See the best of Peru's coast and the Andes on this eleven-day exploration. Start in the north to see the museum of Lima and the coast, where you'll check out the Nazca Lines and see the Ballestas Islands. From here, catch a flight to Cusco where you'll hike on the Inca Trail, see Machu Picchu, and explore Rainbow Mountain.

Highlights

  • See Peru's massive Nazca Lines
  • Experience the wildlife-rich Ballestas Islands
  • Hike along the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu
  • Explore the ancient traditions of Cusco & the Sacred Valle
  • Visit the spectacular and unique Rainbow Mountains

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima - Bienvenidos! Lima
Day 2 Gastronomic Tour in Lima Lima
Day 3 Arrive in Paracas & Nasca Lines Flight: Lima - Paracas Paracas
Day 4 Ballestas Islands & Paracas Nature Reserve Paracas
Day 5 Arrive in Cusco: Paracas - Lima - Cusco Cusco
Day 6 Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero tour Cusco
Day 7 Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Tour Cusco
Day 8 Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 9 Visit Machu Picchu Cusco
Day 10 Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek Cusco
Day 11 Adiós: Fly from Cusco to Lima, Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima - Bienvenidos!

Lima coastline in the evening
Lima coastline in the evening

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population.

Upon your arrival at Lima Airport, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives, who will take you to your hotel in Miraflores/San Isidro. You will have the remainder of the day free to relax and get acquainted with the city at your own pace.

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Depending on your arrival time, we have plenty of suggestions for you so you can make the most of your day in Lima.

Suggested activities: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 

  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. 
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts. 

  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. 

  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2: Gastronomic Tour in Lima

Ceviche

These days, Peruvian cuisine is receiving worldwide recognition, and Rosa Nautica has a special place in the local gastronomic field.

Start your culinary adventure with a trip to the local market, where you'll pick the freshest ingredients to make your gourmet lunch. Enjoy oceanfront views as you learn to prepare pisco sour and enjoy fresh ceviche as well as other seafood delicacies.

Day 3: Arrive in Paracas & Nasca Lines Flight: Lima - Paracas

Nasca Lines

In the morning, transfer to the bus station for an approximately 3-hour ride to Paracas. Upon arrival, head to the hotel to check-in, then continue to the Pisco aerodrome. From here you will take a 90-minute flight to view the sprawling Nazca Lines. You will get a chance to see many of the most famous geoglyphs, including the hummingbird, dog, tree, whale, lizard, and more. 

These massive images, the longest of which are 1,200 ft (370 m), vary from geometric lines to figures of animals and people. Due to the stable environment of the Nazca desert, these geoglyphs—which were created by removing the top layer of iron-oxide coated pebbles to reveal the light-colored clay underneath—have been remarkably well preserved.  

You'll have the rest of the day on your own — explore El Chaco or stay at your hotel and relax.

Day 4: Ballestas Islands & Paracas Nature Reserve

Exploring the Ballestas Islands

After an early rise, transfer to Paracas to board a speedboat to the Ballestas Islands, also known as the little Galapagos thanks to the great variety of marine wildlife that inhabits them.

En route, your boat stops to observe the "The Chandelier", an iconic figure that can only be seen from the sea. You will explore caves and rock formations that have been carved by the sea, wind, and time. Keep an eye out for sea lions, penguins, seagulls, and a wide variety of marine fauna.

From here, continue to the Coastal Desert of the National Reserve of Paracas tour will start. Considered one of the largest marine reserves in our country, it hosts more than 200 types of birds and a wide variety of marine species. A visit to the Paracas Reserve will allow you to enjoy not only beautiful maritime and desert landscapes but also learn about the ancient Paracas people who inhabited the coasts more than 2,000 years ago.

Day 5: Arrive in Cusco: Paracas - Lima - Cusco

Downtown Lima.

In the morning, transfer to the bus station for an approximately 3.5-hour ride to Lima. 

Upon arrival, head to the airport for your flight to Cusco. Once in Cusco transfer to your hotel. 

Remember that Cusco is at 11,000 feet (3000 m.) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water.

Since Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot. Take a gentle walk through the plaza; if the weather is beautiful, it's a perfect place to sit on a balcony and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation.

Day 6: Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero tour

Terraces of the Sacred Valley

This morning you will depart from your hotel in Cusco and travel to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. Here you'll explore the ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. From here, continue down to the town of Pisac located at the bottom of the valley. This town is famous for its bustling textile market. Select from a wide assortment of colors, styles, and designs for gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.

Stop for lunch and enjoy traditional Peruvian - Andean cuisine at a restaurant in the same Urubamba, conveniently located in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River.

From here, head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained its original Inca urban planning. Walk through the streets with Inca-era canals and view the ancient houses still in use today. Climb the agricultural terraces where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. From the top, you’ll be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported from, especially considering the Incas didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. 

After, you will head to Chinchero, the small rustic Andean town where you will get to explore the ruins before making your way back to Cusco.

Day 7: Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Tour

Maras Salt Flats
Maras Salt Flats

This morning, you'll depart to The Sacred Valley of the Incas, upon arrival in Moray, you'll see the three famous amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These terraces are carved deep into the earth in the shape of a bowl. It is believed that the Incas once used these terraces as agricultural laboratories to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops.

When you are done exploring Moray, you will head about two miles away, to the salt mines of Maras (Salineras de Maras). This village is known as a former salt-producing center and is thought to date back to pre-Incan times. There are over 3,000 salt pools carved into the mountainside, that are filled daily by a stream of water. 

Finally, return to Cusco and have the rest of the day to rest or explore the city. 

Day 8: Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Hiking along the Inca Trail

After breakfast, you'll be picked up from hotel and transferred to the train station of Ollantaytambo where your train will take you to the marker at km 104, where you will disembark from the train and start the short Inca Trail.

On the train ride, enjoy the scenery of the valley as it turns into a canyon and the train ascends into the cloud forest on the approach to Machu Picchu.  

Once on the trail, start the trek to your first archeological site—Chachabamba. This beautiful site is very well preserved thanks to its location in the valley and was likely used for religious purposes and as a gatekeeping point for this entrance to Machu Picchu. 

From here ascend for 3 hours to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna at 8,964 ft (2732 m), an ancient rest area for travelers on the Inca trail. Stop here to enjoy your box lunch with superb views of the massive green mountains and native orchids. 

The trail then becomes gentler and continues through the semi-tropical cloud forest to Intipunku (Sun Gate)  where you'll enjoy your first panoramic views of Machu Picchu. Descend half an hour to the citadel for a short break and an opportunity for photos.

After passing through the Sun Gate, take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and check into a hotel to rest and relax in anticipation of your visit to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

Day 9: Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. From Aguas Calientes, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to the Machu Picchu ruins.

This 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 ft (2,430 m) and is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. 

Built as a seasonal residence for the Inca family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people, and during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century. 

Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the different buildings and curious corners of the building complex. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed into its original structure, giving visitors a sense of the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel. 

After the tour, you will have time to explore the citadel on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and grab lunch (not included) in the picturesque town center.  Connect to your train to Ollantaytambo and your connecting transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 10: Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek

Rainbow Mountain

The Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is a land full of wild desert landscapes, snow-capped glaciated peaks, herds of alpaca, and pristine beauty. 

You'll get picked up very early from your Cusco hotel (about 3 am) and drive through the South Valley. The drive to the trailhead at Quesiuno is around three hours long. You'll stop en route for breakfast.

Begin hiking, following a lovely stream. Herds of alpacas and llamas are all around, and you can enjoy views of Ausangate Mountain. Pass through villages, where you'll get the chance to interact with the local residents. We will stop for a packed lunch along the way.

Back on the trail, you'll encounter more unique flora and fauna. You may see chinchillas and vicunas, which are the only non-domesticated animal belonging to the llama family in Peru. The red-hued mountains are another highlight of this portion of the hike.

After around 2.5 hours you'll finally reach your destination, the incredible Rainbow Mountains (16,466 feet/ 5,020 m.). There will be time to explore the area and to take pictures, spending about 30 minutes at the top.

Hike back down the same way you came up.

A van will be waiting to take you back to Cusco, about three hours' drive away, where you'll arrive in the early evening.

Day 11: Adiós: Fly from Cusco to Lima, Depart Peru

Adios Peru!

Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Cusco Airport, where you will catch your flight back to Lima and then transfer to your international departure.

¡Buen viaje!

 

More Peru Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Peru? Check out these other 11-day Peru itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.

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

Map

Map of Peru's Coast & Andes Highlights: Lima, Paracas, Cusco, Machu Pacchu - 11 Days
Map of Peru's Coast & Andes Highlights: Lima, Paracas, Cusco, Machu Pacchu - 11 Days