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 to offer.
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THING TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO PERU
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 November and January. Personally, I travelled to Peru in December and can attest that this time of year is optimal for a visit.
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. Therefore, I highly recommend visiting Peru for the best possible experience during this period.
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 generally changes a lot.
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. However, with proper preparation and clothing, travellers can still enjoy Peru’s many attractions during this quieter and cooler season.
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.
However, suppose you want to spend more time in specific areas or engage in activities that require longer periods of time, such as trekking or volunteering. In that case, you may want to consider extending your trip.
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
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 tourists.
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 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 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 done 14 days prior. Unvaccinated tourists must present negative PCR test results within 48 hours before boarding the flight. Visitors must also submit a health sworn statement before arrival. Read more information about COVID in Peru.
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.
Utilizing 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
Embark on a 20-day journey through Peru with this itinerary highlighting the country’s top destinations. This itinerary is designed around three main cities that will serve as your base for each week. By staying in these cities, you can efficiently explore the surrounding areas and maximize your time without the unnecessary travel time.
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. 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 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.
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.
- Miraflores Area
- Playa Makaha
- Faro La Marina
- Punta Roquitas
- Swim with a wild sea lion at Palomino Islands – book a tour
- Larco Museum
- Plaza De Armas De Lima
- Peruvian Food Tour
- Park of the Reserve / Circuito Magico del Agua
- Parque del Amor
- Huaca Pucllana
- La Rosa Nautica
- Paracas and Huacachina
- Punta Union
- Laguna 69
- Laguna Churup
- Laguna Paron
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 4–5: 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.
Accommodation in Lima and Airport transfer
- Budget hostel: Pariwana Hostel – they have a massive common area to meet people
- Mid-range hotel: Libre Hotel by Best Western – you already know what to expect, plus it’s well-located
- Luxury hotel: Dazzler by Wyndham – outdoor pool, gym, and great location (only less than a 20-minute walk to the beach)
- Transfer from airport to Lima: book a car service
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’s splendour is renowned worldwide and its allure transcends borders, drawing visitors from afar to witness its breathtaking beauty.
Among the many reasons for its popularity, Cusco is renowned for offering awe-inspiring sunset vistas, both in Machu Picchu and throughout the surrounding area. 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 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, you should spend some time adjusting to the altitude in Cusco. Although Huaraz and Cusco sit at 3,000 m, if you plan 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
Incorporating an Inca Trail hike is a must for any itinerary for 3 weeks in Peru, which typically takes between 2-4 days to complete. For those who prefer not to hike, taking the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is also an option.
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.
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.
Booking your hiking tour in advance is recommended, especially if you plan to visit during peak season. However, during the off-season, which falls between April, May, November, and December, it is possible to book tours upon arrival 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, 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:
- Machu Pichu and Huayna Picchu Day Tour
- Salcantay, Lares – hiking
- Maras – Sacred Valley, Salt Mine spot, Quad Biking tour
- Morada De Los Dioses – face carved on rocks or rock scuptures
- Q’enco Archaeological Complex – Archaeological tour
- Puka Pukara Archaeological Complex
- Saqsaywaman – Inca walls made without mortar
- Rainbow Mountain – hike tour with meal
- Tupac Amaru Square
- Plaza Santiago
- Explore Cusco with an open bus tour
- Pico sour – must-drink
- Choclo – must-eat
- Cuy – guinea pig
- Ceviche – must-eat
- Lomo Saltado – must-eat
- Cusco food and drinks tour
Accommodation in Cusco and Airport transfer
- Budget hostel – Kokopelli Hostel or Nao Victoria Hostel
- Mid-range hotel – The Chusay Rooftop or Quecha ApartHotel
- Luxury hotel: Antigua Casonas San Blas or Palacio de Inka by Marriott
- Book your 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.
Arequipa is beautiful and has its own charm. Many people would try to compare the two but simply have different things to offer 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 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 n 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.
Activities and Places to see in Arequipa
- El Misti – 5,800 m (19,000 ft)
- Colca Canyon
- Museo Santuarios Andinos
- Iglesia de la Compania
- 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
- Budget hostel – Sambos Hostel or Los Andes Bed & Breakfast
- Mid-range hotel – Las Hosteria or Hotel Villa del Carmen
- Luxury hotel – El Portal De San Lazaro or Sonesta
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 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!