2 Weeks In Peru: Experience The Best Of Peru, Including The Inca Trail

stone inca ruins with steep green mountains behind - a highlight of 2 weeks in Peru

Peru is a mysterious, exciting country, full of wonders.  If you have two weeks in Peru, it will be packed with beautiful places, fascinating culture and delicious food. Check out my itinerary for spending two glorious weeks in Peru, including the iconic Inca Trail hike, Cusco, Rainbow Mountain, Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines and the vibrant capital city, Lima.

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Why Visit Peru?

Peru is a very well-known country and has been a popular destination for travellers for decades. Even though it is firmly on the beaten path, it is still a wonderful place to visit, with lots to discover.

Consider travelling to Peru if you like:

  • Ancient civilisations – the Inca and the Nazca are probably the best-known civilisations from Peru, but there are actually many different pre-Columbian civilisations known to have lived in this fascinating land
  • Preserved local traditions – throughout Peru you will get the chance to observe a traditional way of life for many of those who live in Peru
  • Dramatic landscapes, including deserts, mountains, lakes and forests
  • Hiking – Peru has many hiking opportunities, including the iconic Inca Trail
  • Food – Peru has a varied and lively cuisine, including piquant ceviche, a bewildering variety of corn and potatoes and tasty meats like alpaca and cuy. Around Lake Titicaca, you can eat delicious freshly caught trout.

This itinerary for 2 weeks in Peru is designed to give you a bit of everything on this list.

Two peruvian ladies dressed in brighyly coloured patterned clothes stand in the street, with inca stone walls behind them
Colourful Cusco

Are 2 Weeks In Peru Enough Time?

It’s such a hard question… Peru is a big country with a lot of attractions, so you could certainly spend much more than two weeks in Peru and not feel like you’re dragging it out.

And in two weeks, you will have to be selective about where you go and what you do – you cannot visit everywhere of interest in Peru in two weeks.

However, if you only have two weeks (as many travellers do, because of work or other commitments), I don’t think this should hold you back from visiting Peru. Whilst you can’t experience everything Peru has to offer in two weeks, you can experience some of the best things – and I am confident you will really enjoy the time you have there!

I’ve based this itinerary on the two weeks I spent in Peru, but I’ve tweaked it, based on what worked and didn’t work on my own trip.

semi-circular inca stone ruin in steep mountains with clouds swirling
Remote ruins on the Inca Trail

How To Get To Peru

There are several international airports in Peru, but most travellers fly into Lima, the capital city. For that reason, Lima is where this itinerary starts and finishes.

Check Skyscanner for flight deals from where you are.

2 Weeks In Peru: Itinerary At A Glance

Day 1: Arrive in Lima, the capital of Peru (stay 2 nights)

Day 2: Exploring Lima

Day 3: Fly to Cusco (stay 4 nights)

Days 4-6: Cusco & surrounding area, including Rainbow Mountain and the Sacred Valley

Days 7-10: Inca Trail & Machu Picchu (camping 3 nights, return to Cusco for 4th night)

Day 11: Bus to Puno (stay 2 nights)

Day 12: Explore the islands of Lake Titicaca

Day 13: Return to Lima (stay 2 nights)

Day 14: Nazca Lines

Day 15: Return home

2 Weeks In Peru: Itinerary In Detail

Day 1: Arrive In Lima, the Capital Of Peru (Stay 2 Nights)

Fly into Lima, and then get settled into your hotel. For many, it’s a long flight to Lima and you might be jet-lagged, so don’t plan to do too much other than have a pisco sour at the hotel and sleep.

Where To Stay In Lima

I stayed in two different hotels in Lima, both of which were very comfortable. The San Agustin Exclusive and Casa Andina Select are both located in the affluent coastal area of Miraflores.

Where To Eat In Lima

There are some amazing restaurants in Lima, including La Mar for top-notch ceviche. I also liked the old fashioned vibes at El Cordano in the historic centre of Lima.

three bowls of ceviche - one classic pale colpurs with red onion and sweet potato, one red with corn and red chilli and the other dark with pink tuna and avocado and onions
Ceviche tasting trio at La Mar, Lima

Day 2: Exploring Lima

Lima is a big, sprawling city, with a lot to see and experience, including:

  • The colonial centre, including the grand Plaza de Armas, ornate 16th-century church Iglesia de La Merced and the canary yellow Convento de San Francisco de Lima
  • Attractive coastal neighbourhoods of Miraflores and Barranco

You could explore independently as I did, but there are guided city tours of Lima if you prefer that kind of thing.

Day 3: Fly To Cusco (Stay 4 Nights)

Cusco is a worthy destination in and of itself but is also the jumping-off point for those doing the Inca trail and those visiting Machu Picchu the easy way, by train. It is possible to get there by road, but it’s a long, slow option, so I suggest flying, which will take approximately an hour and 25 minutes (and you will enjoy the mountain scenery on the way!).

Cusco is located in a valley within the Andes – at 3400m above sea level. The air is thin up there and if you’re like me, you will notice this high altitude not long after you get off the plane: I felt lightheaded picking up my bags.

boy sits on a wall, overlooking the red rooftops of Cusco in Peru
Red rooftops of Cusco. Photo by Lindsay Knight

Where To Stay In Cusco

I stayed at the San Agustin El Dorado which was really conveniently located not far from the centre of Cusco. It was also very comfortable.

Where To Eat In Cusco

For places to eat in Cusco, I have several recommendations in my Cusco travel guide.

Days 4-6: Cusco & Surrounding Area, Inc. Rainbow Mountain & The Sacred Valley

As you’re doing the Inca Trail, you will need a few days to acclimatise to the high altitude. I was recommended to stay in Cusco for 3-5 days and I allowed only 2.5 days – and I struggled with altitude sickness symptoms the first couple of days on the Inca trail. So, to learn from my mistake, I am suggesting you have at least 3.5 days in Cusco (half-day a day on the day you arrive and then three full days).

Cusco is perfect for acclimatising because it is a similar elevation to the start of the Inca Trail and also because it has plenty to do.

If you feel the effects of altitude (eg light-headedness, shortness of breath, headaches), you might only feel up to easy-going, laid-back activities, including:

  • Strolling around Plaza de Armas
  • People-watching in San Pedro Market
  • Learning about pre-Columbian cultures at Museo De Arte Precolumbiano
  • Visiting Qorikancha, an important Inca site in Cusco
woman with a striped pack on her back site opposite an imposing inca structure with an Spanish style church built on top in Cusco
Qorikancha: Inca foundation; colonial building

For more details and ideas, I have a whole post on laid-back things to do in Cusco that will help you fill your days.

If you acclimatise quickly, you could get more active and consider fitting in a visit to Rainbow Mountain and/or the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Moray and the salt mines of Maras

I didn’t visit Rainbow Mountain on my trip (somehow it just wasn’t on my radar when I planned my trip), but I wish I had!

Days 7-10: Inca Trail & Machu Picchu (Camping 3 Nights, Cusco 4th Night)

On Day 7 you will pack and leave for the Inca Trail, one of the most captivating hikes in the world, leading you tot he legendary Inca citadel, Machu Picchu

stone ruins surrounded by clouds at the inca citadel, machu picchu
Machu Picchu emerging from the morning cloud

You can leave anything you don’t need on the trail in a bag at the hotel (most Cusco hotels have a secure luggage lock-up as standard, as so many visitors do this)

I’ve suggested you do the classic 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu because it is most common. There’s quite a lot you need to know and to prepare before you do the trail, so check out my ultimate guide to preparing for the Inca trail.

And if you want some inspiration about the spectacular scenery along the hiking route, I also wrote about the stunning Inca ruins you will see along the Inca Trail.

curvy inca stone ruin with views of steep forested mountains and low hanging clouds
Stunning views on the Inca Trail

Accommodation On The Inca Trail

For the three nights of the Inca Trail, you will be camping – and my guide to the Inca trail gives you some details about what to expect and how to prepare and pack for that.

On Day 10, you’ll explore Machu Picchu and then return by train to Cusco, when you’ll go back to the same hotel you were at before.

Day 11: Bus To Puno (Stay 2 Nights)

From Cusco, you’ll now head east, over the high altitude altiplano toward Lake Titicaca.  There is an airport in Juliaca, near Puno, but a bus is a good option. It is a slow journey, but the scenery will keep you engaged: you’ll pass small towns, traditional farms, snow-capped mountains and vast plains. Puno itself is a small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

snow-capped mountains and grassy planes on the altiplano in peru
The road from Cusco to Puno

Where To Stay In Puno

In Puno, I stayed at the Royal Inn Hotel, which was very smart and centrally located.

Where To Eat In Puno

In Puno, I tried Cuy at La Casona. It was tasty (soft, like chicken, but saltier, like bacon) but not my favourite because of the fat and bones. Be warned: they often come served whole, heads and everything!  There’s also plenty of fresh trout available around Lake Titicaca, so that can be a good option in Puno, too.

Day 12: Explore The Islands Of Lake Titicaca

The best thing to do in Puno is to take a boat trip out on Lake Titicaca, which is a vast, deep, freshwater lake in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru, often called the “highest navigable lake” in the world.

One of the most fascinating features of Lake Titicaca is its island communities.  Amantani is an island where around 4,000 Quechua-speaking people lead a very traditional life. It is possible to stay with them, living as they do (but unfortunately, I don’t think you have time for this in only two weeks).

Therefore, instead, I suggest you do a boat tour which will visit both the Uros floating reed islands and Isla Taquile.

Uros Islands

The Uros reed islands are an amazing example of human ingenuity: the Uros community live on an archipelago of 60 artificial islands: floating structures made from the reeds which grow in the shallows of the lake. So much is made from the reed: the floor is a bed of reeds, up to two metres thick; houses are made from reeds and even boats.

a raft or boat made from reeds with two dragon-heads; also a floating reed platform with a house made from reeds
A floating community: the Uros

Isla Taquile

Isla Taquile is further out in the lake: a small, car-free island with panoramic views of the lake. Life is very traditional here, too and there are specific customs of dress which you can learn about from your guide. Taquileños speak Quechua and are known for their handicrafts, including knitting and weaving, in which both men and women have traditional roles.

Visiting Isla Taquile was one of the unexpected highlights of my time in Peru: it was so peaceful and so beautiful. 

view of the vast blue lake titicaca through a stone archway with a woman carrying a back on her back
Island life: Isla Taquile

You can take a boat tour from Puno which will include both the Uros islands and Isla Taquile.

Day 13: Return To Lima (Stay 2 Nights)

From Puno, take a short bus to Juliaca, then a flight to Lima. The flight will take around an hour and 35 minutes.

Where To Stay In Lima

Again, the San Agustin Exclusive and Casa Andina Select are two good mid-range options. If you fancy somewhere more upmarket, if I went back, I’d be tempted to try Miraflores Park, which has a pool and ocean views.

Where To Eat In Lima

On my trip to Peru, I reserved Central for my final night. Central offers high-end nouvelle cuisine including an innovative tasting menu inspired by the elevated terrain of Peru.  Central is also number 4 on the list of the World’s Best Restaurants in 2021. It was the perfect (and indulgent) way to end a spectacular trip.

collage of 17 plates of food all brightly coloured and immaculately presented
17 creative courses at Central, Lima

Day 14: Nazca Lines

Your final excursion is into the desert south of Lima, which you can do as a day trip from Lima.

On the vast gravel plains of the Nazca desert are mysterious lines and hieroglyphs, known as the Nazca Lines.  These date from between 500BC and 500AD and are thought to have been created for astronomical or religious purposes. The best way to see the Nazca lines is from above, so I recommend taking a Nazca lines flight, from Pisco airport.

faint outline of a hummingbird on a light grey desert plain in Nazca, Peru
Humming Bird: one of the figurative drawings in the Nazca Lines

However, you should know, that it’s not an easy flight and some people get sick. For more detail on seeing the Nazca Lines from the air, check out my guide to taking a Nazca Lines flight.

There are various Nazca Lines flight packages you can book, including one that includes the Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands & Huacachina Oasis – the only oasis in South America.

Day 15: Return Home

Your Peru adventure is over, so after one final Pisco sour, head back to the airport, richer in memories of this captivating, mysterious land.

If You Have More Than 2 Weeks In Peru

If you can spare more time in Peru than two weeks, that is not a problem – there is plenty to see and do. If you have three weeks in Peru or longer, here’s what you could consider for the extra days:

  • Colca Canyon to see condors
  • The Peruvian Amazon rainforest in northern Peru

And if you have plenty of extra time, consider spending time in neighbouring Bolivia. When I visited Peru, I spent nearly a week in Bolivia as well – taking the bus from Puno to Copacabana in Bolivia. I visited Isla del Sol, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and the sprawling capital La Paz. However, the high for me was the spectacular Salar De Uyuni – the largest salt flats in the world.

Map: 2 Weeks In Peru Itinerary

Here’s a route map of this Peru itinerary route, with key attractions marked:

How To Use This Map: click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one.  If you click the star next to the title of the map, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.

When Is Best To Go To Peru?

If you want to do the Inca Trail, I suggest avoiding December to March, which is the wet season and therefore it can be very rainy (and it is closed in February anyway).  The coolest, driest season is June to August, which does make it rather popular.

I did my trip in September, which was mainly dry except for one night of rain on the Inca Trail and some drizzle in Lima. It also wasn’t heaving with people everywhere we went (other than Machu Picchu, which was very crowded).

steep stone and grass terraces with mountains and clouds behind at machu picchu in peru
Terraces at Machu Picchu – away from the crowds!

If You Need Help Planning A Trip To Peru

I put my original itinerary for 2 weeks in Peru together with the help of Sun Gate Tours, a Peruvian tour company based in Cusco. They are locally owned, which I liked, as I prefer my travel money to go to the community as much as possible, They were also amazing – looking after me every step of the way and treating me and my husband like a VIP.  I’m not an affiliate of theirs, but I’d love to see them thrive and I have no hesitations recommending them to you.

Hope You Enjoy Your Time In Peru!

Let me know if you have any questions about this itinerary for 2 weeks in Peru (there’s a comment box below) – and if you’ve already been, let me know what your favourite experiences were!

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