With twelve days in Peru, you have a number of diverse routes to choose from. Whether you want to focus on the Amazon rainforest, pre-Columbian ruins, hiking on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, cultural and culinary tours in Lima, or off-the-beaten-path adventures in Peru's northern region—you have time to do it all. Read on for five unique itinerary ideas.

Itinerary #1: Highlights of Peru

See the best Peru has to offer on this colorful itinerary that takes you to Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines, Cusco, the Amazon, and the Ballestas Islands.

The world-famous pre-Columbian geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines
The world-famous pre-Columbian geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Nazca Lines & Huacachina Adventure Paracas
Day 3 Ballestas Islands & Paracas National Reserve Lima
Day 4 Into the Amazon: Lima - Puerto Maldonado - Reserva Amazonica Puerto Maldonado
Day 5 Jungle Excursions - Tres Chimbadas, Parrot Clay Lick, Botany Tour Puerto Maldonado
Day 6 Jungle Excursions - Farm, Dugout Canoe Tour, Fitzcarrald Puerto Maldonado
Day 7 Arriving in Cusco: Puerto Maldonado - Cusco Cusco
Day 8 Tour the Sacred Valley: Cusco - Pisac - Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 9 Maras, Moray & Chinchero Tour Ollantaytambo
Day 10 Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 11 Machu Picchu Excursion: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco Cusco
Day 12 Fly from Cusco to Lima, Depart Peru  

Begin the trip in the capital of Lima. On day two, you'll fly over the Nazca Lines—some of the largest and best-known geoglyphs in the world—on a 12-seater plane, then try sandboarding in Huacachina in the afternoon. After the next day's boating adventure around the Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve, you'll back-track to Lima and catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado, gateway to the Amazon. Spend the next few days going on jungle excursions, including a botany tour, a dugout canoe tour, and an adventure to see hundreds of parrots in their natural habitat.  

On the second part of the trip, move onto Cusco and spend the afternoon exploring the Inca's ancient capital. Tour the Sacred Valley on day eight, shopping for textiles in Pisac and spending the night in the riverside town of Ollantaytambo, known for its large Inca fortress. After a visit to the salt flats of Maras, take to the Inca Trail for a short hike to Aguas Calientes, your home base before the next day's early morning adventure to Machu Picchu. Spend the last full day of the trip getting to know the lost city of the Incas before heading back to Cusco for one last dinner, then fly home through Lima. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Peru Highlights & Jungle Adventure

On this diverse tour around Peru, you'll visit the Amazon rainforest, hike around Machu Picchu, take a food tour in Lima, and much more.

Women in colorful traditional clothing in Cusco
Women in colorful traditional clothing in Cusco
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Lima City & Food Tour Lima
Day 3 Into the Amazon: Lima - Puerto Maldonado - Reserva Amazonica Puerto Maldonado
Day 4 Jungle Excursions - Tres Chimbadas, Parrot Clay Lick, Botany Tour Puerto Maldonado
Day 5 Jungle Excursions - Farm, Dugout Canoe Tour, Fitzcarrald Puerto Maldonado
Day 6 Arriving in Cusco: Puerto Maldonado - Cusco Cusco
Day 7 Cusco City Tour Cusco
Day 8 Sacred Valley Tour: Cusco - Chinchero - Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 9 Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 10 Machu Picchu Excursion: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco Cusco
Day 11 Rainbow Mountain (Mount Vinicunca) Hike Cusco
Day 12 Fly from Cusco to Lima, Depart Peru  

The trip begins in Lima. Spend a few days in the capital city, strolling through the waterfront neighborhood of Miraflores and taking a food tour with a local guide. On day three, catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado. You'll spend the next few days on jungle excursions, seeing the flora and fauna of the Amazon on boat, hiking, and wildlife spotting tours. Sleep under the stars, hearing the sounds of the jungle, before transferring to Cusco on day six. You'll take a tour of the city on day seven, visiting the Spanish-designed cathedral, the Inca-built Corcicancha (Sun Temple), and the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas.

On the latter part of the itinerary, venture into the Sacred Valley, stopping to see Incan archaeological sites, colorful crafts markets, and the massive Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo, where you'll spend the night. Hike along the Inca Trail to Aguas Calientes the next day, the jumping-off point for the following day's adventure at Machu Picchu. On the last full day of the trip, you'll hike through vibrant landscapes on your way to Rainbow Mountain. Back-track to Cusco for a relaxing evening with dinner and drinks before saying goodbye to Peru. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Inca Trail & Amazon Excursion

Explore the rainforest, hike to Rainbow Mountain, see Machu Picchu at dawn, and sample ceviche in Lima on this fast-paced itinerary.

Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Lima City & Food Tour Lima
Day 3 Fly to Cusco - Free day in the City Cusco
Day 4 Sacred Valley Tour: Cusco - Chinchero - Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 5 Inca Trail Day 1/4: Cusco to Yuncachimpa Yuncachimpa
Day 6 Inca Trail Day 2/4: Yuncachimpa - Warmihuañusca Pass - Chaquicocha Chaquicocha
Day 7 Inca Trail Day 3/4: Chaquicocha - Phuyupatamarca - Wiñayhuayna Wiñayhuayna
Day 8 Inca Trail Day 4/4: Wiñayhuayna - Machu Picchu - Cusco Cusco
Day 9 Into the Amazon: Cusco - Puerto Maldonado - Refugio Amazonas Lodge Puerto Maldonado
Day 10 Jungle Excursions - Tres Chimbadas, Parrot Clay Lick, Botany Tour Puerto Maldonado
Day 11 Jungle Excursions - Farm, Dugout Canoe Tour, Fitzcarrald Puerto Maldonado
Day 12 Puerto Maldonado - Lima Lima

Start in Lima with a city tour and a food-focused tour: you'll get oriented in Peruvian history, culture, and cuisine before the rest of the trip gets rolling. Fly to Cusco on day three and enjoy a free day in the city for sightseeing and café-hopping. On day four, you'll drive through the Sacred Valley and spend the night in peaceful Ollantaytambo, notable for its Inca fortress and pleasant riverfront location. Get some rest: you'll need it before your four-day hike along the Inca Trail begins.

On the first day of the hike, you’ll visit the archaeological site of Llactapata and picnic by a stream on your way to Yuncachimpa, where you’ll camp overnight. Hike along the Warmihuañusca Pass to Chaquicocha the next day, then continue through the tropical forest of Wiñaywayna. You’ll wake up early the following day for an unforgettable travel experience: the chance to see Machu Picchu at sunrise. Switch gears on day nine and fly to Puerto Maldonado, checking into the Refugio Amazonas Lodge. See parrots in the wild, go on a dugout canoe tour, see nocturnal jungle life and sleep in the rainforest for the next few days—it feels like another planet than Lima, where you'll finish the trip and catch a flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Colca Canyon, Machu Picchu, & Amazon Adventure 

Journey to the heights of Machu Picchu and the depths of Colca Canyon—and cruise down a jungle river in the Amazon, too—on this adventurous itinerary.

A sweeping view of Machu Picchu
A sweeping view of Machu Picchu
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Fly to Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour Arequipa
Day 3 Colca Canyon Tour: Arequipa - Chivay - Cabanaconde Cabanaconde
Day 4 Colca Canyon & Puno Arrival Puno
Day 5 Lake Titicaca Tour: Uros Floating Islands & Taquile Island Puno
Day 6 Arriving in Cusco: Puno - Cusco Cusco
Day 7 Sacred Valley Tour: Cusco - Chinchero - Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 8 Maras & Moray Tour & Train to Aguas Calientes Aguas Calientes
Day 9 Machu Picchu Excursion: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco Cusco
Day 10 Into the Amazon: Puerto Maldonado to Refugio Amazonas Lodge Puerto Maldonado
Day 11 Jungle Excursions - Tres Chimbadas, Parrot Clay Lick, Botany Tour Puerto Maldonado
Day 12 Depart from Puerto Maldonado & Lima  

Bienvenidos (welcome) to Peru! Spend the first days of the trip getting oriented in Lima, where you’ll tour the UNESCO-honored historic center and go on a guided food tour of the city's markets and hole-in-the-wall ceviche joints. On day three, transfer to Arequipa, then venture into Colca Canyon: look down into one of the world’s deepest canyons, then look up to see Andean condors circling overhead. Move onto Lake Titicaca, where you’ll see the Uros Floating Islands from a boat, then continue onto Cusco. Check out the Spanish-built cathedral and wander through the charming streets of San Blas, then get some rest before the second week of the trip starts.

Transfer from Puno to Cusco, then you'll immediately move onto the Sacred Valley, spending the night in riverside Ollantaytambo. Tour the salt flats at Maras and hop on the scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes. From there, after resting overnight, you'll start early the next morning for an excursion to Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco and continue onward to Puerto Maldonado. Check into Refugio Amazonas Lodge and spend the last few days of the trip hiking, boating, and bird-watching in the rainforest before it's time to head home. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Explore Northern Peru

On this off-the-beaten-path adventure in Peru's north, you'll see archaeological ruins of the Chachapoya culture and hike to one of the world's highest waterfalls.

Ancient stone art in Chan Chan
Ancient stone art in Chan Chan
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Fly to Trujillo Trujillo
Day 3 Fly to Trujillo, Exploring the City-Chan Chan, Huaca Arco Iris & Huanchaco Trujillo
Day 4 El Brujo & Journey to Chiclayo Chiclayo
Day 5 Chiclayo - Pyramids of Tucume - Museum Tumbas Reales Chachapoyas
Day 6 Chachapoyas to the Archaeological complex of Kuelap Chachapoyas
Day 7 Hike to Gocta Waterfall Chachapoyas
Day 8 Amazonas - Sarcophagi of Karajia – City Tour Chachapoyas - Huancas Chachapoyas
Day 9 Mausoleum of Revash and Mummy Museum Leymebamba
Day 10 Transfer Leymebamba to Cajamarca Cajamarca
Day 11 Cajamarca - Cumbemayo – Ventanillas de Otuzco Cajamarca
Day 12 Fly from Cajamarca to Lima, Depart Peru  

Get oriented in Peru with a day and night in Lima. On day two, transfer to Trujillo and tour the Temple of the Moon, a pre-Hispanic mud pyramid constructed by the Moche people who lived in the region around as early as 100 CE. Then visit the Rainbow Temple and the Chan Chan fortress, the world's largest mud-brick citadel. After an overnight bus ride to Chachapoyas, continue onto the pyramids at Tucume in the region of Lambayeque

Start the second week with a cable car ride to Kuelap Fortress, an ancient citadel of the Chachapoyas people who predated the Inca. The site is sometimes called the “Machu Picchu of the North.” Relax for the evening before the next day’s hike to Gocta Waterfall. Look for the bright orange cock-of-the-rock—Peru's national bird—on your walk through the forest to the tall cascades. Visit the Canyon de Sonche, the highest canon in the Peruvian Amazon, the Mausoleum of Revash, and the Mummy Museum on your way to Cajamarca. On the last full day of the trip, you'll visit a few important pre-Columbian sites, including the Ventanillas de Otuzco—one of the most important pre-Inca cemeteries, attributed to the Cajamarca culture. Learn more

Map

Map of 12 Days in Peru - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 12 Days in Peru - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas