Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It has it all – mountains, beaches, deserts, jungles and many more. Who hasn’t heard about the home of one of the seven wonders of the world – Machu Picchu? But, trust us, Machu Picchu isn’t the only reason to visit this sacred country. So, if you want to mark “check” in your bucket list, keep reading this post and you will find out what to do in Peru for two weeks.
What to Know Before You Go?
No doubt that before thinking about what to do in Peru, you should be familiar with the transportation system in the country. Although Peru is still in its development process, the transportation system is quite good. Sometimes it can take you even 24 hours by bus to get from one point to another, but the bus will be very comfortable and you will feel like a really welcomed guest. In two weeks we used nine different vehicles – airplane, bus, minibus, car, train, ATV, tuk-tuk, boat, and donkey. Donkey story is a great one over a glass of wine, trust us!
To get from one city to another by bus, you should look up for Cruz del Sur. The company offers many different routes connecting various cities and the prices are very reasonable. For example, to get from Lima to Ica it costs around 14$ (12EUR) and takes about 5 hours. But don’t worry, as mentioned above, the bus is very comfy and it even has Internet! And they have snacks too!
The word you should remember when going to Peru is colectivo, which is a shared taxi, usually minibus, that runs along a set route. Colectivos typically leave when they are full or almost full, so, prepare yourself for extra time to wait for the others. Prices are very different depending on the route’s length, but usually are very cheap.
In bigger cities, like Lima or Cusco, a regular taxi is a good choice. Especially, in Lima, when getting from the airport, we recommend using a taxi for safety and comfort reasons. No worries, we will talk about safety more a bit later!
Peru Rail is another mean of transportation you should check and consider on your trip. It is one of the fastest ways to get to Machu Picchu. Even though it is kind of touristy and pricey, we used it to save some time and spend more of it exploring Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo.
If you don’t want to spend long hours on buses, you can take a domestic flight. To save some time and have an extra day in Cusco, we flew from Cusco back to Lima to catch our flight back to Europe.
As many countries in Latin America Peru can be considered a dangerous place. Guys, let us tell you something. Each and every country can be dangerous if you want it to be. When going anywhere just make some research about the current situation in the country and everything should turn out fine and safe. Of course, in a country like Peru, the fact that you are a tourist can be easily noticed, so, don’t walk around with all your money in the pocket, leave your best Rolex at home, don’t scream any offensive things on the streets, don’t brag about your newest iPhone, iPad, GoPro or other gear, and just think twice before going in a suspicious street or making friends with some suspicious guys who say that they have the best Pisco in town.
The currency in Peru is the nuevo sol (symbol: S/., currency code PEN). One nuevo sol is subdivided into 100 céntimos and banknotes come in a value of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200. Currency rate is 1PEN = 0.30USD (1PEN = 0.26EUR).
What to Do in Peru – 2 Week Itinerary
Lima – 2 Days
Lima, as a capital of Peru, offers many breath-taking views, historical sites, colorful culture and delicious cuisine. You can’t imagine making your what to do in Peru plan without spending at least one day in Lima. We spent there two days and it was not enough. However, we believe that other cities than capital city let you know the country even better.
Most probably you will have an accommodation in Miraflores district as it is considered as the safest district in Lima. When checking in your hotel or Airbnb, go for a walk around the parks and to the ocean side. The view of the Pacific Ocean is amazing, the first impression of Lima will be at it’s finest, trust us. If you have time and money, do not hesitate to try paragliding. It costs you about 260 Soles which is around 70$ (60EUR) and provides one of the best views of the city and the ocean.
Historical Center of Lima
This part of the city definitely deserves a visit even if you have only one day in Lima. There are many interesting and historical buildings such as the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco, Cathedral Basilica of Lima, Government Palace and many more. And, of course, you can’t miss the main square of Lima – Plaza de Armas – which is also the birthplace of the city.
Ica, Huacachina – 1 Day
Ica itself will not surprise you but you need to go there to visit Huacachina – an unexpected oasis in the desert. Its watery pool in shades of green and blue is circled by palm trees and looks absolutely stunning. The perfect visit would include a little walk around the oasis, delicious lunch with some Pisco Sour and later buggy tour and sandboarding right before the sunset, so, at the end of the tour, you will have this gorgeous sunset in the desert with a view on the oasis.
Believe us, many travelers would say that this is the highlight when someone asks them “What to do in Peru?” The tour costs S/.80 (25$, 22EUR) and includes both buggy ride and sandboarding. In our opinion, it is enough to arrive in Ica in the morning, take a taxi to Huacachina, spend there the whole day and in the evening return to Ica, have some dinner and have a night-ride to another city.
Arequipa – 2 Days
Historical sights, Museum, Monastery
As every city in Peru, Arequipa has a beautiful historical center and its worth to mention Plaza de Armas. In a sunny day, it is usually full of people gathering around and enjoying the weather. Also, when walking around the city, it is worth to go to The Museo Santuarios Andinos and Monasterio de Santa Catalina. The museum’s main attraction is Juanita, a young girl who was ritually sacrificed about 500 years ago and was found in 1995. The entry fee is S./20 (6USD, 5EUR) and is totally worth it. Also, do visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. It is like a small, colorful village with narrow streets, pretty plazas, fountains, chapels, secret niches, and corners. Although, ticket costs S./40 (12USD, 6EUR) it is, again, worth the price.
San Camilo Market
A huge place selling all the goodies! The market is very authentic and vibrant. It is full of everything – fresh fruits, potatoes, beans, bread, clothes, and, of course, coca leaves and chicha. We recommend going there to grab some lunch or just walk around and see the beauty. Though, we bet that you will buy at least an ice-cream.
Mundo Alpaca – Alpaca World
If you are an alpaca lover like we are (guilty!), this place is the perfect finding to make some new friends and spend some time in a very positive atmosphere. Mundo Alpaca offers you to get to know alpacas and llamas and their different breeds as well as their direct contribution to the rich textile culture of the country. By the way, the entry is for free! Go pet some baby alpacas, we challenge you to resist their cuteness!
Another great activity of what to do in Peru is rafting in the Chili River. There are many tour operators that offer different kinds of rafting tours. Prices vary from 25$ depending on the “tour package”. When walking around the city, you can see many options, most of them include pick up from the place where you are staying, driving to and from the river, rafting equipment, and additionally photos, videos, and snacks. It is a great adventure and super, super fun!
Colca Canyon – 2 Days
Hiking the Colca Canyon definitely must be on your what to do in Peru list. The canyon is 100km (62 miles) from one end to another and more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. You can take a bus to Cobanaconde and start your hike there. The bus ride takes about 5 hours as the roads are in different condition and the bus goes through some gorgeous mountain villages. You can book a tour of the canyon or can be like us – crazy, and do it on our own. Start your hike from Cobanaconde, go down to the Paradise Oasis and you can stay overnight there. However, you can continue on your way and stay in some random small villages along the way, like we did. As the canyon is full of hikers, there are plenty of guesthouses in different locations.
Cusco – 3 Days
Be aware of the altitude!
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and is located 3,399 meters above the sea level. It is recommended to stay there for a couple of days as the altitude sickness may occur. As a matter of fact, there is no cure to this sickness other than descending to a lower altitude. However, if you want to see Machu Picchu, you need to pass through Cusco. No worries, there are so many beautiful things in the city and around it, that you will feel dizzy anyway.
Walking around Cusco is like going back to the real Inca Empire period. Moreover, the splashy dressing style of the locals is something incredible! If we didn’t know we are in this historical city, we could think that we are in some movie or a play. So, just get along with the locals, enjoy Plaza de Armas, go visit Cathedral, Qurikancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo, and just walk around those narrow and sometimes steep streets. When you are ready to be truly amazed, go for a little hike up to Christo Blanco and enjoy the stunning views of the city from the top. It is breathtaking! After that, (it is about 10 minutes walk), go to Sasayhuamán. It is the ancient military fortress of the Inca and is located above the city. If you are lucky, you can pet an alpaca there!
After a day of walking around the city, you could make use of some adventurous activities. We recommend taking an ATV tour and seeing some places outside of the city. There are many different tours to various sites. As we had planned a half of the day to do this, we chose to go for a 5 – 6 hours tour, including pick up from the hotel, of course, through Chichero, Maras, Salineras, and Moray. It is a great way to learn and explore the history and culture of the Incas.
When doing research about what to do in Peru, going to explore the Sacred Valley is another must. At this time you will need the knowledge about colectivos. One way to get to Pisac is by colectivo that departs from Puputi street in Cusco. Of course, you can take a regular bus, but taking a colectivo will be more fun, trust us. So, just go to the location and look around on which minibus is a sign “Pisac” or which driver shouts “Pisac, Pisac”, because not all the minibusses will have the signs. The ride costs about S./4 (1.2$, 1EUR) and takes about an hour. The ride has amazing views but be prepared for some narrow roads with steep slopes. In Pisac go explore the town, the market and Inca ruins which are located above the Pisac.
Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – 3 Days
The moment you were waiting for while reading all this lengthy “What to Do in Peru” post – the Machu Picchu part! There are several options for getting to Aguas Calientes, a town below the famous Inca ruins. We chose the fastest one, and yet the pricey one, and went to Machu Picchu Pueblo by train from Ollantaytambo. Aguas Calientes is like a different world in the middle of nowhere. It is full of tourists from all around the world, hotels, cafes, restaurants, and bars. Basically, that’s it!
We recommend you to hike Machu Picchu on the next day after arriving. This way, you can get up early in the morning and be one of the first ones who enter the Lost city of Machu Picchu. You can get up by bus or hike up like we did. The bus costs S./80 (24$, 20EUR) and it is more for seniors or families because the hike isn’t that hard, you just need to climb a gazillion stairs. Trust us, it is worth it! The views, oh the views – just gorgeous!
Finally, you have reached the wonder of the world – Machu Picchu. Ticket prices vary depending on the things it includes, you can find all the information here. Get ready for the tourist crowds, amazing views, and walking and hiking a lot. On the day of visiting Machu Picchu, we walked for 40km and climb up 340 floors. Better start looking for your best hiking shoes!
Ollantaytambo – 1 Day
Many travelers just go through Ollantaytambo when changing the colectivo to train or similar. However, this little mysterious town deserves more than that. It is surrounded by mountains and the views are stunning. Ollantaytambo makes you feel so little comparing to the majestic Andes. This is a perfect last stop after the Machu Picchu and before going to Lima and back to home country. Take a walk around this small town and be amazed by the view and people, if you still have the strength to climb, explore the ruins of Ollantaytambo. Or just take a coffee or Pisco Sour in one of the beautiful cafes in Plaza de Armas and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Where to Stay in Peru?
Del Pilar Miraflores Hotel – The location is very good and the hotel itself has spacious rooms, a good breakfast offer, which is included, clean bathrooms and very friendly staff who speaks English. The view from the top rooms also speaks for itself – amazing!
Ibis Larco Miraflores – Very budget friendly price for quite good performance, as standard Ibis hotel. Rooms are on the small side but for the price, it is more than ok. The location is just perfect, there are many restaurants around. Another great thing about this hotel is the Internet, it is very fast and you can do the work easily.
Casona Plaza Hotel – To get a 4-star hotel for the price is something incredible! The staff is amazingly nice, will help you solve any problem and answer any question. The price also includes breakfast which is very delicious. And the location is perfect, a few blocks away from Plaza de Armas.
Queen’s Villa Hotel Boutique – Very nice option a bit away from the center. Everything is very clean, the beds are very comfy and the staff is friendly and kind. The best thing is to enjoy hot served breakfast by the pool, it just starts your day with great feeling.
Los Andes Bed & Breakfast – For the price like this, you could expect to stay in the box but this is not the case. The location is great, rooms are clean, simple and comfy, the staff is friendly, and the breakfast is very good. This option is perfect for backpackers as they even allow you to leave the bags while going to hike the Colca Canyon.
Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel – The best thing about this hotel is definitely the staff! It feels like they become your friends instantly. You can have proper rest after a day full of exploring the city, as they offer you for a little extra fee the indoor pool and the gym. The breakfast is just outstanding and the rooms are extremely clean and elegant.
Kokopelli Hostel – One of the best hostels we ever been to! It is very cute and well designed to the smallest detail. Rooms and bathrooms are clean, the staff is very friendly and the location is great. They even offer you to pack the breakfast if you need to leave earlier than it starts, how nice is that? A superb choice for backpackers!
Hotel Rumi Punku – Very nice choice for the price! Rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable. After many days on the road, it feels great to sit on a balcony and sip some wine. The price also includes the breakfast which is very tasty. The location is also very central and every must-see place is walkable.
Seven Mapi Hotel – Great choice for the price. Staff is very polite, professional and friendly. They can meet you even at the train station and help with the bags. The location is close to the train station and the main market, also cheap cafes and bars are around it. Although the rooms are pretty small, it is very understandable as Aguas Calientes is a very small village. Breakfast is also included and very delicious.
Panorama B&B – If we need to say one thing about this hotel, it is the view from the balcony! It is absolutely stunning! Rooms are comfortable and the bathroom is very clean. Also, the breakfast, which is included, is very good. The staff is very friendly and helpful, they will provide you with all the necessary information about the Machu Picchu visit.
Such an amazing country like Peru must be on your travel list! It offers so many possibilities for making your trip unforgettable. There is no doubt that one shouldn’t think for a long time what to do in Peru because the country just speaks for itself – it really has it all! Moreover, the prices over the country are very friendly so you won’t spend a fortune even if you travel around for several weeks. So, pack your bags and go see one of the wonders of the world – Machu Picchu!