Prized by the Incas for its beautiful landscapes and quiet atmosphere, the Sacred Valley is the perfect place to get away from it all. On this 9-day wellness escape, you'll relax in spas, soak in thermal waters, and hike on scenic mountain trails, including in the picturesque "rainbow mountains." The itinerary also features an excursion to Machu Picchu, a tour of the ruins at Ollantaytambo, and a full day of sightseeing in Cusco. Enjoy a mix of active adventures and relaxing activities on this well-balanced journey through one of Peru's loveliest regions.

Highlights

  • Enjoy the peace and quiet of the Sacred Valley
  • Soak in thermal waters and get a massage at a spa
  • Ride a glass-domed train through the forest 
  • Explore Machu Picchu with a knowledgeable guide
  • Hike in the picturesque "rainbow mountains"
  • Spend a full day sightseeing in Cusco

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented Lima
Day 2 Travel to Cusco & Transfer to the Sacred Valley Sacred Valley
Day 3 Enjoy a Scenic Train Ride to Aguas Calientes Aguas Calientes
Day 4 Visit Machu Picchu Sacred Valley
Day 5 Hike & Relax on a Spa Day Sacred Valley
Day 6 Tour Ollantaytambo & Pisac  Cusco
Day 7 Hike in the Rainbow Mountains Cusco
Day 8 Get to Know Cusco Cusco
Day 9 Depart Peru - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented

High cliffs over the ocean in Miraflores, Lima

Welcome to Lima, Peru! The country's largest city is home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous settlement, conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian — especially Chinese and Japanese — influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean makes it a perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of many award-winning restaurants. Or take in views over the ocean in the clifftop neighborhood of Miraflores

Day 2: Travel to Cusco & Transfer to the Sacred Valley

Relaxing in a spa in the Sacred Valley
Head back to Lima's airport this morning for your flight to Cusco. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries. Remember: you will be 11,000 feet (3,000 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 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.
 
Next, transfer to the Sacred Valley, known for its beautiful landscapes and fresh air. You'll check in at a spa and soak in the warm waters of a circuit of thermal pools. You can get a massage here, too, if you like. Then head to your hotel in the Sacred Valley to relax for the rest of the evening.

Day 3: Enjoy a Scenic Train Ride to Aguas Calientes

The train station in Aguas Calientes

Sleep in this morning and enjoy a quiet walk after breakfast, appreciating the natural splendor of the Sacred Valley. Then you'll transfer to the train station in Ollantaytambo. From here, you'll board the train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. The ride is a sensory experience, especially if you're traveling in a glass-domed train that provides ample views of the surrounding forest. You'll arrive in Aguas Calientes in time for dinner. Then check into your hotel and get some rest before making an early start on day four.

Day 4: Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in the early morning
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From Aguas Calientes, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. The 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) 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 a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built as a seasonal residence for the emperor's family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people; 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 Machu Picchu on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and have a late lunch or drinks in the picturesque town center. Then ride the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Day 5: Hike & Relax on a Spa Day

Looking down into the Urubamba River Valley
Today, you'll relax! Go for a walk or hike around the hotel, taking in the region's spectacular scenery, wandering llamas, colorful fruit trees, and mountain vistas. After a leisurely lunch, you'll spend the afternoon at a spa. Warm up in the sauna before soaking in a Turkish bath with medicinal herbs. A range of treatments and services are available, depending on your needs and interests.

Day 6: Tour Pisac & Ollantaytambo 

Ruins of Pisac
Terraces in the Sacred Valley
This morning you will depart from your hotel and travel to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. In this area, you'll explore ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. Next, go 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.

Next, you'll stop for lunch, enjoying traditional Andean cuisine at a restaurant in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River. Then head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained their 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. In the late afternoon, you'll head to Cusco and check into your hotel.

Day 7: Hike in the Rainbow Mountains

Hiking in the colorful rainbow mountains

The Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain is only about 12.5 miles (20 km) from its famous sister Vinicunca. While Vinicunca attracts thousands of visitors, its smaller sister Palcoyo (16,000 feet / 4,900m) has smaller crowds and just as much beauty. This mini trek is perfect for travelers who want to view the colorful rainbow mountains on a relatively short and gentle trek; it's a great option for those traveling with kids.

Start the morning with an early pick-up at your hotel, stopping for breakfast along the way. Your drive this morning will be along the Red River, with plenty of opportunities for photos and stops. The drive will take roughly 3.5 hours, after which you'll arrive at the starting point of the short hike. From here, the hike is approximately an hour via a short, relatively flat path. Along the way, you'll see llamas, sheep, vicuñas, and alpacas. The summit lies about 16,404 feet (5,000 m) above sea level. Once you reach the top, you'll have time to enjoy the panorama and take pictures. At this point, it is time to hike downhill. Once you reach the bottom, start the 3.5-hour drive back to Cusco.

Day 8: Get to Know Cusco

Inca ruins at Sacsayhuamán
Inca ruins at Sacsayhuamán
Today you'll tour Cusco and its surrounding area, starting with Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo, archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals. Although the site of Sacsayhuamán was religious, the Spanish considered it a military fortress because of its location and the way it was built. From here, walk through San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community. Continue to the Plaza de Armas, where you will be able to explore the Cathedral and admire its exquisite interiors and priceless paintings. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
 
Just a few blocks away, you will explore one of Cusco’s most impressive buildings, Qoricancha ("The Temple of the Sun"), with interior walls once covered in gold. The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438-1572), and after the arrival of the Spaniards, it became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent. Your guide will point out smaller temples dedicated to the moon, rainbow, stars, lightning, and thunder, among others. From Qoricancha, you will head to the local San Pedro Market. The locals shop at this market every day to stock up on produce and groceries. Do as the Peruvians do and sample a fresh fruit smoothie from one of the market's many food vendors. In the evening, stroll through the beautifully illuminated center of Cusco and enjoy one last Peruvian dinner before the trip ends.

Day 9: Depart Peru - End of Trip

Cusco's Plaza de Armas after dark

Today the trip comes to an end. You'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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