Let me start this post off by saying if you can spend more than 10 days in Peru, by all means, do it! There is SO much to do and see in this amazing country. However, if you’re on a time constraint like I was, this itinerary will help you plan your Peru adventure and see as much as you possibly can in your 10 days! (I’ll also share some suggestions if you’re on an even tighter time constraint.)
How to Spend 10 Days in Peru – The Ultimate Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Cusco and get acclimated
Cusco is 3,399 meters (or 11,152 feet) above sea level. Chances are when you first arrive, you’re not going to feel the greatest. Be sure to drink lots of water and coca tea, move slowly and avoid alcohol.
We leisurely walked through Plaza de Armas this first day, found some food and went to bed early. It was incredible how much the altitude got to me! However, my husband was totally fine.
Day 2 – Hike Rainbow Mountain
Hands down, hiking Rainbow Mountain was my favorite part of our trip. I can’t recommend this enough! It’s not a particularly strenuous hike. However, the altitude will once again be a factor. Click here to read my tips for this hike.
Day 3 – See the Sacred Valley and hop on the train to Aguas Calientes
Aquas Calientes is the closest city to Machu Picchu. The best way to get there is by train. So, what we did was tour various ruins in the Sacred Valley on our way to the train station in Ollantaytambo. We visited Pisac, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo before boarding our 4:30 train. Click here for more information on this day.
Day 4 – Machu Picchu
Today, you’ll want to wake up bright and early and get in line for the bus to Machu Picchu as early as possible! (You can also order your tickets ahead of time.) Click here for all my tips for visiting Machu Picchu.
(After your visit, you will get back on the train to Ollantaytambo, from here you can take a bus or hire a service to get back to Cusco.)
Day 5* – Visit Moray, Salt Mines and Chinchero
These were perhaps my favorite ruins to visit in the Sacred Valley. The Salt Mines were especially cool to see! Click here for info on this day.
*If you decide to skip the next portion of this trip, I would recommend moving this day to day 3 of your itinerary. It’s a less strenuous day after hiking Rainbow Mountain, and then you won’t have to go back and forth to Cusco as frequently.
Day 6* – Scenic bus ride to Puno
The reason you would want to go to Puno is to see the Islas Flotantes de los Uros (a.k.a. the Floating Islands). Now, I did not particularly care for this portion of the trip. If I were to do it over, I would skip Puno and the Floating Islands altogether. However, most folks absolutely loved the Floating Islands and have told me it was the highlight of their trip, so, I’ll let you decide for yourselves! Click here to read about this bus ride from Cusco to Puno.
*If you are on a tight schedule, skipping this portion could save you 3 days. And if I were to do this over, I would consider visiting the Amazon (and staying at Treehouse Lodge or Sinchicuy Lodge) for these 3 days instead. But again, to each their own!
Day 7 – Floating Islands & Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca
Again, I was not terribly impressed with either of these places. But this is just my opinion! This could be because we were on a large tour for this day as well. In retrospect, perhaps doing a private tour or simply forgoing the tour and just boarding a boat in Puno to the Floating Islands and Taquile Island would have made the day more enjoyable.
Day 8 – Express bus back to Cusco & free afternoon in Cusco
Catching an express bus back to Cusco is what we did to catch our flight out of Cusco the next day. However, you could also get a flight from the Juliaca airport (an hour away from Puno) to Lima. Or there is a bus from Puno to Lima, if you don’t want to go back to Cusco.
Day 9 – Check out San Pedro Market!
At some point during your Peru trip, you have to make a point to experience San Pedro Market in Cusco. It is HUGE, and there are so many crazy things to see and try here. We had to catch a flight, so we didn’t spend more than a couple hours here. However, you could seriously make a day of San Pedro Market.
If you’re not going back to Cusco, though, I would suggest squeaking San Pedro Market in after you visit Moray, the Salt Mines and Chinchero. None of these places take terribly long to visit, and you could get a few hours in at the market before it closes.
Click here for more info on San Pedro Market.
Day 10 – Lima
There was a point in our trip planning where we had considered not visiting Lima at all. Boy, would that have been a mistake! Lima is a beautiful city with absolutely incredible food. Give Lima at least a day out of your trip – you won’t regret it. (I spent the day eating as much food and trying as many beverages as I could, haha. Click here for more info on how I spent my one day in Lima.)
Don’t forget to get travel insurance before you go! (This is very important!) You can get a free quote from travel insurance companies such as RoamRight to find the best plan for you and your adventure.
Update: Hotels – Where We Stayed
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about where we stayed on this trip! We used Marriott and Sonesta Inn points for this trip. So, in Cusco we stayed at the JW Marriott. (LOVED it!) My friends had stayed at the LLipimpac Guesthouse and had nothing but great things to say (especially for the price). In Puno we stayed at the Sonesta Posadas del Inca Puno (was undergoing renovation at the time, but was still a fantastic hotel!), and in Lima we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Miraflores (fabulous location and hotel)!
Update: Intrepid & Contiki Group Travel Addition
And if this all sounds like a lot of work and stress – you can also book a group tour with a very similar itinerary via Intrepid Travel. Click here to see it. And click here to see all of their Peru trips.
Another option is to check out Contiki’s group Peru tours. Click here to see their Peru trips. (However, they are only available to travelers between the ages of 18-35.)
I hope this helps you narrow down your Peru travel plans! And if you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comment section below!
*To see all of my Peru travel posts, click here.
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