2 weeks in Peru – the perfect itinerary for the best trip

by Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
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Peru is one of those countries that just begs to be explored. And if you are here, I imagine Peru is high on your travel list. A magical, mystical country full of wonders. If you have 2 weeks in Peru, it will be packed with beautiful landscapes, fascinating culture, and a chance to experience an incredibly diverse country.

Often longer haul, adventure-filled countries are thought to be reserved for long-term travellers, but this does not need to be the case. This itinerary for 2 weeks in Peru shows how you can make the most of this exciting destination even if you are limited on time.

Why visit Peru? – 2 weeks in Peru

Peru is probably most famous for Machu Picchu. And while this absolutely needs to be on any itinerary to this country, Peru also has so much more to offer. It is not off the beaten path, but it has much to offer and lots to discover.

Peru is perfect for :

  • Hiking: most likely stating the obvious. The Inca trail is probably the most famous hike in the world.
  • Beautiful landscapes: Peru offers such a vast variety of landscapes. From the mystic of the Andes to the deserts. As well as lakes and forests.
  • Local traditions: While Peru is a catholic country, so much of their cultures and beliefs are rooted in ancient traditions revolving around Mother Earth
  • Ancient civilizations and history: The Incas and the Nazca are two of the best-known ancient civilizations from Peru

This itinerary covering 2 weeks in Peru gives you a flavour of all the above!

I visited Peru with G Adventures and you can see the tour I took here: Peru: Ancient Cities and the Andes. The tour was amazing, and for the most part, this itinerary post follows this, with a couple of tweaks I would make if I was doing it all over again!

Is 2 weeks in Peru enough time?

Is 2 weeks in any country enough time? And while you could certainly spend a lot more time in the country, 2 weeks in Peru will give you a taste of everything and a chance to see the highlights.

Of course, it is a big and widely diverse country, and you could certainly spend a lot longer without feeling like you’ve seen enough. This is an action-packed itinerary, designed to maximise the amount you get to see. Of course, you could, and should, spend more time in each location. But, as we know, time is a luxury and if you are limited on time this itinerary will help you get maximum impact in 2 weeks. Perfect if you work full-time and want to see as much as you can during your annual leave.

2 weeks in Peru – Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1: Arrive in Lima
  • Day 2: Explore Lima
  • Day 3: Bus to Nazca
  • Day 4: Nazca, overnight bus to Arequipa
  • Day 5: Arequipa
  • Day 6: Arequipa, travel to Colca Canyon
  • Day 7: Colca Canyon, overnight bus to Cusco
  • Day 8: Cusco
  • Day 9: Cusco, Rainbow Mountain
  • Day 10: Ollantaytambo
  • Day 11 – 13: Inca Trail
  • Day 14: Machu Picchu
  • Day 15: Cusco and return home

2 weeks in Peru: Itinerary in detail

Day 1 of 2 weeks in Peru: Arrive in Lima (stay 2 nights)

Depending on what time you arrive depends on how much time you’ll have to explore. Most people will arrive late in the afternoon, so check into your hotel and don’t plan for too much more than drinking pisco sour and trying to beat jet lag by staying awake until 10 p.m. Lima is a huge city and very sprawling, with somewhat of a reputation for not being the safest city. The best neighbourhoods to stay in are either Barranco or Miraflores, and there are lots of bars and restaurants for you to grab a bite and a drink when you arrive.

Day 2 of 2 weeks in Peru – Lima

While a day (or a little longer depending on how much time you had the day before) isn’t going to be enough to see everything in this enormous city, it is definitely enough time to see the highlights. While there are actually 43 districts in the city, yes, it really is that big! There are 3-4 which you should focus on while you have some time in the city:

  • Lima – The historic centre of the city. Join a walking tour to find the highlights, including Catedral de Lima, Basilica of Santo Domingo, and Convent of San Fransico to see the catacombs
  • Rimac – Located just over the river from Lima, and you can find the smallest church in Lima as well as Creole restaurants.
  • Barranco – This area has earned a reputation as the Bohemian neighbourhood of Lima. Its streets are full of street art, and it is bright and colourful. Also home to some of the best bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
  • Miraflores – Gorgeous coastal views, high-end shopping and quality restaurants.

Either choose to explore independently or, as I did for Lima, join a walking tour to learn some more of the history.

image of Barranco in Lima - to start your 2 weeks in Peru

Day 3 – Travel to Nazca (stay 1 night)

Grab some breakfast in Lima, before boarding a bus to Nazca. There are plenty of buses you can take in Peru. but Cruz del Sur is one of the most reliable and safest. The bus terminal is located on Javier Prado Avenue, only 15 minutes away by car or Uber from the neighbourhood of Miraflores.

The buses themselves are comfy and spacious. They have curtains to separate the seats next to each other, aircon and even a TV screen in the seat in front – a little like flying in a plane! The journey will take you around 5-6 hours.

Day 4 – Nazca, overnight bus to Arequipa

Nazca is a dusty city in the Inca region. and if you have travelled the 450KM from Lima to reach it, then there is one experience you absolutely cannot miss – seeing the Nazca lines. The Nazca lines are over 2000 years old, and theories as to what they are, are varied and exciting! The origin, purpose, or meaning is still not very clear, and scientists from all over the world have different theories and explanations. These range from messages from aliens to them being a kind of astronomical observatory, where the countless lines crossing the desert were used to observe the movements of the Sun and the Moon.

If your budget allows, and you aren’t prone to motion sickness, the best way to see them is from the air. There are two options, a 30-minute flight or a 40-minute one and prices start from around $70. You need your passport, and you can even get a stamp for it. Bear in mind, that while the flight is relatively smooth the pilot takes some steep banks to make sure both sides see the lines. If the flight is over budget, the other option is to climb the viewing tower.

To finish off your trip to Nazca spend the afternoon heading out into the desert. Explore the aqueducts built by the Nazca culture around 1,500 years ago. As well as Cahucahi, a ceremonial centre of the culture. And finally, sandboarding! An excellent way to spend in this area.

Finally, hop onto another bus – this time overnight – to take you to Arequipa.

Day 5 – Arequipa (stay 1 night)

You should arrive in the city of Arequipa around 9.30 am. Check into your accommodation, and if you are lucky have a shower! Then head out for brunch, there are plenty of options in this city but for the largest selection of sweet and savoury crepes you might have ever seen – head to Crepisimo.

There is plenty to do in this city but start with a walking tour. Don’t miss the main plaza, the beautiful UNESCO cathedral, the local market and Juanita – the frozen Inca child. Spend the afternoon visiting the Santa Catalina monastery. Afterwards, why not take part in a beer tasting, followed by sunset rooftop drinks?

Day 6: Arequipa, travel to Chivay (stay 1 night)

Head off early the next day to travel to the beautiful Colca Canyon. It is about a four-hour drive from Arequipa to Chivay, but with plenty to see along the way. As you are leaving Arequipa make sure to keep an eye out for the three volcanoes that surround the city – Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu.

The drive will take you through the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Park. Keep an eye out for volcanoes, as well as lots of wildlife. On the way through take a quick, stop at the highest altitude of the drive – 4910m.

When you arrive in Chivay spend the afternoon relaxing in the Yanque hot springs. These are local springs, with basic facilities, but there is the opportunity to buy beer! Pool temperature ranges from 90-100° F. The recommended bathing time is 40 minutes.

Back in Chivay, wander around the stalls and the local market, followed by a beer at what claims to be the highest Irish Bar in the world.

Day 7: Colca Canyon, overnight bus to Cusco

Time for an early start, but it is worth it! Get up early to make the drive from Chivay to Colca Canyon to try and spot the Condor’s flying. The drive from Chivay to the viewpoint is beautiful, and you will want to make plenty of stops along the way. There are steep natural terraces built in the side of the valley dating from the Inca times, with the river winding its way along the bottom.

When you arrive at Colca Valley, the main viewpoint will be incredibly busy. But there are plenty of other smaller, much quieter viewpoints further along. And be patient! It might seem like they will not fly, but with some luck, you will see these fantastic birds. I am not much of a bird watcher, but seeing them fly was absolutely incredible. A must-see if you have 2 weeks in Peru.

When you are in the area, take a stop at the beautiful village of Maca. No matter what time of the morning it is, make sure to get yourself a Cocla sour – made from piscco, syrup and the juice of a fruit called sancayo. It is 48% proof, but so delicious. Pop into the village church and meet the baby alpacas! Before finally heading back to Arequipa.

Day 8: Cusco (2 nights)

From Arequipa take a flight to Cusco, either the evening before or an early one on day 8 – whichever works better but you will want to arrive in Cusco early to make the most of it! The first thing to do on arriving in Cusco is to find a great breakfast, and Jack’s will be the place.

Then spend the day exploring the city – the Plaza de Armas, Cusco Catherdral, Mercardo Central de San Pedro and the San Blas area. This is also a great day to get the things you might need if you are embarking on the Inca Trail.

Cusco is a lovely little city, and perfect for just wandering around. Have some drinks, eat amazing food and enjoy good coffee.

For more details on how to spend your time in Cusco, make sure not to miss this post: One day in Cusco, Peru

Day 9: Cusco, Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca or the Montana de los Siete Colores, is one of the most majestic sights in Peru. Some tours miss out on this stop, and for transparency, my tour didn’t and therefore I didn’t visit. But I am adding it to this post on how to spend 2 weeks in Peru because this is the one tweak I would have made to the itinerary and I wish I could have visited.

There are plenty of day tours from Cusco to visit Rainbow Mountian. Most of them start very early in the morning as it takes around 3 hours to get there from the city. At 5,200m above sea level, this will be the highest altitude you visit during your 2 weeks in Peru. It takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours to hike to see it, because of the height and how steep it is. Tours book out quickly, so make sure to book in advance.

Back in Cusco for the evening, and more time to pick up souvenirs, have another drink in another pub claiming to be the highest in the world and some food.

Day 10: Ollantaytambo (1 night)

Ollantaytambo is the gateway to the Inca Trail, and there are two types of travellers in the small Incan town: those who have just come back from Machu Picchu, and those who are just about to visit. This town also marks the furthest point the Spanish got to during the invasions; they never found Machu Picchu.

It’s not the largest place, so perfect to relax for a day if you are embarking on a hike the next day. However, there are some lovely spots to visit while you are there. The main sight is the Main Ollantaytambo Archeological Park, climbing up the hills overlooking the town – these are hard to miss. However, if you don’t want to pay a second great option is the Depositos de Pinkuylluna – these Incan stonehouses are on the mountain opposite the main ruins. It’s a short 40-minute hike up, although quite a steep one! From there, you will have amazing views of the ruins and Ollanta.

For the rest of your time, wander the town, pick up the last bits you need for the Inca Trial and indulge in a pisco sour or two in happy hour!

Day 11 – 13: Inca Trail (3 nights)

Possibly one the main reasons you have travelled to Peru! Leaving the trail (or a different hike if you choose one of the other options) allows you to have time to acclimatise, and means you end the trip on a high! One of the most incredible travel experiences you can embark on, the Inca Trail will take you 4 days. over 44km and you’ll spend three nights camping with very basic facilities. But you will have the most amazing crew with you and ultimately will have the most unforgettable experience.

Day one is the ‘easy’, training day. Day two will be the hardest with an elevation of over 1000m, and day three will offer you a lot of Incan ruins.

You leave anything you don’t need in Ollantaytambo and pack light. An early start will take you to KM.82, the start point for the trail, starting the hike around 9 a.m. The amount of people on the trail is limited, so it is essentially you book before. I did the trail with G Adventures, see this post for a review: G Adventures Inca Trail review: Beautiful hike to Machu Picchu

The 4-day hike is the most popular, and for all and every question you might have, check out this post: The Inca Trail Trek – everything you need to know! As well as this post on what to pack: What to pack for Peru: tried and tested list!

Day 14: Machu Picchu

The final day of the Inca Trail starts early, around a 3.30 a.m. rise to hike to the final checkpoint. It opens at 5.30 a.m., and from there is a rapid hike to the Sungate for the first view of the incredible site. You will then spend the morning exploring the incredible ruins, before getting a bus down to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town), having some lunch and a beer. And then get the train back to Ollantaytambo. And from there, a bus back to Cusco. Arriving in Cusco around 7 p.m. Time for a shower and some food, before an early night – you will be exhausted!

For everything you need to see at Machu Picchu, check out this post: Things to do in Machu Picchu – top 10 amazing things to see!

Image of Machu Picchu, to end 2 weeks in Peru itinerary

Day 15: Cusco and return home

The end of the adventure! Time for another breakfast in Cusco, head back to Jack’s. Before a flight from Cusco to Lima and then home.

Should you have more time than 2 weeks in Peru?

You absolutely could spend a lot more time than 2 weeks in Peru, and if you have that luxury then I am very jealous! If this is you, then there are some further places you should consider adding to your itinerary.

  • Huacachina
  • Puno
  • Lake Titicaca
  • Huaraz

I would also spend more time in Cusco, the perfect city to relax in both before and after hiking the Trail.

If you are heading to Peru, I hope this post helps! And have the most amazing time, this country is really something special.

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Image of 2 weeks in Peru

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