Peru Travel Guide: 3-week Itinerary
Three weeks is an ideal length to discover Peru due to the convenient buses and flights making traveling in Peru fairly easy. Here’s a day-to-day Peru Travel Guide. Discover the travel locations of this route’s highlights in our Peru map.
Day 1 – 3: Lima
Welcome to the capital of Peru: Lima. This modern creative city built along the scenic coastline is a good starting point for your time in Peru. Wander around in the artist area Barranco, bike around the city and coastline, and taste Peru’s national dish’Ceviche‘.
Day 4: Paracas-Unique Peru travel experience
One of the most extraordinary wildlife events takes place daily at Paracas’s Ballestas Islands. A million sea birds torpedo themselves into the water trying catch the fish at the surface who are hunted by the sea lions.
Paracas is a tiny, laid back backpack village, great to spend the night go on a tour through Paracas National Reserve and do a Pisco Plonk tasting tour.
Hacienda San Jose – Peru travel history
On your way to Paracas, stop at the beautiful country house Hacienda San Jose. Under the house lies a 9-kilometer long tunnel system that was used to smuggle African people to work on the farms and avoid tax. It is possible to go inside the tunnels and catch a bit of the, somehow, dark history that took place here.
Lima to Paracas
Get to Paracas within a 3-hour bus ride, best booked online with a reliable bus company or via the public bus.
Day 5 – 6: Huacachina
The highest sand dunes in South America surrounding a small lagoon with lush-green palm trees. This oasis named Huacachina has to be on your Peru travel itinerary as it is a unique phenomenon. So watch the sunset from the dune top, do a sand buggy tour through the desert and spend the night.
Paracas to Huacachina
Huachachina is a short 45-minute bus ride from Paracas. Unfortunately, there is no public transport but you can take a taxi from Ica or a bus tour company.
Day 7 – 9: Arequipa
The volcano-ringed city of Arequipa is the second-largest city in Peru. It is often skipped as the majority of the tourists visit Machu Picchu only. Arequipa is a stunning and charming city fantastic to explore on foot. Its white colonial buildings in the historical center give a feeling as if you’re walking in Europe.
The city is located at 2,400 meters, an altitude to get used to before going to the even higher located city Cusco.
On your way to Arequipa, you will pass the Nazca Lines, a series of drawings carved into the ground of the desert over 2000 years ago. The viewing tower on the side of the highway gives a good look at the drawings such as a tree and hands. Alternatively, book a flight to see all the Nazca lines from above.
Huacachina to Arequipa
The comfortable overnight bus from Huachachina to Arequipa is a great way to cover a long distance. The bus ride takes 12 hours but it will stop at the Nazca lines viewing tower.
Day 10 – 12: Cusco
Cusco is the gateway to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. This charming little cobblestone-street city is situated at an altitude of 3,200 meters and you will need some time to get used to that height. Luckily, Cusco is a fantastic city with beautiful architecture, cathedrals, museums, and some of the best restaurants in the country!
Arequipa to Cusco
On day 8 in Arequipa, take the bus via Puno or fly directly to Cusco. If you want to see the floating villages of Puno, add one day to your Peru travel itinerary. Find the best flight
Day 13: Sacred Valley
After acclimatizing in Cusco, go into incredible Sacred Valley. Discover sights like the Moray circular terraces, Pisac, Maras Salt Mines, and Ollantaytambo. Finally, take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, better known as Machu Picchu town. Spending the night in Aguas Calientes allows you to get up early and see the sunrise on the Machu Picchu mountain.
Day 14: Machu Picchu-Highlight of Peru travel route
Rise and shine very early as today is the highlight of your 3-week Peru travel route! Machu Picchu, the once lost Incan city, situated on top of a mountain is something to experience best during sunrise. Spend the morning wandering around at this jaw-dropping site and eventually don’t forget to get the passport stamp as a final reward for visiting Machu Picchu.
Spend the rest of the afternoon in Aguas Calientes relaxing as you will need this after that early wake-up call.
Day 15: Back to Cusco
After spending the night in Aguas Calientes, hop on the morning train back to Ollantaytambo. In the morning, two trains depart at 08:30 and 10:32 but remember to get these tickets in advance. The train ride belongs to one of the most scenic train rides in the world with many windows offering a great view of the entire Sacred Valley.
Day 16: Rainbow Mountain-must-do Peru travel experience
Prepare yourself for a tough hike to the 5000-meter high rainbow-colored mountain top of Palccoyo. The rainbow colors, created by various kinds of metal, were covered by snowy mountain tops but due to climate change, this will now be visible during the summer period. A unique experience to have on your Peru travel itinerary.