For travelers interested in visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley highlights, five days is just enough time to do it. If you've already been to Machu Picchu, consider seeing a different part of Peru on this trip: the Amazon Rainforest, the biodiverse Ballestas Islands, or the lesser-known archeological sites of Northern Peru are all excellent options that showcase more of Peru's outdoor and cultural offerings. Check out more options in the itineraries below.

Itinerary #1: Sacred Valley Highlights - Machu Picchu & Cusco

Tour the Sacred Valley, spend a full day at Machu Picchu, and discover the ancient city of Cusco on this colorful highlights itinerary.

Lima's beautiful cathedral on Plaza Mayor
Machu Picchu
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima, Transfer to Hotel Lima
Day 2 Arrival in Cusco, Exploring the City Cusco
Day 3 Tour the Sacred Valley: Cusco - Pisac - Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 4 Machu Picchu Excursion Cusco
Day 5 Depart Cusco  

Kick off the trip in the capital city of Lima, going for a walk along the clifftop promenade in Miraflores and sitting down for a traditional Peruvian meal in one of the neighborhood’s many restaurants. The next morning, fly to Cusco. Drink some coca tea—it helps with the altitude change—before walking around the ancient city, visiting the Coricancha (known as "The Temple of the Sun”), the impressive Puca Pucara ruins, and the colorful Mercado Central de San Pedro marketplace. 

The next day, you’ll explore the Sacred Valley. Stops along the day’s trip include Pisac, with its ruins and textile market, and Moray, known for its amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. Spend the evening in Ollantaytambo, home to some of the region’s best-preserved Inca architecture. On day four, take the train to Aguas Calientes and transfer to Machu Picchu. This 15th-century Inca citadel, a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his court, is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. After several hours of travel by train and car, you’ll have one last evening in Cusco for pisco sours and Peruvian-style nightlife. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Machu Picchu & Short Inca Trail

On this quick adventure in the Sacred Valley, you’ll hike on the Inca Trail and explore the spectacular ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, the highlight of any trip to the Sacred Valley, veiled in cloud
Inca ruins of Winay Wayna along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Arrival in Cusco & Sacred Valley Tour: Cusco - Pisac - Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 3 Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Ollantaytambo - Km 104 - Aguas Calientes Aguas Calientes
Day 4 Machu Picchu Excursion: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco Cusco
Day 5 Departing Cusco  

The trip begins in Lima. Explore the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stopping into the 16th-century Spanish-designed cathedral, which took 80 years to build. Stroll around the coastal neighborhood of Miraflores at night and enjoy ocean views from Love Park. On day two, you’ll head to Cusco and begin your tour of the Sacred Valley. One stop along the journey is Pisac, one of the region’s most important archaeological sites, known for its ancient Inca burial grounds and irrigation systems. Stop in the town’s busy textile market to shop for souvenirs, then overnight in the Incan city of Ollantaytambo. 

On day three, hike along the Inca Trail towards Machu Picchu. Highlights along the way include the archaeological site of Chachabamba and the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. Take a break when you arrive at Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu, where you can try traditional Peruvian food like ceviche and sample pisco sours made with a wide range of native fruits.

On day four, get an early start to see high-altitude Machu Picchu without a crowd. You’ll go on a guided tour of the site, then head back to Aguas Calientes and catch a train to Ollantaytambo. You’ll drive to Cusco, where you’ll have time for one last Peruvian meal before taking a flight out the next day. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Experience the Peruvian Amazon

Experience the natural wonders of the Peruvian Amazon with a five-day itinerary that includes a boat tour and a visit to the Tambopata Research Center to see red howler monkeys, anacondas, and the endangered giant river otter.

Macaws feed at one of the most bird-rich clay licks in Peru on the Madre de Dios river, Parque Nacional Manu
Macaws feed at a clay lick in Parque Nacional Manu
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima, Transfer to Hotel Lima
Day 2 Into the Amazon: Lima - Puerto Maldonado - Reserva Amazonica Puerto Maldonado
Day 3 Reserva Amazonica Jungle Excursions Puerto Maldonado
Day 4 Reserva Amazonica Jungle Excursions Puerto Maldonado
Day 5 Fly from Puerto Maldonado back to Lima, Depart from Peru  

Arrive in Lima and spend an evening getting oriented in Peru’s capital city. The next day, you’ll head straight into the Amazon, catching an early flight to Puerto Maldonado and check into the  Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica lodge, your home base for the rest of the trip.

Choose from several afternoon excursions themed around bird-watching, boating, or getting to know the flora and fauna of the rainforest. Sleep in the jungle before the next day’s trip to Lake Sandoval in the Tambopata National Reserve. There, you’ll paddle through a mirror-like lake in a wooden canoe, spotting rare wildlife like endangered giant river otters, red howler monkeys, red-bellied macaws, anacondas, side-neck turtles and black caimans. 

You’ll have a range of day trips and excursions to choose from in the days that follow. Try the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway, which invites you to walk through the rainforest canopy on a suspension bridge, spotting colorful toucans, monkeys, and sloths along the way. Then take a trip to Gamitana Creek, a winding, dark water jungle stream that’s home to piranhas, turtles, and a wide range of birds. After dark, consider the two-hour Rainforest by Night excursion, where your guide will point out nocturnal forest sounds and jungle species that only come out at night. On day five, you’ll head back to civilization and catch a flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #4: From Lima to Nazca - Wildlife, History & Gastronomy

On this diverse tour, you’ll eat your way through Lima’s exciting culinary scene, see Humboldt Penguins on the Ballestas Islands, and view the Nazca Lines from the window of a plane.

The popular and spectacular Santa Cruz trek near Huaraz
Nazca Lines from above
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Lima City & Food Tour Lima
Day 3 Ballestas Islands & Paracas National Reserve Tour: Lima - Paracas Paracas
Day 4 Nazca Lines & Huacachina Adventure: Paracas - Pisco - Huacachina - Lima Lima
Day 5 Departing Lima  

Like many short trips around Peru, this itinerary begins in Lima. But instead of jetting off after a single night in the capital, this trip plan features an extra day in the big city. Go on a guided tour of the city’s historic center and, on two day, get to know Lima’s food scene with a visit to a mercado (marketplace) and a cooking class, where you’ll learn to make ceviche. Spend the evening walking around the hipster-friendly neighborhood of Barranco, home to a great selection of bars and restaurants.

On day three, you’ll have an early transfer to Paracas, the gateway to the nearby Ballestas Islands. The adventure continues with a boat ride from Paracas to the islands, a sanctuary for marine life. Look for Humboldt Penguins and Peruvian Boobies along the way: they only live along the Humboldt Current, which flows through the area. 

Visit the Paracas National Reserve’s interpretation center for an overview, then stop to see turritellas, fossilized remains of sea snails, and the Cathedral, the base of a million-year-old rock formation that’s located just off the coast. On day four, head to the Pisco airport to board a 12-passenger plane for a 90-minute flight over the sprawling Nazca Lines to view famed geoglyphs depicting a hummingbird, dog, tree, whale, and lizard. You’ll finish the day sandboarding down the towering dunes at Huacachina before returning to Lima for one last night in Peru. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Secrets of Northern Peru

Get off the beaten path in northern Peru with an archeology-focused trip that features stops at Kuelap—also known as “the Machu Picchu of the North”—and a hike to Gocta, one of the highest waterfalls in the world.

Dramatic scenery beckons at the Colca Canyon near Arequipa
Ancient ruins at Kuelap
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Arrival at Jaen - Transfer to Chachapoyas Chachapoyas
Day 3 Chachapoyas to the Archaeological complex of Kuelap Chachapoyas
Day 4 Hike to the Gocta Waterfall 771 m Chachapoyas
Day 5 Fly from Jaen to Lima, Depart Peru  

After a night in Lima, you’ll fly to Jaen and transfer to the Amazonas Region, passing through Andean valleys, coconut groves, and rice plantations along the journey. End up in Chachapoyas, where you can relax, breathe in some fresh air, and sample traditional Peruvian cuisine before the next day’s adventure to the archaeological complex of Kuelap. Known as the Machu Picchu of the North, the ancient fortified city is accessible by cable car and hiking trail. Explore Kuelap’s temples and religious buildings, then have a meal in a family-run restaurant before returning to Chachapoyas for the evening.

On day four, another outdoor adventure awaits. Transfer to Cocachimba, the jumping-off point for the hike to Gocta waterfall. You’ll trek through the cloud forest, keeping your eyes open for the rare spatuletail hummingbird, indigenous to the area. You’re also likely to spot Peru’s vibrantly hued national bird, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, in its natural habitat. Look for orchids and bromeliads lining the trail, too.

Note that the six-hour hike is challenging (riding on horseback for part of the journey is an option). The reward is a stunning view of the 2,529-foot cataracts, considered one of the highest waterfalls in the world. On day five, fly from Jaen to Lima, where you’ll connect to an international flight home. Learn more

More Great 5-Day Peru Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your Peru trip? Check out these other 5-day Peru itineraries, ranging from active, to cultural, to luxury, or family-friendly trips.

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.


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