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A woman at Machu Picchu during her 1 week itinerary in Peru

Peru is a beautiful country that everyone should explore at some point. I am excited to share my 1 week Peru itinerary to everyone who has a sense of wander!

Peru has always been a dream destination for me. I always admired the photos I came across of Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, the sky-high Andes Mountains and the beautiful cities.

Over the past few years, I have made it my mission to travel to a bucket list destination for my birthday and in June 2019 for my 28th, I decided to make Peru happen!

A woman at Machu Picchu during the Salkantay Trek on a 1 week Peru itinerary

(My annual birthday trips started at age 25; I went to the Greek Islands a week after I turned a quarter of a century (although I don’t really consider that a birthday trip since I went a week later in July). I rang in my 26th in Sicily, my 27th was spent gallivanting around France and my 29th birthday was celebrated on an American Southwest Road Trip.)

My birthday trip to Peru was my first time in South America and I’ve officially been to every continent besides Antarctica.

Due to budget and time constraints, I created my Peru itinerary for only 1 week. I honestly wish it‘d been two weeks since I felt that everything was rushed and I didn’t have much time to relax.

If you budget right and have the time, I highly recommend making your dream Peru trip happen during a 2-week time period, but if you are in my position and want to fully experience the country, I highly recommend following my 1 week itinerary below. You could still make the most of it!

A woman standing at Rainbow Mountain during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

During my week in Peru, I spent a few nights in Cusco; saw Rainbow Mountain in a day hiking trip; did the 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and spent my last day in Lima.

In this blog post, check out my 1 week Peru itinerary and read all about my time in Cusco, Lima and my hiking day trip to Rainbow Mountain. (Click here to read my thorough and detailed blog post about my 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.)

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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Traveling Solo to Peru:

A woman on her hotel rooftop in Cusco, Peru during a 1 week Peru itinerary

Before I go into my 1 week itinerary, I do want to let you all know that I traveled to Peru solo.

Honestly, I was pretty nervous about traveling alone to Peru because it was my first time solo in a non-Westernized country. I was supposed to do this trip with a friend, but due to her work schedule and timing, she unfortunately couldn’t come.

The best Peru 1-Week Travel Itinerary - Machu Picchu

I didn’t want to let that interfere with my dream destination, so I booked the flights and talked to a few other females who have done this trip solo as well who made me feel at ease.

Overall, I felt very safe in Peru and definitely recommend it as a great solo destination for female travelers. Just like anywhere else, I also didn’t put myself in sketchy situations, I did group tours, I got a hotel in a safe location and I didn’t wander alone by myself late at night.

Traveling to and Around Peru:

A woman zip lining during her 1 week Peru itinerary

Even though you could find amazing flight deals through Skyscanner, I decided to book my flight straight from LATAM Airlines’ website. They are recognized as one of the best airlines to fly to and from South America and I had a great experience with them.

The reason why I recommend flying with LATAM is because they are very reliable whereas the other (more affordable) airlines flying to and from the airports in Peru have a reputation of canceling flights last minute.

To ensure you are able to get around, book through LATAM. It’s worth the money and you don’t have to stress.

A group of hikers at Machu Picchu who completed the Salkantay Trek in Peru

Since my 1 week Peru itinerary began in Cusco, I flew from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima.

There are no direct flights from NYC to Cusco, so I had a layover in the capital city, Lima, before hopping on my next shorter flight to Alejandro Velasco Astete Cusco International Airport.

Besides flying, I mainly got around the country through the private shuttles and cars that were provided by the organized tour groups I did for my Rainbow Mountain day trip and the 3 Day Salkantay Trek.

During my time in Cusco, I got around by walking (since all of the hotspots are walkable) and got to and from the airport by taxi.

In Lima, they have Uber, so I highly recommend downloading the app and using them. (DO NOT take a taxi in Lima since drivers are known to raise their rates to foreigners. I was also told that they will take you through dangerous routes in Lima.) Even though it isn’t ideal to take a taxi in Lima, it is extremely safe and reliable to take one in Cusco.

If you are looking to do a road trip in Peru, I recommend renting a car!

Where to Stay in Cusco:

Hotel Andenes al Cielo in Cusco, Peru

During my 1 week in Peru itinerary, I only had to book one hotel during my entire time, which made things very easy.

Because I did the 3 Day Salkantay Trek, I was only responsible for booking my stay in Cusco. I lucked out of not having to book or pay for a hotel in Lima since my flight was in the middle of the night after the day I explored the capital.

The beautiful city of Cusco, Peru

During my 3 nights in Cusco, I stayed at the beautiful boutique Hotel Andenes al Cielo located in the heart of the city in an area called San Blas. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more since it is absolutely charming, warm and the staff is super friendly!

Located in a colonial mansion, Hotel Andenes al Cielo is in a short walking distance from the Plaza de Armas and Cusco’s best restaurants and shops.

A woman enjoying her time in Cusco, Peru

Not only is Hotel Andenes al Cielo super charming, it is also set around a gorgeous internal courtyard and has a picturesque rooftop terrace that overlooks the red tiled city of Cusco as well as the nearby Andes Mountains. It is absolutely beautiful and the architecture and décor is stunning and perfect!

Cusco, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

I stayed in the Single Room that included a full-sized bed and an en-suite bathroom. It was absolutely perfect for just myself and I loved how cozy it was.

In addition, the hotel also offered a full complimentary buffet breakfast that included fresh fruits from local farms, breads with fresh fruity jams, eggs, cold cuts, cereal made from quinoa, yogurt, coffee, coca tea, fresh juice and more.

Cusco, Peru during winter

What I also loved about staying at Hotel Andenes al Cielo is that it is super safe. You cannot enter or exit the hotel unless one of the staff members opens the front doors.

When you book a private tour where you will need to be picked up from the hotel, staff members always need to make sure the person picking you up says your name and the company they are from. It is awesome!

Historical Cusco, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Throughout Cusco, there are plenty of hotels and resorts you could book according to your budget. There are also a plethora of Airbnbs, Vrbos and hostels.

When to Travel to Peru:

A woman on the Salkantay Trek in Peru

When it comes to traveling to Peru, I would say the best time to plan your 1 week itinerary is when I went at the end of June or anytime between May through September.

Since Peru is located in the Southern Hemisphere, it was wintertime when I visited. What is nice about traveling to Peru during winter is that it is considered their dry season.

Mornings and nights in the Andes Mountains were cold (reaching down to the high 20s Fahrenheit) and daytime was absolutely beautiful (in the mid to high 60s Fahrenheit).

During my day in Lima, the weather was a bit warmer since the city isn’t highly elevated, but there was still a chilly breeze from the Pacific Ocean.

Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Please note that if you travel to Peru during their summertime, it is considered rainy season. Even though it is cheaper to travel to Peru during summer (December through March), the weather isn’t the most ideal for hiking since it is humid, damp and rainy.

The Altitude in Peru:

The Andes Mountains in Peru

One of the major things to consider when you plan your 1 week itinerary to Peru is the altitude and how it will affect your body.

An alpaca during the Salkantay Trek in Peru

Most travelers experience shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, fatigue, swelling of the hands and/or feet or loss of coordination when they travel to destinations of high elevations (usually over 8,000 feet above sea level or higher).

I will admit that the altitude affected me during my first few days in Peru. Even walking up a minor hill in the city or climbing up the stairs in my hotel made me feel like I got the wind knocked out of me. I also experienced a minor headache the first couple of days, but this all went away after 3 days when hiking up a mountain felt more “normal”.

A woman on the Salkantay Trek during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

Many people will bring medication to help them with the altitude, but since I don’t do well with most prescription pills, I decided I would toughen it up.

Everywhere you go in the Andes, there will always be coca tea offered to you whether it is in your hotel, at a restaurant or café, when you do a hike or trek, etc.

Not only is coca tea widely consumed in Peru, it is also a popular beverage in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia!

An Andean meal in Cusco

One thing to note is that the leaves of the coca plant contain alkaloids, when extracted chemically, are the source for cocaine. However, the amount of coca alkaloid in the raw leaves is small and will have no affects on anyone.

**Please also note that it is illegal and completely banned to bring coca tea leaves or any coca products into the United States and United Kingdom. (I don’t know the rules for other countries.) So, to play it safe, leave it in Peru!

A group of people on the Salkantay Trek during a 1 week itinerary in Peru

In addition to coca tea, most tour groups, hotels and restaurants have oxygen on-site in case anyone has severe altitude sickness.

My 1 Week Peru Itinerary:

A woman at Rainbow Mountain during her 1 week Peru itinerary

Day 1, June 24: Overnight Flight to Lima

Lima, Peru diring a 1 week Peru itinerary

My journey to Peru started at JFK Airport in New York. Flying to Peru was just like heading over to Europe where the flight was a red eye.

I left late at night and arrived in Lima the next morning. I was very happy that I had a non-stop flight from New York to Lima and it was only a 6.5/7-hour flight!

Day 2, June 25 (MY BIRTHDAY!): Cusco

A woman hiking during her 1 week Peru itinerary

After arriving in Lima on the morning of June 25, I hopped on a quick 45-minute flight that took me straight to Cusco.

When I arrived in Cusco, the staff at Hotel Andenes al Cielo organized a complimentary taxi to pick me up from the airport and take me to the hotel where I settled in.

Beautiful Cusco, Peru

During my birthday, I wanted to take it easy, explore the city of Cusco, savor a delicious Peruvian meal and adjust to the altitude. I will admit that even though I was a little bummed out to be spending my birthday alone that year, I still dressed up and went about my day in excitement.

Wander the Quaint Streets of San Blas:
The beautiful city of Cusco, Peru

The first thing I did when I walked out of my hotel was wander through the beautiful cobblestone streets of the San Blas neighborhood in Cusco. I loved immersing myself in the culture!

There were artisans selling wonderful crafts, Peruvians were walking around with llamas and alpacas, everyone had a smile on their face and the atmosphere was thriving!

Cusco during a Peru 1 week itinerary

During my nights in Cusco, I witnessed a major soccer win where the streets of San Blas had beautiful live music, people were dancing and everyone was so happy! This is also the area where you could find great restaurants and shops!

Admire the Spanish Architecture in The Plaza de Armas:
The Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru

Since my hotel was a short walk from the Plaza de Armas, I went straight there and admired the mix of the gorgeous Inca and European Spanish architecture.

As you walk through this area, you could also see the original Inca walls that are made out of large stones. Please remember to not lean back on the stones or place your hands and feet on the wall because it is a sacred site.

Exploring the Plaza de Armas during a 1 week Peru itinerary

The Plaza de Armas was filled with gorgeous historical sites including the Cusco Cathedral and the Church La Compañía de Jesús. There are also gardens, great restaurants, shops, small businesses and more within the Plaza de Armas.

In addition, plenty of events and festivals happen in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. In fact, a day before I arrived in Cusco, the Inti Raymi took place in celebration of winter solstice. It is one of the largest festivals in the city.

If you could add the Inti Raymi into your 1 week Peru itinerary, definitely do so because it is memorable for all!

Tour the Cusco Cathedral:
Seeing the Cusco Cathedral during a Peru 1 week itinerary

During my day in Cusco, I took a self-guided tour through the Cusco Cathedral. Built in 1560, this beautiful cathedral became the official seat of the diocese and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Beautiful architecture in Cusco, Peru

What you must see in the Cusco Cathedral are the crypts that hold the ashes of deceased archbishops; the Sala de la Plateria (or The Silver Room), which holds silver artifacts; the Painting of the Last Supper; the beautiful Choir Stalls; the Señor de los Temblores, which is the black statue of the crucifixion of Jesus and one of the most important symbols of Christianity in Peru as well as the Sacristy, which holds many portraits of past bishops in Cusco.

Learn History at Qorikancha:
Qorikancha in Cusco, Peru

Known as the holiest site and most important temple in the Inca Empire, Qorikancha is a must-see in Cusco during your 1 week Peru itinerary.

This sacred site to the Incans has a historical past. When the Spanish came, they demanded a ransom after kidnapping the Incan Emperor Atahualpa. After the emperor was released, the Spanish conquistadors murdered him.

The Inca walls in Cusco, Peru

Once the Spanish took over Cusco, they chose to destroy Qorikancha and tarnish any remaining gold. The church and convent of Santo Domingo was then built right next door. This site is an important link to the Incans and helps others understand the clash of the two civilizations.

Walk through the San Pedro Market:
Cusco, Peru in the evening

Another great must-visit during your time in Cusco is the San Pedro Market. It is here where you could find fresh produce, local spices, beautiful home décor, stylish ponchos and so much more.

Eat in Cusco:
Cusco during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

Even though only 3 nights were spent in Cusco during my 1 week in Peru itinerary, I only ate out at two restaurants since I was mainly on tours or doing the Salkantay Trek.

I really wish I would’ve explored more of the restaurant and foodie culture of Cusco because I had a lot of them on my bucket list, but I just didn’t have enough time.

Below are two restaurants that I ate in San Blas that I highly recommend:

A delicious Andean meal in Cusco, Peru during a 1 week Peruvian itinerary

A Mi Manera Restaurant (Peruvian Food): For my actual birthday dinner, I really wanted to savor authentic Peruvian food, so my hotel recommend A Mi Manera located in San Blas, right before you enter the Plaza de Armas.

The staff at A Mi Manera were super friendly and I enjoyed a lovely Chaufa de Quinoa which consisted of black quinoa, zucchini, mushrooms, sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce.

One thing I noticed about the cuisine in Peru is that it is very healthy and it’s super easy to find vegetarian and vegan options if that is your diet. I enjoyed my meal with a glass of Peruvian red wine and coca tea (because it was my first night and I was adjusting to the altitude).

Breakfast for dinner at Jack's Cafe

Jack’s Café (Modern American Cuisine): I will admit that I am not usually big on American or “westernized” food mainly because it is very heavy, greasy and fattening.

After you read about my experience at Rainbow Mountain below, you will see why I needed a heavy meal after that day. Jack’s Café is a super cute and cozy café located on the same street my hotel was on in San Blas.

It is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or dinner and they offer everything from pancakes to club sandwiches and soups to chicken curry. I had breakfast for dinner and savored pancakes with mango cream, fresh local fruit and honey. I also had mocha, which was amazing and coca tea!

Day 3, June 26: Rainbow Mountain Day Trip

A woman at Rainbow Mountain during a 1 week Peru itinerary

The day after my birthday, I woke up at 3am for a 4am pickup from my hotel to take me to Rainbow Mountain – a bucket list destination! (It takes about 3 hours to get to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco.)

Definitely ensure that a day hike to Rainbow Mountain is on your 1 week Peru itinerary because it is absolutely amazing!

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Also known as Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountain is a colorful set of mountains located super high in the Andes. Sedimentary mineral layers that have been exposed by erosion formed the colors of the mountains.

One thing to note about Rainbow Mountain is that it is actually higher in elevation than Machu Picchu. At 5,200 meters or 17,060 feet above sea level, it is almost as high as Everest Base Camp!

Rainbow Mountain is the perfect day trip from Cusco and I highly recommend booking a tour like I did.

The Rainbow Mountain day hike

Please note that you HAVE to hike in order to get to the main viewing point of Rainbow Mountain. Since the elevation at Rainbow Mountain is almost at the highest point in Peru, you will definitely feel the altitude!

You can pay to go up and down Rainbow Mountain via horseback if you get sick, hurt or feel like you physically cannot continue the hike.

I also recommend using hiking polls to help you trek up as well. It totally helped me! (Plus, make sure you purchase actual hiking boots prior to traveling to Peru because you walk over rough terrains, step in water and need the most support and protection possible!)

Another reminder is that water bottles are not provided on the tour, so you will be responsible for getting your own cold water. I recommend bringing your own water bottle so you could help save the environment by not using plastic and you could refill it anytime you want. (Please note that you cannot drink the tap water in Peru unless it is boiled.)

You could also purchase water throughout the trek since there are locals selling it along the way. The locals will also sell fresh local fruits, chocolate, candies, soda, Gatorade, cereal bars, chips/pretzels and more.

Two friends on the hike at Rainbow Mountain during a 1 week Peru itinerary

After I was picked up from my hotel at 4am from a private car, I met up with the group I hiked Rainbow Mountain with behind the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

We then hopped on a shuttle that took us to Rainbow Mountain. About halfway into the trip, we stopped at a house that provided our group with breakfast where we enjoyed coca tea, coffee, fresh juice, fruit, breads, jams, cereal and cold cuts.

A group of hikers during the Rainbow Mountain Day Hike

Afterwards, we drove through windy and bumpy roads to get to the start of the Rainbow Mountain hike.

During this hike, we got to connect with our fellow trekkers that consisted of solo travelers from Mexico, Brazil and Wales; a couple from India and a friend group from New York City. Our tour guide was awesome and named our group “Sexy Llamas”.

In addition, we hiked past picturesque villages, stunning adobe houses and herds of llamas and alpacas. When you finally reach the top, you could not only catch views of the breathtaking Rainbow Mountain, but you could also spot Ausangate Glacier and Huascaránthe highest mountain in Peru at 20,945 feet above sea level.

The highest mountain in Peru

(Please note that if you want to take a photo with the llamas/ alpacas or even with the local people who are dressed up, you will need to tip them.)

Another thing to note about visiting Rainbow Mountain during your 1 week in Peru itinerary is that there are a lot of people there. The higher you trek up the viewing point, the more likely you are to get better photos.

A woman with llamas at Rainbow Mountain in Peru during a 1 week itinerary

When you are finished viewing the mountain, you will need to hike back down. The trek down the mountain is very steep, so please be careful and watch out. I did witness a few people fall and slide down unintentionally.

On our way back to Cusco, we stopped at the same house who provided us with an amazing lunch of rice, potatoes, fresh vegetables, chicken and an amazing Peruvian omelet. Everything was fulfilling!

Day 4, Day 5 & Day 6, June 27 – June 29: 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

A woman who completed the 3 Day Salkantay trek in Peru during a 1 week itinerary

**Click here to read my detail blog post about my 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. It is here where I go into the specifics of everything this trek consisted of.

Machu Picchu in Peru

The Salkantay Trek was ranked one of the best hikes in the world according to National Geographic Adventure Travel. Overall, I highly recommend adding a trek to your 1 week Peru itinerary. It is a once in a lifetime experience!

I did my trek through Machu Picchu Reservations and I couldn’t recommend them more because they are absolutely great, very professional and their treks are affordable.  (You could also read more about Machu Picchu on Lonely Planet.)

A woman doing the Salkantay Trek during a 1 week Peru itinerary

In addition to the Salkantay Trek, they also provide other organized treks, hikes and tours for the Inca Trail, Rainbow Mountain, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu, Choquequirao Trek, Laguna Humantay, the salt mines, various city tours and more.

Not only could you do a 3 Day Salkantay Trek, they also have a 2 Day, 4 Day and 5 Day trek. Even though I did the 3 day, 2 night trek, the 4 day, 3 night option is the most popular!

The Salkantay Trek in Peru

Although I go more into the specifics of this trek in my other Peru blog, an overall summary included getting picked up at my hotel in Cusco at 2am on June 27, 2019 and being taken to the starting point at Quisarniyoc where I was joined with my group who were doing the 4 Day Salkantay Trek.

(I was the only one who did the 3 Day Salkantay Trek in my group since I signed up only a month ahead of time. At that point, the group had already done a day along the trek and spent the night at the campsite I met them for breakfast. Please note that you could start the Salkantay Trek at any time and meet up with a group since there are treks going on everyday.)

A group of hikers on the Salkantay Trek in Peru during a 1 week itinerary

From Quisarniyoc, we began the hardest part of the trek through the Salkantay Pass where we reached an altitude of over 15,000 feet above sea level.

After reaching the highest elevation of the trek, we began to descend into the jungle where we spent the night at a campsite in Chaulley.

A campsite at Chaulley during the Salkantay Trek

The next day began in the jungle of Chaullay where we hiked along the Santa Teresa Valley, which is formed along the Salkantay River.

After having some fun zip lining, walking across a cable bridge and rock climbing, we were taken by van to Hidroelectrica where each of us walked 3 hours in the rain and dark along a railroad to Aguas Calientes – a thriving town where we spent the night in a hostel before ascending to Machu Picchu the next day.

(Please make sure you bring a headlamp prior to this trek because there are times where you will be walking in complete darkness.)

Trekking in the dark in Peru

During our final day, we began our trek from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu at 4:30am where we hiked up thousands of stoned steps to the entrance of the World Wonder!

When we finally made it to Machu Picchu, we were able to see the sunrise and wander through the lost city of the Incas for a few hours.

Not only did we admire the views of Machu Picchu, we also got to walk around and see the Inca Bridge before heading back down to Hidroelectrica where we caught our shuttle to take us 7 hours back to Cusco.

The Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru

After walking for 4 days during my 1 week Peru itinerary (including the hike to Rainbow Mountain right before my trek), my knees were so sore and I could barely walk (especially downhill), my feet and hands were swollen and full of blisters and I felt super dirty. I also had been sleep deprived because everyday consisted of waking up between 1am – 5am.

It was all so worth it though when I saw Machu Picchu for the first time in the end. I am happy I settled for the hike instead of taking the train or the bus to Machu Picchu (the other, easier option for those who don’t want to do the trek or those who can’t – please make sure you book way ahead to see Machu Picchu if you don’t do the hike).

I appreciated this amazing site so much more from doing the trek and despite being physically and mentally challenged, I felt like I accomplished something that has made my soul more fulfilled.

A woman admiring the views of Machu Picchu

Overall, I loved doing my trek through Machu Picchu Reservations and my tour guide Oscar (Clavix) was awesome!

Included in the price of my trek was the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu; the pre-departure trek briefing, which was the night before the tour; a duffle bag to carry up to 7 kilos (15 lbs.) of your belongings, which were carried by horses (I left my luggage that contained my laptop, valuables and other dressy clothing items at my hotel who locked and stored it in their private room during the days I did the trek); a bilingual professional guide; a guided visit around Machu Picchu; transportation to and from the trek; 1-night of camping; 1-night in a hostel in Aguas Calientes; three breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners; the cooks who wrapped up all the meals on tour and First Aid equipment.

You could also rent extra hiking equipment from Machu Picchu Reservations at an additional cost. I rented hiking polls for the trek and a sleeping bag for the night we camped (you could also bring your own sleeping bag that will be carried by the horses).

The beautiful nature during the Salkantay Trek in Peru

In addition, you could book an extra excursion and trek to Huayna Picchu and Montaña Machu Picchu through Machu Picchu Reservations.

You could also upgrade and take the train back to Cusco instead of trekking back down to Hidroelectrica and taking the shuttle back.

Day 7, June 30: Lima

A beautiful church in Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

On my last full day in Peru, I enjoyed breakfast at Hotel Andenes al Cielo and then took a taxi to the airport to fly to Lima (the flight from Cusco to Lima is just short of 45 minutes).

I spent the day in the capital city before flying back home to JFK in the middle of the night. (Lima should most definitely be on your 1 week Peru itinerary. I also recommend staying more than one day in the capital.)

Two women exploring Lima, Peru

During my day in Lima, Peru, I was supposed to do an Airbnb experience exploring the culture and food of the city, but my host backed out last minute due to an emergency.

Instead, it worked out better because my friend Cecilia from 2nd grade reached out to me on Facebook. She has been living in Lima and saw that I was traveling around the country. We ended up reuniting after 20 years and spent the entire day together!

In all honestly, I never thought I would ever see Cecilia again after 2nd grade. We reconnected on Facebook in 2009, right before my high school graduation and have kept in touch. I still never thought I’d see her again.

It’s amazing where life and the world could take and reconnect us with old friends. Cecilia took me around Lima, gave me a cultural lesson and showed me where her family grew up. It was amazing!

Explore the City of Lima:
Ocean views of Lima, Peru

Lima definitely surprised me with its culture, beauty and food. During my day in Lima, Cecilia took me to all of the hotspots in the areas of Miraflores and Barranco.

Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru

The history of Lima dates back to the colonial presence in the country when the Viceroyalty of Peru turned the city into the main political and administrative center of South America in the early to mid 16th Century. During this time period, significant churches, monasteries, mansions and beautiful buildings were built.

Nowadays, Lima is considered a World Heritage Site and you could find amazing museums, archaeological sites, beautiful cliffside beaches with surfers, gorgeous nature, amazing restaurants and cafés, a thriving nightlife, talented artwork and so much more!

Talented murals in Barranco, Lima, Peru

Lima is situated on the coast of Peru. It borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and mountains to the east.

The Upscale District of Miraflores:
Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

The first area I visited in Lima, where I met up with Cecilia, was the upscale district of Miraflores.

This beautiful area was one of the first to have been settled by the Spanish after Lima was founded. It is here where you could go to the beach, shop, walk the boardwalk and enjoy amazing food.

Overall, Lima is a very active city, so you will see a lot of runners, bikers and people on rollerblades.

The Bohemian District of Barranco:
Barranco in Lima, Peru

Barranco is known as the Bohemian and Artsy district of Lima where artists, designers and musicians reside in beautiful Spanish colonial mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

This was my favorite district in Lima and I enjoyed wandering through this area and admiring everything I saw.

Below is everything I did in Miraflores and Barranco:

Coastal views of Miraflores in Lima, Peru

Visit the Larcomar (Miraflores): The Larcomar is a major shopping center located oceanside in Miraflores. It is here where you could find top-of-the-line restaurants, shops and high-end nightclubs. There are also affordable stores, cafés, sandwich shops and also popular chain restaurants.

A coastal restaurant in Lima

Stroll through Parque Kennedy (Miraflores): Kennedy Park is the main park in Miraflores and one of the most popular in Lima.

If you are a cat lover, then you will have a field day at Kennedy Park! The cats in Kennedy Park are strays and they are taken care of, fed and kept inside of the park to attract tourists.

As you stroll through Kennedy Park, you could admire the beautiful gardens, the stunning church Parroquia La Virgen Milagrosa, watch street performers and purchase souvenirs from artisan stands and enjoy delicious Peruvian street food.

Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Admire the Street Art (Barranco): If you are a lover of art or street murals, then Barranco is the place for you!

This hipster neighborhood was my favorite in Lima because of the gorgeous Spanish Colonial mansions, colorful street art, live performances and cute restaurants and cafés.

The best places to spot street art in Barranco are on the Avenida Pedro de Osma, Jiron 2 de mayo and Cajamarca Street. You could even spot the Pacific Ocean from these areas of the district.

A woman in front of street murals in the Barranco District of Lima

See the Gorgeous Manions on the Avenida Saenz Peña (Barranco): The Avenida Saenz Peña is one of the most beautiful streets in Lima as it features colonial mansions that are not only homes, they are also bars, restaurants, bookstores, museums and so much more!

Beautiful Spanish architecture in Lima

Walk Over the Bridge of Sighs (Barranco): A must visit in Barranco is the Bridge of Sighs.

According to Peruvian folklore, a wealthy homeowner of one of the mansions in Barranco forbade his daughter to see a street-sweeper who she was in love with. She then spent the rest of her life sighing and mourning the fate of her lost love, which is why it is called the ‘Bridge of Sighs’.

It is said that if you cross the bridge while holding your breath, you will find everlasting love.

A woman at the Bridge of Sighs in Lima during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

Watch a Street Performance in Barranco Main Square (Barranco): The colorful plaza in Barranco is a hub for fun activities in Lima. Located in the heart of the main square is the library.

The other buildings surrounding the square include coffee shops, restaurants, stores and more. During our time in this square, we got to watch a salsa performance, which was really cool!

A library in Barranco, Lima
Savor Delicious Lima Food and Beverages:
Peruvian Food from Peru

If you are looking to savor amazing Peruvian food during your 1 week Peru itinerary, Lima is the place to be!

One thing to note is that the food in Lima and on the coast is different than the food in Cusco and in the Andes Mountains. In the Andes, foods like quinoa, guinea pig, alpaca, potatoes and hot soups are popular whereas seafood, such as ceviche, are popular along the Peruvian coast.

Between fresh ceviche (a cold fish dish), Sanguche de Chicharron (a Peruvian sandwich), picarones (fried sugar donuts), pisco sour (a famous Peruvian cocktail) and Chicha Morada (a purple corn-based drink), I fell in love with all of the meals and beverages I consumed in Lima.

(It is very common to do a food tour in Lima.) Below are a list of restaurants and cafés I ate at:

Ceviche from Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Segundo Muelle (Barranco): This amazing oceanside restaurant is where you could find the most authentic Peruvian meals.

Even though it is on the pricier side, I highly recommend having lunch or dinner here, especially if you are looking to savor ceviche.

During my day in Lima, Cecilia and I had a late lunch at Segundo Muelle and enjoyed a buffet of amazing ceviches, fresh fish, seafood soups and dessert. Everything was amazing!

A delicious seafood lunch in Lima during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla (Miraflores): Prior to coming to Peru, I had no idea that sandwiches were so popular. When I was exploring Lima with Cecilia, she told me that I had to get a Peruvian sandwich.

After strolling through Kennedy Park, we made our way to La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla where we enjoyed the BEST sandwiches. You could either sit outside or inside, order at the counter and someone will bring your food and drinks to you.

I savored a delicious seasoned grilled chicken with pineapple sandwich along with papas huayro on the side (fried potatoes with purple inside) and it was amazing!

You could also order ham, turkey and beef sandwiches and get a freshly squeezed juice as well as cerveza (beer) on the side.

A Peruvian sandwich from Lima

Blu Gelateria (Barranco): As a mid-day snack, Cecilia and I stopped at a delicious homemade and organic gelato shop called Blu.

They have a variety of different flavors, especially local fruity flavors such as passion fruit and banana. It was a super adorable ice cream shop and it hit the spot.

Picarones from Kennedy Park in Lima

Street Food in Kennedy Park (Miraflores): As you stroll through Kennedy Park, there are food stands where you could purchase and savor Peruvian treats.

I was told to try the picarones, which is a fried donut that consists of squash and sweet potato that is served with a honey made from chancaca (a Chilean warm sweet sauce with sugar, orange peel and cinnamon). It is absolutely delicious!

You could also find other stands of amazing street food in Kennedy Park and throughout the city of Lima.

Day 8, July 1: Depart to Go Home

Exploring Barranco in Lima during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

After a fulfilling day in Lima with Cecilia, she and her boyfriend Juan were sweet enough to drop me off at the airport late at night for my overnight departure. I arrived home at JFK early the next morning.

If you are staying in Lima, there are a plethora of hotels, hostels and Airbnbs to suit all budgets.


A woman enjoying her 1 week in Peru itinerary

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my time in Peru and discovering the best 1 week Peru itinerary .

The beautiful Andes Mountains of Peru

If you have any questions about my time in Peru, please email me at [email protected]

Make sure to pin this post if you find it useful!

Peru 1-Week Travel Itinerary

Basic Facts of Peru:

Currency: Peruvian Sol, Capital: Lima, Time Zone: Peru does not follow Daylight Savings. During the summer months, Peru is on Central Standard Time and then it is on Eastern Standard Time during the winter months.

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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14 Comments

  1. Josefine on July 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    WOW Taylor! Your trip looks incredible! I can’t believe how much you experienced in that one week. You must’ve been exhausted when you came home, haha! Rainbow Mountain has been on my bucket list for so many years now and I’m really hoping to go within the next few years! Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks and your beautiful photos <3

    • Taylor Deer on July 5, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you so much Josefine! It was such an amazing trip and I couldn’t recommend Peru more. Rainbow Mountain is stunning, but the hike is a little challenging. It’s so rewarding in the end though! Also yes, I was so exhausted!

  2. Bucketlist Bri on July 5, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    You’re the cutest! Loved all your photos of you in your blue jacket overlooking the mountains. You really pumped out this awesome guide in such a short time!!! Like Josefine said, Rainbow Mountain has been on my bucket list for quite some time! xoxo

    • Taylor Deer on July 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you so much Brittany! It’s such an amazing trip and I couldn’t wait to share it. Rainbow Mountain is amazing! 🙂

  3. DeerTraveler on July 18, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Such a great itinerary! Hopefully, we can visit Peru soon as well, we will use your guide for sure! :))

    • Taylor Deer on July 19, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Thank you so much! You guys will love Peru when you go! 🙂

  4. Kit Stanwood on July 27, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    This is such an all-inclusive blog post! I love all of your photos! I’m going to reference this whenever I visit South Africa. Congrats on almost making it to all of the continents (maybe by the time you are reading this comment you will have gone to Antartica hehe). You documented this whole trip perfectly. Thank you for sharing. Ps- that is really funny that some people slide down unintentionally haha I hope no one got hurt while hiking there though!

    Kit from https://www.kitstanwood.com

    • Taylor Deer on July 28, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Thank you so much Kit! Haha thankfully no one got hurt. The only scary part was when there was a stray dog fight on Rainbow Mountain. I was a little freaked out by that. Otherwise, all was good! 🙂

  5. abby on December 8, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Hi! This is all so helpful! I am so happy I came across your blog on Pinterest:) I will be traveling to Peru in January and am deciding between the Salkantay trail and the Inca trail. I am leaning towards the Salkantay trek as I am on a time crunch and I like that they have the 3 day/2 night option instead of 4 days. What was your hiking experience prior to your trek? I am nervous about a multi-day hike as I don’t have much intense hiking experience and after doing some research, it seems that the Salkantay trail is harder than the Inca trail. Also, I am looking into Machu Picchu Reservations tours and it seems that the Salkantay options are significantly cheaper. Did you still get a good experience with them? I am nervous booking something too cheap because it seems like some other companies Inca trek options are way more expensive and want to make sure I will still get good and safe accommodations.

    I would love your insight! Thank you:)

    • Taylor Deer on December 14, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Thank you so much Abby! You made my day! 🙂 I highly recommend doing the Salkantay Trek through Machu Picchu Reservations! They were super reliable and the trek itself was amazing. My hiking experience is intermediate I would say. I live in an area where there are mountains, so I do go hiking a lot.

  6. Tali on December 16, 2019 at 11:48 am

    What tour company did you use for the rainbow mountain hike? I’m looking into going to Peru this summer.

    • Taylor Deer on December 16, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      It was called Rainbow Mountain Cusco! They were awesome 🙂

  7. Francesca on March 3, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Machu Picchu was such an incredible experience. I give everyone who hikes there so much credit (I opted for the train). I also missed Rainbow Mountain and all the good food in Lima.

    • Taylor Deer on March 3, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      I agree Francesca! It was amazing seeing it in person. Also I want to return and do the oasis there. 🙂

Leave a Comment





Taylor-Rainbow-Mountain

A woman at Machu Picchu during her 1 week itinerary in Peru

Peru is a beautiful country that everyone should explore at some point. I am excited to share my 1 week Peru itinerary to everyone who has a sense of wander!

Peru has always been a dream destination for me. I always admired the photos I came across of Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, the sky-high Andes Mountains and the beautiful cities.

Over the past few years, I have made it my mission to travel to a bucket list destination for my birthday and in June 2019 for my 28th, I decided to make Peru happen!

A woman at Machu Picchu during the Salkantay Trek on a 1 week Peru itinerary

(My annual birthday trips started at age 25; I went to the Greek Islands a week after I turned a quarter of a century (although I don’t really consider that a birthday trip since I went a week later in July). I rang in my 26th in Sicily, my 27th was spent gallivanting around France and my 29th birthday was celebrated on an American Southwest Road Trip.)

My birthday trip to Peru was my first time in South America and I’ve officially been to every continent besides Antarctica.

Due to budget and time constraints, I created my Peru itinerary for only 1 week. I honestly wish it‘d been two weeks since I felt that everything was rushed and I didn’t have much time to relax.

If you budget right and have the time, I highly recommend making your dream Peru trip happen during a 2-week time period, but if you are in my position and want to fully experience the country, I highly recommend following my 1 week itinerary below. You could still make the most of it!

A woman standing at Rainbow Mountain during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

During my week in Peru, I spent a few nights in Cusco; saw Rainbow Mountain in a day hiking trip; did the 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and spent my last day in Lima.

In this blog post, check out my 1 week Peru itinerary and read all about my time in Cusco, Lima and my hiking day trip to Rainbow Mountain. (Click here to read my thorough and detailed blog post about my 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.)

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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Traveling Solo to Peru:

A woman on her hotel rooftop in Cusco, Peru during a 1 week Peru itinerary

Before I go into my 1 week itinerary, I do want to let you all know that I traveled to Peru solo.

Honestly, I was pretty nervous about traveling alone to Peru because it was my first time solo in a non-Westernized country. I was supposed to do this trip with a friend, but due to her work schedule and timing, she unfortunately couldn’t come.

The best Peru 1-Week Travel Itinerary - Machu Picchu

I didn’t want to let that interfere with my dream destination, so I booked the flights and talked to a few other females who have done this trip solo as well who made me feel at ease.

Overall, I felt very safe in Peru and definitely recommend it as a great solo destination for female travelers. Just like anywhere else, I also didn’t put myself in sketchy situations, I did group tours, I got a hotel in a safe location and I didn’t wander alone by myself late at night.

Traveling to and Around Peru:

A woman zip lining during her 1 week Peru itinerary

Even though you could find amazing flight deals through Skyscanner, I decided to book my flight straight from LATAM Airlines’ website. They are recognized as one of the best airlines to fly to and from South America and I had a great experience with them.

The reason why I recommend flying with LATAM is because they are very reliable whereas the other (more affordable) airlines flying to and from the airports in Peru have a reputation of canceling flights last minute.

To ensure you are able to get around, book through LATAM. It’s worth the money and you don’t have to stress.

A group of hikers at Machu Picchu who completed the Salkantay Trek in Peru

Since my 1 week Peru itinerary began in Cusco, I flew from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima.

There are no direct flights from NYC to Cusco, so I had a layover in the capital city, Lima, before hopping on my next shorter flight to Alejandro Velasco Astete Cusco International Airport.

Besides flying, I mainly got around the country through the private shuttles and cars that were provided by the organized tour groups I did for my Rainbow Mountain day trip and the 3 Day Salkantay Trek.

During my time in Cusco, I got around by walking (since all of the hotspots are walkable) and got to and from the airport by taxi.

In Lima, they have Uber, so I highly recommend downloading the app and using them. (DO NOT take a taxi in Lima since drivers are known to raise their rates to foreigners. I was also told that they will take you through dangerous routes in Lima.) Even though it isn’t ideal to take a taxi in Lima, it is extremely safe and reliable to take one in Cusco.

If you are looking to do a road trip in Peru, I recommend renting a car!

Where to Stay in Cusco:

Hotel Andenes al Cielo in Cusco, Peru

During my 1 week in Peru itinerary, I only had to book one hotel during my entire time, which made things very easy.

Because I did the 3 Day Salkantay Trek, I was only responsible for booking my stay in Cusco. I lucked out of not having to book or pay for a hotel in Lima since my flight was in the middle of the night after the day I explored the capital.

The beautiful city of Cusco, Peru

During my 3 nights in Cusco, I stayed at the beautiful boutique Hotel Andenes al Cielo located in the heart of the city in an area called San Blas. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more since it is absolutely charming, warm and the staff is super friendly!

Located in a colonial mansion, Hotel Andenes al Cielo is in a short walking distance from the Plaza de Armas and Cusco’s best restaurants and shops.

A woman enjoying her time in Cusco, Peru

Not only is Hotel Andenes al Cielo super charming, it is also set around a gorgeous internal courtyard and has a picturesque rooftop terrace that overlooks the red tiled city of Cusco as well as the nearby Andes Mountains. It is absolutely beautiful and the architecture and décor is stunning and perfect!

Cusco, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

I stayed in the Single Room that included a full-sized bed and an en-suite bathroom. It was absolutely perfect for just myself and I loved how cozy it was.

In addition, the hotel also offered a full complimentary buffet breakfast that included fresh fruits from local farms, breads with fresh fruity jams, eggs, cold cuts, cereal made from quinoa, yogurt, coffee, coca tea, fresh juice and more.

Cusco, Peru during winter

What I also loved about staying at Hotel Andenes al Cielo is that it is super safe. You cannot enter or exit the hotel unless one of the staff members opens the front doors.

When you book a private tour where you will need to be picked up from the hotel, staff members always need to make sure the person picking you up says your name and the company they are from. It is awesome!

Historical Cusco, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Throughout Cusco, there are plenty of hotels and resorts you could book according to your budget. There are also a plethora of Airbnbs, Vrbos and hostels.

When to Travel to Peru:

A woman on the Salkantay Trek in Peru

When it comes to traveling to Peru, I would say the best time to plan your 1 week itinerary is when I went at the end of June or anytime between May through September.

Since Peru is located in the Southern Hemisphere, it was wintertime when I visited. What is nice about traveling to Peru during winter is that it is considered their dry season.

Mornings and nights in the Andes Mountains were cold (reaching down to the high 20s Fahrenheit) and daytime was absolutely beautiful (in the mid to high 60s Fahrenheit).

During my day in Lima, the weather was a bit warmer since the city isn’t highly elevated, but there was still a chilly breeze from the Pacific Ocean.

Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Please note that if you travel to Peru during their summertime, it is considered rainy season. Even though it is cheaper to travel to Peru during summer (December through March), the weather isn’t the most ideal for hiking since it is humid, damp and rainy.

The Altitude in Peru:

The Andes Mountains in Peru

One of the major things to consider when you plan your 1 week itinerary to Peru is the altitude and how it will affect your body.

An alpaca during the Salkantay Trek in Peru

Most travelers experience shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, fatigue, swelling of the hands and/or feet or loss of coordination when they travel to destinations of high elevations (usually over 8,000 feet above sea level or higher).

I will admit that the altitude affected me during my first few days in Peru. Even walking up a minor hill in the city or climbing up the stairs in my hotel made me feel like I got the wind knocked out of me. I also experienced a minor headache the first couple of days, but this all went away after 3 days when hiking up a mountain felt more “normal”.

A woman on the Salkantay Trek during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

Many people will bring medication to help them with the altitude, but since I don’t do well with most prescription pills, I decided I would toughen it up.

Everywhere you go in the Andes, there will always be coca tea offered to you whether it is in your hotel, at a restaurant or café, when you do a hike or trek, etc.

Not only is coca tea widely consumed in Peru, it is also a popular beverage in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia!

An Andean meal in Cusco

One thing to note is that the leaves of the coca plant contain alkaloids, when extracted chemically, are the source for cocaine. However, the amount of coca alkaloid in the raw leaves is small and will have no affects on anyone.

**Please also note that it is illegal and completely banned to bring coca tea leaves or any coca products into the United States and United Kingdom. (I don’t know the rules for other countries.) So, to play it safe, leave it in Peru!

A group of people on the Salkantay Trek during a 1 week itinerary in Peru

In addition to coca tea, most tour groups, hotels and restaurants have oxygen on-site in case anyone has severe altitude sickness.

My 1 Week Peru Itinerary:

A woman at Rainbow Mountain during her 1 week Peru itinerary

Day 1, June 24: Overnight Flight to Lima

Lima, Peru diring a 1 week Peru itinerary

My journey to Peru started at JFK Airport in New York. Flying to Peru was just like heading over to Europe where the flight was a red eye.

I left late at night and arrived in Lima the next morning. I was very happy that I had a non-stop flight from New York to Lima and it was only a 6.5/7-hour flight!

Day 2, June 25 (MY BIRTHDAY!): Cusco

A woman hiking during her 1 week Peru itinerary

After arriving in Lima on the morning of June 25, I hopped on a quick 45-minute flight that took me straight to Cusco.

When I arrived in Cusco, the staff at Hotel Andenes al Cielo organized a complimentary taxi to pick me up from the airport and take me to the hotel where I settled in.

Beautiful Cusco, Peru

During my birthday, I wanted to take it easy, explore the city of Cusco, savor a delicious Peruvian meal and adjust to the altitude. I will admit that even though I was a little bummed out to be spending my birthday alone that year, I still dressed up and went about my day in excitement.

Wander the Quaint Streets of San Blas:
The beautiful city of Cusco, Peru

The first thing I did when I walked out of my hotel was wander through the beautiful cobblestone streets of the San Blas neighborhood in Cusco. I loved immersing myself in the culture!

There were artisans selling wonderful crafts, Peruvians were walking around with llamas and alpacas, everyone had a smile on their face and the atmosphere was thriving!

Cusco during a Peru 1 week itinerary

During my nights in Cusco, I witnessed a major soccer win where the streets of San Blas had beautiful live music, people were dancing and everyone was so happy! This is also the area where you could find great restaurants and shops!

Admire the Spanish Architecture in The Plaza de Armas:
The Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru

Since my hotel was a short walk from the Plaza de Armas, I went straight there and admired the mix of the gorgeous Inca and European Spanish architecture.

As you walk through this area, you could also see the original Inca walls that are made out of large stones. Please remember to not lean back on the stones or place your hands and feet on the wall because it is a sacred site.

Exploring the Plaza de Armas during a 1 week Peru itinerary

The Plaza de Armas was filled with gorgeous historical sites including the Cusco Cathedral and the Church La Compañía de Jesús. There are also gardens, great restaurants, shops, small businesses and more within the Plaza de Armas.

In addition, plenty of events and festivals happen in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. In fact, a day before I arrived in Cusco, the Inti Raymi took place in celebration of winter solstice. It is one of the largest festivals in the city.

If you could add the Inti Raymi into your 1 week Peru itinerary, definitely do so because it is memorable for all!

Tour the Cusco Cathedral:
Seeing the Cusco Cathedral during a Peru 1 week itinerary

During my day in Cusco, I took a self-guided tour through the Cusco Cathedral. Built in 1560, this beautiful cathedral became the official seat of the diocese and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Beautiful architecture in Cusco, Peru

What you must see in the Cusco Cathedral are the crypts that hold the ashes of deceased archbishops; the Sala de la Plateria (or The Silver Room), which holds silver artifacts; the Painting of the Last Supper; the beautiful Choir Stalls; the Señor de los Temblores, which is the black statue of the crucifixion of Jesus and one of the most important symbols of Christianity in Peru as well as the Sacristy, which holds many portraits of past bishops in Cusco.

Learn History at Qorikancha:
Qorikancha in Cusco, Peru

Known as the holiest site and most important temple in the Inca Empire, Qorikancha is a must-see in Cusco during your 1 week Peru itinerary.

This sacred site to the Incans has a historical past. When the Spanish came, they demanded a ransom after kidnapping the Incan Emperor Atahualpa. After the emperor was released, the Spanish conquistadors murdered him.

The Inca walls in Cusco, Peru

Once the Spanish took over Cusco, they chose to destroy Qorikancha and tarnish any remaining gold. The church and convent of Santo Domingo was then built right next door. This site is an important link to the Incans and helps others understand the clash of the two civilizations.

Walk through the San Pedro Market:
Cusco, Peru in the evening

Another great must-visit during your time in Cusco is the San Pedro Market. It is here where you could find fresh produce, local spices, beautiful home décor, stylish ponchos and so much more.

Eat in Cusco:
Cusco during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

Even though only 3 nights were spent in Cusco during my 1 week in Peru itinerary, I only ate out at two restaurants since I was mainly on tours or doing the Salkantay Trek.

I really wish I would’ve explored more of the restaurant and foodie culture of Cusco because I had a lot of them on my bucket list, but I just didn’t have enough time.

Below are two restaurants that I ate in San Blas that I highly recommend:

A delicious Andean meal in Cusco, Peru during a 1 week Peruvian itinerary

A Mi Manera Restaurant (Peruvian Food): For my actual birthday dinner, I really wanted to savor authentic Peruvian food, so my hotel recommend A Mi Manera located in San Blas, right before you enter the Plaza de Armas.

The staff at A Mi Manera were super friendly and I enjoyed a lovely Chaufa de Quinoa which consisted of black quinoa, zucchini, mushrooms, sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce.

One thing I noticed about the cuisine in Peru is that it is very healthy and it’s super easy to find vegetarian and vegan options if that is your diet. I enjoyed my meal with a glass of Peruvian red wine and coca tea (because it was my first night and I was adjusting to the altitude).

Breakfast for dinner at Jack's Cafe

Jack’s Café (Modern American Cuisine): I will admit that I am not usually big on American or “westernized” food mainly because it is very heavy, greasy and fattening.

After you read about my experience at Rainbow Mountain below, you will see why I needed a heavy meal after that day. Jack’s Café is a super cute and cozy café located on the same street my hotel was on in San Blas.

It is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or dinner and they offer everything from pancakes to club sandwiches and soups to chicken curry. I had breakfast for dinner and savored pancakes with mango cream, fresh local fruit and honey. I also had mocha, which was amazing and coca tea!

Day 3, June 26: Rainbow Mountain Day Trip

A woman at Rainbow Mountain during a 1 week Peru itinerary

The day after my birthday, I woke up at 3am for a 4am pickup from my hotel to take me to Rainbow Mountain – a bucket list destination! (It takes about 3 hours to get to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco.)

Definitely ensure that a day hike to Rainbow Mountain is on your 1 week Peru itinerary because it is absolutely amazing!

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Also known as Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountain is a colorful set of mountains located super high in the Andes. Sedimentary mineral layers that have been exposed by erosion formed the colors of the mountains.

One thing to note about Rainbow Mountain is that it is actually higher in elevation than Machu Picchu. At 5,200 meters or 17,060 feet above sea level, it is almost as high as Everest Base Camp!

Rainbow Mountain is the perfect day trip from Cusco and I highly recommend booking a tour like I did.

The Rainbow Mountain day hike

Please note that you HAVE to hike in order to get to the main viewing point of Rainbow Mountain. Since the elevation at Rainbow Mountain is almost at the highest point in Peru, you will definitely feel the altitude!

You can pay to go up and down Rainbow Mountain via horseback if you get sick, hurt or feel like you physically cannot continue the hike.

I also recommend using hiking polls to help you trek up as well. It totally helped me! (Plus, make sure you purchase actual hiking boots prior to traveling to Peru because you walk over rough terrains, step in water and need the most support and protection possible!)

Another reminder is that water bottles are not provided on the tour, so you will be responsible for getting your own cold water. I recommend bringing your own water bottle so you could help save the environment by not using plastic and you could refill it anytime you want. (Please note that you cannot drink the tap water in Peru unless it is boiled.)

You could also purchase water throughout the trek since there are locals selling it along the way. The locals will also sell fresh local fruits, chocolate, candies, soda, Gatorade, cereal bars, chips/pretzels and more.

Two friends on the hike at Rainbow Mountain during a 1 week Peru itinerary

After I was picked up from my hotel at 4am from a private car, I met up with the group I hiked Rainbow Mountain with behind the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

We then hopped on a shuttle that took us to Rainbow Mountain. About halfway into the trip, we stopped at a house that provided our group with breakfast where we enjoyed coca tea, coffee, fresh juice, fruit, breads, jams, cereal and cold cuts.

A group of hikers during the Rainbow Mountain Day Hike

Afterwards, we drove through windy and bumpy roads to get to the start of the Rainbow Mountain hike.

During this hike, we got to connect with our fellow trekkers that consisted of solo travelers from Mexico, Brazil and Wales; a couple from India and a friend group from New York City. Our tour guide was awesome and named our group “Sexy Llamas”.

In addition, we hiked past picturesque villages, stunning adobe houses and herds of llamas and alpacas. When you finally reach the top, you could not only catch views of the breathtaking Rainbow Mountain, but you could also spot Ausangate Glacier and Huascaránthe highest mountain in Peru at 20,945 feet above sea level.

The highest mountain in Peru

(Please note that if you want to take a photo with the llamas/ alpacas or even with the local people who are dressed up, you will need to tip them.)

Another thing to note about visiting Rainbow Mountain during your 1 week in Peru itinerary is that there are a lot of people there. The higher you trek up the viewing point, the more likely you are to get better photos.

A woman with llamas at Rainbow Mountain in Peru during a 1 week itinerary

When you are finished viewing the mountain, you will need to hike back down. The trek down the mountain is very steep, so please be careful and watch out. I did witness a few people fall and slide down unintentionally.

On our way back to Cusco, we stopped at the same house who provided us with an amazing lunch of rice, potatoes, fresh vegetables, chicken and an amazing Peruvian omelet. Everything was fulfilling!

Day 4, Day 5 & Day 6, June 27 – June 29: 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

A woman who completed the 3 Day Salkantay trek in Peru during a 1 week itinerary

**Click here to read my detail blog post about my 3 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. It is here where I go into the specifics of everything this trek consisted of.

Machu Picchu in Peru

The Salkantay Trek was ranked one of the best hikes in the world according to National Geographic Adventure Travel. Overall, I highly recommend adding a trek to your 1 week Peru itinerary. It is a once in a lifetime experience!

I did my trek through Machu Picchu Reservations and I couldn’t recommend them more because they are absolutely great, very professional and their treks are affordable.  (You could also read more about Machu Picchu on Lonely Planet.)

A woman doing the Salkantay Trek during a 1 week Peru itinerary

In addition to the Salkantay Trek, they also provide other organized treks, hikes and tours for the Inca Trail, Rainbow Mountain, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu, Choquequirao Trek, Laguna Humantay, the salt mines, various city tours and more.

Not only could you do a 3 Day Salkantay Trek, they also have a 2 Day, 4 Day and 5 Day trek. Even though I did the 3 day, 2 night trek, the 4 day, 3 night option is the most popular!

The Salkantay Trek in Peru

Although I go more into the specifics of this trek in my other Peru blog, an overall summary included getting picked up at my hotel in Cusco at 2am on June 27, 2019 and being taken to the starting point at Quisarniyoc where I was joined with my group who were doing the 4 Day Salkantay Trek.

(I was the only one who did the 3 Day Salkantay Trek in my group since I signed up only a month ahead of time. At that point, the group had already done a day along the trek and spent the night at the campsite I met them for breakfast. Please note that you could start the Salkantay Trek at any time and meet up with a group since there are treks going on everyday.)

A group of hikers on the Salkantay Trek in Peru during a 1 week itinerary

From Quisarniyoc, we began the hardest part of the trek through the Salkantay Pass where we reached an altitude of over 15,000 feet above sea level.

After reaching the highest elevation of the trek, we began to descend into the jungle where we spent the night at a campsite in Chaulley.

A campsite at Chaulley during the Salkantay Trek

The next day began in the jungle of Chaullay where we hiked along the Santa Teresa Valley, which is formed along the Salkantay River.

After having some fun zip lining, walking across a cable bridge and rock climbing, we were taken by van to Hidroelectrica where each of us walked 3 hours in the rain and dark along a railroad to Aguas Calientes – a thriving town where we spent the night in a hostel before ascending to Machu Picchu the next day.

(Please make sure you bring a headlamp prior to this trek because there are times where you will be walking in complete darkness.)

Trekking in the dark in Peru

During our final day, we began our trek from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu at 4:30am where we hiked up thousands of stoned steps to the entrance of the World Wonder!

When we finally made it to Machu Picchu, we were able to see the sunrise and wander through the lost city of the Incas for a few hours.

Not only did we admire the views of Machu Picchu, we also got to walk around and see the Inca Bridge before heading back down to Hidroelectrica where we caught our shuttle to take us 7 hours back to Cusco.

The Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru

After walking for 4 days during my 1 week Peru itinerary (including the hike to Rainbow Mountain right before my trek), my knees were so sore and I could barely walk (especially downhill), my feet and hands were swollen and full of blisters and I felt super dirty. I also had been sleep deprived because everyday consisted of waking up between 1am – 5am.

It was all so worth it though when I saw Machu Picchu for the first time in the end. I am happy I settled for the hike instead of taking the train or the bus to Machu Picchu (the other, easier option for those who don’t want to do the trek or those who can’t – please make sure you book way ahead to see Machu Picchu if you don’t do the hike).

I appreciated this amazing site so much more from doing the trek and despite being physically and mentally challenged, I felt like I accomplished something that has made my soul more fulfilled.

A woman admiring the views of Machu Picchu

Overall, I loved doing my trek through Machu Picchu Reservations and my tour guide Oscar (Clavix) was awesome!

Included in the price of my trek was the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu; the pre-departure trek briefing, which was the night before the tour; a duffle bag to carry up to 7 kilos (15 lbs.) of your belongings, which were carried by horses (I left my luggage that contained my laptop, valuables and other dressy clothing items at my hotel who locked and stored it in their private room during the days I did the trek); a bilingual professional guide; a guided visit around Machu Picchu; transportation to and from the trek; 1-night of camping; 1-night in a hostel in Aguas Calientes; three breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners; the cooks who wrapped up all the meals on tour and First Aid equipment.

You could also rent extra hiking equipment from Machu Picchu Reservations at an additional cost. I rented hiking polls for the trek and a sleeping bag for the night we camped (you could also bring your own sleeping bag that will be carried by the horses).

The beautiful nature during the Salkantay Trek in Peru

In addition, you could book an extra excursion and trek to Huayna Picchu and Montaña Machu Picchu through Machu Picchu Reservations.

You could also upgrade and take the train back to Cusco instead of trekking back down to Hidroelectrica and taking the shuttle back.

Day 7, June 30: Lima

A beautiful church in Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

On my last full day in Peru, I enjoyed breakfast at Hotel Andenes al Cielo and then took a taxi to the airport to fly to Lima (the flight from Cusco to Lima is just short of 45 minutes).

I spent the day in the capital city before flying back home to JFK in the middle of the night. (Lima should most definitely be on your 1 week Peru itinerary. I also recommend staying more than one day in the capital.)

Two women exploring Lima, Peru

During my day in Lima, Peru, I was supposed to do an Airbnb experience exploring the culture and food of the city, but my host backed out last minute due to an emergency.

Instead, it worked out better because my friend Cecilia from 2nd grade reached out to me on Facebook. She has been living in Lima and saw that I was traveling around the country. We ended up reuniting after 20 years and spent the entire day together!

In all honestly, I never thought I would ever see Cecilia again after 2nd grade. We reconnected on Facebook in 2009, right before my high school graduation and have kept in touch. I still never thought I’d see her again.

It’s amazing where life and the world could take and reconnect us with old friends. Cecilia took me around Lima, gave me a cultural lesson and showed me where her family grew up. It was amazing!

Explore the City of Lima:
Ocean views of Lima, Peru

Lima definitely surprised me with its culture, beauty and food. During my day in Lima, Cecilia took me to all of the hotspots in the areas of Miraflores and Barranco.

Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru

The history of Lima dates back to the colonial presence in the country when the Viceroyalty of Peru turned the city into the main political and administrative center of South America in the early to mid 16th Century. During this time period, significant churches, monasteries, mansions and beautiful buildings were built.

Nowadays, Lima is considered a World Heritage Site and you could find amazing museums, archaeological sites, beautiful cliffside beaches with surfers, gorgeous nature, amazing restaurants and cafés, a thriving nightlife, talented artwork and so much more!

Talented murals in Barranco, Lima, Peru

Lima is situated on the coast of Peru. It borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and mountains to the east.

The Upscale District of Miraflores:
Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

The first area I visited in Lima, where I met up with Cecilia, was the upscale district of Miraflores.

This beautiful area was one of the first to have been settled by the Spanish after Lima was founded. It is here where you could go to the beach, shop, walk the boardwalk and enjoy amazing food.

Overall, Lima is a very active city, so you will see a lot of runners, bikers and people on rollerblades.

The Bohemian District of Barranco:
Barranco in Lima, Peru

Barranco is known as the Bohemian and Artsy district of Lima where artists, designers and musicians reside in beautiful Spanish colonial mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

This was my favorite district in Lima and I enjoyed wandering through this area and admiring everything I saw.

Below is everything I did in Miraflores and Barranco:

Coastal views of Miraflores in Lima, Peru

Visit the Larcomar (Miraflores): The Larcomar is a major shopping center located oceanside in Miraflores. It is here where you could find top-of-the-line restaurants, shops and high-end nightclubs. There are also affordable stores, cafés, sandwich shops and also popular chain restaurants.

A coastal restaurant in Lima

Stroll through Parque Kennedy (Miraflores): Kennedy Park is the main park in Miraflores and one of the most popular in Lima.

If you are a cat lover, then you will have a field day at Kennedy Park! The cats in Kennedy Park are strays and they are taken care of, fed and kept inside of the park to attract tourists.

As you stroll through Kennedy Park, you could admire the beautiful gardens, the stunning church Parroquia La Virgen Milagrosa, watch street performers and purchase souvenirs from artisan stands and enjoy delicious Peruvian street food.

Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Admire the Street Art (Barranco): If you are a lover of art or street murals, then Barranco is the place for you!

This hipster neighborhood was my favorite in Lima because of the gorgeous Spanish Colonial mansions, colorful street art, live performances and cute restaurants and cafés.

The best places to spot street art in Barranco are on the Avenida Pedro de Osma, Jiron 2 de mayo and Cajamarca Street. You could even spot the Pacific Ocean from these areas of the district.

A woman in front of street murals in the Barranco District of Lima

See the Gorgeous Manions on the Avenida Saenz Peña (Barranco): The Avenida Saenz Peña is one of the most beautiful streets in Lima as it features colonial mansions that are not only homes, they are also bars, restaurants, bookstores, museums and so much more!

Beautiful Spanish architecture in Lima

Walk Over the Bridge of Sighs (Barranco): A must visit in Barranco is the Bridge of Sighs.

According to Peruvian folklore, a wealthy homeowner of one of the mansions in Barranco forbade his daughter to see a street-sweeper who she was in love with. She then spent the rest of her life sighing and mourning the fate of her lost love, which is why it is called the ‘Bridge of Sighs’.

It is said that if you cross the bridge while holding your breath, you will find everlasting love.

A woman at the Bridge of Sighs in Lima during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

Watch a Street Performance in Barranco Main Square (Barranco): The colorful plaza in Barranco is a hub for fun activities in Lima. Located in the heart of the main square is the library.

The other buildings surrounding the square include coffee shops, restaurants, stores and more. During our time in this square, we got to watch a salsa performance, which was really cool!

A library in Barranco, Lima
Savor Delicious Lima Food and Beverages:
Peruvian Food from Peru

If you are looking to savor amazing Peruvian food during your 1 week Peru itinerary, Lima is the place to be!

One thing to note is that the food in Lima and on the coast is different than the food in Cusco and in the Andes Mountains. In the Andes, foods like quinoa, guinea pig, alpaca, potatoes and hot soups are popular whereas seafood, such as ceviche, are popular along the Peruvian coast.

Between fresh ceviche (a cold fish dish), Sanguche de Chicharron (a Peruvian sandwich), picarones (fried sugar donuts), pisco sour (a famous Peruvian cocktail) and Chicha Morada (a purple corn-based drink), I fell in love with all of the meals and beverages I consumed in Lima.

(It is very common to do a food tour in Lima.) Below are a list of restaurants and cafés I ate at:

Ceviche from Lima, Peru during a 1 week itinerary

Segundo Muelle (Barranco): This amazing oceanside restaurant is where you could find the most authentic Peruvian meals.

Even though it is on the pricier side, I highly recommend having lunch or dinner here, especially if you are looking to savor ceviche.

During my day in Lima, Cecilia and I had a late lunch at Segundo Muelle and enjoyed a buffet of amazing ceviches, fresh fish, seafood soups and dessert. Everything was amazing!

A delicious seafood lunch in Lima during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla (Miraflores): Prior to coming to Peru, I had no idea that sandwiches were so popular. When I was exploring Lima with Cecilia, she told me that I had to get a Peruvian sandwich.

After strolling through Kennedy Park, we made our way to La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla where we enjoyed the BEST sandwiches. You could either sit outside or inside, order at the counter and someone will bring your food and drinks to you.

I savored a delicious seasoned grilled chicken with pineapple sandwich along with papas huayro on the side (fried potatoes with purple inside) and it was amazing!

You could also order ham, turkey and beef sandwiches and get a freshly squeezed juice as well as cerveza (beer) on the side.

A Peruvian sandwich from Lima

Blu Gelateria (Barranco): As a mid-day snack, Cecilia and I stopped at a delicious homemade and organic gelato shop called Blu.

They have a variety of different flavors, especially local fruity flavors such as passion fruit and banana. It was a super adorable ice cream shop and it hit the spot.

Picarones from Kennedy Park in Lima

Street Food in Kennedy Park (Miraflores): As you stroll through Kennedy Park, there are food stands where you could purchase and savor Peruvian treats.

I was told to try the picarones, which is a fried donut that consists of squash and sweet potato that is served with a honey made from chancaca (a Chilean warm sweet sauce with sugar, orange peel and cinnamon). It is absolutely delicious!

You could also find other stands of amazing street food in Kennedy Park and throughout the city of Lima.

Day 8, July 1: Depart to Go Home

Exploring Barranco in Lima during a 1 week in Peru itinerary

After a fulfilling day in Lima with Cecilia, she and her boyfriend Juan were sweet enough to drop me off at the airport late at night for my overnight departure. I arrived home at JFK early the next morning.

If you are staying in Lima, there are a plethora of hotels, hostels and Airbnbs to suit all budgets.


A woman enjoying her 1 week in Peru itinerary

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my time in Peru and discovering the best 1 week Peru itinerary .

The beautiful Andes Mountains of Peru

If you have any questions about my time in Peru, please email me at [email protected]

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Peru 1-Week Travel Itinerary

Basic Facts of Peru:

Currency: Peruvian Sol, Capital: Lima, Time Zone: Peru does not follow Daylight Savings. During the summer months, Peru is on Central Standard Time and then it is on Eastern Standard Time during the winter months.

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14 Comments

  1. Josefine on July 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    WOW Taylor! Your trip looks incredible! I can’t believe how much you experienced in that one week. You must’ve been exhausted when you came home, haha! Rainbow Mountain has been on my bucket list for so many years now and I’m really hoping to go within the next few years! Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks and your beautiful photos <3

    • Taylor Deer on July 5, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you so much Josefine! It was such an amazing trip and I couldn’t recommend Peru more. Rainbow Mountain is stunning, but the hike is a little challenging. It’s so rewarding in the end though! Also yes, I was so exhausted!

  2. Bucketlist Bri on July 5, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    You’re the cutest! Loved all your photos of you in your blue jacket overlooking the mountains. You really pumped out this awesome guide in such a short time!!! Like Josefine said, Rainbow Mountain has been on my bucket list for quite some time! xoxo

    • Taylor Deer on July 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you so much Brittany! It’s such an amazing trip and I couldn’t wait to share it. Rainbow Mountain is amazing! 🙂

  3. DeerTraveler on July 18, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Such a great itinerary! Hopefully, we can visit Peru soon as well, we will use your guide for sure! :))

    • Taylor Deer on July 19, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Thank you so much! You guys will love Peru when you go! 🙂

  4. Kit Stanwood on July 27, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    This is such an all-inclusive blog post! I love all of your photos! I’m going to reference this whenever I visit South Africa. Congrats on almost making it to all of the continents (maybe by the time you are reading this comment you will have gone to Antartica hehe). You documented this whole trip perfectly. Thank you for sharing. Ps- that is really funny that some people slide down unintentionally haha I hope no one got hurt while hiking there though!

    Kit from https://www.kitstanwood.com

    • Taylor Deer on July 28, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Thank you so much Kit! Haha thankfully no one got hurt. The only scary part was when there was a stray dog fight on Rainbow Mountain. I was a little freaked out by that. Otherwise, all was good! 🙂

  5. abby on December 8, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Hi! This is all so helpful! I am so happy I came across your blog on Pinterest:) I will be traveling to Peru in January and am deciding between the Salkantay trail and the Inca trail. I am leaning towards the Salkantay trek as I am on a time crunch and I like that they have the 3 day/2 night option instead of 4 days. What was your hiking experience prior to your trek? I am nervous about a multi-day hike as I don’t have much intense hiking experience and after doing some research, it seems that the Salkantay trail is harder than the Inca trail. Also, I am looking into Machu Picchu Reservations tours and it seems that the Salkantay options are significantly cheaper. Did you still get a good experience with them? I am nervous booking something too cheap because it seems like some other companies Inca trek options are way more expensive and want to make sure I will still get good and safe accommodations.

    I would love your insight! Thank you:)

    • Taylor Deer on December 14, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Thank you so much Abby! You made my day! 🙂 I highly recommend doing the Salkantay Trek through Machu Picchu Reservations! They were super reliable and the trek itself was amazing. My hiking experience is intermediate I would say. I live in an area where there are mountains, so I do go hiking a lot.

  6. Tali on December 16, 2019 at 11:48 am

    What tour company did you use for the rainbow mountain hike? I’m looking into going to Peru this summer.

    • Taylor Deer on December 16, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      It was called Rainbow Mountain Cusco! They were awesome 🙂

  7. Francesca on March 3, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Machu Picchu was such an incredible experience. I give everyone who hikes there so much credit (I opted for the train). I also missed Rainbow Mountain and all the good food in Lima.

    • Taylor Deer on March 3, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      I agree Francesca! It was amazing seeing it in person. Also I want to return and do the oasis there. 🙂

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