Peru is one of those countries that inspires awe with its mention. Everyone has seen pictures of the Nazca lines, Machu Picchu and the Amazon, and this is just a tiny fraction of that this amazing country has to offer. 2 weeks in Peru is just enough time to experience a little bit of everything and still leave you wanting more.
I was lucky enough to spend almost two months here, but as most people don’t have that much time, I put together a Peru itinerary of the best locations and sights. These are just my suggestions so you can alter it depending on the length of time you have. We will assume you are flying into Lima and use this as your starting off point.
2 weeks in Peru
Lima (1/2 Days)
I have stayed in Lima on a few occasions and out of the South American cities I visited, it is probably my least favourite. There are still a few sights that are worth checking out though, most notably the Archaeological museum and the Mira Flores district. Chances are you will be staying near this district anyway. Mira Flores is the tourist district and outside of this, I didn’t find a whole lot to see.
Check out the many markets in the area selling all the Alpaca and Incan memorabilia that you will need.
For those travelling on a budget, hostels are your best option. Most of these will be in Mira Flores. Some of the most popular hostels include Global family backpacker hostel and Orchid hostel which is located slightly more towards the centre, ideal for those who just need a room for the night.
Sights: Archaeological museum (half-day)/Mira Flores district (half-day).
Getting away: There are dozens of bus terminals throughout the city serving different parts of the country. A quick google search will give you an idea of what terminal to go to.
Cruz del Sur and Peru hop are the two most recognisable and trustworthy companies.
If you are trying to save money show up a few minutes before the bus departure and you can get a bus for half price or less. We did this with a few of the reliable companies and saved a lot of money. This is true for almost all the terminals in Peru and Bolivia.
Uber is the safest and cheapest option for getting around the city, just make sure you have the address marked correctly.
Huacachina (2/3 days)
This oasis in the desert should definitely be on your list of places to visit during your 2 weeks in Peru, especially if you want some thrills and a huge smile on your face. That was my results at least. Huacachina is home to some of the largest sand dunes in the world and the locals have created a great business by offering sand dune rides and sandboarding opportunities.
You can bargain to some extent with the companies offering the tours especially if you are in a large group. Don’t book the tours from your hostel as they get a mark up you don’t have to pay.
From Huanachina you can also take a day trip to Paracas and the Isla Ballestas. Marketed as a poor mans Galapagos I would skip this if you have seen any kind of wildlife, before unless you are a bird watching fan.
Ica, Huanchina and Paracas all have a selection of places to stay. If you are staying in Paracas then Kokopelli is a good option. In Huanchina some popular locations are the brand new Wild Rover and Upcycle. For places in Ica check here.
Sights: (1 Day) Paracas and Isla Ballesteros/(Half day) Sand dune trip- either 10.00 am or 4.00 pm a must-do.
Getting away: The next closest town is Ica and from here you can get buses throughout the rest of the country.
Arequipa (3/4 days)
A stay in Arequipa all depends on how much hiking you plan to do. Colca Canyon and Misty mountain are two of the most popular locations to hike throughout southern Peru. These hikes range from 2 days up to four or five if you decide to cover a lot more of Colca Canyon. The town itself is quite nice to relax in and has arguably the most beautiful main square I have seen in South America. I wrote more on things to do in Arequipa here.
A walk around the main square or along some of the side streets will bring you upon plenty of food and shopping suggestions.
I am biased towards the Wild Rover as I volunteered there for almost two months. But if you want something a little more relaxed then MB backpackers and Cozy hostel are more chills. All of these are located around the central square.
Sights: Arequipa main plaza(Half day)/Misty mountain (2 days)/Colca Canyon (2+days)/Numerous museum(1+days)
Getting away: The central bus terminal has buses all across the country and even as far as Bolivia and Argentina.
Hiking Colca Canyon crowds possible self-guided.
A quick google will show you local buses which go to the area. From here simply follow the crowds and find some accommodation at the bottom of the Canyon. Of course, this is just a suggestion, I’m no professional.
Cusco (6+ Days)
Cusco is where you will definitely spend most of your time. There is simply so much to see and do. Around Cusco, you have Rainbow mountain, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu and then, of course, the city itself.
There are dozens of markets, shopping opportunities and a countless number of tourist offices for you to book your trips.
Sights: Rainbow mountain (Half Day)/Cusco (1+ Days)/Sacred Valley(1+Days)/Machu Picchu(2+Days).
Getting away: The main bus terminal once again.
Machu Picchu: Going semi-self guided can save you quite a bit of money and time. I will have a post up soon on how to do it.
More ideas for 2 weeks in Peru
Although I was in Peru for quite a long time there are a few places I missed that you may want to add to your 2-week Peru itinerary. I missed these due to bad planning and having visited similar locations in South America.
This small town is on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca it is famous for its floating islands and indigenous culture. It is a good final destination before hopping over the border to Bolivia, or vice-versa
Check here for accommodation in Puno.
A must stop location for hikers in the North of Peru. Huaraz is home the famous Laguna 69 among many other famous hikes. Altitude is one factor why I didn’t manage to get here along with my bank cards being copied.
The party and surf town on the border with Ecuador is another location I wish I had managed to see, but as I never made it that far another I had to leave off off my list. You can check out what my friends at Tales from the lens got up to while they were there.
Weather in Peru
Peru like much of South America gets more of a wet and dry season than the four seasons we are used to around Europe and the USA. November to April is considered the wet season and May to October are seen as the dry season.
This is up for debate, In June there was quite a lot of snowfall around Cusco, one of the factors turning us off the Machu Picchu hike. The altitude is also a factor you must remember when hiking as it will be colder all year round.
Shopping, bargaining and Currency
Peru’s currency is the Sole, but it tourist areas such as Cusco dollars and sometimes euros are accepted.
I am not the worlds greatest bargainer but Peruvians seem to not enjoy it that much as well, you can get a little off but don’t expect too much.
Cash is king. You will find the locals will check all the currency due to a huge amount of fakes.
Always use ATMs located within the bank itself. I found Banco national to have to lowest withdrawal fees but that all depends on your bank I guess.
Arriving into Peru and immigration
If you are flying, chances are you will land in Lima which is why this 2-week itinerary started there. Otherwise, if you are going overland from the South, Puno or Cusco are most likely. From here you can alter the itinerary ever so slightly to fit in with your timetable.
If you are travelling from the North, then either Mancora or Huaraz are lively destinations with some visitors also stopping off in Huanchaco.
Whichever way you arrive in the country you will come across immigration. New regulations mean 180 days is the maximum you can stay in the country.
You will receive a white piece of paper which you should hold onto for the duration of your stay as it ensures you don’t pay some local taxes and its secondary proof of your time in the country.
I for some reason only received a 50-day allowance and had to pay some fees at the airport so I could leave the country.
Health & safety:
I found Peruvians to be some of the nicest and most welcoming people in all of South America. They also love travelling either in their own country or abroad.
In regard to crime, I never had any issues although pickpocketing and stuff going missing while in transit are commonplace.
The usual rules apply don’t leave your valuables in plain sight and take the normal precautions.
Altitude sickness: is probably the biggest concern especially for those just arriving in the country. I only had mild bouts of altitude sickness. Coca leaves are your friends and listen to the advice of locals and your guides. If you are feeling unwell stop, rest and descend.