3 Weeks In Peru Itinerary and Tips

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Peru is one of the few places on Earth where you can have everything in one country. The beautiful beaches, great food, delicious alcohol, hiking, glacier parks, and mountaineering. Not to mention rich in culture, friendly people, and a very vibrant lifestyle. So, if you are looking for any of these activities, Peru should be on your list.

Being located south of the equator, Peru is also a great destination during winter in the northern hemisphere. You can escape the winter snow and trade it for sunny beaches and warm hiking. You can enjoy some water and wind activities such as kite surfing or paragliding. This article is about spending 3 weeks in Peru. From visiting the beach of Lima, the Ruins of Machu Picchu, hiking glacier lakes, to eating unique Peruvian food.

RECOMMENDED POST: If you are unsure where in South America to spend your 3-week holiday, check out our 3 weeks in South America article

TOP TRAVEL TIPS FOR PERU

3 WEEKS IN PERU

Best time to go to Peru

If you are going for 3 weeks in Peru, I highly recommend you go between November and January. I personally went to Peru in December and based on that experience, I highly recommend coming here during that time. The rainy season in Peru is from November until March but during my visit, not a single day rained to the point I had to cancel any plans or any tour had to be delayed or cancelled.

One of the best things about Peru is during its rainy season, it’s not as crazy as the Caribbean or Southeast Asia. Because of the combination of the coast and the mountain, the weather in Peru in general changes a lot.

The dry season in Peru is between April to October which is also the winter season. There are lesser crowds here but the main concern is how cold it could be during this time of the year, especially in Cusco.

Getting around Peru

It’s pretty easy to get around Peru in general. In touristic cities like Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa, Uber is available. You can also use Cabify and Taxibeat. English is also widely spoken in tourist spots, so communicating with the locals is pretty easy, but once you get to rural parts, you will need some Spanish to get by.

There are also airports everywhere, so flying domestically is a good choice. Flight tickets are affordable, while you can also opt for the bus if you want to save some money. There are also areas that can only be reached by bus or were taking the bus makes more sense.

Visa and COVID situation

Peru is very generous with free visas to its visitors. all nationalities from North America, most of Latin America, Europe, Oceania, and some Southeast Asia can enter Peru without a visa for 90-183 days.

International tourists are welcome to travel to Peru. Vaccinated travellers must show a full-dose vaccination card that was done 14 days prior. Unvaccinated tourists must present negative PCR test results no older than 48 hours before boarding the flight. Travellers from certain countries are banned to enter Peru and those who make a stopover in these places. Visitors must also submit a health sworn statement prior to arrival. Read more information about COVID in Peru.

Other travel tips

To help you plan your travel arrangements better, here’s a list of my favourite travel sites and services. Many of these sites allow me to cancel my booking 24 hours before the trip. This makes planning much easier and lets me find the most affordable and suitable arrangements for my adventure.

MUST-SEE PLACES IN PERU (pinned map)

You can click the top right corner to enlarge the map. Credit: Map da

3 WEEKS IN PERU ITINERARY

This itinerary for 21 days in Peru itinerary will take you on a journey that covers the best features of Peru. There are three main cities which will be your main base for each week. From these cities, you can travel to many places easier without wasting too much time.

Lima and Huaraz for 8 days

huaraz glacier lakes - 3 WEEKS IN PERU

I recommend you arrive in Lima not only because it’s the capital city but because it’s the best place to start. A great way to simply gather your bearings, make a plan, probably pick up a local sim card with mobile data, and exchange your money. From here, you can also fly basically anywhere in Peru in case you want to change something in your itinerary last minute.

You should book accommodation in the area of Miraflores. It’s basically the most downtown and where the high streets of Lima are. If you are a foodie, make sure to try out ceviche, it’s a delicacy from Peru. Being in Miraflores, you should find many restaurants that serve the best ceviche in Lima.

Miraflores is not only it’s surrounded by many shops and restaurants but also it’s just a few minutes walk to the beach. The beach is an ideal spot to have a sunset dinner or have some drinks.

Places to see and things to do in Lima and Huaraz

If you just want a quick list of places to see in Lima and things to do in Huaraz, here’s a quick rundown. Later, you can see a day-to-day guide for the first 7 days in Peru.

Day-to-day itinerary for Lima and Huaraz

  • Day 1: After arriving in Lima, get yourself familiarised with basic things and purchase a local sim card with data in case you are not using roaming services. You should also visit an ATM and get some local currency. Cash is still the main preferable mode of payment in Peru. Take your time planning the places you want to see Lima in the next few days.
  • Day 2: Today, visit the popular places in Lima such as the Miraflores area. If you just want to take a walk from the central area to the beach, go through Miraflores Central Park which is also connected to Kennedy Park. Following this road will take you to Playa Makaha. Other places to visit are Faro La Marina, Punta Roquetas for surfing spots, and Larcomar Shopping Mall if you need to do any shopping for your visit to Cusco or other parts of Peru. If the weather is good, enjoy the sunset at La Rosa Nautica.
  • Day 3: Explore Lima by visiting the popular Plaza de Armas, Convento de San Francisco, Museo de la Nacion, Santo Domingo, and of course, Huaca Pucllana. Get yourself a good night’s sleep for a long journey the next day.
  • Day 45: The first stop is Huaraz, home to beautiful glacier lakes in Peru. It’s a 7-hour drive along the coast onto the mountains. The bus fare is about $13. I actually recommend you travel during the day, if you arrive in the afternoon, you will have time to walk around the town and perhaps compare which tours are best for you for the next day. It also sits 3,000 m (9800 ft) above sea level, so bring warm clothing. You should also spend the first full 30 hours getting used to the altitude.
  • Day 6: The most popular lakes in Huaraz are Laguna 69, Laguna de Llanguaro, Laguna Churup, and Laguna Paron.
  • Day 7: It’s time to head to Cusco. However, you will have to get on a journey back to Lima and catch the flight from there. I recommend you take the day bus again and book the flight to Cusco in the evening. It’s only a 1.5-hour flight, if you leave Huaraz early and get on a flight before 17.00, you will have time to enjoy Cusco’s street in the evening.

Accommodation in Lima and Airport transfer

Cusco and Machu Picchu for 8 days

rainbow mountain, salt mines, machu picchu citadel, - 3 WEEKS IN PERU

Let’s be honest, when we think of Peru, our minds go to Machu Picchu or Cusco right away (no offence, Lima!) Cusco’s beauty radiates all over the world. It crosses borders and reaches people who are willing to go on a long flight just to witness how magnificent and captivating this city is. Cusco is popular for many reasons, but it’s also very famous for breathtaking sunset spots in Machu Picchu and around the region.

Cusco is your gateway to Machu Picchu if that’s your main goal. While here, you won’t be able to stop yourself from staying longer than planned due to its undeniable exquisite vibe and charming locals.

Allocating 3 weeks in Peru is plenty of time. It’s not too much and also not too short. With this time frame, you can definitely visit so many places around Peru and that includes a long stay in Cusco.

Settling in Cusco

Even though you spent the day in the high altitude of Huaraz, it’s highly advisable for you to spend some time adjusting to the altitude in Cusco. Although Huaraz and Cusco both sit at 3,000m, if you are planning to do a long Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, it’s best to get your head and stomach in the best shape before setting off. Use this time to book your tour, if you haven’t yet and walk around Cusco.

Inca Trail: Hike or Day Trip

3 weeks in Peru must include any type of Inca trail hike. Inca Trail is somewhere between 2-4 days for hiking. If you don’t fancy that, you can also catch the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo and get to Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes, you can either take the bus up to Machu Picchu Citadel or hike it which is pretty difficult if you are unfit or have mobility issues.

By not hiking the Inca Trail, you can get on the early train, explore Machu Picchu, and then take the train back to Cusco on the same day. You will be back in Cusco around 22.00. Make sure to get your Machu Picchu ticket in advance if you are coming during the peak season (June, July, August), at least 3 months in advance.

If you do want to hike, you may want to book your tour months in advance but during the off-season (April, May, November, and December), you should be able to find tours to book when you arrive in Cusco.

TIP: Learn everything about hiking the Inca Trail

Places to See and Things to do in Cusco and Machu Picchu

Regardless of whether you did the long hike or not, once you are back in Cusco, there is so much more to see. I want you to actually give yourself a wriggle room while in Cusco. There are activities that will take you an entire day to do.

There won’t be tours that fit all, so a good 2-3 days just to explore this city and its surroundings will be perfect. Cusco offers a lot of activities to do, attractions to see, and food to enjoy. Here is a list of must-do, must-see, must-eat, and must-drink in Cusco:

Accommodation in Cusco and Airport transfer

It’s time to bid Cusco goodbye and head to Arequipa. It’s only a bit over an hour’s flight here directly from Cusco.

Arequipa for 3 days

Arequipa, church, red houses, mountain - 3 WEEKS IN PERU

Arequipa is the city of Peru that will give such massive Spain vibes. It’s filled with baroque buildings and cobblestone roads. This city also sits about 2300 m (7,500 ft) above sea level. The weather is perfect and the climate is cool. Arequipa sits between three volcanoes, making its view simply magnificent in every direction. When you sit on your hotel balcony, you might think you are staring at a screensaver photo.

Arequipa is beautiful and has its own charm. Many people would try to compare the two but they simply have different things to offer to their visitors. Below, I will list the places to see and things to do in Arequipa. But before we start, I know from personal experience that visiting Cathedrals and Pagodas all over the world gets a bit tiring and redundant, if that’s you, I want to give you a heads up that Arequipa has lots of Basicillas and Cathedrals to visit.

If you find yourself exhausted from hiking n Cusco, Arequipa is a much-relaxing place. You can just list the places you want to see and explore on your own without going on dozens of guided tours. You can take your time and fall in love with Arequipa’s charm. Spending about 3-4 days in Arequipa will be perfect.

Activities and Places to see in Arequipa

  • El Misti – 5,800 m (19,000 ft)
  • Colca Canyon
  • Museo Santuarios Andinos
  • Iglesia de la Compania
  • Juanita
  • Plaza De Armas – yes, there’s one in Arequipa too
  • San Camilo Market
  • Monasterio de Santa Catalina
  • Arequipa City Tour

Accommodation in Cusco and Airport transfer

FINAL TIPS FOR 3 WEEKS PERU HOLIDAY

My final tip for visiting Peru would be to pack great hiking shoes even if you are hiking too much, there are many day trips that involve walking on very ancient ruins. A good pair of shoes will keep your feet safe and comfortable.

I hope you found this itinerary of 3 weeks in Peru helpful. I loved my visit there and even see myself living in Cusco at some point. I miss sipping pico sour and eating lomo saltado!

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Planning a trip to see the stunning Machu Picchu? There are more to see when you visit Peru. Here is a sample travel itinerary for 3-weeks in Peru. via @threeweektraveller

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