review article to get an idea of what they’re like.


Day 1 - Lima Itinerary

Morning: Explore the historic city centre

Afternoon: Enjoy a ceviche lunch

Late afternoon: Walk along the Pacific Coast and take in the sunset

Evening: Head to one of South America’s award-winning restaurants

Accomodation: Second Home Peru


 
 
 
 
Buggies in the dunes, Ica, Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #ica
 
 

Day 2-3: Ica and Huacachina

A few hours south of Lima is Ica and the oasis town of Huacachina. Huacachina itself is a bustling backpacker spot. The crowds are younger and the experiences are more budget friendly.

The most popular activity is riding through the dunes around sunset then sandboarding down them on your belly. I pre-booked a local guide which was the best idea. He not only took us out to the desert but made sure we got away from the crowds.

Through him I also organized a tour to a winery, street food tastings and he took us to some of his favourite restaurants. The food at these places was some of the best we had the entire trip.


Day 2 - Ica Itinerary

Morning: Take the bus from Lima to Ica

Afternoon: Enjoy lunch and a tour of Tacama Winery

Early evening: Head out on the sand dunes and watch the sunset

Night: Try some street food

Day 3 - Huacachina Itinerary

Morning: Hike the surrounding dunes of Huacachina

Afternoon: Relax by the pool and grab a seafood lunch

Early afternoon: Head back to Lima

Night: Enjoy a dinner in Lima

Accomodation: Hotel El Huacachinero


 
 
 
The Maras Salt Ponds, The Sacred Valley Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 
 

Day 4-6: The Sacred Valley (Urubamba & Ollantaytambo)

The days I spent in the Sacred Valley were probably my favourite. Most people visiting Machu Picchu will stay in Cusco and bypass this area completely by train. Big mistake.

There’s so much to see and explore; plus, it sits at a lower altitude than Cusco, so it makes acclimating more manageable. I highly recommend spending a few nights here before visiting Machu Picchu or Cusco.

Using Urubamba and Ollantaytambo as a home base for a few days, you can explore surrounding natural landscapes, Inca sights and take in some of the traditional cultures of the people who live within the valley and the Andes.


Day 4 - Urubamba Itinerary

Morning: Arrive from Cusco airport and check into hotel

Afternoon: Enjoy a Peruvian-Thai fusion lunch

Late-afternoon: See the Moray terraces and the Maras Salt Ponds

Evening: Enjoy a traditional meal

Day 5 - Urubamba Itinerary

Morning: Visit a weaving community in the Andes

Afternoon: Enjoy a Peruvian lunch

Early evening: Drive around to nearby lookouts

Day 6 - Ollantaytambo Itinerary

Morning: Drive to the town of Ollantaytambo and explore Temple Hill and the large Inca fortress

Afternoon: Eat a pachamanca lunch

Late afternoon: Walk the streets of the town and climb to the storage houses

Evening: Enjoy a Peruvian dinner


 
 
 
 
 

Day 7-8: Machu Picchu

All right, we’ve finally gotten to Machu Picchu. By this time, if you’ve followed the above itinerary, you should be relatively well acclimatized. This means you have the option of hiking to Machu Picchu if you want a challenge.

There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu: by train/bus or hiking. The most common hike is the 4-day Inca Trail. Travellers book their tour guides 6 months to a year in advance because only a few hundred people can be on the trail every day and guides with permits are required.

A two-week itinerary can give you the option of doing this, but it’s at the sacrifice of 3 full nights somewhere else. So you need to decide what’s most important. I wanted a challenge, without occupying 4 full days, so I went with a 2-day hike.

This allowed me to push myself by hiking a full day to the ruins with a second day exploring them and climbing Huayna Picchu Mountain.

You can read about my 2-day hiking experience which also includes details on the 4 Day Inca Trail, 5-Day Salkantay Trek and 5.5 Day Salkantay Trek with Humantay Lagoon.


Day 7 - Hike to Machu Picchu

Morning: Take the train to marker 104km

Afternoon: Hike to Machu Picchu

Early evening: Arrive at Machu Picchu

Evening: Dinner and sleep at Aguas Calientes

Day 8 - Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Itinerary

Early Morning: Tour Machu Picchu ruins

Late Morning: Climb Huayna Picchu Mountain

Afternoon: Have lunch in Aguas Calientes

Evening: Take train to Cusco

For a lighthearted read try “Turn Right at Machu PIcchu” by Mark Adams.


 
 
 
A woman making fresh juice in the San Pedro Market, Cusco, Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 

Day 9-10: Cusco

Sitting at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu, Cusco is best visited after a trip to the ruins. Being the capital of the Inca empire there are many museums within the city and Inca ruins on the outskirts. It’s best to hire a driver and guide if possible, to explore these outer areas.


Day 9 - Cusco City Center Itinerary

Morning: Explore San Pedro Market

Afternoon: Grab lunch in the city

Late Afternoon: Visit the historic buildings and museums

Evening: Enjoy a street food tour

Late evening: Visit the Cusco planetarium and learn about Inca astrology. Bonus: If it’s a nice day you’ll get to see the stars

Day 10 - Cusco Outskirts Itinerary

Morning: Visit the Tambomachay ruins and the The Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary

Afternoon: Explore the Pisac market

Late Afternoon: Grab a local lunch

Early evening: See the Pisac ruins and Saqsaywaman

Accomodation: La Morada Suites


 
 
 
 
On the Belmond Andean Explorer from Cusco to Puno, Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 
 

Day 11: Take the Train to Lake Titicaca

There are a few ways to get to Puno and the Lake Titicaca region. I opted for a luxury sleeper train, The Belmond Andean Explorer. This train ride leaves in the late morning and get’s into the Puno train station at night. It stops twice along the way with short excursions.

If the price is too much (which in my opinion it was) then consider the cheaper alternative of Peru Rail, which doesn’t offer the sleeper cabins. Here’s my honest review of the Belmond Andean Explorer. At the end I cover additional methods of transport to get from Cusco to Puno. Note that this train only runs on select days of the week. My article goes into those details.


Day 11 - From Cusco to Puno

All day: Ride the train from Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca)


 
 
 
Views of Lake Titicaca on Amantani Island, Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 
 

Day 12-13: Lake Titicaca

Once in Puno, I didn’t bother spending any time in the city itself because I was interested in the remote islands on Lake Titicaca.

Through a tour company I decided to participate in a cultural homestay on the Island of Amantani. The homestay involved meeting a local family and being hosted in their private home. This cultural exchange allowed me to get a glimpse into their lives and a greater appreciation for how tough living on a remote island can be.

To get to the island we needed to take a 3-hour boat ride. On the way, we stopped at the highly-touristic Uros Floating Islands. Though the construction and history of these islands was interesting, it felt over-commercialized for tourism.

Once we arrived on Amantani Island everything changed. There was no motor traffic, no noise and beautiful views. We were greeted by our host family for the day who prepared our meals and gave us insight into their lives on the islands.


Day 12 - Amantani Island Itinerary

Morning: Disembark the train and head to the Puno Port

Early afternoon: Visit the Uros floating Islands

Afternoon: Arrive at Amantani Island, enjoy lunch

Early evening: Hike to the lookout point on the island for sunset

Evening: Enjoy a home cooked dinner

Day 13 - Taquile Island Itinerary

Morning: Have breakfast at your homestay then leave the island

Afternoon: Arrive at Taquile Island, hike and enjoy a lunch

Late afternoon: Take the boat back to Puno

Evening: Sleep at hotel in Puno

BONUS: If you’ve got two more days then head to Arequipa and keep reading…


 
 
 
Streets of Arequipa, Peru. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #photoblog #fujifilm #visitperu
 

Day 14-15: Arequipa

If I could change one thing about this trip, it would be to spend more time in Arequipa. After several days in more remote locations it was nice to be back in a busy city.

The city center of Arequipa is charming. It’s known as the white city because so many buildings use the volcanic rock from nearby. Try to dedicate a day in the city and if you have another few days consider a trip to Colca Canyon to see some condors in the wild.

I had also wanted to do an ATV tour by the surrounding volcanoes (Misti, Mount Chachani and Pichu Pichu) but alas, my time was cut short by a stupid flight booking error. Next time I visit Peru, I’m heading straight to Arequipa.


Day 14 - Arequipa

All Day Option 1: Tour the outskirts and get a closer view of Misti Mountain

All Day Option 2: Book a tour to visit Colca Canyon

Day 15 - Arequipa City Center Itinerary

Morning: Explore the Santa Catalina Monastery

Afternoon: Enjoy a local lunch or a juicy sandwich

Evening: Catch a flight back to Lima for your return home (womp womp)


 
 
 

My Favourite Moments in Peru

 

How to Prevent Altitude Sickness

As someone who was absolutely paranoid about getting sick I can happily report that I was perfectly fine. With that being said I took as many precautions as possible and having experienced headaches in the mountains of Colorado I was better prepared for this trip.

If you’d like to receive a free handout outlining how I prepared for the trip you can subscribe below and I’ll send it over.

 
 
 

My Favourite Hotel in Peru

Boutique Hotel Lizzy Wasi (Urubamba)

This hotel was a great find. The rooms were spcious and clean, the common areas were inviting. Every morning a lovely breakfast was served. They also have hammocks, where you can relax and enjoy the surrounding mountains.

Book at Boutique Hotel Lizzy Wasi

 

A Packing Guide for 2-Weeks in Peru

I compiled a list of everything I brought along to Peru. It’s based on this 2-week itinerary and travel climate in November. It also includes tips on packing smartly.

Top-Rated Tours in Peru

 
 

Things I’ll do Next Time in Peru

2 weeks (or 16 days) is a tight timeline. If you have more time you can consider adding these activities to your list:

  • Colca Canyon (from Arequipa) - From Arequipa, take a day trip out to Colca Canyon. Here you’ll go hiking and likely catch a glimpse of condors flying around the canyon.

  • The Nazca Lines (from Ica) - Dating back to around 100 BC these geoglyphs are carved into the ground. From a plane you can see shapes that form animals and plants. Just make sure you’re ok with a bumpy ride, I’ve read the planes can get shaky but the views are spectacular.

  • The Salkantay Trek (from Cusco) - A longer trek than the Inca Trail, this path will take you past large lakes and Peruvian villages. You can read more about it at the end of my article on the short Inca Trail hike.

  • Rainbow Mountain (from Cusco) - The Rainbow Mountain famously got its name from its collection of different mineral deposits, creating a rainbow-like effect on the mountain. You’ll need to commit yourself to a tour which includes an early morning and full-day hike. Be cautious after heavy rain as the path can get slippery and visibility can be poor.

  • The Amazon (from any city with an airport) - The Amazon would be ideal if you can add one week to your trip. There are two main cities which are the start of an Amazon experience; Iquitos (in the North) or Puerto Maldonado (South). Puerto Maldonado is more developed for tourism while Iquitos will feel more untouched.

  • Huarez - Just outside of Huarez are some incredible hikes and multi-day treks filled with mountainous scenery and blue waters like Laguna 69.

 
 

All Peru Travel Guides

 

NEED HELP PLANNING?

If you need help planning your trip to Peru, shoot me a message.

 
 

PIN IT FOR LATER

 
A photographic travel guide and itinerary to The Sacred Valley. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #sacredvalley #peru #travelguide #photoblog #travelblog #travelphotography #landscapephotography #travelitinerary #fujifilm #southamerica #visitperu #foodie #incasights #machupicchu #cusco #ancientruins #incatrail #ValleSagrado #travel #hiking
A photographic travel guide and itinerary to The Sacred Valley. Travel photography and guide by © Natasha Lequepeys for "And Then I Met Yoko". #sacredvalley #peru #travelguide #photoblog #travelblog #travelphotography #landscapephotography #travelitinerary #fujifilm #southamerica #visitperu #foodie #incasights #machupicchu #cusco #ancientruins #incatrail #ValleSagrado #travel #hiking