Updated: Dec 21, 2022
Honestly, there’s so much to do in Peru. Peru is home to a section of the Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu. The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and the colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites. On Peru’s arid Pacific coast is Lima, the capital, with a preserved colonial center and important collections of pre-Columbian art. This is where you’ll find this itinerary for two weeks in Peru takes you!
I’ve always dreamed of visiting the Amazon, and I’ve always wanted to visit Machu Picchu. If we had another few days, I would have wanted to go to Ica, the Rainbow Mountains, the Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca, too. Okay, you’d really need like two more weeks! We only had two weeks total in Peru and decided we would prioritize our two big bucket list items for now and plan another trip in the future.
To really enjoy Peru, you should spend ample time in each place. We felt like taking it slow and seeing major things was a better idea than rushing it. Two weeks in Peru ended up being enough time to see three top places – the Amazon, Machu Picchu, and Lima.
Here are some South America backpacking routes if you’re looking to go to different countries on your trip as well
This was seriously the trip of a lifetime. Here is our itinerary for two weeks in Peru:
Day 1: Arrive
Day 2: Lima
Day 3: Iquitos
Day 4: Amazon
Day 5: Amazon
Day 6: Fly to Cusco
Day 7: Cusco
Day 8: Leave for Machu Picchu
Day 9: Santa Maria – Quellomayo – Cocalmayo – Santa Teresa
Day 10: Santa Teresa – Hidroelectrica – Machu Picchu Town
Day 11: Machu Picchu
Day 12: Cusco
Day 13: Lima
Day 14: Lima
Costs for Two Weeks in Peru:
Amazon tour: $135
Machu Picchu Trek: $369 + $30 river rafting +$30 ziplining
Internal Flights: $327
Hotels/AirBnBs: $198 a person
Tips, food, souvenirs, everything else: $326
Here are some things I’ve learned about Peru that I wish I had known before going. After that, you will see links to hotels, tours, and museums we visited. I hope you enjoy!
We flew on Avianca to Peru and flew from Cusco to Lima on Avianca. We also flew Lan Air. I have heard a lot of negative things about Avianca. We were nervous about this but booked anyway because a $500 flight to Peru is a pretty good deal.
They ended up losing my bag! They were able to deliver it the next day, but it was still a bit of a hassle, and I was not offered any compensation, which was a bit of a disappointment. I also wore the same outfit for our first about 48 hours in Peru. On the way home, our flight was so delayed with Avianca that we did not make our connection and had to stay overnight in El Salvador. They paid for our hotel and gave us a voucher for this. Shafiq ended up being stuck all night because of a problem with his plane on Avianca. So yes, we had problems with them, but we were never unsafe.
Both airlines themselves were fine. We found the flights comfortable as any US flight and had no real problems with the food.
Other notes about flights… Every flight we took during our two weeks in Peru was delayed. We took 4 flights. This felt like too many flights being delayed. We may have just had bad luck, but know when you are planning that it’s common for flights to be delayed – especially in Lima.
We didn’t stay at hostels because we didn’t need to. The hotels were all very cheap, especially when splitting them. We ended up buying two hotel rooms some places and still only paid $198 for hotels for 8 nights – that’s $24 a night. I have links to each hotel we stayed at. They all included breakfast and stored our bags. I would recommend them all!
Packing for two weeks is daunting, especially when you need a lot of outdoor equipment. I will be writing a post all about the specifics of what I packed, but I will say we packed in all carry-ons. This helped us get through airports quickly and save money on baggage fees. We also all wore the rain boots we needed for the Amazon on the plane and donated them after we left the Amazon in Iquitos. This saved us time and space!
Our bags were still pretty big, so we packed a smaller bag that we could take with us into the Amazon and to Machu Picchu. We left our big bags with all our other things at the hotels where we were staying before our tours.
Peru has a lot of incredible food. The Incas were known for their farming and food. This has carried through to the present day. There are many different kinds of food to have. I recommend trying:
Amazonian cuisine (fish, banana leaves, rice, yucca)
Chifa (Peruvian Chinese)
Aji de gallina (chicken stew with cheese, aji peppers, peanuts)
Ceviche (fish marinated in lime juice)
Pollo a la Brasa (roasted chicken)
Pisco (pisco sours are very popular, but honestly, any drink with Pisco!)
Guinea Pig and Alpaca are available, but expensive (still worth a try!)
The mosquitoes are NO JOKE. We bought 100% DEET spray and it worked, but we ran out during our two weeks in Peru. This was awful, and I ended up having a terrible reaction from all my bites. Mosquitoes love me, and it was apparent. Plan ahead, bring extra, take malaria medicine as they recommend, and don’t get Zika! It’s not common in Peru, but still
Day 1 Lima
We had such a late-arriving flight that we wanted to make sure our first day was relaxed but with a chance to still learn about Peru. We rented this great hotel that had three bedrooms but was only like $60 for the night called Inti Killa Hostel. It was not a shared space hostel, and the room was really nice with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a balcony.
We decided to do a cooking class on our first day. It was amazing! Hector was wonderful, and we learned so much about the history of Peru and the food. We also had pisco sours, which I highly recommend. It was right next to Huaca Pucllana which was very cool to see on our walk from our hotel.
Pro-tip: Many hotels in Peru will let you leave your bags there for the day at no extra charge or for a small fee. We tipped as well when we left our bags. This made traveling around for the day so much easier.
After the first day of relaxing, time to fly to Iquitos, the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon
Day 3 – 5 Amazon Jungle, Iquitos
The second night we flew right away to Iquitos. We stayed at Epoca Hotel. Epoca Hotel is located right along the basin of the Amazon river and our view during breakfast was amazing. The staff was so friendly and helpful as well because in Iquitos few people speak English.
We went right from there to start our three days in the Amazon. I spent a very long time researching companies to do this through. I ended up choosing Allpahuayo Mishana Bed and Trees. This was a great decision for a few of these reasons:
We stayed totally off the grid — no electricity, no running water, no cell service, totally disconnected from the world.
We had our own bungalow.
It was essentially a private tour.
Supporting a local company and people who are from the Amazon was a great part of the trip.
We saw so many animals, fished, ate food right from the river, hiked, and took a boat tour.
We definitely were roughing it, but I still loved every second in this incredible place. There were two bungalows, and we had our own two-level place with hammocks covering the first floor and foam mattress beds on the second. There was a guide and a chef the whole time we were there as well.
Note: Iquitos is very different from Cusco and Lima. There are many people who are in poverty. The airport is incredibly small, and we had to wait for our taxi. People kept coming up to us and asking us to buy things and use their taxi. There were many people in need. We met an American who moved to Iquitos to help people there. He sponsors families and works with them. He let us know there are a large number of people in need in Iquitos. We saw many homes and people living without running water or electricity. Spending some time here supporting the local people is important!
Three days in the Amazon wilderness during our two weeks in Peru was just the right amount of time. If we had stayed longer, I think we would have felt like it was too much. We’re all city people, but never afraid of a big adventure, so we knew too long we would not end up having fun. They offer a ton of different tours that go up to six days!
The hikes are no joke. Yes, it is pretty flat, but the mud is difficult to maneuver when wearing rain boots for hours! We were there during the dry season — I never took off my rain boots. They were serious when they said to pack them… Don’t underestimate the weight of rain boots. They are much harder to hike in than I had imagined. Pack blister pads! You will need them.
Our favorite hike was our night hike. It was so dark with the tree cover. Then we went into a clearing, and the stars above were incredible. I had never seen so many and a sky so beautiful and clear. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We were terrified the whole time, too.
Our guide was worried about poisonous snakes and would tell us to turn off our lights all of a sudden because snakes are attracted to lights. We would put our hands in front of our faces and see nothing. The whole time we are worried about getting bit by a poisonous snake. We got back to our bungalow, so relieved and there was a snake in the roof of the hut! We see no snakes the whole hike and get back where we feel safe, and there is one waiting for us.
Typical, am I right?
Our tour guide also owned a company that takes boat rides out onto the Amazon River. We paid $20 and rode on the boat for the afternoon before exploring Iquitos a little bit.
One of the things I appreciated most about this tour was that it was operated by people from local villages in the Amazon. Our tour guide grew up in the village Bed and Trees was close to. We stopped for lunch on our hike out, and a whole village was there to say hello and talk with us. We hiked with children to the boat that we rode back to Iquitos. It was great to support the local economy and people. See my full review of our tour here.
Pro-tip: Iquitos has a lot of different companies you can visit the Amazon through. Pick a local company that is supporting their economy.
Honestly, the Amazon was something I had dreamed of since I was a kid. I can truly say that I loved it and I will never forget that experience. If you are an adventurer, this is something you do not want to miss during your two weeks in Peru.
Day 6 Cusco
We couldn’t find a direct flight from Iquitos to Cusco. It is a less popular route and Iquitos has a small airport. We arrived in Cusco by 12 pm after a layover in Lima (even though we were supposed to be there by 11 am — flight delay in Lima).
When we got to Cusco, we immediately could feel the altitude. It is no joke!
Pro-tip: Give yourself a day or two before heading to Machu Picchu. The altitude change is a serious difference. This is why I mentioned earlier that it is important to take it slow during your two weeks in Peru. These activities are adventurous and exciting, so you’ll want to build in a few days for rest.
There are plenty of great places to stay in Cusco. We checked into our hotel Hotel Unimuzu (even walking to our third-floor rooms was a problem). We took it easy and walked around Cusco and got dinner that night.
Pro-tip: We spent a long time this day (Saturday) trying to find somewhere to do our laundry. We had read online that you can do your laundry easily in Cusco. You can – just not on Saturdays and Sundays. Everywhere was closed for the weekend or told us they could get it to us by Monday, we were leaving Monday for Machu Picchu. So, we went to a supermarket and bought laundry soap and hand washed clothes instead.
Day 7 Moray Salt Mines and Maras — Sacred Valley
We had originally booked an experience online, but it ended up getting canceled. So, when we got to the airport the day before, we booked with a company we found while there that does a tour that was very similar to what we booked and cheaper. It ended up being a great day!
Ollantaytambo is another great day trip if you are interested in more Inca history.
Pro-tip: If you have flexible days or want to save, wait to book tours or events until you are in town and can negotiate price. This goes for other things as well.
There’s a lot of things to do in Cusco! We explored for the rest of the day and went to bed early so we would be ready to begin our trek the next morning.
Day 8 – 11 Machu Picchu Trek
Our trek to Machu Picchu has a post all on its own. A lot of planning needs to go into getting to Machu Picchu, and the rules are always changing. Going with a tour group is still an affordable option and worth it. There are so many different ways to get to Machu Picchu. I researched so many different ones before deciding what company to use and which trek to take. Some options include the traditional Inca Trail, Sulkatanay, Lares, and Jungle Trail. I ended up choosing the Jungle Trail and booked a tour with Inkas Destinations Here is why:
Great value — We stayed in hotels/hostels with electricity the whole time and got a lot for our money.
We got to do many different things — we biked, river raft, visit hot springs, visit farms, zip line, hike, and swim in a waterfall.
It was a small group — there were only twelve people including us on our tour.
The company was very responsive — we had so many questions, and they were always willing to help us and guide us while we were planning.
It was less crowded than the traditional Inca Trail — peak season for Machu Picchu is July/August (we went in June). I wanted to make sure we were not with so many people it became a hassle.
I cannot recommend this tour enough. We loved it, and all the people on our trek were so nice and so friendly. It was truly once in a lifetime. I know there are many different ways to get to Machu Picchu, but I loved the trek we chose and the company we used. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of ziplining through the Andes or arriving at Machu Picchu at 6:30 am and to see it completely empty. It was incredible.
Day 8: Biking, Hiking, and River Rafting
Day 9: Hiking, Farm, and Waterfall
We woke up in the morning to chocolate crepes for breakfast on the farm. They apologized because everything we were eating was taken directly from the farm we were staying at (talk about farm to table!) except for the sugar. We obviously were shocked — how dare they serve us one thing not from the farm! Obviously, it was delicious.
Day 10: Ziplining, Hiking, Thermal Baths, Machu Picchu Town
Machu Picchu Town or Aguas Calientes is a great little town. It was so cute and has a lot of different restaurants and places to go. We loved getting massages here! We got two after our trek was over… This was the most expensive town we visited, I am guessing, because there are so many tourists all the time. There is a huge market with tons of souvenirs here, too. We found it more expensive than Cusco.
Pro-tip: Don’t go to the hot springs in Machu Picchu Town. They were very gross, and I am pretty sure my bug bites got infected from it! It had a lot of bugs, was not very warm, and we left quickly. The springs we went to while hiking to Machu Picchu were so much better – and they were $3. Go to Cocal Mayo instead! Machu Picchu Town hot springs pictured below.
Day 11: Machu Picchu
I would really recommend going with a tour group to Machu Picchu. There are no real signs or explanations for anything. You also must have a reserved ticket to get into Machu Picchu. The travel company arranged everything for us!
Get there early and make sure you know how you plan to get there the day before. We took a bus from Machu Picchu town. We lined up at 5:30 am, and there was already a huge line. The first bus leaves at 6:30 am for the top. We bought our tickets for the bus the night before. This was key to getting a good spot and being ready for the trip.
My favorite thing about our whole trek was the views of the Andes mountain range. Every time we went around a corner or started a new hike, we got a new and gorgeous view. The Andes are so different from the mountains in America and so tall. They are beautiful.
Day 12 Cusco
I almost went to the hospital because of bug bites this day. The night before my legs swelled up and became very red. They hurt so bad I stood up and started to cry! I remember some parts of it, but not all of it. Thankfully, Elizabeth is a nurse, and Mike cared for me, too. I took Benadryl and was out for the day.
Pro-tip: A lot of pharmacies in Cusco have doctors on-site that can help you. We were able to get some prescription-strength medication after getting a doctor’s opinion (and again, a nurse friend who knows about these things!).
We spent the night in Cusco and the next day took it easy visiting museums (Convent of Santo Domingo, the chocolate museum, and Museo Inca), eating lots of food, and Mike, Elizabeth, and I went to mass (Cathedral of Cusco) while Shafiq got a massage… we all ended up getting one! The massages were like $15 and so relaxing after a difficult trek. When we all got back to the states, we would text each other about how much we missed them.
Everything in Cusco is very centrally located around the square downtown, Plaza de Armas. When you walk down there, you are in the middle of everything and walking around to different attractions is very easy. We easily spent a few days exploring. We visited two different markets here as well. There are lots of things to do in Cusco, so make sure you take some time to enjoy it here!
Pro-tip: Wait until you are in Cusco to buy souvenirs. We found it to be the cheapest, and people were very willing to negotiate with you. Start at half the asking price.
Day 13/14 Lima
Lima is a very cool capital city. We stayed at an AirBnB and loved all the different neighborhoods — they were all so colorful and unique. After roughing it for so long, we had a really nice lunch at Huaca Pullana then explored the history museum in Lima (Museo Larco and National Museum). We walked through Mira Flores and Barranco and got our nails done near a park in Mira Flores.
Pro-tip: We went during their winter (June) but still enjoyed seeing and visiting the beach. It was in the 60s, and we still saw people surfing.
The food in Lima was amazing! There are so many different great restaurants there. We went to several that we made reservations for. This was a splurge on the trip even though it was definitely not pricey, especially in DC terms. We used the restaurant websites to book ahead after researching through top restaurant lists like this one and this one.
This was truly an incredible two weeks in Peru. I know how lucky we were to have a full two weeks in such an incredible country! If you’ve got less time, consider this itinerary for 7 days in Peru! We loved Peru, and I think about how wonderful it was all the time. While two weeks in Peru was not enough, it was still incredible and is a place I will never forget! Have you been to Peru? Any other insider tips?