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The Ultimate 10 Day Peru Itinerary

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Who says travel to amazing places, such as Peru, is only for the people that are willing to quit their jobs just to get the time?

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to quit your 9 to 5 to see Peru, and it’s possible to see the highlights in just 10 days.

We understand the challenge of only having a few vacation days in a year, and we’re here to help you find a way to make it work.

In this guide, we have shared the ultimate 10 day Peru itinerary for those who only have a short vacation time and want to get the most out of their trip.

At A Glance: Our Peru Itinerary For 10 Days

woman posing with arms outstretched in front of Machu Picchu
All Smiles At Machu Picchu

For those who are short on time, here is a rough overview of our 10-day Peru itinerary. This should give you an idea of what to see and expect.

  • Day 1 – Arrive in Lima. This day will be about recovering from the flight and relaxing.
  • Day 2 – Explore Lima, including open top bus tour of the city sights.
  • Day 3 – Catch an early flight to Puerto Maldonado. This is the first day of a 4 day adventure with Wasai. Spend the evening walking the streets and relaxing by the Madre de Dios River.
  • Day 4 – Wake up at 4am to see a Parrot clay lick, then late morning take a 4 hour boat ride to the Wasai Tambopata Eco lodge where you will journey deep in the Amazon Rainforest.
  • Day 5 – Spend in the Amazon. See the Macaw clay lick, hiking and kayaking.
  • Day 6 – Spend in the Amazon. Go zip lining, tree climbing and hiking.
  • Day 7 – Catch an early boat ride back to Puerto Maldonado and catch an afternoon flight to Cusco. Spent the rest of the day exploring Cusco and adjusting to the altitude.
  • Day 8 – Tour of the Sacred Valley including the Pisaq Market, hiking the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo. Catch a late afternoon train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.
  • Day 9 – Visit Machu Picchu! Late evening, return to Cusco.
  • Day 10 – Catch a morning flight to Lima, spent the day at one of the parks, and depart home in the evening.

10 Day Peru Itinerary

Now let’s dive into the 10-day itinerary in full detail.

Day 1 & 2: Lima

an old building
Stunning Lima Architecture

When searching for flights to Peru, you will likely fly into the capital city of Lima arriving late at night.

This city is a vibrant, busy and crowded capital and I wouldn’t plan on too many days here.

If you plan your very first day in Lima, you will have plenty of time to catch up on some sleep from your late arrival the night before and hit the highlights of the city.

From Lima, you can reach the Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands and Huacachina Sand Dunes by bus.

sandboarding huacachina
Huacachina Sand Dunes
  • Nazca Lines: These are intriguing ancient geoglyphs etched into the desert floor of southern Peru, depicting various animals, plants, and geometric shapes, believed to have been created between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
  • Ballestas Islands: Also known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos,” these islands off the coast of Peru are a haven for diverse marine wildlife, including sea lions, penguins, and numerous bird species, offering fantastic opportunities for wildlife observation and photography.
  • Huacachina Sand Dunes: A stunning desert oasis near the city of Ica in Peru, surrounded by towering sand dunes that attract thrill-seekers for adrenaline-pumping activities such as dune buggying and sandboarding.

To visit these areas you need to plan a minimum of 2 days with an overnight, which would mean skipping Lima off your itinerary, but it really depends on what you prefer to do.

nazca lines peru
Nazca Lines, Peru

A day trip to the Nazca lines can be done if you are really short on time and can’t live without them. It will be a long day.

It isn’t feasible to combine Ballestas Islands and Huacachina with the Nazca Lines on a day trip, so you will need to choose which of these day trips sound more enticing to you.

Day 3: Puerto Maldonado

a woman laying on a bed
Relaxing in Our Bungalow in Puerto Maldonado

After your time in Lima, you’ll want to head to the next destination. For us, it was Puerto Maldonado to spend 4 days in the Amazon Rainforest.

The flight time from Lima to Puerto Maldonado is only 1 hour and 40 minutes, so if you catch an early flight you have plenty of time to explore Puerto Maldonado in the afternoon.

We wanted to visit the Amazon Rainforest for four days, but you can opt for three days and two night options, which give you an extra day in your itinerary.

If you decide to spend less time in the Amazon, you could head to either Lake Titicaca, one of the largest lakes in South America and the highest navigable body of water, or Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world known for its trekking.

It really depends on what you want to see and do.

Day 4-6: Amazon Rainforest

macaws on tree in a forest
Witnessing the Macaws Descend On A Clay Lick in the Amazon Rainforest

We chose to take a transformative four-day Amazon adventure with the Wasai Tambopata Lodge in Peru, which takes you into the heart of the world’s largest rainforest, The Amazon.

This immersive experience offers a harmonious blend of eco-tourism, wildlife observation, and cultural exploration.

The itinerary included trekking through the lush jungle trails, visiting the largest Macaw’s clay lick, camping in the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, and embarking on a motorboat trip up the Tambopata River, as well as sitting around Lake Sandoval.

Amazon Basin Jungle, Suspended bridge between two big trees,
Amazon Basin Jungle | Yay Images

Throughout the experience we were surrounded by the diverse flora and fauna of the Amazon while also enjoying the comfort and hospitality of the beautiful Wasai Amazon Lodges, which were little eco-friendly treehouses.

Of course, there are many Amazon tours from Puerto Maldonado, but we recommend you book one in advance to avoid disappointment as they are quite popular.

Day 7: Puerto Maldonado to Cusco

Aerial view of streets and houses in Cusco city, Peru.
Cusco city, Peru | Yay Images

After spending time in the Amazon, head back to Puerto Maldonado and catch a flight to Cusco. The flight time is less than one hour, but do try to catch an early flight so you can spend time relaxing in Cusco and adjusting to the altitude.

If you normally live at sea level, you’re going to need to take it easy. Cusco sits at 3,399 meters above sea level, and altitude sickness is not uncommon here.

Day 8: Sacred Valley, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo

Hiking Sacred Valley
Hiking in the Sacred Valley

Spend the day exploring Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas, where ancient history and beautiful landscapes converge. The ride out to the Sacred Valley is roughly around 1.5 hours from Cusco, so you can easily fit all these attractions into one day.

We started our day by exploring the Pisaq Market, a bustling hub of local crafts, textiles, and produce, where we picked up some souvenirs and learned about the traditions of the Andean people.

pisac in peru
Pisac Ruins

While in Pisac, wander through the intricate Pisaq ruins, an archeological site that once belonged to the Inca community and was built in 1440. The Inca ruins are accessible by a steep hike from town, but it only takes around 90 minutes.

Afterwards, head to the awe-inspiring Ollantaytambo, another ancient village in the Sacred Valley, where imposing terraces and stone structures stand as a testament to the ingenuity of Incan engineering.

After all that exploring, take some time to soak in the breathtaking vistas of the Sacred Valley, where emerald fields and jagged peaks create a beautiful backdrop.

Day 9: Machu Picchu

looking over Machu Picchu, Perú

Perhaps the most important site to see on any trip to Peru is Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Most people opt to visit Machu Picchu by one of the treks, most famously the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trail. Both of these treks take between 5 and 10 days, so you don’t have time to do these famous treks, but you can opt for a 2 day, 1 night hike if you’re timing allows.

Alternatively, take a full-day tour from Cusco. You used to be only able to visit with a guide, but they changed the law and you can go without a guide and just buy the entrance ticket.

However, we highly recommend you get a guide so you have someone there to tell you what you’re looking at.

Day 10: Lima and Home

sculpture on water at lima park
Lima

On the final day, fly back to Lima before catching your flight home. If you have time between flights, you can leave your luggage at a locker at the airport and explore more of Lima before you leave.

Or you could simply sit in a bar at the airport and enjoy some last Pisco Sours before your long journey home.

Tips for Planning A Peru 10 Day Itinerary

overlooking miacchu picchu

The best way to plan Peru travel is to create a list of attractions, or bucket list items, that you want to see, and plan outwards from there.

Your items represent the things you are not willing to miss on during your Peru trip. It’s not possible to see everything in 10 days in Peru, so identifying your Peru must-sees is very important in the planning process.

Some attractions that people often put on their bucket list are:

  • Lima
  • Nazca Lines
  • Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands
  • Machu Picchu
  • Sacred Valley
  • Cusco
  • Amazon Rainforest
  • Colca Canyon
  • Ballestas Islands
  • Rainbow Mountains
  • Arequipa
  • Chinchero, Moray, and Maras Salt Mines
  • Uros Islands
  • Urubamba River
  • and Huacachina Sand Dunes.
The Sacred Valley and the Inca ruins of Pisac
The Sacred Valley and the Inca ruins of Pisac

My biggest piece of advice is to accept that you can’t see it all and trying to WILL lead to a rushed, unpleasant travel to Peru.

Some other things to keep in mind while planning:

  • What time of year are you going? Remember that Peru is the Southern Hemisphere, and the best time to visit is during the winter (May – September) which is the dry season in Peru.
  • What will the weather be like? The rainy season in Peru is December until March, and when it rains, it rains.
  • Should you plan for altitude adjustment? If you haven’t been over 2,500 meters before, prepare for altitude sickness and bring appropriate meds, just in case.

Getting Around Peru

a boat in a river
Amazon Transportation

Due to your limited number of days, flying becomes your most logical option. The only exception is taking the bus to visit to the Nazca lines, Ballestas Islands and Huacachina Sand Dunes.

Bus rides are available throughout Peru that will get you to and from Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon but they take many hours, think 30+, due to the terrain. Those beautiful mountains you came to see make cross country travel difficult and slow.

With only 10 days in Peru, that leaves flying as your best option.

Luckily, Peru operates a few different airlines within the country that you can pick up for cheap prices if you plan ahead. The three airlines to search are:

  • Star Peru
  • TACA
  • LAN

We used Star Peru for all of our inter-country flights which included: Lima-Puerto Maldonado, Puerto Maldonado-Cuzco and Cuzco-Lima.

When we arrived in each new place we utilized the local transportation. Taxis in Lima and Cuzco, Tuk Tuk’s in Puerto Maldonado and put many miles on our feet.

Local prices are pretty reasonable and easy to find while you are out and about. If we needed to get from a major place like the airport to the city center, we hailed a taxi but if we wanted to see another site nearby, we walked.

HOT TIP: Do not try to book tickets that are designated for Peruvians only – it will be tempting as they are significantly cheaper – but they will not honor your ticket at the airport during check in.

Guided Tour of Peru

If you don’t want to travel Peru independently, there are group tour companies that offer great deals and itineraries on Peru escorted tours.

See avalaible Peru tours on Globus, and Cosmos and use our special discount below.

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Where to Stay in Peru

small village of Aguas calientese on river in jungle

With only 10 days in Peru, choosing your accommodation’s location is really important.

You want to make sure you are in the thick of things and close to the main attractions to maximize your days.

This alone will help you to not feel rushed and despite what you may hear from people, it is possible to find reasonably priced accommodation in the main areas of each city in Peru.

Speaking from our experience, I would recommend the following places to stay in Peru (all private rooms with bath):

Lima: Miraflores is a clean area with many attractions. You can get a room at a guesthouse or hostel for around $20 per night.

Puerto Maldonado: We stayed at a property near the Madre de Dios as part of the adventure package we booked for the Amazon. However, we researched many independent hostels that were in good locations, near the river for around $10-$25 per night.

Cusco: We stayed at the Hostal Inti Wasi and the location was amazing. We were right next to the Plaza de Armas. You will be in the heart of Cusco if you stay here, within easy walking distance to many shops, food and sights. They also stored our excess stuff when we went to Machu Picchu. Cost was $35 per night.

Aguas Calientes: This little town is loaded with places to stay on any budget. You are at the foot of Machu Picchu and that comes with a price. We ended up at a small hotel near the train station for $50 per night. Your other option is hiking the Inca Trail. You would have time to do the 2 day / 1 night hiking tour, which includes lodging when you book.

What Does it Cost to Travel in Peru?

Turquoise Llanganuco lake in Cordillera Blanca at sunny day, snowcapped Andes, Ancash, Peru
Llanganuco lake in Cordillera Blanca | Credit Yay Images

How much you spend on your 10-day trip to Peru will largely depend on how much you are willing to skimp on luxuries. Everyone has different tastes, but you can save drastically by foregoing nice hotels and choosing a hostel bed instead.

Our budget was $4,000 USD total for 2 people over 10 days. You could easily do it in $1,000 USD per person, if you book cheaper accommodation and choose buses over flights – though you won’t be able to fit in as much into your itinerary this way.

To help you estimate your costs, we spent:

  • $1,020 getting to Peru
  • $700 on inter-country flights
  • $115 on 4 nights of accommodation
  • $1,279 on tours that included 4 nights of accommodation
  • We spent our last night in the airport and when it was all said and done, we came home with $500
  • Our total spent was $3500, $1750 per person.

Final Thoughts

Cute and chic alpacas close up, Ancash peruvian Andes
Ancash Peruvian Andes, | Credit Yay Images

So there you have it, this is how you can spend 10 days in Peru. As you can see, you can still tick off a lot of bucket list items on this itinerary, even if you do need to make some sacrifices.

Of course, you can change things out to how you see fit. We love nature and wildlife, so we opted to spend more time in the Amazon, but you may decide to spend less time in the Amazon to visit more places.

We hope this guide helped you plan your itinerary and gave you some inspiration for why you should visit Peru for 10 days.

Bio: Lina from Divergent Travelers has been traveling for 12+ years, solo and with her partner David, while working full time. They have visited 31 countries and are hoping their stories will not only inspire those of you that are thinking about the jump, but also become a place you can visit for support and information in planning and realizing your dreams! You can follow their adventures on their blog and on social media with Facebook and Twitter.

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Things to do in Peru itinerary 10 days
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