Popping around Peru: 6 Day Peru Itinerary

Advisor - Lauren Martin
Curated By

Lauren Martin

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  • Peru

  • Lima

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Guided Tour

  • Landmarks

  • Multi-Destination

Cloudy day in ancient ruins in Machu Picchu.
Curator’s statement

Peru is a wonderful entry way into your South American exploration. You will experience everything from the culinary wonders of Lima, thrill-seeking rides through the Huacachina Desert Oasis, and let's not forget that infamous wonder of the world Machu Picchu. Take the time to explore on your own as well as hopping on and off Peru's convenient and comfortable bus Peru Hop!

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Where to stay

The Mayo Hotel

Advisor - Lauren Martin

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Day 1: Explore the city of Lima

City of Lima beside the ocean during sunset.

Aside from from being the culinary capitol of the world, Lima has so much to offer. I recommend staying Miraflores, a district in the city that is booming with art and entertainment.

  • Visit Parque Del Amor and take a picture in front of the "lovers statue".

  • Try the country's traditional drink Pisco Sour at Saha Terraza or any rooftop bar.

  • Go parasailing off the cliffs in Miraflores if you dare!

  • Eat pollo de brasa at Tori (classic rotisserie style chicken dish in Peru).

Day 2: Explore the countryside

Countryside in Peru during golden hour.

Once you're ready to get out of the city, start exploring the countryside!

I recommend using PeruHop. This is an amazing hop on/hop off bus system that runs through Peru and stops at all the main sites. You can purchase a ticket based on how many stops you want and come and go as you please!

The guides on the bus are bilingual and extremely helpful in helping you with advice on getting around the city as well as booking last minute excursions. This is a great option for someone who wants to explore on their own without a group but the convenience of getting around without a 24/7 tour guide.

First stop is Paracas. This is a TINY beachside town known for its boat rides around Ballestas Island, also known as the poor man's Galapagos.

Enjoy eating ceviche while watching the sunset before hopping back on the bus to explore Reserva Nacional de Paracas, a reserve where you can literally see the desert meet the ocean.

Day 3: Seek an oasis in the desert

Sand dunes in Desert Oasis of Huacachina on a clear day.

Time to head onto the Desert Oasis of Huacachina. This is literally a town smack dab in the middle of the desert.

The number one thing to do in this small oasis is to ride a dune buggy through the miles of rolling desert hills and sand boarding down them.

Calling all adventure seekers! If you want a good night life, stay in Huacachina before heading onto the next destination.

Day 4: Head to Cusco for your trip's highlight, Machu Picchu

Highlands in Cusco on a bright day with fluffy clouds.

Time to start your journey onto what is most likely the number one reason you chose to visit Peru – Machu Picchu. This Unesco World Heritage Site is not an easy destination to get to.

You have two options:

  • Continue on the PeruHop bus overnight (almost 24 hours) through the rural mountains and into Cusco.

  • Or if you are like me, hop a quick 45 minute flight from Lima into Cusco. TAKE TIME TO ACCLIMATE TO THE ELEVATION HERE. I would recommend a good 2-3 days in Cusco before making the journey to Machu Picchu.

Things to do in Cusco

  • Explore Plaza de Armas – There are so many food and drink options. For coffee- L'atelier (great coffee with a beautiful view of the cobblestone streets).

  • Dine at Morena – one of the best and most popular restaurants in Cusco.

  • Explore Saqsaywaman – an old Incan complex made entirely out of stones tightly fit together without mortar.

  • Hire a taxi for the day and have them drive you around the Sacred Valley – see sites such as Salineras de Maras, Moray and end in Ollantaytambo.

  • Hop a train to Aguas Calientes where you will stay the night at the base of Machu Picchu before taking the bus ride up the mountain first thing in the morning!

Day 5: Exploring Machu Picchu

Ancient ruins and greenery in Machu Picchu, Peru.

Ok early riser, time to wake up before the sun to take the daunting 30 minute shuttle up the mountain to Machu Picchu. (Some choose to walk, but this is a good 2+ hour hike straight up, so I recommend the bus!)

There are different circuits to choose, so book your tickets in advance and hire a guide!

We did not hire a guide and enjoyed our time exploring the site of Machu Picchu; however, we were a bit lost as to what everything was or meant!

If you purchase the correct ticket, you can take a long hike up Wayna Pikchu and enjoy the amazing views from so high above!

Take the bus back down and stay the night in Aguas Calientes or head back onto Ollantaytambo and back into Cusco.

Day 6: Climbing Rainbow Mountain

Tourists trekking on Rainbow Mountain on a bright day.

On your last day, book an excursion to see Rainbow Mountain! By far the most amazing thing I saw on this trip.

Your shuttle will pick you up from your hotel at 3am and drive 3 hours to the base of Rainbow Mountain.

From there, you will walk or hike with your guide about an hour and a half to the amazing Rainbow Mountain. This is over 17,000ft above sea level so the air is thin, and it's very difficult to breathe.

Drink lots of water, pace yourself and chew on the Coca leaves, which the locals swear by as a natural way to fight altitude sickness.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide for first-timer's in Japan and things to do in the American Southwest.

Advisor - Lauren Martin

Travel Advisor

Lauren Martin

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Peru