When we first visited South America, we didn’t know what to expect. We’ve spent most of our vacation time traveling Asia and Africa and never really had this beautiful continent on our radar.

As we took a year-long leave to travel the world, we put South America at the top of our list. Little did we know about the beautiful countries in the continent that host some of the highest mountains, largest lakes, and most beautiful lagoons. 

And to our surprise, we found all of South America’s beauty in Peru.

With our 7-day Peru Itinerary, we want to ease your travel plans, convince you to travel to Peru, and show you the beauty of this incredibly diverse country.

7 Days in Peru: Complete Travel Itinerary and Guide

Peru Itinerary Overview

In Peru, there a a ton of things to do and see. We read a lot of unrealistic, squeezed, and overambitious itineraries when we were crafting our 1-week Peru Itinerary.

So rightfully, you may ask if 7 days in Peru is enough. And to be honest, we think that 2 weeks in Peru is the ideal time to explore the country’s whole beauty.

But there are people like us (before we quit our busy corporate jobs), that don’t have the time to spend a month on vacation. And for you, we’ve created an honest, realistic, and enjoyable 7-day Peru itinerary.

We traveled to Peru for 2 months and explored the country inside out. So if you have a little more than a week for Peru, make sure to also check out our 2 and 3-week Peru itineraries.

Peru Itinerary Map

7 Days in Peru Itinerary

It’s impossible to see everything Peru has to offer in a single week. So, it’s clear that a 7-day Peru itinerary comes with making some compromises.

In the following itinerary, we made sure to include most of the Peruvian highlights and must-see spots, so that you get the most out of your limited stay.

Day 1: Explore Peru's capital city Lima

Welcome to Peru, and welcome to what was by far one of the most diverse countries we’ve ever visited – in the world.

In Peru, you’ll not only find the world wonder of Machu Picchu but also turquoise lagoons, rainbow-colored mountains, and fluffy Lamas.

Your Peru itinerary starts in Lima, where there is an international airport with flights arriving from all over the world. Use your first and last day of your travels to explore the capital city of Peru.

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Best Things to Do in Lima

There are plenty of things to do in Lima. You can easily spend 3 days in Lima, but as you’re limited in time, let’s focus on the best of the best.

Register for a Free Walking tour in the morning or afternoon to explore Lima’s beautiful historic center, the Plaza Major, and China Town.

Plan to visit the Barranco neighborhood or the Huaca Pucllana ruins for the afternoon and spend the evening eating a delicious “Ceviche” in one of the many local restaurants.

Read all of the best things to do in Lima, in our Lima Travel Guide.

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Day 2: Visit Cusco, Peru's ancient Incan capital

For your second day, take a flight to Cusco. Cusco is a beautiful city east of Peru and was once the capital city of the Incas.

The city lies at a breathtaking 3,400 meters (11,155 feet) above sea level, so take it easy, as you explore all of the best things Cusco has to offer.

Cusco Plaza de Armas
Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Walk in the San Blas neighborhood
Ancient Incan Walls in Cusco, Peru

Best Things to Do in Cusco

To acclimatize to the new heights, get yourself some Coca candies and Coca tea at one of the local shops at the Plaza de Armas, and treat yourself with a rich breakfast.

Don’t plan too much for the day. Walk through the cobblestone streets of the San Blas neighborhood, visit the San Pedro market, and step by the Chocolate Museum near the main square.

If you’re not feeling any altitude sickness, hike to the Christ statue to get an unmatched view over the Cusco downtown.

Read all of the best things to do in Cusco, in our Cusco Travel Guide.

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Day 3: Take a trip to the Sacred Valley

It’s adventure time. Plan a day trip to the Sacred Valley for your second day in Cusco and explore the ruins of Ollantaytambo, a once-thriving Incan fortress, Pisac, an ancient Inca citadel perched atop a hill, and the Maras Moray agricultural terraces, where the Incas ingeniously experimented with cultivating crops.

As part of the tour, you’ll also get to see the Mara Salt Mines and learn more about how salt is mined and processed by the locals.

Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Explore Ollantaytambo in Sacred Valley
Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Visit the spectacular Moray terraces in Sacred Valley
Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Visit the spectacular Moray terraces in Sacred Valley

Day 4-5: Discover Machu Picchu

Head to the small village Aguas Calientes on your next day. Aguas Calientes is a little outpost at the foot of Machu Picchu.

There are several way to get to Aguas Calientes. The most convenient is taking a train from Ollantaytambo. To get to Ollantaytambo, you can simply drop from the Sacred Valley tour after visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins or -alternatively- take a bus ride from Cusco the next day.

Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Visit the legendary Machu Picchu
Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Visit the legendary Machu Picchu
Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Visit the legendary Machu Picchu

Spend your first night in Aguas Calientes and visit Machu Picchu early next morning. After visiting Machu Picchu, get on the train and bus back to Cusco.

Read everything you need to know about visiting Machu Picchu in our complete Machu Picchu guide.

Day 6: Hike the Rainbow Mountains

Peru’s Rainbow Mountains, also known as Vinicunca or Montana de Siete Colores, are almost as popular as Machu Picchu and are a natural wonder in itself.

Their otherworldly colors, ranging from red, and green to turquoise and gold are absolutely incredible and a definite must-see when in Peru.

Don’t miss out on visiting the Red Valley. Most tour providers allow you to take a little detour to explore the nearby Red Valley – it’s definitely worth it!

Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Day trip to the Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley
Best things to do in Cusco, Peru: Day trip to the Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley
Red Valley Cusco Peru

Day 7: Say Goodbye to beautiful Peru

All good things come to an end. Fly back to Lima with one of the morning flights from Cusco and spend the evening with a delicious meal in Lima.

When you’re ready, leave the country with a lot of unforgettable memories.

Did you know that Lima is famous for its cuisine? We didn’t! But Lima has some of the best restaurants in the world. So if you have reserved yourself a table at The Central, lucky you, as you will eat in the world’s best restaurant (as of 2023).

Colca Canyon Guide: Llamas and alpacas in the national reserve
Best things to do in Arequipa: Visit the Casa del Poeta Peruano​
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Best time to visit Peru

Most people travel to Peru during the dry season between May and September. It’s also the best time to visit Peru, as the weather conditions are ideal for hikes in the Andes mountain range.

We’d recommend traveling to Peru during the shoulder seasons, such as late September to October or April to early May.

Peru has 28 of the 32 world climates in one country, so check our in-depth guides to find out the best time to travel to a specific Peruvian destination.

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Safety in Peru

Peru is generally safe to visit. Particularly in major tourist hubs, such as Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, and Huacachina, safety has drastically improved over the last decade.

However, there are still safety precautions that should be taken and areas that should be avoided. Don’t walk empty and dark streets at night, don’t expose your valuables, and avoid any slums or suburban areas.

We personally have never felt unsafe during our 2-month long trip. We read so many horror stories before we went to Peru, but the country we actually found was a truly welcoming and heartwarming one.

For more information about the safety of a specific city, have a look at our in-depth Peru articles.

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How to get around Peru

If you are flying into Peru, chances are that you will land in the capital of Lima. Lima has a well-connected airport nationally and internationally, which makes it convenient to fly to most major cities within the country.

You can also choose to travel by bus. Even though some distances are pretty long, bus rides are very comfortable and affordable, which makes it a convenient option for budget-conscious travelers.

For this 1-week itinerary, you will need to take the plane from Lima to Cusco and back to save some time.

In case you have more than a week to spend in Peru, have a look at our 2- and 3-week Peru itinerary. In those, we talk about all the good things that you can see on your way from Lima to Cusco.

Best Things to Do in Puno - Walking through the streets of Puno