This past spring we spent 10 days in the incredible country of Peru. It has taken me a minute to get these series of blogs put together from our trip to Peru because we experienced SO much. There was a lot of planning involved in this trip that laying out exactly how we did it took a tad bit more time than I was expecting. But now that it’s all together, I am so excited to share this trip with all of you because it really felt like a once in a lifetime experience.
Machu Picchu was a long time bucket list place for Tim and I. We have a goal of seeing all the 7 Wonders Of The World so kicking it off with Machu Picchu was very special to us. In this blog I’ll be breaking down a full guide and itinerary so you can see the best spots in Peru in 10 days!
Peru uses Soles as their currency. You can call your bank ahead of time and they will be able to order soles for you and tell you what the exchange rate is.
Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Peru. But, the next spoken language is Quechua. A few of our travel guides on the trip spoke Quechua which is apparently the original Peruvian language.
Almost everyone in Lima spoke English, but some of the menus at restaurants were in Spanish. A few restaurants did have menus in English but we normally had to ask for it. And in Cusco, not many spoke English. Your hotel receptionist will normally speak English but a lot of store and restaurant employees did not. It was definitely a mix so I suggest brushing up on your Spanish beforehand. Everyone we met in Peru was beyond nice and hospitable. If you even attempt a little Spanish with them they will be so understanding and appreciative of you trying.
When To Visit:
It is suggested to visit Peru in their winter months since it is the dry season for them. Their winter is between May – September.
We planned our trip in May and the weather was perfect. We had between 60 and 70 degree weather every day. I suggest wearing layers since it gets hot during the day and cools down at night.
Overall, in both Lima and Cusco I felt very safe. Lima does have a higher crime rate in areas but you just have to stay in the right spots and I promise you won’t feel unsafe at all. In Lima, the areas I was recommended were Barranco and Miraflores to be the nicest and safest.
You still always want to make sure you are being very aware of your surroundings in any new city. Especially in Cusco, it can get very busy and crowded in the main square and there are many beggars and pickpocketers. Keep your bags on you or backpack in front of your chest. Watch your electronics and pockets. With that being said, keep in mind that almost everything comes at a price in Cusco. Want a photo with the cute baby alpacas wearing their traditional Peruvian attire? Plan for the women holding the alpaca to expect to be paid for just one photo and change the price on you last minute.
Please plan ahead for the elevation change in Cusco. The city is located in the Andes mountains at an altitude of 11,152 feet. Altitude sickness will hit you very quickly and you want to give yourself a few days to get adjusted. Read all my tips and how to prepare for the altitude change in my Guide To Cusco.
How To Get To Peru:
Fly into Lima (Jorge Chavez International Airport) and relax in one of its beautiful popular districts such as Miraflores or Barranco. We enjoyed having a day to discover the area, rest and head to the airport to fly into Cusco the next day. You can also fly into Cusco if you prefer to (Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport).
I created this itinerary for you guys by learning from my mistakes! The biggest thing we learned from this trip is to give ourselves break days and recovery days. Cusco is a huge adjustment for your body due to the altitude. Activities like Machu Picchu take a lot out of you so you will need these break days. This is one of my biggest key takeaways from this trip.
Day 1-2: Lima
- Fly in to Lima, Peru
- Discover Miraflores
Day 3-7: Cusco
3. Checkout Plaza De Armas in Cusco
4. Machu Picchu
5. Break Day – Discover San Blas district
6. Rainbow Mountain
7. Sacred Valley Tour
Day 8-10: Lima
8. Discover the Barranco district
9. Paracas & Huacachina
10. Fly home
Day 1: Fly Into Lima, Peru
Fly into Lima so you can rest up, site see for a bit and then prepare for your flight to Cusco.
Day 2: Discover Miraflores
We spent the day discovering the neighborhood of Miraflores. We decided to use the day to walk the beautiful Miraflores boardwalk which lines the entire cliff of the city. Enjoy sculptures, restaurants and beautiful spots to take a break and check out the amazing view.
We finished off our evening with an early dinner, ceviche and pisco sour of course, and then taking an evening flight to Cusco.
*For more on Lima, checkout my Guide To Lima, Peru here for food recommendations, things to do, what to expect and more.
Day 3: Discover Plaza De Armas in Cusco
After arriving in Cusco you are instantly going to feel the change in altitude. It is suggested to take 1-3 days to allow yourself to adjust to the altitude and get past any altitude sickness that may occur. I recommend taking your first day very slowly but still getting to see something new! Step out of your hotel for some fresh air and walk to the Plaza De Armas. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of this lively square. Stop into the shops to pick up handmade creations or sit in the square center on a bench and take in the beautiful architecture.
There are many restaurants to choose from on the square so you can stop and enjoy a meal and Coca tea if the altitude is giving you a headache.
*Checkout my blog, Guide to Cusco to read more about what to prepare when traveling to Cusco and food recommendations!
Day 4: Machu Picchu
Todays the day! Machu Picchu is a bucket place spot for many people and on the list of the 7 Wonders Of The World. The journey to Machu Picchu is not the easiest, if you’re coming from Cusco you’ll need to take a taxi to get to a bus to then get to a train to then get to one more bus until you reach the base of the ruins. If you are staying in Urubamba or Aguas Caliente your journey will be a bit shorter. But wow is the journey worth it! Machu Picchu was truly a surreal experience. This place holds so much history and is really a magical place that you will feel right when you arrive.
Read my full guide on how to prepare, plan and what to expect when visiting Machu Picchu, How To Visit Machu Picchu.
Day 5: Discover the San Blas District in Cusco
Take day five to rest after your long day trip to Machu Picchu and discover the San Blas District in Cusco. We loved this little area in Cusco for its small, quaint center square with benches to sit and relax. It had a handful of cute, artistic shops along the square, one of them being a beautiful coffee shop/art gallery.
Day 6: Rainbow Mountain
Prep for an early wake up call (we’re talking 3:45am), and start your journey to the jaw dropping mountain, Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain. Summiting this mountain was not the easiest due to the elevation jump at 17,060 feet above sea level but it was absolutely worth it! The experience is surreal and beyond rewarding.
Learn more about what to expect on this journey to Rainbow Mountain in my Guide To Cusco blog.
Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour
We decided to book a half day tour to Sacred Valley so we could see all it had to offer and learn about the history of the area. We were able to check out the Maras Salt Mines which were breathtaking. We then stopped to check out Moray, a farmland with a unique design that experts are still unsure what the area was used for. Lastly, we made a stop to Ollantaytambo, a small village located on the Urubamba River, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The village is a tourist spot due to the Ollantaytambo ruins, a massive Inca fortress with large stone terraces on a hillside.
I highly recommend seeing the Sacred Valley since there is so much history and things to learn about the locals by checking out all of these stops. If you prefer to pick one I strongly suggest seeing the Maras Salt Mines. The layout of the salt pools and the beautiful colors of the pools is a site to see.
Learn more about each of these stops and the Sacred Valley experience in my Guide To Cusco blog.
Day 8: Head Back To Lima & Discover Barranco
After your flight back to Lima, take the day to check out the bohemian district – Barranco. In this area, the streets are lined with colorful murals and artwork. It’s a beautiful area to enjoy a stroll and bite to eat.
Day 9: Paracas & Huacachina Full Day tour
Your last day in Peru should be enjoyed with one last epic excursion. You can visit both Paracas, known for its red sand beach and cliff side views, as well as Huacachina, a desert oasis all in one day! By using Perus travel bus system, Peru Hop, you can see both of these incredible areas in one full day excursion. Enjoy views of the red sand beach, penguins at the Galapagos and sandboarding in Huacachina.
Day 10: Head Home
Depending on your flight, enjoy a breakfast in Lima and head to the airport for your journey home.
I highly recommend a trip to Peru! It was the perfect amount of culture shock we were looking for without being too out of our comfort zone. It was an eye opening and humbling experience that we will never forget. The main tip I can give is to really plan this trip out. So many excursions book up, especially Machu Picchu, and you will need a few days to get used to the altitude in Cusco. So plan accordingly, fit in your rest days, pack properly and this will truly be a trip that you grow from, challenges you and a lifelong memory.