Explore the wonder of Machu Picchu, climb to the top of Rainbow Mountain, and indulge in the best Peruvian cuisine in Lima! Find out how to spend one week in Peru seeing all of the amazing attractions. If you’re an adventurer at heart than this trip is perfect for you.
I have been to over 40 countries and Peru is one that will live in my heart forever. A couple summers ago, I went to Peru and had the most time. Read below for my Peru travel guide and how to experience the ultimate week there.
You Might Also Like These Posts:
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. I may get a small commission if you use them at no extra charge to you. Thanks for your support!
Table of Contents
One Week in Peru Itinerary
Peru Trip Quick Itinerary
Day 1-2: Lima to Cusco
Day 3: Sacred Valley to Agua Calientes
Day 4: Machu Picchu
Day 5: Rainbow Mountain
Day 6-7: Lima
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
I arrived late at night on my first day, so I did not have time to explore. However, my friend arrived in the early morning and spent her day wandering through Lima. There is so much to do and see in Lima! For some ideas, check out the bottom section all about Lima.
Day Two: Cusco
Cusco is a quaint city that sits near the Andes mountain range 🏔. It was once the Incan Capital and you can see the history throughout the city. One week in Peru would not be complete without a visit here. As soon as you land, you will feel the thinner air and you may feel a bit off. Cusco is located 10,000 feet above sea level.
The key to enjoying your time in Cusco is to take it easy when you first arrive! In order to avoid getting altitude sickness, you should drink lots of water or coca tea 🍵 and rest on your first day. Many people are tempted to see as much as they can, but later regret it when they get sick.
Once we landed, we went straight to our hostel to drop our bags and then walked around to explore Cusco. We stayed at the Pariwana Hostel and it was a great spot to make our home-base. They have ping pong 🏓, fun game nights, and a bar where you can socialize and meet other people.
It is located conveniently a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Cusco. You can book tours through the hostel for plenty of adventures that are available. They also let you store your stuff, which we took advantage of, because you can only bring a small backpack to Machu Picchu.
Then, it was time to explore Cusco. Luckily much of this city is walkable. So, you can spend the day walking from one place to another. Below you can read some of the highlights in Cusco.
- Plaza de Armas – The main square of town, where you can sit and enjoy the sun.
- San Pedro Market– A big food market in town! You should try the Lomo Saltado.
- Saqsayhauman – A fortified citadel that sits on the outskirts of town and has a beautiful view of Cusco. It is a 10 min drive from the Plaza de Armas.
- San Blas Neighborhood– This neighborhood is directly next to the Plaza de Armas and it is situated on a steep slope. It is known for the artisans that live there and there are many shops located along the alleys.
- Cathedral of Santo Domingo – This cathedral is adjacent to the Plaza de Armas and its architecture is stunning. You have to pay an entrance fee if you want to see the inside.
- Museo Inka– This is a great museum if you are interested in learning more about the Incan people.
Where to Stay in Cusco:
There are so many amazing places to stay in Cusco. We stayed at the Pariwana Hostel, where we had a great experience. But, you can also stay at cute inns or boutique hotels. These are great options below:
Day 3: Sacred Valley
After doing a lot of research on how to see the Sacred Valley, we decided to book a taxi through Taxidatum. They will pick you up from your hostel in Cusco and take you through the Sacred Valley all the way through to the Ollantaytambo train station.
The tour costs $65 💵 that you can split between all of the passengers in the car. The taxi allows you to take your own time to explore the most popular spots in the Sacred Valley: Chincheros, the Maras salt mines, and Moray.
Make sure to buy the touristo bolistico (130 soles) at the first stop that will get you entry into Chinchero, Moray, Ollantaytambo, Saqsayhuaman and other site in Cusco.
Chinchero is the first stop on the tour, an Andean village that has beautiful mountain views and a large marketplace with plenty of colorful 🌈 souvenirs to pick up. The hillside features terraces built by the Incans that are still in use today to farm goods such as potatoes, quinoa, and fava beans. The soil here is supposed to be very rich and fertile.
Moray features circles of agricultural terraces that resemble a large amphitheater. The terraces descend into the ground in a circular shape. They think the Incans used these levels to test the agricultural growth.
The last stop on the tour was my favorite, the Maras salt mines. The ancient salt mines feature white pools of salt along the mountain side that reflect the blue sky above. They are really a stunning sight.
The taxi dropped us off in the town of Ollantaytambo. We had a few hours before our train to Aguas Calientes, so we roamed the streets of Ollantaytambo. We walked up the Inca Fortress and Temple where we had views of the town below and encountered llamas along the walk.
The town is adorable and I definitely recommend checking it out! After our day, we took the train to aguas calientes to prepare for our day in Machu Picchu. Make sure you stop by the bus station in town to buy a bus ticket to Machu Picchu for the next day.
If you are interested in doing a longer trek in Peru, then you can book though Skyhook Adventure. They offer multiple trek options and have great reviews!
Day Four: Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the new seven wonders of the world and tourists flock from all over to see this magnificent sight. There are a lot of logistics to figure out before you visit so that you make the most of your trip.
In 2011, they placed new restrictions to limit the amount of tourists that visit the site a day. I recommend looking for a few months in advance to get tickets 🎟 to see the mountain and take one of the major hikes if you want. Here is a helpful site for all the things you need to know about Machu Picchu tickets. We bought a ticket for the mountain with access to the Huayna Picchu hike.
What to Do at Machu Picchu:
Our bus got us to the top of the mountain around 7:45 am. We were allowed to enter the mountain at 8 am. The first thing you will see as you enter is the most iconic view of Machu Picchu. Even if you’ve seen pictures 📸 before, it will surely take your breath away. You will want to stop here and take as many pictures as you can, because once you go down you cannot come back up. Even with the new restrictions, there are a lot of people, so you may have to maneuver your way around to get a good shot.
We had a little time before our hike was going to start, so we did the Inca Bridge Trail which left from the top of the mountain. This was an easy hike, but it is located along the cliff edge, so if you are afraid of heights it may not be for you!
Huayna Picchu Hike
After our quick hike 🥾, we made our way down the mountain to the estate area. We followed the path through the valley and we saw a lot of cute llamas bathing in the sun. The walk from the the view down to the hike is about 15-20 minutes, so plan accordingly. Our tickets allowed us to enter the Huayna Picchu hike at 10 am.
The hike climbs up the mountain for about 1000 feet until you get to the view of the Incan citadel below. The hike up takes about an hour and is strenuous. You will climb up stairs until you get to an area of switchbacks that will eventually lead to the view. The view from the top is awe-inspiring and I could have sat there for now taking it all in. Once you’ve spent enough time there, you can hike back down which can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.
We left Machu Picchu and headed back down by bus until we got to the train station. We took a train back to Cusco that night. The train station is Poray, which is about 15 minutes from the town of Cusco.
Day 5: Rainbow Mountain
Ever since seeing instagram pictures of Rainbow Mountain, I knew that I needed to go there. It was the highlight of our one week in Peru! The striped mountain is stunning against the sky behind it. If you are planning on going to Rainbow Mountain you need to make sure that you wait a few days to acclimate to the altitude. The hike starts at 14,000 feet and goes up to 16,000 feet so it is not something to take lightly. You should pack a sufficient amount of water, snacks, and coka candy in case of altitude sickness.
We did the Rainbow Mountain Travels Tour, which I highly recommend if you want to see this sight. The tour company is the only one on the mountain that gets there that early, so you will not have to deal with the crowds.
The tour picks you up from your hostel at 3:30 am in the morning, but don’t worry you can sleep a little bit more in the car on the way to the mountain. They will take you to a restaurant in a small mountain town to eat breakfast before you begin your hike. They also put something they call llama pee on your hands that you can sniff and it will help with altitude sickness.
Rainbow Mountain Hike
There is an option to take donkeys up the mountain, but we chose to get the full experience. The hike is challenging and you may have to stop for breaks along the way. Listen to your body and take it easy.
The mountain itself is really one of a kind 🌈. I do not think I have ever seen something as unique and beautiful. The stunning reds, greens, and browns against the blue sky are really a sight to behold. It was incredibly worth all of the time. On the way down you have the option to see the Red Valley and I think that you should take it. It is a quick hike and red rolling mountains really stick out against the skyline.
After this tour, you can sleep in the car on the way back to Cusco. They will take you for a late lunch at the same restaurant you stopped at on the way there. When you get home to Cusco you can enjoy dinner, go out, or just go straight to sleep .
Day 6-7: Lima
We took an early morning flight back to Lima to optimize our time there. However, I loved Cusco so much that I would have considered staying an extra day there. Lima is the capital of Peru and it is a large city that sits along the coast. There are plenty of things to do and see. I recommend that you spend one day exploring Miraflores and the other day exploring the historic center and Barranco.
Miraflores is an affluent, residential area that sits along the coastline. My friends and I chose to stay in Miraflores because we heard it’s beautiful. Barranco is the artsy area of town, where I recommend that you walk around and stop into the stores full of crafts or unique clothing. The historic district of town has all of the famous ruins and sights. Below is a breakdown of things you can do in these spots.
- Bridge of Sighs– A bridge known as a lover’s spot.
- Baja de banos– A lowered street full of street art and graffiti to see.
- Chifa Chun Yion– A great Chinese restaurant to get lunch.
- Miraflores Boardwalk– Walk along the coast and check out the parks, the Larcomar Mall, and the Parque del amor.
- Parque del amor– Featuring a statue of a couple making out, it sits right next to the coastline.
- Larcomar Mall– A shopping mall that is built into the side of a cliff.
- Parque Kennedy– A lively park in the center of town where you can see people dancing or shop in the market.
- Indian Market– A great spot to get crafts and gifts.
- Huaca Pucllana – A huge adobe and clay pyramid. You can pay for a tour or go to the restaurant attached and get a view of the pyramid.
- Plaza de armas– The main plaza where there are plenty of historic buildings and events. When we were there we saw a parade and a speech.
- Church and convent of San Francisco – A UNESCO World Heritage site, there is also a library inside.
- Church and convent of Santo Domingo- Another part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Lima is a foodie’s paradise. The food in Lima is world famous and if you have the time or the money you should definitely seek it out. If you love coffee you should stop by El Pan de la Chola, Estacion 329, or Arabica Espresso Bar in Miraflores. They are cute coffee shops and El Pan de la Chola also has some of the best sandwiches that I have had.
Additionally, we went to two world famous restaurants: Astrid y Gastón and Central (listed as 6th best on World’s Best Restaurants). Also, we made these reservations months in advance, because they are very hard to get. These meals were incredibly innovative and I will remember them for years to come.
Spent a week in this magical country, see all of the best cultural attractions in Peru and dine at the world class restaurants in Lima. You’ll fall in 💕 love 💕 with this amazing country and one to go back to see more! If you have more time you can see more in Cusco or go to Lake Titicaca. Until next time!
Did you enjoy this post about One Adventurous Week in Peru? Don’t forget to pin it to save for later!