Peru is on a lot of people’s bucket list of countries to visit and for good reasons too! I can only try my best to provide a great representation of what this impressive country is like but you’ll only fully enjoy that experience when you visit. This country is great for all types of travelers: The foodie, The adrenaline junkie, The history buff, The cultural enthusiast, The nature and animal lover; seriously, this country has a lot to offer. So where do you begin? I’ve written a full proof Peru Itinerary to help you plan on your upcoming trip to this Andean country. It took me a month to put this all together, but I know my audience deserves the best. In this itinerary, you shall find top places to eat, activities to do and sights to see in over 6 locations. Enjoy!
Peru Itinerary: Cusco
The city of Cusco and its surrounding area is like a mini country in of itself. There is so much to do in the Cusco area that I recommend 2.5 weeks (In the Cusco region alone) to fully enjoy it all. You’ll see why in a bit. Before visiting Cusco there is something very important to know. Cusco’s elevation! I personally call Cusco the city in the mountains. Cusco is 11,152ft (3,399m) above the ground. Flying from New Orleans (56ft) was a huge change in elevation and I had to find ways to cope with the changes.
Address: Calle Garcilaso 210, Cusco 08000, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 12 pm – 10 pm
Due to the high elevation, locals recommend avoiding any form of meat. Beef, Chicken, Fish etc come to mind. Adopt a vegetarian diet and eat lots of soup. Mr. Soup offers the best comfort food and delicious soups. The meals served here are great for Cusco’s altitude.
Address: 699 Plazoleta San Blas, Cusco, Peru
Hours: Monday- Sunday: 12:30 pm – 3 pm , 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm. Closed on Saturdays
Try some of the best Peruvian vegetarian food Cusco has to offer. They provide quality service and healthy food. Customers love their veggie burgers and fries.
Day 2 – 3
Pachappa Restaurant **Not Zabiha but Vegetarian options available**
Address: Carmen Bajo 120, Cusco 08000, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11 am – 11 pm
Once your body has acclimatized to the altitude, you can now start enjoying some of Peru’s finest cuisine in the heart of Cusco. Peruvian dishes are mostly heavy on meat, you can see it by the huge size of meat served above. Pachappa is considered one of the best restaurants in Cusco mostly for its authentic Peruvian dishes. Here you can find Cuy, Alpaca meat, well-seasoned beef, and some seafood options. In addition, Pachappa also serves vegetarian meals. After all, its Quechua name “Pachappa” means “Earth Potato“. Look out for their scrumptious Papa en dúo de ocopa y huancaína, which is Potato mixed with creamy sauce, cheesy huancaína, and other local spices. All their vegetarian dishes have a green leaf icon by its side.
Address: Plazoleta Nazarenas 231 | Museo de Arte Precolombino, Cuzco, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 12 pm – 9 pm
Owned by the famous Peruvian Chef Coque Ossio, Map Cafe is a perfect place for a romantic night out or a great time with friends. Customers usually choose a three-course meal recommended by the Chef. One of Map Cafe’s well-loved Peruvian dish is the Capchi Setas. A creamy Andean mushroom soup.
Address: Triunfo 393, Cusco 08000, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 am – 11 am, 12 pm – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm
A bit on the pricier side, Cicciolina is a Peruvian-Italian fusion restaurant. You can enjoy a delicious pizza with a mix of Peruvian delicacies. The most loved dish at Cicciolina is their special Ceviche meal.
Address: Portal Espinar 115, Cusco 08000, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7 am – 10 pm
La Valeriana is the most recommended cafe by locals. It’s chic, warm and the staff offers you a blanket while you munch on their many delicious sweets. This cafe also has toilet paper in their bathroom. This is a gem in Cusco.
Quinta Eulalia **Not Zabiha**
Address: Choqechaka 384, Cusco 08000, Perú
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 12:30 pm – 4 pm
A traditional restaurant located in the heart of Cusco. Quinta Eulalia offers authentic Peruvian meals that are going extinct. Stop by the restaurant to find out more about these Peruvian meals. Of course, you’ll find the typical Cuy, Alpaca meat, Lomo saltado, and much more common dishes to Cusco.
Address: Calle Espaderos 120 Cusco | Cusco, Peru, Cuzco, Perú
Cafe y Chocolate is a great breakfast and dinner place. Customers recommend their tea and lemon pie. Another added benefit of this cute cafe is its free wi-fi and great balcony view.
Address: 348-B Calle Plateros Cusco Peru, Cuzco 08000, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 12 pm – 10 pm
Day 5 – 7: The Sacred Valley
Address: Av. Patacalle 115, Ollantaytambo 08676, Perú
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7 am – 10 pm
A great restaurant to try menu del dia (a three-course meal) with traditional Peruvian dishes.
Address: Av Imperio de los Incas, Aguas Calientes, Perú
A must-try restaurant in the Sacred Valley. The Tree House Restaurant is located in Aguas Calientes. As its name suggests, this restaurant has a rustic tree house ambiance. Some of the meals customers recommend are the Alpaca tenderloins and their Quinoa-crusted trout
El Albergue Restaurant . **Vegetarian options available**
Address: Estación de Tren, Av Ferrocarril 1, Ollantaytambo, Perú
This is a great place to have breakfast. They have great vegetarian options. At El Albergue restaurant you enjoy healthy food with farm fresh ingredients. Their scrambled eggs are to die for. It’s definitely a restaurant to visit.
Inka’s House Restaurant: Buffet style **Vegetarian options available**
Inka’s house was an incredible restaurant in Urubamba that I got to enjoy lunch. The best part of Inka’s house is its buffet lunch whereby a plethora of scrumptious Peruvian dishes are served.
Do nothing! I’m serious. The Altitude is so high here that every hilly step you take feels like you’ve run a 10k marathon. I suggest you take it easy and relax for a day or two.
Day 2 – 5
Day trip to Saqsayhuaman
Saqsayhuaman is one of the historical sites awarded by Unesco. Here you’ll learn about the Incas brilliant engineering and their cultural lifestyle. You also get to see some Alpacas.
*Warning* Some of the Alpacas there are bougie, there’s a high chance that they’ll ignore your existence.
Walk around Cusco
Cusco’s center isn’t huge. It can take you a day or two to discover most of what the city has to offer. As you walk through this gorgeous city, you enjoy it’s hilly cobbled stoned streets and observe how the Incan and colonial Spanish cultures are fused together. This can be seen in the food, the architecture and sometimes the way of life.
Shop at San Pedro Market
To get unique Peruvian artisanal products, Cusco and its surrounding area are your best bet. There are tons of places to shop from in the city, however, the market with the best prices and quality products is San Pedro Market. You can bargain with the locals but note that the marketers are already offering their lowest price. If you don’t shop for any products, which I doubt will happen, make sure you try the Fruit bar. In the middle row of the market, you’ll find fresh fruit juice stalls. They sell fruit smoothies, with exotic fruits common to South America like chirimoya, and soursop. Sipping on the cold creamy smoothie made me pause and ravish on that moment. It was the creamiest and most refreshing smoothie I’d ever tried.
Day trip to the Rainbow Mountain
Sometimes called the seven colored mountain, Instagram has definitely made this spot popular to the masses. It takes an hour or a 1.5-hour drive from Cusco to get to the hiking base. You later have to hike 3 hilly hours to reach the famous Rainbow Mountain. Depending on the weather, you might actually see the mountain as colorful as it is in the image above. With the perfect weather and temperature, a hike to the rainbow mountain is worth it.
Enjoy the views
Flying into Cusco is a view in of itself, however, there are great restaurants and cafes where you can relax and admire the city. Spots like: Limbo Resto bar, Mirador de San Blas, Inkazuela, Mirador de San Cristobal, Plaza de Armas are a good start.
Day trip to the Sacred Valley
If you are a history buff/nature lover/ you definitely don’t want to miss the Sacred Valley. This region is filled with evidence of the ingenuity of the Inca civilization. Here you can find the Saqsayhuaman ruins, The Salt mines, Textile Museum and many more. Hire a private taxi from Cusco to give you a tour around.
Day trip to Machu Picchu
If you aren’t into hiking but you still want to see one of the seven wonders of the world, a great option will be a day trip from Cusco. You can go by bus and train using PeruRail in the Wanchaq Station, Poroy Station or Estacion de comis a Ollantaytambo. All the trains stop at Aguas Caliente. From Aguas Calientes, you can either walk uphill for an hour to Machu Picchu or take a bus uphill that departs every 15 minutes from 5 am to 5 pm.