I visited Peru during my three months travel through South America. After Bolivia I went to Peru and visited Ecuador thereafter. See below my route suggestion and other option.
I found it very easy to travel in Peru; tour operators everywhere and transport via large buses and direct to the next destination in Ecuador and coming from Bolivia. So no chicken buses needed here, direct with other tourist in a bus or organized tour. The distances in Peru are long and the roads quite good. But Peru is located in the middle of the Andes so expect winding roads through the mountains and that could get busy with trucks; it will take time and you have to be patient. Just enjoy the scenery passing by or catch up some sleep!
I used the night buses a couple of times to save time and money on hotels. The Cruz del Sur buses are comfortable, most of the time on time and safe.
Tip: Book the VIP seats for a bit more money but the seats are really comfortable and luxurious including pillow and blankets.
My Route through Peru
I entered Peru at the border crossing with Bolivia; traveled from Copacabana, Bolivia to Puno. From there discovered many places in Peru, see my separate blogs. From Peru I traveled on wards to Ecuador; from Máncora took the bus to Guayaquil, Ecuador. I understand when you are not traveling between those countries and don’t have that much time, my route will not be handy. But I will make a suggestion for three to four weeks Peru too below.
1-2 nights; Visit the famous and touristic floating reed islands at Lake Titicaca and chill in Puno.
4 nights; I liked Arequipa a lot, great vibe and beautiful town. In between you can book an overnight trip to the Cañón del Colca. Here you can see the condors fly, cycle and walk in this deep valley with amazing scenery.
4 nights; Cusco cannot be missed when traveling to Peru. The Inca culture is very visible in Cusco and the Sacred Valley including Machu Picchu. Cusco is located at 3,399m high, take some time here to adjust to the height.
1 night; Sleep in Aguas Calientes the night before you visit the highlight of Peru, Machu Picchu. Check here my blog how to visit the sacred placed by yourself.
2-3 nights; After visiting Machu Picchu it is time to visit the other parts of the Sacred Valley. Visit the town of Urubamba, Inca site Moray, Salinas de Maras, Sunday Market in Pisac and Pisac the Inca ruins. A lot to see here, check my blog for more details.
2 nights; Lima is the Capital and not the most beautiful city, but perfect to chill and see the sun set in the ocean and eat at one of the best restaurants in the world, Central.
5-6 nights; Time to head to the beach and get active in the water. Surfing is the main activity here in Huanchaco next to eating the best ceviche. Go and surf the longest left wave in the world at Chicama!
5-6 nights; In the north of Peru the temperature rises and you will get a more tropical feeling with warm waters and some palm trees, still a lot of desert here too. Party in Máncora, swim with turtles in Organos, surf almost empty waves in Lobitos and get some beach time in Zorritos.
Other Optional Route though Peru
If you don’t travel through Peru like I did, but visit only Peru here a suggestion for a route for 3 to 4 weeks.
Inbound flight to Lima – flight to Cusco – train to Machu Picchu – bus to The Sacred Valley – back to Cusco – train to Puno and Lake Titicaca – bus to Arequipa and tour to Colca Canyon – bus to Huacachina (haven’t been there but good to make the round complete) – bus to Lima – bus or flight to Trujillo and Huanchaco – outward bound from Lima.
Tip: I noticed that a lot of travelers rush literally through a country. That is not my style, I prefer to see and explore and get in touch with the locals and surroundings. It is still a holiday a bit of relax time now and then is necessary; you don’t want to need a holiday after your traveling!!!