This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you book through my links, at no extra cost to you.
Are you planning a trip to Peru and need help building the perfect 7 day Peru itinerary? You’ve come to the right place! I spent 7 days in Peru and it was absolutely incredible. I did a ton of research before my trip to plan out the best Peru Itinerary for 7 days, and I’ll give you our exact itinerary in this blog post so you can use it too!
Now, Peru is a big country. You definitely can’t see all of it with just 7 days in Peru. If you’re a first-timer to Peru, I recommend sticking to Southern Peru to see Machu Picchu as well as many other epic nature spots. My itinerary is perfect for adventure-lovers and it is JAM PACKED. If you can add a few days to your trip to incorporate some rest days into your Peru itinerary, that would be ideal! Not gonna lie – this trip was epic but exhausting (but so worth it). Keep reading for my full Peru itinerary for 7 days!
7 Day Peru Itinerary: Trip Overview
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 6-7
- Cost: $$
- Currency: Sole
- Language: Spanish
- Time Zone: Central Time
7 Day Peru Itinerary Overview:
- Day 1: Ollantaytambo
- Day 2: Day Trip to Machu Picchu
- Day 3: Sacred Valley to Cusco
- Day 4: 7 Lakes of Ausangate Hike
- Day 5: Rainbow Mountain
- Day 6: Cusco to Lima
- Day 7: Huacachina Day Trip
I planned this 7-Day Peru itinerary in this exact order to give time to acclimate to the elevation. The town of Ollantaytambo is lower elevation than Cusco (8K feet vs 11K ft) and is closer to Machu Picchu, so it makes the most sense to start your trip there!
How to Get to Peru
The biggest airport in Peru is in the capital city of Lima (LIM). There are direct flights to Lima from LAX and several other US airports. For this itinerary, I recommend picking a flight that lands in the morning in Lima, and then taking a connecting 1-hour flight from there to Cusco to start your trip!
Pro Tip: I highly recommend using Taxidatum throughout your Peru trip to pre-book private transfers in advance (for instance, from the Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo, from Ollantaytamnbo to Cusco). Their website makes it super easy to request the exact type of ride you are looking for. They are super responsive – once you submit a request, you’ll receive an email from them in just a few minutes. You can also request to pay in advance if you want to use your credit card instead of cash.
Best Time to Visit Peru
The best time to visit Peru is in their dry season: May – October. I visited in late September and had perfect weather! It’s always a good idea to pack a rain jacket (even in the dry season) as it can rain on a moment’s notice.
Peru Packing List
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Travel Backpack (this is the one I have and I love it!)
- Packing Cubes
- Day Pack
- Reusable water bottle
- Portable charger
- USB charger cord (this is something I wish I packed! We found ourselves needing it quite often, in some of the car rides, on the LATAM plane ride, on the PeruHop Bus, etc)
- Rain Jacket (this is the one I have!)
- Altitude Sickness Supplements: I’m not a doctor, but I did a lot of research and ended up with these 3 supplements that I took every day:
- Hiking Boots (these are the ones I have, but make sure you try some on & pick the ones that feel the best for you!)
- Hiking Socks (these are my fave)
- Sunscreen (this is my fave, and it’s travel sized!)
- Noise Cancelling Headphones (I use these on every single flight)
- Activated Charcoal (I bring these on every international trip, in case something I eat starts to hurt my stomach)
- Hydration Powder (this one has clean ingredients! I made sure to drink one every morning while I was there)
7 Day Peru Itinerary
Day 1: Land in Cusco, Head to Ollantaytambo & Settle In
The first day of your 7 days in Peru is a big travel day. Once you land in Lima, you’ll need to then take a connecting 1.5-hour flight to Cusco. I recommend giving yourself at least a 2-hour buffer for the layover, just in case there are long lines for customs.
Once you land in Cusco, take a private transfer or taxi 2 hours to the town of Ollantaytambo. I highly recommend booking a private transfer beforehand via Taxidatum. It makes it super easy! It’s also very affordable – our two-hour ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo only cost $34 USD.
Once you arrive in Ollantaytambo, the adventure begins!
What to Do on Day 1 in Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo is a small town in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It’s very picturesque, with cobblestone streets, historical buildings, and some awesome Inca ruins right in the heart of town. I highly recommend staying here for the first two nights of your 7 days in Peru instead of Cusco. The town itself is such a good vibe, but also this way you can acclimate to the elevation (Ollantaytambo is 9K feet vs 11k ft in Cusco) AND you are closer to Machu Picchu than you would be if you were in Cusco (1.5 hours vs 3 hours away).
Get Some Food in Town
Once you get checked in, grab some food in town. I highly recommend:
- Sunshine Café: casual café for breakfast or lunch that has a balcony with a view!
- Uchucuta Cafe: has a great “American Breakfast” where they bring you out a full platter of bread with homemade jam, eggs, avocado, and fresh squeezed juice.
- Apu Veronica: One of my favorite meals I had the whole trip! I had the Pollo Saltado
Check out the Ollantaytambo Ruins
Afterwards, take a quick walk over to the Ollantaytambo Ruins, which are super impressive Inca ruins that are literally right on the outskirts of town. The ruins are comprised of many agricultural terraces, and the view from the top is amazing!
You have to buy a ticket to enter (boleta turistico). You can either buy the full boleta tursitico ($38, includes a ton of other sites), or the partial turistico ($21, includes the Sacred Valley ruins). We went with the partial ticket. Make sure you save it, as you’ll need it again for Day 3 of your 7 day Peru itinerary to get access to Moray and Pisac.
There are locals standing out front selling their services as a guide to come with you through the ruins. We opted out of this and just walked around it ourselves, however if you are really interested in the history and facts about this special spot, then hire one of the guides!
The views from up here looking down below at the town and the ruins are incredible. If you’re lucky, you might even see some wild Alpacas grazing.
Best Places to Stay in Ollantaytambo
There are quite a few great options of places to stay in Ollantaytambo! A few I recommend:
- Apu Lodge: located off a quiet side street just a few minutes walk from the heart of town. This spot has great reviews and beautiful views!
- Kamma Guest House: great reviews, conveniently-located, and awesome view from their rooftop
- Sky Lodge: if you’re looking for a unique lodging in Peru (and aren’t scared of heights!) – it would be so cool to stay here for a night or two! It’s about 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo, but they have a restaurant on site and the views (and overall experience) looks incredible. You’re literally hanging off the side of a mountain!
Day 2: Day Trip to Machu Picchu
The second day of your 7 day Peru itinerary is an exciting one – you’ll get to see Machu Picchu, which is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! I’m sure, like most people, that Machu Picchu was one of the main catalysts to inspire you to plan a trip to Peru ( I know it was for me!). Let me just tell you, it definitely lives up to the hype. Seeing it in person is just as epic as the pictures!
Booking Tickets for Machu Picchu
This is important!! You need to book your entry ticket to Machu Picchu ahead of time (I recommend at least two months ahead of time). It can sell out. Entry costs about $40-$60 depending on if you book direct through the government site (which can be a little hard to navigate) or if you want the easier experience booking through GetYourGuide (linked above). You select a ticket based not only of the date you are going, but also the one-hour time slot of when you can enter. Once you enter, you can stay as long as you like, but you HAVE to enter within the time frame of your ticket. They are strict about this. For instance, we booked a ticket for 11:00-12:00 entry, got up there at 10:55, and they made us wait 5 minutes before we could enter.
Note: On your 7 day Peru itinerary, I recommend avoiding Sunday as your Machu Picchu day. On Sundays, locals get in for free, so it can be even more crowded.
For more details on how to plan your day trip from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, check out my other blog post: How to Plan a Day Trip to Machu Picchu.
What to Do at Machu Picchu
You’ll take the train 1.5 hours from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (the town at the base of Machu Picchu), and then take a short 20-minute bus ride up to the top. Once you’re up there, you’ll see the entrance, as well as a restaurant and a little bar/cafe just outside of the entrance.
Enter Machu Picchu during the time slot you have allotted on your ticket, and get ready for some jaw-dropping views of this iconic landmark! Follow the signs for Circuit 1 & 2, which will lead you to the epic picture spot that you see all over social media. It’s even more breathtaking in person than it is in pictures!
We spent about 1.5 hours there, walking around, exploring and taking pictures. I would plan to spend around that (or more).
Afterwards, get back down to town and catch your train back to Ollantaytambo for the night!
Day 3: Ollantaytambo – Sacred Valley Tour – Cusco
On your third day of your 7-day Peru itinerary, it’s time to say goodbye to the cute town of Ollantaytambo and head to Cusco! The drive straight from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is about 2 hours, but I recommend making some stops in the Sacred Valley on the way.
The Sacred Valley is the area from Pisac (about 20 minutes from Cusco) to Machu Picchu, about 62-miles long, and is filled with Incan history and ruins. Ollantaytambo is part of the Sacred Valley.
You can, once again, book your private driver ahead of time via Taxidatum. Book your ride from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, but in the customize box, include a note that you want to stop at Moray, Maras Salt Mines, and Pisac on the way there. Ours ended up being around $60.
First Stop: Moray
The first stop on your way from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is Moray. It’s about 1 hour from Ollantaytambo. Moray is a spot with some interesting Inca ruins that almost look like a circular amphitheater set at the top of a hill. Your driver brings you right to the top at the parking lot/entrance where you can walk around and check it out. The most interesting thing about these ruins is that no one knows why they were created or what they were used for. There are a few theories (that it was used for farming/agriculture, an entertainment/amphitheater space, OR an alien landing!)
Second Stop: Maras Salt Mines
This next stop is just a 15-minute drive from Moray. The Maras Salt Mines are super cool. No one has exact info on how/when/why it was created, but apparently there’s a natural salt spring running through the area. The Incas cleverly created these different square pools and diverted the stream so that it runs into each of them. Currently, each square salt pool is owned by a different local family and they work to harvest it and turn it into salt. You can buy some of the salt here too – it’s really good!
Third Stop: Pisac (either the Pisac Market or the Pisac Ruins)
Pisac is about a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from the Maras Salt Mines.
When I was doing research for this trip, everyone said to check out Pisac Market. I added it to my Peru itinerary but honestly, I wish I would have seen the Pisac Ruins instead of going to the Pisac Market.
The Pisac Market was cool – but I didn’t think it was anything special. The vendors are selling the same things that you can get at other street vendors in Ollantaytambo and Cusco. I will say though, this was the most peaceful market I’ve ever been to. I fully expected to be overwhelmed with people trying to get us to go to their stalls and buy something, but it was the complete opposite experience! Everyone was super nice and not pushy at all.
My friend and I each bought an Alpaca sweater and a hat. But then when we got to Cusco, we saw plenty of other sweaters (and the exact same hat).
The Pisac Ruins, however, look awesome. I recommend choosing the ruins over the market (or if you have time, you could do both!)
Next Stop: Cusco!
Cusco is a 50 minute drive from Pisac. It’s an amazing city full of old colonial architecture and is known as the main launching point to several different treks, day trips, and hikes. It
Once you arrive, check in and get some food!
Best Place to Stay in Cusco:
There are plenty of great options of places to stay in the historic city of Cusco!
Best Budget Option: Viajero Kokopelli Hostel
We stayed in a private room at Viajero Kokopelli Hostel and loved it! It was super nice and clean, in a GREAT location very close to the main square (Plaza de Armas), and there is a nice bar in the hostel that has a pool table and a lounge.
Best Mid-Range Option: Antigua Casona San Blas. This hotel is in the cute hipster neighborhood of San Blas. It’s an uphill walk to get to this neighborhood, but it’s worth it! It reminds me of streets/areas I’ve walked around in Italy or Greece. Very picturesque. This hotel has great reviews and is in an awesome location.
Best Luxury Option: Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa. This hotel is actually a UNESO world heritage site! It’s a beautifully-restored antique home turned into a hotel right in the heart of the city.
Best Restaurants in Cusco
There are a ton of good restaurants in Cusco, but here are a few of our favorites that we tried!
- Organika: Organic farm-to-table restaurant. They had amazing Osso Bucco, homemade pasta, and sourdough pizza
- Morena Peruvian Kitchen: This is one of the best Peruvian restaurants in Cusco. It’s a nice slightly-upscale restaurant, and you’ll likely need a reservation. We walked up around 8pm on a Tuesday and had to wait about 30 minutes to get a table.
- La Bodega 138: If you need a break from Peruvian food and are craving some pizza or pasta, this is a good spot
- Qura: Great breakfast or lunch spot with smoothies, avocado toast, and other health options!
Go to bed early if you can, tomorrow is a big day!
Day 4: Hike the 7 Lakes of Ausangate (Day Trip from Cusco)
The 7 Lakes of Ausangate hike was the highlight of our trip! The hike starts in a small remote village and weaves through the mountains, ending at 7 different alpine lakes. It’s absolutely incredible and I highly recommend including it on your 7 day Peru itinerary.
We did this hike with Salkantay Trekking, and the experience was great. It’s a group tour, but we ended up being the only two on it! This is a lesser-known day trip so it’s a great way to beat the crowds and be immersed in a peaceful mountain setting. We basically had the place to ourselves all day. The tour costs $100 per person, and is SO worth it.
PRO TIP: to help with the elevation, I recommend taking the following supplements leading up to your trip and during your trip (I’m not a doctor, but did a lot of research before my trip and this is what helped me):
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
What to Expect on the 7 Lakes of Ausangate Day Trip
Your guide will pick you up in a sprinter-type van around 4:30am and drive you 3 hours to Pacchanta, a tiny remote village at the base of these Andes Mountains. The town is super scenic, with snowcapped mountains in the background and natural hot springs that you can soak in after the hike. You’ll have breakfast in town (included in the price) before starting your hike!
The hike is about 6 miles round trip. It starts out pretty flat, but then has a steady incline. It normally wouldn’t be too hard of a hike, except for the fact that you’re at elevation! The hike starts out at 13.8K feet and goes up to about 15.6K feet.
Our guide, Fredy, was super helpful the whole time. He constantly checked in with us to make sure we were feeling ok with the elevation, and gave us Coca Leaves to chew on. Coca Leaves are a natural Peruvian remedy that helps with altitude sickness. It’s the same plant that cocaine is made from, but without the active properties of cocaine. You roll up some leaves, stick them in the side of your mouth, and chew on them for awhile.
You’ll see wild Alpacas on this hike, along with some cute dogs (that will hike with you sometimes), flowing streams, snowcapped mountains, and 7 awesome and unique alpine lakes. It’s truly amazing. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here!
After you finish the hike, you eat lunch in town (the best quinoa soup!!) and then have the opportunity to soak in the natural hot spring pools (so make sure you pack a swimsuit!). It costs 10 soles (about $2.50 USD) per person. It was a great way to cap off the day!
Then you’ll make your 3-hour van ride back to Cusco. Yes, it’s a lot of car time, but don’t let that deter you. It’s very much worth it!
Day 5: Rainbow Mountain (Day Trip from Cusco)
Ok, I will admit – this is an aggressive stretch of the 7 day Peru itinerary with two back-to-back day trips with 4am wake-ups… but if you can handle it, it was worth it! You can’t come all the way to Peru and not see Rainbow Mountain, right??
Which Rainbow Mountain Tour Should I Book?
I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic picture of Rainbow Mountain on Instagram before. It’s definitely a popular day trip (read: crowded) from Cusco. Rainbow Mountain is actually the second-most visited landmark in Peru, after Machu Picchu. If you want to experience Rainbow Mountain the right way by beating the crowds, you need to book a private tour instead of one of the group tours.
We picked this private tour from Airbnb Experiences with Coco. It was incredible and I’m SO glad we did it this way! He picked us up at 4am and we drove straight to Rainbow Mountain (about a 2-ish hour drive) and had blankets and pillows for us in the back seat so we could sleep. Since he is in a personal mini-van type of car, he was able to drive a bit faster than the big group tour busses heading to the same place. We passed about 20 tour busses on the way up. When we got to the parking lot, we were the FIRST ONES THERE! Incredible.
What to Expect on the Rainbow Mountain Hike
There are three bathrooms here – one in the parking lot, and two more along the trail. It costs 3 soles per person to use the bathroom, so make sure you bring some cash.
The hike itself is fairly short but what makes it a bit challenging is the elevation. At the top, it’s 5,036 M (16,522 feet), which is HIGH! For reference, this is about 2,000 feet higher than Mt Whitney, which is the highest peak in the United States. I do not recommend doing this hike if you have not acclimated to the elevation yet. But if you are following my same itinerary, at this point in the trip you should be fine! Especially since you will have done the 7 Lakes of Ausangate hike the day prior.
If you aren’t feeling up for the hike, you have the option to pay to ride a horse up 90% of the way (you still have to hike the last 10%) for about 60 Soles.
Once you’re at the top, the views are incredible and colorful. There are alpacas at the top and you can pay a donation to have them in your picture with you. Keep hiking up the last bit to get an even higher view of Rainbow Mountain (worth it). There are several different viewpoints (and photo-ops) here!
Coco was such an amazing and friendly guide. He had Coca Leaves for us and told us some interesting facts about the area. After the hike, he brings you to a beautiful breakfast/lunch spot out of someone’s house, about halfway back to Cusco. It was such a peaceful setting!
If you do this private day trip, you can expect to get back to Cusco by about 1 or 2 pm, so you’ll have some time to explore around the city.
Get a Massage in Cusco
One of the best ways to unwind after two back-to-back hiking days is to get a massage! You will find a lot of people in Plaza de Armas advertising their massages for about 20 soles. We opted to read some reviews online first and went with “Best Massage Cusco”, which is off a side street near the main square. It was amazing! We both got the “Inka Massage” which was about $45 for one hour. It’s basically a mix of a deep-tissue + shiatsu + hot stone massage, and a foot bath. It was so relaxing and just what we needed!
Explore the San Blas Neighborhood
One of the best things to do in Cusco is to explore the cute little vibey, picturesque, hipster neighborhood of San Blas. If you walk past the square and up the hill, you’ll get there! Walking up the hills of this neighborhood will leave you out of breath, but it’s worth it.
San Blas Viewpoint
First stop should be the San Blas viewpoint for a great view of the city of Cusco down below!
San Blas Rooftop Bar
There are quite a few rooftop bars and restaurants in San Blas with an amazing view looking down into Cusco. We went to ViewHouse and had a beer, and the views were amazing! I’ve heard that this bar brings a young, lively crowd at night, but we were there too early to experience any of that. Another popular option is Limbus Restobar.
Afterwards, get some dinner and drinks in Cusco!
Day 6: Cusco to Lima
We’re nearing the end of your 7 day Peru itinerary! The next and final stop is Lima. We opted for a 1pm flight to have some time to walk around Cusco in the morning and get some breakfast before saying goodbye to this picturesque, historic city. The airport is only a 20-minute drive from the heart of town. The reception at our hostel called a taxi for us, and it cost 12 Soles.
Best Place to Stay in Lima
There are two main neighborhood options that visitors choose from in Lima: Miraflores or Barranco. Miraflores is more city-like, with high rises along the coast. Barranco has more of a hipster, artsy-feel to it. They are only about 10-15 minutes apart from each other, so no matter which one you choose – you could still explore both areas.
We chose to stay in Barranco, and I’m so glad we did! I loved the vibe there.
Best Places to Stay in Barranco, Lima
- Budget: Viajero Kokopelli Barranco Hostel
- We stayed at Viajero Kokopelli Barranco hostel, and loved it. It’s set in the most amazing historic building and is walking distance to several awesome restaurants (and bars).
- Mid-Tier: Villa Barranco looks beautiful, great location, and amazing reviews!
If you’re staying in Barranco, after you check in to your hotel, spend some time walking around and exploring! Check out the famous Bridge of Sighs in the heart of the Barranco neighborhood. Legend has it – if you hold your breath while walking across this wooden bridge – all your wishes will come true. Follow the path under the bridge to the ocean/beach overlook for some coastal scenery!
Dinner in Lima
Lima is known for their food scene. In fact, the #1 ranked best restaurant in the world is in Lima! There are several ranked or Michelin Star restaurants to choose from.
If you want to go to the #1 restaurant in the world (Central), you’ll need to book at least 2-3 months in advance. It’s a prix fixe 12-course meal and is a high price point.
We opted for Isolina for dinner, which was amazing. It’s ranked #12 best restaurant in Latin America! They serve elevated Peruvian comfort in a cool colonial-style building. And to top it all off, it’s located in Barranco just a quick walk from where we were staying.
Some other restaurant options that I researched (but didn’t have time to go to) are:
Day 7: Paracas and Huacachina (day trip from Lima)
Your 7 day Peru itinerary is coming to a close with this epic day trip! Huacacina is an amazing, tiny town with a lake in the middle of desert sand dunes. It feels like a literal oasis! The surrounding sand dunes are incredible, and make for an exciting day of sandboarding, ATV’ing, and soaking in some sunset sand dune views. Here’s the deets:
Which Huacachina Day Trip to Choose From
I don’t recommend going to Huacachina on your own, as that would involve renting a car and driving 4.5 hours. Taking a day trip tour makes it super easy. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the day!
There are a few tour companies to choose from. This is the exact tour we went on through Peru Hop and it was great! I highly recommend doing this group tour with them. It costs $139/person for this full-day experience.
They pick you up around 6am with a big coach bus. The seats are comfortable, and they have a USB charging port if you need to charge your phone.
What to Expect at the Stop in Paracas
The tour makes a stop on the way to Huacacina to spend a few hours in the beach town of Paracas, which is a 3-hour drive from Lima. Once you get off the bus in Paracas, the tour then takes you on a boat ride around the Ballestas Islands, which are a group of small islands off the coast. I’ve heard these islands nicknamed as “the poor man’s Galapagos Islands”. They’re known for being home to over 1,500 species of birds, as well as a ton of sea lions. If you’re excited about marine wildlife, then this 2-hour boat tour (which is included in the price of your Huacachina day trip) will be great!
If you would rather skip the boat tour, I recommend heading over to the luxury Hotel Paracas instead! You can pay $55 for a day pass and lay by the pool overlooking the ocean. The day pass also includes a non-alcoholic drink + a snack. This is what we did, and it was amazing! Such a relaxing little 2-hour break for the last day of our 7 day Peru itinerary.
You’ll then meet back up with the rest of your group around 12:30 for lunch in town before boarding the bus and heading an hour to Huacachina.
What to Expect at Huacachina
Once you arrive at Huacachina, you have about an hour or so of free time. Walk around the lake at the center of town and soak in the views of this unique desert oasis! Or, grab a snack or a beer at one of the many restaurants overlooking the lake.
Next up is the exciting part – the ATV ride + sandboarding on the huge dunes!
Should I Rent a Sandboard?
The “sandboard” included in the price of the tour is actually a sled. It does look super fun to just sled down the dunes, but if you ski or snowboard back home and want to try it out here on the sand, you’ll need to rent a board or skis in town. This is what we did! There are several places to rent from. It only costs about $12 USD for the 2 hours.
Exploring the Dunes of Huacachina
The ATV/dune buggy ride along the sand dunes is absolutely incredible, and thrilling! It feels like a rollercoaster at times, with your driver going up and down STEEP sand dunes. Note that you aren’t able to drive your own ATV, which I learned is a rule across the whole town there (and after riding in the ATV I can see why!).
You’ll make 4 stops on the ATV sand dune tour. The first stop is a lookout point. The second stop is where everyone can sled, ski, or snowboard down 3 different sand dunes (going from small, medium, to large & steep!). The third stop is for sunset, where you can watch the sun drop down below the dunes (so magical!). And the final stop is to see the iconic viewpoint of the town of Huacachina from above on top of the sand dunes.
The experience is absolutely incredible!
Afterwards, you’ve got about a 4.5 hour ride back to Lima. They make it very comfortable, though! They play a movie, (they played Mrs. Doubtfire on ours), turn the lights off, and pass out popcorn. You’ll be back in Lima before you know it!
Departure Day of Your 7 Day Peru Itinerary
The next day, wake up and head to the Lima airport! Note that Lima is known for having bad traffic. It took us about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the airport from the Barranco district. Give yourself enough time to get through the security and international check points!