Peru is one of South America’s top destinations with centuries of history and culture, incredibly diverse and beautiful landscapes, and one of the new seven wonders of the world. This solo female travel itinerary for 2 weeks in Peru covers the country’s top highlights from the ruins of Machu Picchu to Lima’s cosmopolitan food scene, including a guided group trek along the Inca Trail.
Table of Contents
2 Weeks in Peru Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Peru
The first step to a truly memorable trip you can fully enjoy: don’t rush on arrival day! Give yourself plenty of buffer for flights to be delayed, directions to be confusing and jet lag to wipe you out. In Peru especially, air travel can be more time consuming than you may be used to at home, and as you make your way to Cusco, you could also be affected by the high altitude in the mountains. Take your time! Spend your first day getting to your accommodations and settling in.
Bonus cash-saving tip: It’s significantly cheaper to book your flight to Lima and your flight to Cusco separately.
Day 2-3: Cusco
You will need at least a couple days in Cusco to acclimate to the high altitude. I had been at altitude before without problems, but boy did I feel it in Cusco! For this reason, you should plan to continue taking it easy in your itinerary. Take a leisurely stroll around the city and make sure you’re at Plazas des Armas just before sunset so you can catch Cusco’s most iconic and beautiful architecture in a golden glow!
Cusco is home to some excellent museums. One of the best to visit before you join your group tour is the Pre-Columbian Museum, featuring art in several mediums from the Incas and the many civilizations that preceded them. You can skip the sweet tooth haven of Choco Museo for now, though; it will be included in your Inca Trail tour.
Is Cusco Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
Yes! Cusco is a very walkable city and I didn’t feel uncomfortable walking by myself at night. The usual safety precautions and common sense will be plenty to keep you safe as a solo female traveler. Cusco is also such a popular tourist destination, you won’t have any difficulty meeting fellow travelers.
Where to Stay in Cusco
Selina is a hugely popular chain of hostels in South America, and does have a location in Cusco. I’ve heard from trusted sources that accommodations there are comfortable, affordable and particularly tailored to folks working on the road.
Days 4-10: Intrepid Travel Inca Trail Express
You cannot hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu without booking permits well in advance through an approved guide. My favorite tour operator for this kind of trip is Intrepid Travel because of their solid commitments to sustainability and to employing great local guides in all the destinations they visit.
The Inca Trail Express tour is in the $1000-$1200 range for a full week. You’ll meet your tour group in Cusco and enjoy some city sightseeing together before moving onto Peru’s Sacred Valley and then embarking on the 4 day, 3 night trek of the classic Inca Trail. You’ll spend a full day at Machu Picchu and then return to Cusco.
Day 11: Fly to Lima
As usual, I’m a big believer in transit days being left open on my itinerary. I never want to feel crunched for time when I’m getting from place to place, just in case I miss a flight, my flight gets delayed or I get lost on my way to my accommodations. In Peru especially, air travel can be a little less clockwork than we’re used to in the US, so it’s important to give yourself at least 2 to 3 hours in the airport before a domestic flight. When it’s time to move from Cusco to Lima, be generous with your schedule and give yourself an entire day for getting to the airport, flying to Lima, and getting settled in your accommodations.
Tips for Solo Female Travelers in Lima
Lima is a very large city and safety for travelers varies by neighborhood. Miraflores is the tourist neighborhood and the best place to base yourself as a solo female traveler, particularly on your first visit. Exercise caution if you’re out by yourself at night.
Where to Stay in Lima
The Selina hostel chain also has a location in Lima, in the Miraflores neighborhood.
Day 12-13: Lima
Lima is one of the most amazing foodie cities in the world, thanks to incredible biodiversity, a heavily multicultural population and no shortage of Michelin-starred restaurants. Food is such a great window into culture, I frequently like to seek out food tours when I arrive in a new city, but this is especially a must-do in the Peruvian capital.
The Lima Gourmet Company offers full day food tours for $135 that will start your visit the right way. And y’all — this whole day was basically the best meal of my entire life. You’ll start at a cozy cafe with the most creative latte art you’ve ever seen, see a wide array of exotic fruits at a local market, learn to make ceviche and pisco sour (Peru’s national drink!), and wrap up the afternoon with a gourmet meal at Huaca Pucllana overlooking ancient ruins.
Why start your visit with a food tour? Because your guide will inevitably have dozens of excellent restaurant recommendations for you and you won’t want to leave Peru without trying at least one of them.
Wrap up your stay in Lima with classic city sightseeing. I’m personally very partial to the artsy Barranco neighborhood, and I’ll be the last to judge if you just want to cafe crawl your way through Peru’s awesome third wave coffee shops and soak up the city’s seaside vibes.
For some more traditional sightseeing, you might go to Museo Larco for its Pre-Columbian artifacts or the Plaza Mayor for its classic cathedral views. Or try this free self-guided walking tour of Lima.
Day 14: Depart Peru
Your 2 weeks in Peru are up. Fly home or move on to the next destination on your itinerary.
This 2 week itinerary simply scratches the surface of all Peru has to offer. The country is a great choice for longer stays as part of a RTW trip. Start planning your own worldwide itinerary with the Map It Out! Itinerary Planner.