Chaotic, colorful, and home to some of the most amazing natural landscapes and cultural landmarks we’ve ever experienced, Peru is truly one of a kind. Squeezing everything there is to do into just 10 days is a challenge, but this Peru itinerary for 10 days highlights the best of the Sacred Valley and the mountainous region surrounding Cusco. In the following article, we’ll explain how we’d spend 10 days in Peru and cover important logistical details like when to go and how to get around.

City lights of Cusco, Peru at sunset, the perfect home base for a 10 day Peru itinerary

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Peru Itinerary 10 Days: Article Contents

Peru Itinerary: 10 Days

Below you will find an overview of the main highlights of this 10 day Peru itinerary.

The itinerary ends with a multi-day trek on the Inca Trail, one of Peru’s most famous hiking routes which ends at Machu Picchu. Although the hike is challenging, you’ll be hiking with a guide and have the option to have a porter carry your gear. This means that even if you aren’t a seasoned backpacker, trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is very attainable.

If three consecutive days of hiking has zero appeal to you, you can skip the Inca Trail and take a train to Machu Picchu instead. In this case, we’d recommend heading east to spend a couple days in the Amazon rainforest to round out your Peru 10 day itinerary.

DAyHighlights
Day 1Arrive in Cusco, explore the city
Day 2Day trip to Pisac
Day 3Day trip to Laguna Humantay
Day 4Hike Huchuy Qosqo
Day 5 Day Trip to Rainbow Mountain
Day 6Cusco to Ollantaytambo, stop at Maras and Moray
Day 7Backpacking trip (Inca Trail)
Day 8Backpacking trip (Inca Trail)
Day 9Backpacking trip (Inca Trail)
Day 10 Backpacking trip (Inca Trail) – end in Machu Picchu

10 Day Peru Itinerary Details

Without further ado, lets get into all the details of this 10 day Peru itinerary! At the end, we’ve included a few options for how to shorten the itinerary if you have less time.

Peru Itinerary Map

To help you plan your 10 day Peru itinerary, use the map below to see the locations of each of the items on the itinerary, organized by day. You can always download this map to reference during your visit.

  • To email this map to yourself for future use, click the three dots in the upper right corner.
  • To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.

Day One | Arrive in Cusco

On day one, you will arrive in Cusco. Most international flights will have a layover in Lima before connecting to Cusco.

Cusco will be your home base for adventures over the next several days. Find yourself a comfortable hotel or hostel for nights one through five and settle in!

Cusco serves as a central hub to take day trips to some of the area’s best archeological sites, towns, and natural beauties. Note that some of these day trips will involve fairly long stretches of time in the car. Unfortunately, the area around Cusco is quite remote, so staying closer is often not an option.

If you are planning to hike the Inca Trail at the end of this itinerary, these day trips will help you acclimate to the altitude, with several taking you higher into the mountains.

When we arrive in a new country, we’ve usually just spent a lot amount of time traveling and are very tired. As such, we try to keep our first day less jam-packed to give us some time to rest and adjust to a new place.

Cusco Cathedral in Plaza del Armas in Cusco, Peru

Things to do in Cusco

Below are a few ideas on how to spend your free time in Cusco:

  • Take a chocolate-making class at Choco Museo
  • Grab a drink with a view at Viewhouse Resto Bar
  • Visit the Sacsayhuaman Ruins
  • Explore the San Pedro Market
  • Wander through Plaza del Armas, the main square in Old Town Cusco
  • See the famous 12-angle stone of the Lienzo Pétreo wall
  • Try a tamale from the street vendors near Plaza de Armas
  • Tour the temple at Qorikancha

Tip | If you don’t have time to see everything you want to in Cusco today, you’ll likely have some extra time in the afternoon during the next several days. You could easily make time tomorrow after visiting Pisac to explore more of Cusco.

Day Two | Pisac Ruins and market

On day two, kick off your epic Peru itinerary with a visit to the nearby town of Pisac. Although it has become increasingly popular in recent years, Pisac remains off the radar of most tourists. The charming town still feels authentically Peruvian and offers the chance to escape the bustling crowds often found in Cusco.

Today you will start the day at the Pisac ruins, before spending the afternoon wandering through the streets of Pisac and shopping at the Pisac market.

Getting to Pisac

Getting to Pisac from Cusco is going to sound a bit complicated, but we promise it’s actually fairly easy (and inexpensive). From Cusco, take a colectivo to Pisac for about 5 soles per person. The drive takes about 45 minutes.

Once you arrive in Pisac, grab a taxi to take you up to the ruins. This typically costs about 35 soles (one-way) and takes 15 minutes. You can either pay for the taxi to wait for you, pick up a different taxi at the entrance/exit to the ruins to bring you back down, or you can hike back down to the town of Pisac after you’re done exploring.

Tip | To save money on taxi fees, you could also hike round trip to the ruins from Pisac

Pisac Ruins

  • Entrance fee | Included in the Boleto Turistico (General ticket or Circuit III)

Located in the Sacred Valley, the Pisac ruins are one of Peru’s most famous and well-preserved Incan ruins, with a rich history and spectacular views overlooking the rolling mountainside. In addition to the sweeping terraces used for agricultural purposes, the archeological site is strategically positioned on a hill overlooking the Urubamba River, meaning it was likely used to defend against potential invasions.

From the ruins, enjoy an approximately 2.5-mile hike downhill back to the town of Pisac.

Visiting the Pisac Ruins deserves a spot on your 10 day Peru itinerary

Pisac town and market

After exploring the ruins in the morning, grab lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon wandering through the streets of Pisac.

In addition to its laid-back, bohemian vibes, Pisac is well known for its market, which runs every day from 9am to 4:30pm. That being said, the market is at its grandest on Sundays, so we’d recommend planning your visit to Pisac on a Sunday if possible.

Colorful stalls at the Pisac market in Peru
Colorful stalls at the Pisac market in Peru

Day Three | Hike Huchuy Qosqo

Hike Stats

  • Location | 1 hour from Cusco
  • Mileage | 9.5 miles
  • Elevation gain | 1,900 feet
  • Epicness rating | 8.5
  • Time | 5 – 7 hours (may vary depending on your acclimatization level)
  • Total cost | Around $20 per person (taxi to trailhead, Huchuy Qosqo entrance fee & colectivo back to Cusco)

Often overlooked in favor of the Sacred Valley’s more famous ruins, Huchuy Qosqo is an Incan archeological site located north of Cusco near the town of Lamay that remains off the beaten path of most tourists.

The best way to reach the ruins is via a 9.5-mile one-way trek from Chinchero to Lamay with 1,900 feet of elevation gain. Not only are the ruins situated on a beautiful plateau overlooking the Vilcanote River, but the entire trail features incredible views. From the tallest point on the trail, you can see jaw-dropping vistas of snow-capped Urubamba mountains in the distance.

We love this route because it’s fairly easy to access from Cusco and offers an amazing chance to escape the crowds found at most of the typical tourist destinations in Peru. If you are planning to embark on a multi-day trek, Huchuy Qosqo makes an awesome acclimatization hike.

Views from the Huchuy Qosqo hike

Want to know more about the Huchuy Qosqo hike, including all the logistical details you need to know to get to the trailhead? We’ve compiled a full guide to the hike here:

Day Four | Day trip to Laguna Humantay

On day four of your 10 day Peru itinerary, take a trip to Laguna Humantay, a cerulean-colored alpine lake framed by the imposing, snow-covered Humantay Mountain.

Laguna Humantay is located about 3 hours by bus from Cusco, and it takes a bit of effort to reach. Typically the lake is visited as part of a day-long tour.

Laguna Humantay hike

Hike Stats

  • Location | 3 hours from Cusco
  • Mileage | 4 miles
  • Elevation gain | 1,500 feet
  • Epicness rating | 7.5 (we’re subtracting probably 2 epicness points due to the crowds!)
  • Time | 2 – 3 hours hiking, 12 hours full day trip
  • Cost | $30 – $40 one day tour; 20 soles entrance fee if visiting independently
  • Difficulty | Moderate

The hike to reach Laguna Humantay is only about 4 miles roundtrip but packs a serious punch with nearly 1,500 feet of elevation gain at high altitude (13,900 feet above sea level).

Standing tall behind the lake is Humantay Mountain, often referred to as “Apu” Humantay by the Incans who view the mountain as a god, spiritual guardian, and protector of the surrounding lands. In case you were wondering, the lake gets its color from the minerals carried into the water from the glaciers melting down from the mountain.

A word about over-tourism | Laguna Humantay is a prime example of social media (Instagram) driving over-tourism, and we want to take a moment to acknowledge it and encourage you to treat the area with the respect it deserves.

Always stay on previously established trails, acclimate to the altitude before your trip and be prepared for a steep hike (we encourage you to skip out on the horse ride), pack out any trash you bring with you, and do not swim or wade into the lake.

It’s always a good idea to brush up on the 7 principals of Leave No Trace.

Visiting Laguna Humantay is a can’t miss on this 10 day Peru itinerary

Do I need a guide?

We’re all about going it alone as much as possible, but for visiting Laguna Humantay, it really makes the most sense to visit with a guide.

To get there on your own, you’d have to hire a taxi to drive you the 3 hours each way from Cusco to the trailhead and wait while you hike. Although you may gain a bit of flexibility over visiting with a tour, taking a taxi will almost certainly come out to be more expensive. Plus, there’s no escaping the crowds once you arrive at Laguna Humantay.

To be frank, we have mixed feelings about our visit to Humantay Lake. The lake was extremely crowded and you could tell the entire experience was set up to quickly cycle hoards of people through the area. The saving grace is that Laguna Humantay was absolutely beautiful and even more beautiful than the pictures show. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful lakes we’ve ever seen!

With that background in mind, we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s worth adding Laguna Humantay to your Peru itinerary.

Day Five | Day Trip to Rainbow Mountain

On day five, embark on a day trip from Cusco to Peru’s famous Rainbow Mountain (a.k.a. “Vinicunca” or “Montaña de Siete Colores” as you may hear it referred to by locals). The mountain is famous for its vibrantly colored striped layers of sediment, hence where the name Rainbow Mountain comes from.

Fun Fact | Rainbow Mountain was only recently discovered in the early 2010’s when melting snow caused by global warming revealed the stunning colors for the first time. Previously, the mountain had been almost entirely covered by a glacier.

Rainbow Mountain hike

Hike Stats

  • Location | 3 hours from Cusco
  • Distance | 5 miles
  • Elevation gain | Approximately 1,000 feet
  • Epicness rating | 8.5
  • Time | 2 – 3 hours hiking, 12 hours full day trip
  • Cost | $30 – $40 per person for a full day tour
  • Difficulty | Moderate – hard (due to high altitude)

Getting to Rainbow Mountain takes some effort, but it’s totally worthwhile to see the unique landscape with your own eyes. From Cusco, its about a three hour drive to the trailhead. From there, you’ll hike about 3 miles to a beautiful viewpoint over looking the mountain.

Although the hike is relatively short, expect it to take 2 – 3 hours because you will be hiking at high altitude, reaching a maximum of around 16,500 feet. We’ve scheduled Rainbow Mountain for day five of this Peru itinerary to allow you a couple days to acclimate to the altitude in Cusco (trust us, you don’t want this to be your first hike in Peru!).

Do I need a guide?

Similar to visiting Laguna Humantay, taking a day trip to Rainbow Mountain is really best done with a tour group. Full-day tours to Rainbow Mountain are fairly inexpensive, running about $30 to $40 per person.

If you’re the type of traveler who likes to escape the crowds, you can also take a tour that includes the Red Valley, offering similar colorful mountain views with significantly fewer crowds.

Tip | If you’re an avid backpacker, the Ausangate Trek is an amazing multi-day hike through the Peruvian Andes, with enormous glaciers, red-hued mountains and bright alpine lakes galore. You can do a 3 or 4 day route that starts in Tinqui and ends at the Rainbow Mountain.

If you time it right, you can access Rainbow Mountain in the early morning hours before the massive hoards of tourists begin to roll in.

Day Six | Cusco to Ollantaytambo

On day six, you’ll depart Cusco for Ollanytatambo, a little town from which the Inca Trail and all trains to Machu Picchu depart. Make the most out of the journey to Ollantaytambo with stops at the Maras salt mines and Moray ruins.

The easiest way to get to Ollantaytambo, with stops at Maras and Moray, is to hire a taxi for the day. Expect to pay about 200 soles total for the taxi, plus a tip for your driver.

Maras Salt Mines

The Maras salt mines are a series of over 5,000 small ponds that descend down the side of a mountain towards the Rio Valcanota. The ponds are fed by a saltwater spring that spirts out of the ground at the top of the mining area. From there, the water is carefully routed through a complex irrigation system to fill each pond.

Harvesting the salt is a family affair and is typically done by all members of the community. Over time, the water is evaporated by the intense sun and the salt becomes more and more concentrated until eventually, it forms a layer of salt several inches deep.

The salt mines at Maras in Peru
Salt mines at Maras in Peru

Moray Ruins

The Moray Ruins are a series of three groups of circular terraces carved into the ground. Each terrace has 12 layers and the largest has a diameter of 600 feet – they are truly an impressive site!

The site is very easy to navigate and is well-marked. We spent about 45 minutes walking around, taking pictures, and enjoying the views. There are several trails that lead throughout the ruins which total about 1.5 miles of walking distance.

Because the Incans did not have a written language, many aspects of their civilization and culture remain shrouded in mystery. In fact, it is not known with certainty what the Incans actually used Moray for. The most commonly accepted and plausible explanation is that the Incans constructed the circular terraces in order to create unique microclimates under which they experimented with different growing techniques.

Terraces of the ruins at Moray

Ollantaytambo

After stopping at Maras and Moray, continue to your final destination for the day: Ollantaytambo! You’ll have just enough time in the afternoon to explore the small town and visit one or both of the towns archeological sites.

Ruins perched on the side of the mountain at Ollantaytambo
Ruins built on the side of the mountain at Ollantaytambo

Day seven to nine | hike the Inca Trail

On day seven, you will depart for a three-night, four-day trek to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail. Day four of the Inca Trail (and day 10 of this Peru itinerary) culminates in an epic sunrise at Machu Picchu, with the rest of the day spent exploring the famous ruins.

The Inca Trail

  • Location | Departs near Ollantaytambo, ends at Machu Picchu
  • Cost | $700 to $1000 per person
  • Time | Typically 3 nights/4 days
  • Distance | 26 miles
  • Epicness rating | 9.5
  • Book your 4-Day Inca Trail tour here!

The Inca trail traverses 26 miles from Ollantaytambo through the Andes mountains before arriving at Machi Picchu. It’s easily one of the most famous treks in the world and features a variety of terrain, from snowy Andes peaks to lush subtropical forests, speckled with remnants of Incan archeological sites along the way.

The Inca Trail must be hiked with a guide. You cannot do this trek independently. The classic Inca Trail route is typically hiked over four days and three nights, which is what we have built into this itinerary. However, there are variations of the trek can take more or less time.

Day ten | Machu Picchu

Spend the morning exploring Machu Picchu and then return to Cusco in the afternoon to continue your journey elsewhere or return home.

Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail ends at Machu Picchu, a.k.a. the “Lost City of the Incas” and one of the seven wonders of the modern world, after three days of hiking. If you choose not to hike in the Inca Trail, spend the previous night in Aguas Calientes, and catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu in the morning.

If you are hiking the Inca Trail, your tickets to Machu Picchu will most likely be included and logistics arranged with the tour company. If you are visiting on your own, you will need to purchase tickets well in advance.

The "lost city" of Machu Picchu in Peru

Hiking to Huayna Picchu

Hike Stats

  • Distance | 2.5 miles
  • Elevation gain | 1,000 feet
  • Epicness rating | 9
  • Time | 2 – 3 hours (plus an additional 1 – 2 hours to explore Machu Picchu)
  • Difficulty | Hard

As part of your visit to Machu Picchu, you’ll have the option to hike up to Huayna Picchu (aka Wayna Picchu), the iconic mountain located behind Machu Picchu. We’d highly recommend taking on the challenge for the best views of the ancient ruins nestled high in the Andes mountains!

views of Machu Picchu in the distance from the top of Huayna Picchu
View from the top of the Huayna Picchu hike

Return to Cusco

Expect to spend about 4 hours exploring Machu Picchu. Because the tickets allow you access to only one of four routes through the ruins, unfortunately, you likely won’t need an entire day. However, it does take a good amount of time to get from Machu Picchu to Cusco so with travel time to and from Cusco (if not

Peru itinerary with less time

With less time in Peru, we’d skip the Inca Trail hike to give you more time to see all the best sights. Keep reading for a 7-day and 5-day Peru itinerary.

Peru itinerary | 7 days

Below is a sample itinerary if you only have 7 days in Peru.

  • Day 1 | Arrive in Cusco, explore the city
  • Day 2 | Cusco to Ollantaytambo, with stop at Maras and Moray
  • Day 3 | Machu Picchu
  • Day 4 | Day trip to Pisac
  • Day 5 |  Hike Huchuy Qosqo
  • Day 6 | Day trip to Rainbow Mountain
  • Day 7 | Explore ruins in Cusco and depart (Sacsayhuaman ruins)

Peru itinerary | 5 days

If you just have 5 days in Peru, here’s how we’d recommend spending your time:

  • Day 1 | Arrive in Cusco, explore the city
  • Day 2 | Cusco to Ollantaytambo, with stop at Maras and Moray
  • Day 3 | Machu Picchu
  • Day 4 | Day trip to Rainbow Mountain
  • Day 5 | Hike Huchuy Qosqo

Peru itinerary logistics

In the sections below, we’ll cover all the logistics around planning your Peru itinerary, including how to get around in Peru, where to stay in Cusco, when to visit, and what to pack.

Getting around in Peru

Getting around in Peru may seem a little overwhelming so let us break down the different types of transportation you may need to take:

  • With a tour group | By far the easiest way to get around in Peru is to join a tour group, who will arrange all transportation logistics for you. Most popular tours can be booked online in advance, or once you arrive in Cusco.
  • Taxi | Another fairly easy way to get around Cusco is by taxi. We found taxis in Peru to be fairly inexpensive, even to drive us relatively long distances into the countryside. Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so you will want to know at least a little bit of Spanish. Be sure to always settle on a price and destination before getting into the cab.
  • Rideshare apps (Uber/Lyft) | Rideshare apps are available in Cusco. They tend to be a bit more expensive than taking a taxi, but if you don’t know any Spanish, it can be a good option to avoid confusion and hassle.
  • Colectivo | A somewhat hectic, but cheap and “local” means of getting around Peru is via colectivo, a passenger van that carries around 15 people. The colectivos follow a designated route and you pay a fair based on where you get on and off. You can also ask the driver to pull over and drop you off at any time.
  • Bus | For traveling farther distances (between Cusco and Ollantaytambo, for example), you can also take a bus. Bus travel is cheaper than taking a taxi, but will take longer due to frequent stops.
  • Airplane | To get from Lima to Cusco, you will need to take a short flight. The only alternative is a ~20 hour bus ride.
Visiting the colorful markets in Cusco, a highlight of any Peru intinerary

Where to stay in Cusco

For much of this 10 day Peru itinerary, you’ll be staying in Cusco as a home base for your adventures. You’ll spend several nights at your hotel or hostel in Cusco, so it’s important to choose wisely.

  • Budget | Pariwana Hostel Cusco: We stayed at the Pariwana Hostel in Cusco for several nights and had a great experience. Private rooms average around $50 per night, with dorm beds ranging from $12 to $20. Although it can get a bit loud here at night, the location truly can’t be beaten just minutes to Plaza de Armas.
  • Budget | TATA Boutique Hotel is another awesome budget-friendly option right in the heart of Cusco (in fact, it’s right next door to Pariwana Hostel). Once again, it gets loud here, but the rooms are clean, and nicely decorated and the location is superb.
  • Mid-range | Casa Andina is a step up from hostels, with nice, clean rooms in the $125 to $200 range.
  • High-end | Palacio Manco Capac features beautifully decorated rooms in a historic building originally built by the Incas, located in the heart of Cusco for about $215 to $350 per night.
  • Luxury | Palacio Nazarenas offers the ultimate luxury experience, with beautifully designed suites featuring balconies that overlook the city. These luxurious rooms will cost your anywhere from $500 to $1000 per night.
view of Cusco, Peru

Best time to visit Peru

The dry season (and peak season for tourism) in Peru is from May to October. If you want to hike during your trip to Cusco (particularly if you plan to embark on a multi-day hike), it’s best to visit during the dry season.

Other Peru resources

For all things Peru: Peru Travel Guide

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Questions about planning your Peru itinerary? Leave us a note in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to help!

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