A month in Peru: the perfect itinerary

A month in Peru: the perfect itinerary

Do you want to travel for a month in Peru? This is the perfect itinerary, including great hiking trails, colorful cities, and a lot of ancient Inca ruins.

Day 1-3: Lima

lima - plaza mayor

A lot of the people who travel to Peru skip Lima, but it’s absolutely worth it to stay a couple of days. Lima is probably the city you arrive when you fly to Peru, so you might as well stay for a while. These are the most fun things to do in Lima:
– Free walking tour in the historical city center
– Enjoy the views and the parks at the boulevard in Miraflores
– See some street art in colorful Barranco

€ Hostel tip: KACCLA, The Healing Dog Hostel
€€ Hotel tip: Best Western Plus Urban Larco Hotel

Day 4-8: Explore the Andes near Huaraz

Huaraz 2 - 4500 meter Paramount trek

If you don’t like running into hordes of tourists, I would highly recommend visiting the town of Huaraz after your stay in Lima. It’s not as touristy as the southern part of Peru and you will really see how the locals live. Huaraz is at an altitude of 3000 meters, so take it slow the first day you arrive. You really need to get used to the altitude to avoid altitude sickness. Around the town, you will see snow-capped high peaks of the Cordillera Blanca and the town is a great spot for going on hikes in the Andes. There are many beautiful places for hiking, so ask around in your hostel or hotel for the best hikes. A couple of nice (and popular) hikes:
half-day hike to Laguna Wicacocha
– Paramount trek at Laguna Páron (only organized by Akilpo)
– Santa Cruz trek (4 days)

€ hostel tip: Akilpo
€€ hotel tip: San Sebastian Hotel Boutique

Day 9: Go biking in the desert near Paracas

Paracas - zonneschijn

After being in the mountains for some time, it’s nice to go back to sea level. Next stop: Paracas. It’s a quiet and sleepy village with a lot of boats and even more birds. From the harbor in Paracas, there are daily departures for tours to the Islas Ballestas (also known as the poor man’s Galapagos). You are not allowed to visit the island, only to sail around them. You will see penguins, pelicans and sea lions, and a lot of stinky bird poo. Another place to explore from Paracas is the Reserva Nacional the Paracas. You can take an organized bus tour (like all the other tourists), but it’s way more fun to rent a bike and explore the reserve by yourself. The route is approximately 30 kilometers and you will be completely alone most of the time. It’s an awesome bike ride in the desert, with beautiful cliffs (you might see penguins again!) and at the end, you might even see some flamingoes!

€ hostel tip: Kokopelli Hostel Paracas
€€ hotel tip: La Hacienda Bahia Paracas

Day 10: Go sandboarding in Huacachina

Huacachina - buggytour

Do you feel like relaxing for a bit? Then it’s time to visit Huacachina, an oasis-like spot in the desert. It’s almost always warm and sunny and pretty much every hostel or hotel has a pool. There are some huge sand dunes surrounding Huacachina, great for climbing (awesome views!), take a buggy tour or slide down using a sandboard.

€ hostel tip: The Upcycled Hostel
€€ hotel tip: Hostal Curasi

Day 11-17: Arequipa and the Colca Canyon

Arequipa - viewpoint Misti
When you’re done relaxing it’s time to go back to the mountains! You can take a night bus (13 hours) to Arequipa (at 2300 meters). Arequipa is home to a beautiful historic city center and is situated between multiple volcanoes. Some of the best things to do in Arequipa:

– visit the Santa Catalina monastery. It’s in the middle of the city and it feels like you’re in a small and colorful village.
– learn something about the rituals of the Inca’s in Museo Santuarios Andinos. Here you will also see the famous Inca-mummy (or ice maiden), Juanita. Which is a little lugubrious, but also a very interesting thing to see.
– Visit the Colca Canyon with a multi-day (or if you’re in a hurry a one-day) tour. The Colca Canyon is even deeper (twice!) than the famous Grand Canyon and there’s a big chance of seeing the enormous Andes-condors flying around.

€ hostel tip: Limbo Jump Hostel
€€ hotel tip: Los Leones Hotel Boutique

Day 18-19: Explore the islands in Lake Titicaca

Titicacameer - wandelpad op het eiland

From Arequipa, it’s only a couple of hours to Puno. There’s not a lot of things to do in this town (except for souvenir shopping), but it’s the gateway to Lake Titicaca. At an altitude of 3812 meters, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and the biggest lake in South America. You can take a one-day tour, in that case, you will visit the (touristic) Uros Islands and Amantaní island or Taquile island (both are insanely beautiful). But it’s even better to take a multi-day tour, so you will sleep on one of the islands and are able to see the most beautiful sunset ever.

€ hostel tip Puno: Bonny Hostel
€€ hotel tip Puno: Tierra Viva Puno Plaza

Day 20-30: Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu - MP lamas

Save the best for last: which is Cusco! Even if you only have two weeks in Peru, Cusco should definitely be on your list for a visit. You will never have enough time to explore everything around Cusco and the Sacred Valley because there are so many things you can see and or do in this area. You can do a multi-day hike to Machu Picchu (book ahead if you want to do the famous Inca Trail, you can book all the other ones in Cusco), but there are also many ancient Inca ruins and great trails in the Sacred Valley. Cusco itself is a great and relaxing place to stay, with the historical city center, great markets (souvenirs!) and the beautiful neighborhood of San Blas.

Check out this article: Top 5 things to do in Cusco

€ hostel tip: Nao Victoria Hostel
€€ hotel tip: Hotel San Francisco Plaza

Spice it up

Do you prefer traveling fast or do you only want to take night buses? Then you’ll have some extra time to explore more destinations like:
– The Nazca Lines (only visible if you get into a tiny airplane). I skipped this one because I don’t like being in a small aircraft and other travelers told me Nazca was not a fun place to be.
– The Amazon at Puerto Maldonado. If you have another week in Cusco, this is a great trip. From Cusco, it’s only a one hour flight to Puerto Maldonado and from here you can take a multi-day tour into the Amazone. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to go here (and it’s quite expensive), so I’m saving this one for the next trip.

This is my itinerary for a month in Peru. Which places would you like to visit?

Would you like to read some more about Peru?

Check out these articles:
Travel tips Peru: everything you need to know before you go
The best hostels in Peru
Top 5 things to do in Lima, Peru

Or check out one of these amazing travel guides:

The Rough Guide to Peru

Fodor’s Essential Peru: with Machu Picchu & the Inca Trail

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As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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