With 10 days in Peru, you can explore several regions by taking internal flights or get to know one region in more depth. The highlights of the Cusco and Machu Picchu region can easily be combined with Lake Titicaca or the Amazon jungle. Alternatively, head north to enjoy lesser-known archaeological highlights, spectacular treks and beaches. Another very popular route is to travel south into the desert, then up through the canyons to the high Andean plains. Here are five different itineraries to help you make the most of your trip.

Overview

Peru is a treasure trove of historical and natural wonders. Spending 10 days here allows you to cover a lot of the country and you can choose from an epic trip involving regular bus trips between towns to a more concentrated itinerary that takes advantage of internal flights. 
 
While Machu Picchu is world-famous, there are archaeological sites throughout the country — from the Nazca Lines to Chan Chan and Kuélap. The landscapes undulate from southern deserts and northern beaches on the coast through the foothills to snowy Andean peaks in Huaraz and high lakes such as Titicaca, then down through cloud forest to the Amazon jungle.

#1 Cusco, Inca Trail and Lake Titicaca

Cusco's Plaza de Armas is a great place to absorb the local atmosphere.
Day Activity Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cusco, free time Cusco
Day 2 Sacred Valley - Pisac or Moray Cusco
Day 3 Inca Trail Inca Trail
Day 4 Inca Trail Inca Trail
Day 5 Inca Trail Inca Trail
Day 6 Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 7 Cusco city tour Cusco
Day 8 Train to Puno Puno
Day 9 Lake Titicaca  Puno
Day 10 Fly to Lima  

The most popular region to visit in Peru is the area around Cusco. The highlights of this region can easily be seen in a week. Begin with some free time exploring the Inca capital, taking in the mix of Spanish and Inca architecture. Then spend a day in the Sacred Valley and choose from the market and ruins at Pisac or the concentric circles of Moray and nearby salt mines.

Next, you will embark on an unforgettable four days on the Inca Trail. Trek through spectacular Andean scenery past clusters of ruins, culminating in a spellbinding dawn view of Machu Picchu. Spend a day exploring this magical place. Head back to Cusco the next day and tour the city's highlights, including the Sun Temple of Coricancha and the giant stones of Sacsayhuaman outside town.

Your 10-day itinerary will afford you time to explore another region of Peru — the breathtaking high plains to the south. Take a fantastic train ride to Puno and spend a day visiting the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake. Fly back to Lima at the end of your trip. 

#2 Nazca, Colca, Titicaca and Machu Picchu

Aerial view of the Nazca Lines
Day  Activity Overnight
Day 1 Lima city tour Lima
Day 2 Paracas Reserve Ica
Day 3 Nazca Lines Arequipa
Day 4 Colca Canyon Chivay
Day 5 Bus to Puno, city tour Puno
Day 6 Lake Titicaca Puno
Day 7 Train to Cusco  Cusco
Day 8 Sacred Valley Ollantaytambo
Day 9 Machu Picchu Cusco
Day 10 Fly to Lima  

This itinerary allows you to take in the highlights of Southern Peru while still finding time to see the highlights of Cusco and Machu Picchu. Begin with a city of the colonial heart of Lima and feast on some wonderful seafood in the evening.

Then drive south for 3.5 hours to the Paracas Reserve and Islas Ballestas to watch sea lions and penguins. Drive through the desert to Ica and get up early the next morning to take the flight over the amazing Nazca Lines. Then take a bus in the afternoon to colonial Arequipa, one of Peru's most beautiful cities. 

The following day, you drive into one of the world's deepest canyons, the Colca Canyon. Enjoy spectacular hiking and watch out for the magnificent condors that live here. Enjoy some thermal baths and stay overnight in Chivay.

Take a bus from Arequipa to Puno and explore this interesting city, which hosts regular festivals. The next day you will visit the Floating Islands and the island of Taquile on Lake Titicaca.

Take a train ride through impressive high Andean plains to Cusco. Spend a day in the Sacred Valley, exploring the ruins of Ollantaytambo before making your pilgrimage to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco in the afternoon and explore the Inca capital briefly before your flight back to Lima the next day.

#3 Huaraz and the Northern Highlands

Trekking in the region around Huaraz.
Day Activity Overnight
Day 1 Bus to Huaraz Huaraz
Day 2 Trekking in Huaraz Huaraz
Day 3 Trekking in Huaraz Huaraz
Day 4 Chavin de Huantar Huaraz
Day 5 Bus to Cajamarca Cajamarca
Day 6 Cajamarca Cajamarca
Day 7 Revash and Leymebamba Chachapoyas
Day 8 Kuélap Chachapoyas
Day 9 Tarapoto Tarapoto
Day 10 Fly to Lima  

The northern highlands contain some of Peru's most spectacular Andean scenery. The center of the country's climbing and trekking scene is Huaraz. Take a bus from Lima (seven hours) and spend several days exploring the peaks and lakes of the Cordillera Blanca. Highlights include the turquoise Laguna 69 and the ruins of a pre-Inca civilization at Chavin de Huantar

The next day, take the bus to Cajamarca (a seven-hour journey), one of Peru's most charming colonial cities. It was here that Inca ruler Atahualpa was famously captured by the Spanish in the Plaza de Armas. You can see the room where he was imprisoned, El Cuarto Del Rescate. Other highlights include the ancient baths Los Baños del Inca, the pre-Inca necropolis outside of town in the Ventanillas de Otuzco, and the mountaintop ruins at Kuntur Wasi.

From Cajamarca you will journey into the Chachapoya region. Visit the cliff-edge tombs of Revash and the mummies at the Leymebamba museum. The highlight of this region is the Fortress of the Cloud Warriors at Kuélap, a huge stone citadel built between 500 and 1493 AD. From Kuélap, drive six hours through the Andean foothills to the cloud forests around Tarapoto where you can enjoy waterfalls and jungle scenery before flying back to Lima.

#4 The Northern Coast

Explore the archaeological ruins of Chan Chan, a highlight of Peru's north coast. 
Day Activity Overnight
Day 1 Bus to Caral Casma
Day 2 Sechin and Trujillo Trujillo
Day 3 Huaca de la luna, Chan Chan Trujillo
Day 4 Chiclayo, Sipan Chiclayo
Day 5 Valley of the Pyramids Chiclayo
Day 6 Bus to Mancora Mancora
Days 7-9 Beach and surf in Mancora Mancora
Day 10 Fly back to Lima  

The northern coast of Peru is less visited by tourists but has a wealth of archaeological attractions. Take a bus from Lima to Barranca and explore the pyramids and amphitheaters of Caral, which date back 5000 years. Stay overnight in the village of Casma.

The next day, take in the well-preserved ruins of Sechín before heading north to Trujillo (three to four hours by bus). Explore the Plaza de Armas and the city's colonial center. Then take in spectacular adobe structures built by pre-Columbine cultures — the mounds at Huaca de la Luna and the walls and carvings of the huge city complex at Chan Chan

Then travel 4 hours north to Chiclayo. Visit Huaca Rajada, an adobe pyramid built by the Moche people, and the museum at Sipan, which have jewels and gold from nearby Moche tombs. North of Chiclayo is Túcume, known as the Valley of the Pyramids, an archaeological site made up of 26 pyramids and a regional center for the Sicán culture. 

Then head north (six hours by bus) to the beach resort of Mancora, Peru's surfing hub. This endearing town is filled with surfers and hippies in high season (December to March). It's a great place to surf, sunbathe and has quite a party scene at night. Spend a few days chilling out before flying back to Lima.

#5 Amazon adventures - Inca Jungle Trek and Manu National Park

Manu Reserve, a great place for forest hikes through primary jungle.
Day Activity Overnight
Day 1 Cusco Cusco
Day 2-5 Inca Jungle Trail Inca Jungle Trail
Day 6 Machu Picchu Cusco
Days 7-9 Manu Reserve Jungle lodges
Day 10  Return to Cusco  

If you have done any of the itineraries above, then there is one key region of Peru that is missing — the Amazon. This breathtaking area is a nature lover's paradise. It is possible to combine the highlights of the Cusco region in five days with four or five days in the Amazon jungle for a fantastic itinerary combining two very different experiences. 

Begin with a day in Cusco, taking in the archaeological highlights. Then embark on an alternative Inca Jungle Trail that treks through cloud forest scenery on the edge of the jungle. This four-day trek includes cycling, hiking and relaxing in thermal baths, an easier alternative to the classic Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek. Spend an incredible day at Machu Picchu exploring the ruins before returning to Cusco. 

The next day you make a spectacular descent by road from the Andes into the cloud forest on the edge of the Amazon, passing waterfalls and watching out for monkeys. You will spend three days in the Manu Reserve, taking forest hikes through jungle, birdwatching from canopy towers, canoeing through tributaries and visiting the wonderful Macaw licks where flocks of birds come to feed. This is a better, more immersive jungle experience than the areas around Puerto Maldonado. 

Map

Map of 10 Days in Peru: 5 Suggested Itineraries
Map of 10 Days in Peru: 5 Suggested Itineraries