Updated January 25th, 2020.
The Best of Peru: One Month Adventure!
It’s impossible to see everything that a country has to offer in a limited amount of time. In truth, exploring the must-see sights and hidden treasures of Peru could take years! However, just for you, we’ve done our best to fit the highlights and hidden gems of Peru into a one month backpacker’s itinerary. Here are 10 awesome stops fit into a 4-week backpacking route taking travel time into consideration.
This itinerary is by no means the only itinerary for Peru and you should have a read of all of our Peru Travel Guides before planning your own epic adventure!
Week 1 in Peru
Stop 1: Máncora – Beach Action!
Traveling into the country via Ecuador means that you will pass through Peru’s primary beach haven, Máncora. Expect to party hard, eat well, and surf with the best of them! Stay in Máncora for three nights, before you continue your travels south. Also check out our article if you need more advice on crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru.
Stop 2: Trujillo – Soak up some Culture!
As you head south stop off for a night or two in archaeologically blessed Trujillo. Pick a Moche or Chimu temple to explore (options include Chan Chan, Huaca del Sol y la Luna, or La Bruja). Spend the afternoon in the nearby surf and beach town of Huanchaco drinking a beer as the sun sets. If you’d like to spend more time in Trujillo, why not stay another day and book a sandboarding trip to Laguna de Conache.
Stop 3: Huaraz – Get High!
Travel inland a bit to the world’s second highest mountain range. Base yourself in town and take off daily for incredible hikes into the Cordillera Blanca or Cordillera Negra. Or if you’re feeling adventurous sign up for the epic four day three night Santa Cruz trek or try a day hike to the beautiful Laguna 69. Stay in Huaraz a total of three to five nights, depending on how fit your calves feel!
Week 2 in Peru
Stop 4: Lima – Head to the Capital!
Head six hours south of Huaraz by bus to Lima, the capital city of Peru and food capital of South America! Stay in either Miraflores or Barranco and sample as much of the gastronomical scene as you can. We recommend two to three nights in order to take in as many of the museums, restaurants, and nightlife as you can.
Stop 5: Huacachina – A Desert Oasis!
Huacachina, a place guaranteed to blow your mind. With an unusual and stunning setting of a peaceful lake surrounded by high sand dunes, it’s no wonder backpackers end up lingering longer than expected in this desert oasis. Spend a few nights enjoying everything that Huacachina has to offer. Roll down sand dunes, surf the sandy peaks on a sandboarding or a dune buggy adventure, and maybe squeeze in a wine and pisco tour in nearby Ica! Check out Banana’s Adventure Hostel if you’re looking for a great place to stay.
Stop 6: Nasca
If you’ve always wanted to see the famous Nasca Lines then you’ll be wanting to pay a visit to the town of Nasca. From here, you can either arrange a short flight to view the lines or you can head to the viewing station by taxi. If you’ve no interest in seeing the ancient geoglyphs then you might consider skipping this stop altogether, although there are a few more interesting sites in town.
Week 3 in Peru
Stop 7: Arequipa – Sophistication and more hiking!
Eight hours away lies Peru’s sophisticated city of Arequipa, also known as the ‘White City’ due to the beautiful colonial whitewashed buildings and cobbled streets. Give yourself at least three nights here, making sure to squeeze in a trekking adventure in the nearby Colca Canyon, the second biggest canyon in the world.
Stop 8: Puno – Explore Lake Titicaca!
Located at 3,800 meters this altiplano city will take your breath away. The city of Puno doesn’t offer much to impress, so book it to Lake Titicaca. Take a one night/ two day tour which includes a stop at the Uros floating islands and a homestay on either Taquile or Amantani island (we prefer Taquile, so see if you can book with an agency that places you here for the night).
Week 4 in Peru
Stop 9: Cusco – Everyone’s Favourite City!
Cusco is the kind of place you are not going to want to leave, so give yourself a good week to explore the city and the surrounding area. The city is buzzing with cafés, restaurants, yoga shalas, massage parlours, markets and more and it’s a place that backpackers end up hanging for longer than they expected. Oh – don’t forget to check out our article on the best hostels in Cusco.
Make time to see Machu Picchu (or better yet, if time allows trek here), the nearby Sacred Valley, the plethora of ruins around the area, and schedule in some time to party and eat in the city itself. If you’re wondering the best way to see Machu Picchu, read our guide – the 7 ways to reach Machu Picchu. Also read our DIY Guide to Machu Picchu here.
Stop 10: Paracas
Get the bus back to Lima from Peru (it’s a long one!), but before catching your flight out of the country why not spend a day or two relaxing and reflecting on your one month backpacking trip at the nearby beach town of Paracas. Here you can take a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas (the poor man’s Galapagos), go kitesurfing or visit the weird Paracas Head Museum!
And if you have extra time…?
You can also add these awesome places to your itinerary if you have more time to explore Peru…
Iquitos – Head to the Jungle!
Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is only accessible by boat or plane. If you still have time add this city into your Peruvian itinerary. Fly from Lima to the jungle city and then use Iquitos as your base for incredible adventures into the Amazon jungle! Travel down the Amazon river to spot pink river dolphins, meet local communities, shop for weird ingredients for potions and spells at the local market or if you’re looking for a mind-altering experience, you may consider an ayahuasca retreat.
Chachapoyas – Get off the beaten track!
Perhaps the most underrated city in Peru, Chachapoyas sits just on the edge of the Amazonas region at a height of 2335 metres. The city is blessed with a subtropical climate and is surrounded by beautiful mountainous cloud forest. From here you can take a trip to Kuélap, considered the Machu Picchu of the north.
If you’re wondering how to fit Peru into a backpacking adventure in South America, read our ideas on planning the perfect South America Itinerary.