3 Weeks In Peru Itinerary

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Peru was the top destination on my list for South America. For some reason, I really want to see Machu Picchu and Lomo Saltado. Apart from that, I didn’t really know much about this country.

But with some spontaneous decisions, I found myself looking at flights to Peru and ways to get to Machu Picchu. I decided to stay for 20 days in Peru, with the majority of it around the Cusco region (Machu Picchu).

While putting my itinerary together, I found some really interesting information about Peru, which lead me to discovering more than just this Incan citadel and its traditional dishes,

Peru offers a unique opportunity to experience diverse activities and attractions, all within one country. From stunning beaches and delectable cuisine to exhilarating hikes, breathtaking glacier parks, and challenging mountaineering, Peru has it all.

Moreover, Peru boasts a rich cultural heritage, hospitable locals, and a dynamic lifestyle that will captivate any traveller seeking adventure and cultural immersion. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive travel destination, Peru should definitely be at the top of your list.

Due to its location south of the equator, Peru is an ideal winter destination for those in the northern hemisphere looking to escape the cold weather. Instead of shovelling snow, you can soak up the sun on beautiful beaches and enjoy warm hiking trails. Peru also offers a range of water and wind activities, such as kite surfing and paragliding.

If you have 3 weeks in Peru to explore, you could include visiting Lima’s beaches, exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, hiking to glacier lakes, and savouring Peru’s diverse and delicious cuisine.

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

THING TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO PERU

4 images - Machu Picchu Citadel, Misti Volcanoe, Lima shoreline at night, and Huaraz glacier lakes - 3 WEEKS IN PERU ITINERARY

When travelling to Peru, it’s important to keep in mind some essential travel tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Below is a quick list of things you should know and remember before booking travel arrangements for Peru.

Best time to go to Peru

For those planning a trip for 3 weeks to Peru, I highly recommend scheduling your visit between May and October. The busiest time here is from June to August.

Personally, I travelled to Peru in December. Although Peru’s rainy season typically occurs from November to March, I experienced no significant rainfall that would have impeded any of my plans or excursions during my trip.

The heaviest rainfall is around January and February. You must avoid visiting Peru in February because Machu Picchu will be closed for maintenance and due to bad weather.

Peru’s dry season spans from April to October, which is also the winter season. Although this period sees fewer crowds, visitors should be aware of potentially chilly weather conditions, particularly in Cusco.

With proper preparation and clothing, travellers can still enjoy Peru’s many attractions during this quieter and cooler season. Plus, the prices of accommodations and excursions are usually a bit lower during these months.

Are 3 weeks enough for Peru

While three weeks in Peru can certainly provide ample time to explore many of the country’s top destinations, it ultimately depends on your travel preferences and priorities.

If you’re interested in seeing the major cities, visiting Machu Picchu, and experiencing some of the country’s top cultural and outdoor attractions, three weeks can be sufficient.

I think planning to visit 3 to 4 cities could work just fine. But, it’s important that you choose cities that are either near one another or have good transportation. If you plan to travel by land (e.g. bus), this could mean you’ll be spending more time on the road since Peru is a hilly country on the Andes Moutain range.

For my 3 weeks in Peru itinerary, I visit four major cities: Lima, Huaraz, Cusco, and Arequipa.

Average cost of 20 days in Peru

The average cost of a 20-day trip to Peru can vary depending on your travel style and preferences. For mid-range travellers, the cost can range from $1,500 to $2,000, with accommodations in hotels, private transportation, and more luxurious dining options.

The estimated cost for budget travellers can be around $1000, including accommodations in hostels, local transportation, food, and activities.

Luxury travellers can expect to spend upwards of $5,000 with high-end accommodations, private tours, and gourmet dining experiences. These are rough estimates, and the actual cost can vary based on individual choices and travel preferences. These numbers also don’t include your flights to and from Peru.

Getting around Peru

Peru‘s transportation system is generally user-friendly, with Uber, Cabify, and Taxibeat readily available in tourist hotspots such as Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa.

Buses are also an option, but since Peru sits on the Andes Mountains, bus travel takes longer and usually goes through a windy road.

Travellers can easily access domestic flights throughout Peru, which offer both speed and affordability.

For example, if you plan to visit three major cities in Peru, you can start by flying into Lima and then take a connecting flight to Cusco. From Cusco, a non-stop flight is available to Arequipa, allowing for efficient and convenient travel between these popular destinations.

Language and currency

Spanish is Peru’s official language. While English is commonly spoken in urban areas, travellers may find having some Spanish language proficiency helpful when exploring more remote regions of Peru.

Nevertheless, for the most part, navigating through the country is uncomplicated and stress-free for foreign tourists. I was in Colombia before Peru and found it easier to communicate in English in Peru with locals since many of them speak great English.

The main currency in Peru is the Peruvian Sol (PEN). In Peru, both cash and card payments are widely accepted, but cash is generally preferred. However, most businesses in popular tourist areas, such as hotels, restaurants, and shops, also accept credit and debit cards.

It is always a good idea to carry some cash on hand for convenience and in case of emergencies.

Visa

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

Foreign visitors from Africa, the Middle East, China, and South Asia are the ones who must get a visa from the Peruvian Embassy or Consulate in advance.

Other travel tips

In order to assist with your travel planning, I have compiled a list of my preferred travel websites and services. These platforms often provide the option to cancel bookings up to 24 hours before departure, making finding the most cost-effective and appropriate options for your journey simpler.

These resources can help streamline the planning process and ensure a more enjoyable travel experience.

PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE PLACES IN PERU

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

3 WEEKS IN PERU ITINERARY

This travel itinerary is exactly how I explored Peru. It highlights the top areas that you can visit, especially if it’s your first time here. Of course, if there are other places you’d rather see, you can easily swap cities and plan the transportation around it.

This guide is here to give you some ideas on how you can spend 20 days in Peru. I also included a list of things you can do in each city and places to stay to make travel planning a bit easier.

Lima and Huaraz for 8 days

I recommend you arrive in Lima not only because it’s the capital city but because it’s the best place to start.

On my first day in Peru, I honestly just arrived at my hotel, got a local sim card, made sure I installed ride-hailing apps for emergencies, booked necessary domestic flights and hotels, and of course, tried out some local restaurants.

On the following day, I started visiting Lima’s top attractions. I also put aside some time to plan a 3-day trip to Huaraz for some easy hiking and see glacier lakes.

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 has not only many shops and restaurants surrounding it 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.

huaraz glacier lakes - 3 WEEKS IN PERU

Day-to-day itinerary for Lima and Huaraz

Day 1: After arriving in Lima, familiarise yourself 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. Plan 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 famous Plaza de Armas, Convento de San Francisco, Museo de la Nacion, Santo Domingo, and of course, Huaca Pucllana. Get 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 retake the day bus 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.

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.

Accommodation in Lima and Airport transfer

Cusco and Machu Picchu for 8 days

It’s safe to say that Machu Picchu and Cusco immediately come to mind when thinking about Peru (with no disrespect to Lima!). Cusco is your gateway to Machu Picchu if that’s your main goal.

But apart from Machu Picchu, the Cusco region offers more exciting activities and other hiking opportunities. You can do a sunrise hike to the Rainbow Mountain, then spend an afternoon riding ATV around Moras or visiting the Salt Mines.

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 visit so many places around Peru, and that includes a long stay in Cusco.

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

Settling in Cusco and planning Machu Picchu

From Huaraz, I took a bus back to Lima, where I caught a flight to Cusco. It was a short flight, and the airport is not too far from the downtown area. When I arrived in Cusco, I spent three days acclimatizing to the elevation before I started my trip to Machu Picchu.

During this time, I booked a few tours to not waste time and also roam around Cusco. I also spent some time figuring out how I wanted to get to Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail: Multi-day trek or Day Trip

Incorporating an Inca Trail hike is a must for any itinerary for 3 weeks in Peru, typically taking 2-4 days to complete. Although it doesn’t have to be a trip that is too physically demanding.

There are a few ways to get to Machu Picchu:

  • trek from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu) – takes a few days
  • train or bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, then trek from there to Aguas Calientes
  • train to Aguas Calientes from Cusco – the fastest (can also be done as a day trip from Cusco)

From Aguas Calientes, visitors can either take a bus or hike up to Machu Picchu Citadel, although the hike can be challenging for those with mobility issues or poor fitness.

I went with the quickest and most convenient way. I’m not an experienced trekker, and since I was visiting during the start of the rainy season, I didn’t want to risk it. So, I booked a 2-way train ticket.

It was such a scenic ride, and I saw many trekkers heading to the same destination as us; it was honestly incredible.

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 three months in advance. This is because the government of Peru has put a daily limit on the number of people who could enter Machu Picchu Citadel.

I spent two nights in Aguas Calientes (there are accommodations there) and the train station arrives right in the town.

When I arrived, the first I did was to get to the ticket to Machu Picchu Citadel, the hike tickets (there are mini hikes you can do from the Citadel), and the bus ticket from Aguas Calientes.

I only bought one-way bus ticket. I decided I wanted to take the bus from Aguas Calientes to the Citadel gate, hike the Machu Picchu mountain, and then hike down back to Aguas Calientes.

Although it was an awesome experience, my legs was super tired after! It was such a hilly hike with lots of lose rocks and limited shade. So if you want to do it the same way, take that into consideration.

I got back to Aguas Calientes just before the sunset (I left my hotel at 6 AM). I got back to Aguas Calientes just before the sunset (I left my hotel at 6 AM). The next day, I checked out of my hotel and took the train back to Cusco.

TIP: Learn everything about hiking the Inca Trail

Inca Trail Treks You Can Book

Booking your hiking tour in advance is recommended, especially if you plan to visit during busy season. However, during the off-season, which falls between April, May, November, and December, it is possible to book tours upon arrival in Cusco.

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

Regardless of whether you did the long hike, once you are back in Cusco, there is so much more to see. I want you actually to give yourself a wriggle room while in Cusco. Some activities 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 many 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 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. If you’re not tired from hiking yet, there are more trails to explore here.

I know from personal experience that visiting cathedrals gets a bit tiring and redundant. If that’s you, I want to inform you that Arequipa has lots of Basicillas and Cathedrals to see.

If you are exhausted from hiking in Cusco, Arequipa is a much-relaxing place. You can just list the sites you want to see and explore 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.

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

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

SUMMARY OF PLANNING 3 WEEKS IN PERU ITINERARY

A three-week trip to Peru would be an ideal amount of time to see the country’s highlights. The itinerary would typically include exploring cities like Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa, visiting Machu Picchu, hiking the Inca Trail, exploring the Amazon rainforest, and experiencing the diverse food and culture of the country.

It’s recommended to plan ahead and book tours or accommodations in advance, especially during peak season. 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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Embark on a three-week adventure in Peru, exploring ancient Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, navigating the Amazon rainforest, and experiencing the vibrant culture of Lima. Enjoy breathtaking landscapes and rich historical sites on this unforgettable journey. via @threeweektraveller