Inca Woman in Perú

How Does Two Weeks in Perú Sound?

Perú was the first country I visited in South America. For this fact alone, Perú holds a special place in my heart and among my travel experiences. But I also hold Perú in high regard because, quite simply, it’s amazing!

If you’ve long wanted to travel to Perú, but just haven’t gotten on a plane to Lima yet, I hope this sample Perú itinerary motivates you to buy your ticket. And if the thought of traveling to Perú has yet to cross your mind? Well, I have a feeling that won’t be the case in a few minutes.

Lima

 

Unless you arrive by land from neighboring countries like Ecuador, Bolivia or Chile, your first stop will be Perú’s capital city of Lima.

Lima has less than a golden reputation among South American capital cities. Yet, while Lima is certainly no Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires or even Santiago, it’s a charming, interesting city with loads of culture and natural beauty.

 

I recommend spending three full days in Lima. Stay in Miraflores, where you can easily explore the city’s most cosmopolitan district, and quickly walk down to beaches like Costa Verde, which is covered in smooth, black rocks instead of sands. Sleep at the incredible Loki Hostel (which also has branches in Cusco and Máncora) if you can!

Then, travel by collectivo or taxi to Lima’s historical center, where you can pass at least a day. Dine in a cevichería overlooking the bright yellow Plaza de Armas, or take a guided tour of the creepy catacombs, which date back to the days of the Conquistadors.

Arequipa and The Colca Canyon

 

Since, as Perú’s capital, Lima is the best-connected point in the country, you have many onward options from Lima — and I’ll get to all of them later! For now, however, we’re going to follow the path that I did: After you’ve had your fill of Lima, take an overnight bus to Arequipa.

Perú’s “white” city, Arequipa is the country’s second largest, although it is admittedly much smaller than Lima. It’s also a lot higher, situated on a plateau in Perú’s arid southwest, so you can expect it to be a fair bit cooler than Lima. I recommend spending a full day exploring Arequipa.

 

The main attraction of Arequipa is the Colca Canyon, which is Perú’s (big) answer to the Grand Canyon: It’s twice as deep! If you’re strapped for time, you can take a day trip to Colca Canyon, which departs Arequipa at 3 a.m. and returns in early evening.

But if you have the time, I recommend spending two or three days at the Canyon and in the surrounding Colca Valley. In addition to spectacular views and the opportunity to see the rare Andean condor, you can enjoy the warm hospitality of indigenous Inca people in towns like Yanque.

Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

 

At this point, I’m going to assume you’re about a week into your Perú journey. I’m also going to assume you love being in the mountains, and have found a way to deal with altitude sickness, which will probably involve chewing coca leaves. (Don’t worry — they’re not really cocaine.)

With these assumptions in mind, I’m going to recommend that you travel east from Arequipa toward Cusco, which is probably the most visited city/region of Perú. The former capital of the Incas, the city of Cusco itself is stunning, sprawled over the side of a mountain and home to some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

 

But Cusco is more than just an amazing city — it’s a bonafide tourist hub! Most notably, Cusco is the closest major city to Machu Picchu. Whether you do like I did and see Machu Picchu without a tour, or embark on the famous “Inca Trail” (or, the less famous “Jungle Trek”), Cusco is the place to start your journey.

Want to see something a little less cliché? Travel to Perú’s aptly-named Sacred Valley, located in nearby Urubamba. The use of the word “sacred” in the valley’s name is anything but sacrilege — it’s among the most beautiful places I’ve seen!

Secondary Perú Destinations

If you’ve followed my suggestions up to this point, your two weeks in Perú is up — sad face! But if you’ve got more time, there are plenty of other places and things to see in Perú.

Iquitos and the Amazon

After two weeks in Perú, you’ve probably accepted a fact that was among the hardest for me to swallow: Perú is a (mostly) cold country! Thankfully, a 90-minute flight from Lima to the Amazon city of Iquitos, a hub for jungle ecotourism, proves this generality wrong.

Puno and Lake Titicaca

Many travelers ascribe ownership of Lake Titicaca to Bolivia, since the scenery and indigenous culture of the world’s highest lake is more characteristic of Bolivia than of Perú. Regardless of whether you use Lake Titicaca as an entry point into Bolivia, or simply make it a stop on your Perú trip, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that’s very much worth having.

Perú’s Pacific Coast

Hate the jungle but still want tropical warmth? Not to worry. Perú has several hundred kilometers of Pacific coastline, from balmy Mancorá in the north, to slightly-inland hotspots like Ica (famous for sandboarding) and Pisco (famous for the Peruvian rum that makes national drink Pisco Sour).

 

About The Author

is the author of 673 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell.

Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

  • http://twitter.com/redhunttravel Red Hunt

    Ahhh, Peru! I’m heading there in a couple of weeks, but only a quick trip….so no Lima for me. Just going to spend 10-days exploring the Sacred Valley / MP / Cuzco area. Any particular tips on eating/drinking/sleeping places?

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    I would 100% recommend staying in Loki Hostel in Cusco — perhaps the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at! You should get Ceviche, especially the Ceviche at Cusco central market. Also, try a bright yellow Inca cola!

  • Hannah

    Great post! I spent 2 weeks in Peru this summer and loved it! The only thing I didn’t love about it were the toilets lol. I wrote a piece on them here http://blog.missadventures.ca/pooping-in-peru-a-tale-of-anxiety-strength-and-determination/

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  • Gretchen Stell

    Im thinking about a trip here next year and your blog is most helpful! Thanks Robert!

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    I’m so happy to hear that Gretchen! I think you would LOVE Perú like a llama momma loves its baby!

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  • Daniel

    Good introduction, although two weeks in Peru are quite tight. I would suggest a minumum of three weeks to do the “gringo trail”, this can be done in a loop going one way by bus from LIma to Pisco/Paracas(3 hours by bus) to see the deset coast and natural reserves, then another 4 to 5 hours to Nazca to fly over the lines and see the Mummies cementery. From Nazca take a night bus to Arequipa. Spend one to two days there and visit the amazing Santa Catalina convent. Travel to Cabanaconde in the Colca Canyon by public transportation (6 hours) and spend two days at least so that you can hike to the bottom of the canyon. Then either go back to Arequipa and take a bus to Puno from there, or take a tourist bus directly from the Colca Canyon to Puno which will save you about 8 hours of travelling. In Puno, sleep with the locals at Taquile or Amantani Island, or in the Capachica Peninsula for great hikes and wonderful views of Lake Titicaca. Puno to Cusco is about 5 hours by bus. Then spend about a week in the Cusco area. If you have time the lost city of Choquequirao is like Machu Pichu but without the tourists although it takes 2 days to walk there and two days to come back.

    I have a description of this sugested route with photos in my blog (although it is in Spanish) and two friends who went to Peru used my advise to travel effotlessly through the country.

    http://blogs.elcomercio.pe/cincocontinentes/2013/05/consejos-a-amigos-que-viajan-a.html

    Of course there are many other amazing places to visit in Peru such as the North Andes region (Cajamarca, Chachapoyas) the northern Coast (Mancora, Chiclayo, Trujillo), hiking in the Huaraz area, and others, but it would take at least 3 months to travel through all of these areas.

    Cheers

    Daniel

  • Daniel

    Another important piece of advise while travelling to Peru: avoid using organized tours wherever possible. More often than not they tend to be rip-offs and they never give you your money back even if it is clear that they are at fault. Try to organize your own transportation.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Thanks for all your great, informative comments, David. They are much appreciated!

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