Peru has fascinated travellers for centuries. It has been a constant source of inspiration to culture connoisseurs, historians, artists and travellers alike. Travel to Peru for the adventure trip of a lifetime, or the wellness vacation of your dreams. Vegan travelers or women travelling alone will also find this an ideal place.
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT
June through September are Peru's dry season and considered the best months to visit.
12 DAY PERU ITINERARY
ARRIVE IN LIMA, PERU
Welcome to Peru
Transfer to your hotel
Where to stay:
Travellers typically stay in one of two neighborhoods: Miraflores or Barranco.
My recommendation is Barranco which has earned a reputation as the bohemian district of Lima because of its bright buildings, beautiful street art and charming streets. It’s also home to Lima’s best bars and some of its best restaurants – and definitely some of the best coffee shops.
Casa Falleri Boutique Hotel
Circa-1916 mansion-turned-boutique hotel offering a refined restaurant, a bar & free breakfast.
Morning - DISCOVER THE HISTORIC CENTRE OF LIMA THROUGH A LOCAL's EYES - This Lima tour combines the classic highlights of Lima’s historical centre with alternative, less touristic hidden gems. On this private tour, you’ll visit traditional highlights Plaza San Martin, Plaza de Armas and the San Francisco Church but you’ll also pass by the old Post Office, Lima’s old walls, China Town, the Central Market and some other less known places. Your guide will share some interesting stories and facts about not only these historic places but also about Lima’s current reality.
In the next three hours, you will walk by the major highlights of the historic centre of Lima: Plaza San Martin with the majestic Hotel Bolivar, the impressive Plaza de Armas or the main square of Lima with the Cathedral, City Hall, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Government Palace, the old train station transformed into the House of Literature, the San Francisco church and the many beautiful mansions with the typical wooden balconies. Besides these classics, your guide will also take you to some hidden gems such as the old Postal Office, the Park of the City Wall with the view on one of Lima’s oldest human settlements, China Town and the bustling Central Market, where many locals do their shopping. You’ll walk through a part of Lima that is just outside the touristic area but gives you a good idea of the ‘real’ Lima, full of people, little shops, a lot of colors.
While walking, your guide will tell you some interesting facts of daily life in Lima, contemporary and recent history, interesting stories and of course answer all your questions about life in Lima, Peru’s history or about anything you’re curious about!
Enjoy an executivo lunch at Manatial Restaurant Vegetariano
Afternoon - Surround yourself in local culture exploring the Barranco neighbourhood - beautiful murals, the Bridge of Sighs, a walk enjoying seaside views and peruse some unique handicrafts and locally created goods at shops like Artesanias Las Pallas, Artesanos Don Bosco and Artesanias Portico.
Enjoy a special dinner with wine on the terrace of Huaca Pucllana, overlooking the illuminated ruins of a 1500-year-old, pre-Inca pyramid.
Morning - Depart Lima - Direct bus to Paracas (El Chaco), a beautiful small town by the sea.
Two hour boat tour of the Ballestas Islands. The Ballestas are a smaller version of the Galapagos, and just as great. You'll see sea lions, penguins and lots of birds all in their natural habitat. If you're lucky you may even see a dolphin or three!
Enjoy a delicious vegan meal at Vegano Peruano with a great view overlooking the water from the fifth floor. Try the Tacu Tacu.
Afternoon - Tour of Paracas National Reserve - one of South America's biggest protected desert reserves. Stunning Pacific coastline where desert meets ocean.
Grab a quick dinner of a burger (meat and vegan options available) and pick up some snacks before catching your 6:30pm overnight bus to Arequipa. *the bus is a more eco-friendly option and is quite comfortable but flights are available*
Morning - Arrive in Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city with a population of over 800,000 people and arguably the most beautiful city in Peru. It is situated about 2,335 metres above sea level in the shadows of the stunning ice capped Misti Volcano (5,822 metres. A perfect place to acclimatise to altitude for tours of the Colca Valley and Machu Picchu further down the line.
Check into your hotel and drop off your luggage.
I recommend Casa Arequipa. Casa Arequipa combines the elegant look of a well-preserved mansion with the relaxed ambiance of a private home. Luxurious décor, superior amenities and a warm, unpretentious atmosphere.
Start by a stroll to Palacios Coffee for a strong brew to pump you up for a beautiful day. Then head to the World Heritage Site historical centre of Arequipa. Start at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. Occupying a whole block and guarded by imposing high walls, it is one of the most fascinating religious buildings in Peru. Nor is it just a religious building – the 20,000-sq-meter complex is almost a citadel within the city. It was founded in 1580 by a rich widow, doña María de Guzmán. The best way to visit Santa Catalina is to hire one of the informative guides, available for 20 soles from inside the entrance. The tours last about an hour, after which you’ll want to keep exploring for another hour or two. There's a charming cafe within to take a break and get a refreshing beverage.
Lunch at the nearby Prana Vegan Restaurant-Ecobar on the lovely patio. Try a vegan version of a Peruvian classic dish. May I suggest a glass of Peruvian wine or a craft beer to accompany? You are on vacation after all!
Spend your afternoon exploring at leisure. The multiple churches, locals market and charming streets of the white city beckon. You might want to check out the museum featuring Mummy Juanita also known as the Inca Ice Maiden, the ice preserved mummy of a small child who was killed as an offering to the Inca gods.
Head to the Sunset Rooftop Bar and learn to make a Pisco Sour before relaxing and taking in a gorgeous sunset.
There are multiple great options for dinner - Inkari Pub or el buda profano are two of my picks. Head to Museo del Pisco for an after dinner drink or head to happy hour on one of the multiple restaurant balconies overlooking the gorgeous main square.