8-Day Peru Itinerary: Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu
We have just returned from a bucket list trip to Peru. It was our very first time to South America and we absolutely fell in love with the people, food, experiences and scenery of Peru.
Since returning, I have already received multiple requests for our itinerary so I figured it would be easiest to provide an outline of what our 8-day itinerary looked like. I have included the basics such as where we stayed, logistics, excursions, and restaurants. I will be going into more detail about our 4-day Salkantay Trek and overnight stay at the Sky lodge Adventure Suites in separate posts.
NIGHT 1: LIMA
One of the great parts of traveling to Peru from the Atlanta area is how easy it is to get to. Delta offers direct flights that depart Atlanta in the early evening and land in Lima before midnight.
One of my best decisions we made (thanks to the Points Guy), was to stay at the Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport hotel upon arrival. We landed in Cusco around 11:00PM and were heading straight to Cusco the following morning. Once you get through Customs, follow signs or ask for directions and you will be lead across a outdoor bridge walkway straight into the hotel lobby.
If you decide to stay at the airport hotel, book as many months in advance as you can. This hotel books up quick as it is the most convenient hotel (by far) for the large number of travelers coming through Lima.
Bonus: Free (and delicious) buffet breakfast to kick off your next travel day!
Day 1: CUSCO
There are a ton of flights that leave from Lima to Cusco on a daily basis. The big decision is which airline you want to take. We ended up choosing LATAM airlines which tends to be a little more pricey for tourists (still not unreasonable) but I read a lot of reviews on other budget airlines having serious delays and regular cancellations taking place. We did not want to take that risk given our short time frame for this trip.
If you fly LATAM or really any of the smaller regional airlines, your best bet is to read up on the allowable luggage and pay ahead of time for checked bags if needed as it will definitely save money.
Upon arrival in Cusco, our complimentary transfer was outside of arrivals with a private car to take us to our hotel, Antigua Casona San Blas.
I could go on and on about our awesome experience here. The staff was extremely helpful, the gorgeous Peruvian style patio is the perfect spot for R&R, the food was wonderful and all of the rooms had their own unique feel. The staff will happily make restaurant reservations for you, set up tours, and they even have oxygen on-site in case you have have more severe altitude sickness symptoms.
Bring a re-usable water bottle with you to save money. At Antigua Casona, they have a 100% safe to drink, filtered water faucet in the front lobby where you can re-fill your bottle as much as you want for free. (They also have hot water at all times in the lobby)
Book your hotel room online directly with the hotel if you choose to stay here. Not only did we get a room deal but it also included the complimentary breakfast and airport transfer.
Unless you are somehow very acclimated with high altitude; then my best recommendation is to do exactly what we did on our first full day; relax and rest your body. It takes a lot of work for your body to get used to the higher altitude, so give your body a break and take in the gorgeous views of Cusco.
Our favorite restaurant was located right down the street from our hotel. Pachapapa is (in my opinion) the perfect place to kick off your first day and meal in Cusco. You can’t go wrong with their in-house baked bread, quinoa soup, chicken and noodles and more baked bread. 🙂
DAY 2: CUSCO TO SACRED VALLEY
Excursion day! But first, a delicious breakfast at our hotel restaurant.
With a free morning before our 2:00PM pick-up to head to the Sky Lodge Adventure Suites; we spent the morning wandering the streets of Cusco. Within 10-15 minutes of our hotel
We also managed to stumble across my favorite coffee shop before we went on our biggest adventure yet. (Don’t miss L’atelier Cafe Concept in San Blas)
At 2:00pm we got picked up by Natura Vive; the company in charge of the Skylodge Adventure Suites experience. The “experience” starts with pick-up at your hotel and includes the drive to the Sacred Valley, a safety briefing, approximately two hours of climbing via ferrata, dinner, an overnight stay, breakfast, zip-lining down the mountain and the return drive to Cusco.
You can check out more details on our experience at the Skylodge here.
DAY 3: SACRED VALLEY TO CUSCO
After an adventurous morning and great breakfast at our Skylodge suites; we were en route back to Cusco.
We stayed at Antigua Casona San Blas once again and they were generous in allowing us to leave our larger luggage with them every time we left for our next ‘excursion’ or activity.
With our 4-day hike quickly approaching, we spent the remainder of the day relaxing, napping and recharging for the next adventure.
Jack’s Cafe: An Australian restaurant right off the corner of San Blas neighborhood. The menu is full of more ‘americanized’ options including pancakes, french toast, burgers, and salads. I had a delicious (and huge) veggie burger. If you’re craving some food more familiar to home than I definitely recommend checking out this spot. (get there early or be patient with the wait!)
Incanto: A higher end restaurant right off the main square. We enjoyed another carb-filled meal to prepare for our upcoming hike. Good food but definitely a bit overpriced given it’s location on the square.
Greens Organics: Located right off the main square next to Incanto. This is the perfect place if you are seeking healthy but delicious food. I had an amazing fresh fruit smoothie, vegetable pasta and creamy quinoa lasagna.
DAY 4 – 7: SALKANTAY TREK
I thought that the trek itself deserved a post of it’s own (including a packing list) which you can find here. (coming soon)
After receiving a recommendation from a friend, we decided to do the 4-day Salkantay Trek with Machu Picchu Reservations. For only $180 USD per person, we traveled from Cusco through snowcapped mountains, jungles and eventually up to Machu Picchu.
We arrived in Cusco happy, sore and exhausted. The evening called for our 1st Pisco Sour and warm quinoa soup from Antigua Casona by the fire pits. On this final night in Cusco, we made our way over to our AirBnB Saya Wasi Bed & Breakfast where we took in the city lights and slept like babies in the comfy king bed.
DAY 8: LIMA
We enjoyed our final morning in Cusco with a delicious breakfast at our AirBnB before heading off to the airport for our quick flight back to Lima.
Although a bit limiting, we made the most of having to lug around our suitcases around Lima and enjoyed some of the very best food we had tried all trip.
When you arrive at the Lima airport arrivals area, you will be swarmed by all sorts of taxi companies, rental companies and bus options outdoors. The bus is likely the cheapest route but given our luggage and desire for ease and safety; we went with the Green Taxi company. It cost a flat rate of $20 to get from the airport to Miraflores district and all we had to do was give them a call in the evening to get our ride back to the airport. Cheapest option? No. Reliable, easy and safe? Yes.
Lima is full of amazing restaurant options and cool neighborhoods. We only had the change to go to the Miraflores area but we thoroughly enjoyed a long drawn out lunch at La Mar Cevicheria.
La Mar is a bit of a splurge but in our opinion after a long week of adventurous activities, 100% worth it. The catch of the day ceviche and the crab and lobster empanadas were outstanding; the Pisco Sour hit the spot and the condensed milk caramelized strawberry dessert was out of this world.
Finally we made our way back to the Lima Airport for our 1:00AM flight back to Atlanta.
TIP: If you have the Chase Reserve credit card; you have the ability to register for Priority Pass. This allows you entrance into VIP airport lounges all over the world and is an included benefit of being a card owner. The Lima airport departures lounge saved the day as we were able to relax and enjoy complimentary water bottles, tea, light bites and wifi before our flight.
(Feel free to reach out with questions if you don’t have the Chase Reserve card but are interested in learning more about the travel benefits!)