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3 Weeks in Peru by Bus – from Lima to Cusco

Trip highlights include: Lima, Paracas, Ballestas Island, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa, Puno/Titicaca Lake, and Cusco

Embarking on 3 weeks in Peru promises an adventure of a lifetime, filled with breathtaking sights and rich culture. Imagine exploring ancient ruins, vibrant cities, and stunning landscapes. From the mystical Machu Picchu to the bustling streets of Lima, every moment offers excitement and wonder, making it a dream destination you’ll never forget. Truly, Peru beckons with its unparalleled beauty and charm.

3 weeks in peru travel itinerary
3 Weeks in Peru Travel Itinerary

Traveling in Peru by Bus

In my 3 weeks in Peru, I found traveling by bus surprisingly convenient, especially with PeruHop. It’s like the hop-on-hop-off buses you see in major cities. I journeyed through incredible cities, including Lima, Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco. Each stop offered unique experiences, making my bus travel across Peru both easy and memorable.

3 Weeks in Peru by Bus - from Lima to Cusco
3 Weeks in Peru by Bus – from Lima to Cusco (Lima)

Related Post: A Month in Peru and Bolivia by Bus

Day 1: Miraflores – Lima’s Urban Oasis

  • Begin at Huaca Pucllana, a remarkable pre-Inca pyramid.
  • Stroll through Miraflores Central Park to experience local life.
  • Explore the Amano Pre-Columbian Textile Museum and its ancient textiles.
  • Enjoy an afternoon walk along the Malecón.
  • Relax in Parque del Amor.
  • Shop with ocean views at Larcomar Mall.
  • Savor Peru’s famous ceviche at a top Miraflores restaurant.
  • Try a Pisco Sour in a vibrant local bar.
  • Conclude with a leisurely walk in Kennedy Park + the Cat Park nearby.

Day 2: Barranco Area: Bohemian Vibe

  • Begin your Barranco exploration at the Bajada de Baños, a picturesque walkway leading into the heart of the district.
  • Visit Osma Museum for viceroyal art.
  • Explore Mario Testino Museum, showcasing a famous Peruvian photographer.
  • Learn about the Battle of San Juan at the Barranco cliffs.
  • Admire old mansions and the architecture of the Municipality and Cathedral of Barranco.
  • See one of Lima’s last trams in the area.
  • Walk along streets with artistic murals.
  • Visit the beach for breathtaking cliffside views.
  • Stop by a local museum for cultural insights.
  • Cross the romantic Bridge of Sighs, a lovers’ meeting point.
  • Go down the bridge and discover Barranco’s largest collection of murals.
  • Explore additional mansions and take coffee or souvenir shopping breaks.
  • End at the main Plaza of Barranco, completing your self-guided tour.

Day 3: Historical District of Lima

  • Start at San Martin Square, admiring colonial architecture.
  • Walk along Jiron de la Unión Street, enjoying vibrant street life.
  • Visit La Merced Church for its historic significance.
  • Explore the Bank Museum and its unique exhibits.
  • View the CathedralGovernment Palace, and Town Hall at Plaza Mayor.
  • Pay respects at the Taulichusco Tribute.
  • Step into Santo Domingo’s Church for a peaceful moment.
  • Conclude at the Catacombs and Museum of San Francisco, delving into colonial history.
  • End the tour with a pisco-tasting session, experiencing Peru’s famous Pisco Sour.

Day 4: Museo Larco and Farewell Lima

If you have the chance, include a visit to Museo Larco on Day 1. Otherwise, make it a priority on Day 4, preferably early in the morning – as soon as they open – and before your bus journey to the next destination. Museo Larco is renowned for its astonishing collection of ancient Peruvian erotic artifacts, showcased in the “Sex Museum.” This unique exhibit is a must-see and offers a fascinating glimpse into Peru’s historical perspectives on sexuality. Don’t miss out on this intriguing experience! OR, you can visit this museum if you are planning to back in the city at the end of your Peruvian Trip.

Where to stay in Lima

  • Hostel: Waikiki Hostel, located a short walk from Larcomar Shopping Center, offers both private and shared accommodations, with amenities like free WiFi, a sun terrace, and an on-site bar.
  • Mid-Priced: Ayenda La Luna Inn, situated near Playa Redondo, provides comfortable and clean rooms with a bar and private parking, known for its friendly staff and great location.
3 Weeks in Peru by Bus - from Lima to Cusco (Paracas Ballestas Island)
3 Weeks in Peru by Bus – from Lima to Cusco (A tour to Ballestas Island)

Day 5: Natural Wonders of Paracas National Reserve

  • Start your day by exploring the diverse landscapes of Paracas National Reserve. The only way to do this is by joining a bus tour. This protected area boasts a stunning mix of desert, ocean, and unique wildlife.
  • In the afternoon, join a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands. Known as the ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos,’ these islands are home to an array of seabirds, sea lions, and possibly penguins in their natural habitat. 

Day 6: Immersing in Local Life

  • Begin with a visit to the Julio C. Tello Museum to learn about the fascinating history and culture of the Paracas civilization, renowned for its textile art.
  • Spend the afternoon enjoying fresh seafood at a coastal restaurant. The region’s cuisine, with its fresh flavors, is a highlight. 
  • Don’t miss the Red Beach (Playa Roja), famous for its striking red sand contrasting with the blue ocean. It’s a photographer’s paradise.
  • End your day by watching a breathtaking sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The serene beauty of the sun dipping below the horizon is a perfect way to conclude your Paracas experience.

Where to Stay in Paracas

Hostel: Viajero-Kokopelli Paracas Hostel offers a beachfront location with a terrace bar and panoramic views, free WiFi, and a variety of room types, including private and dormitory options.

Huacachina 3 Weeks in Peru by Bus - from Lima to Cusco
3 Weeks in Peru Travel Itinerary

Day 7: Exhilarating Adventures

  • Kick off your Huacachina journey with adrenaline-pumping activities like sandboarding and dune buggying. These sports offer an exciting way to experience the vast desert dunes. At the end of the day, be mesmerized by the desert sunset! 
  • Afterward, unwind by the tranquil Huacachina lagoon, a beautiful oasis amidst the sand.
  • In the evening, visit a nearby vineyard to taste the region’s famous Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy.

Day 8: Delving into Ica

On the second day, I joined a wine and pisco tour in the Ica region, Peru’s premier area for red wine and the beloved local drink, pisco. The tour lasted 4 hours. First, we visited Peru’s oldest vineyard, soaking in its historical charm. Here, I learned about the intricate wine-making process. Next, we explored a traditional pisco winery, delving into the fascinating production of this unique spirit. Naturally, the highlight was tasting the exquisite wines and pisco at both locations, a delightful experience that truly captured the essence of Peru’s rich wine culture. This day offered a perfect blend of learning and indulgence in the heart of Peru’s wine country.

In the afternoon, I took. a bus to the next destination: Nazca!

Where to stay in Huacachina

HostelWild Rover Huacachina is a great choice for travelers seeking a lively and social atmosphere. It’s known for its vibrant energy and is a popular spot for backpackers and young travelers.

Mid-PricedCarola Lodge offers a lovely stay in Huacachina. Located in the only oasis in South America, it’s known for its beautiful views, friendly staff, and proximity to the lagoon, providing good value for money.

3 weeks in peru travel itinerary
3 Weeks in Peru Travel Itinerary

Day 9: Mysteries of Nazca Lines

  • Take a 35-minute flight in a small plane to view the Nazca Lines from above.
  • Alternatively, hire a taxi to visit the viewing tower for a glimpse of the lines.
  • Explore the Antonini Archaeological Museum to learn about Nazca culture.
  • Visit the Cantalloc Aqueducts, an ancient engineering marvel.

Day 10: Dive into Local Culture

  • Stroll around the central Plaza de Armas in Nazca.
  • Sample traditional Nazca cuisine, rich in flavors and history.
  • Enjoy an evening of local music and dance, immersing yourself in the vibrant culture.

Where to stay in Nazca

HostelNanasqa Hostel is an excellent choice for its friendly staff, comfortable beds, and convenient location, just a short walk from the city center. The hostel is known for its chill vibes and helpfulness in organizing tours and travel arrangements​​.

Mid-PricedCasa Hacienda Nasca Oasis offers a delightful stay with rooms featuring private patios, an outdoor swimming pool, and charming Spanish-style galleries. It is highly rated for its spacious bedrooms, comfortable beds, and excellent breakfast options​​.

3 weeks in peru travel itinerary
3 Weeks in Peru by Bus – from Lima to Cusco

Day 11: White City Wonders

  • Explore Arequipa on foot for an immersive experience.
  • Discover the serene Santa Catalina Monastery.
  • Visit Yanahuara Viewpoint for stunning city views.
  • Taste Arequipa’s famous stuffed peppers, a culinary delight.

Day 12: A Day at the Majestic Colca Canyon

Join a full-day tour of the awe-inspiring Colca Canyon. Witness the majestic Andean condors in their natural environment during this full-day tour. Enjoy breakfast in the charming town of Chivay, then traverse through Andean towns to reach the Mirador Cruz del Cóndor for stunning landscape views. Marvel at Andean flora, fauna, and volcanic peaks, including Misti and Chachani, before returning to Arequipa’s main square by 5:00 PM.

Day 13: Tour of the Sillar and Culebrillas Canyon

On the third day, join a half-day tour (4 hours) to the stone quarries. The “Tour of the Sillar and the Culebrillas Canyon” will help you understand why Arequipa is known as the “White City” of Peru. Witness firsthand the skilled stonemasons at work, carving the unique volcanic stone that gives Arequipa its distinctive look. The journey continues with a hike through the striking Culebrillas Canyon, featuring ancient petroglyphs and towering rock walls. This experience offers a deep dive into the natural and cultural wonders shaping Arequipa’s identity.

In the afternoon, immerse yourself in Arequipa’s rich history with a visit to the impressive Arequipa Cathedral. Follow this with a trip to the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries, offering a deep dive into the region’s cultural heritage. Cap off your afternoon by indulging in the unique flavors of local chocolate and coffee, a true treat for the senses.

Day 14: Join a free walking tour

  • Join a free walking tour of the city in the morning.
  • In the afternoon, take a bus to your next destination – Puno – where you can find the world’s highest navigable lake – Lake Titicaca! 

Where to Stay in Arequipa

HostelPusary hostel in the Historical Center of Arequipa offers a great location with free bikes, a shared lounge, a bar, and complimentary WiFi. Guests have praised its great location and friendly staff. The hostel is conveniently situated near attractions like La Merced Convent and Church, and the Archaeological Museum of the Catholic University of Santa María​​.

Mid-PricedBon Repos Boutique offers comfortable 3-star accommodation in Arequipa. It features a terrace and receives fabulous reviews for its services. It’s appreciated for its comfortable facilities and accommodating staff.

3 weeks in peru itinerary uros island puno
Three Weeks in Peru Travel itinerary (Uros Floating Island)

Day 15: Discovering Lake Titicaca

I took a full-day tour of Lake Titicaca, starting with a pick-up from my Puno accommodation. Accompanied by an English-speaking guide, we first visited the fascinating Uros Islands, made entirely of tortora reeds and home to a historic community. Next, we journeyed to Taquile Island, rich in Aymara culture. There, we enjoyed a local lunch, visited a cooperative, and admired the islanders’ weaving skills. 

Day 16: Mystical Sillustani Tombs

For those with an afternoon or evening bus departure, seize the morning to explore the ancient Sillustani burial ground. Opt for a 4-hour tour to discover this pre-Incan cemetery, renowned for its striking tower-like structures known as chullpas. Alternatively, if a tour isn’t appealing, consider spending some time exploring downtown Puno for a different taste of local life.

Where to stay in Puno

HostelTiticaca wasy lodge, located near Puno Port and Puno Train Station, offers a garden, bar, and city views. Some rooms even feature a balcony with a lake view. It’s a great choice for travelers interested in exploring the city and its surroundings, providing a comfortable and convenient base​​.

Mid-PricedSol Plaza Hotel is well-equipped with cable TV and free Wi-Fi. Situated just off the central Plaza de Armas square in the heart of Puno, it’s an ideal location for exploring the city. The hotel is praised for its large rooms, excellent breakfast, and perfect location​​.

3 weeks travel itinerary in peru cusco
Three Weeks Travel Itinerary in Peru

Day 17: Historic Cusco

Join a free walking tour in Cusco, starting at the vibrant Plaza de Armas. Discover the majestic Cusco Cathedral and the historic Qorikancha temple. Wander through the atmospheric San Blas neighborhood. Don’t miss the chance to meet friendly alpacas and llamas, a unique and delightful experience. This tour offers a perfect blend of culture, history, and local interaction, making your day in Cusco unforgettable.

Day 18-19: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Start the two-day adventure with a hotel pickup in Cusco, leading to the ancient town of Chinchero. Explore its archaeological site and colonial church, and browse the local handicraft market. Next, journey to the unique circular terraces of Moray, followed by the Maras salt mines, a testament to Incan ingenuity. Enjoy lunch with mountain views, then head to Ollantaytambo to discover its impressive ruins and fortress. Conclude the day with dinner and a train ride to Aguas Calientes for an overnight stay. On the final day, rise early for a guided tour of Machu Picchu‘s iconic temples, palaces, and plazas. After immersing in the citadel, return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and catch the scenic Vistadome train back to Cusco.

Day 20 – Rainbow Mountain Adventure

Join a tour of Rainbow Mountain for a full day. Embark on an early morning journey at 4:30 a.m., starting with a hotel pickup, then travel to the community of Tintinco for a local breakfast. Post-breakfast, the tour heads out for an hour’s drive, followed by a scenic two-hour hike. Reaching Rainbow Mountain, enjoy a guided tour and free time for photos. Afterward, return to Tintinco for a hearty lunch, concluding the day back in Cusco’s historic center around 5:30 pm. 

Day 21: Relax and Onwards to Your Next Destination

Today is your last day in Peru. It’s either you go back to Lima, or you continue to Bolivia onwards to Bolivia by taking a bus.

Where to stay in Cusco

HostelWild Rover Hostel is a popular choice for travelers in Cusco. Known for its vibrant atmosphere and excellent location, it’s a great spot for those looking to meet other travelers and enjoy the lively hostel culture.

Mid-PricedMOAF Cusco Boutique Hotel is a fantastic mid-priced option located in Cusco’s city center. It offers 3-star accommodations close to major attractions and is well-reviewed for its excellent staff and comfortable environment​.

Peru Travel Itinerary peru, llama, animals-854175.jpg
Peru Travel Itinerary

After 3 weeks in Peru, you’ll return home with a heart full of unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for this incredible country. From the ancient wonders of Machu Picchu to the vibrant streets of Lima, every moment has been a journey of discovery and awe. Truly, Peru offers an experience that calls to be lived, not just imagined.

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