These are our recommended best of Peru Itineraries for traveling to Peru with kids. Or, better still, a foundation from which you can build your very own Peru family itinerary.
If you are limited with time, we would recommend the minimum Peru itineraries with kids should be 10 days. Then limit yourselves to the Machu Picchu area.
The main reason for this suggestion is that we assume you will be traveling to Cusco and Machu Picchu, which are high altitude areas. At 3400 m (11,150m) Cusco is one of the highest cities on earth. The most important thing for your kids (and your bodies) will be to acclimatize slowly and not push the body.
If you want to do any trekking with kids, we would suggest that 14 days is the minimum you would want to spend in Peru. See our longer Peru Itineraries below.
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Our Experience Traveling Peru With Kids
Our Mumma Traveler arrived in Peru for the first time in 2002. She eventually settled in Cusco where she Co-Founded Apus Peru Adventure Travel Specialists and later her daughter was born in Cusco.
Since relocating to her home country of Australia, she still has daily contact with Peru and travels back frequently. Her suggestions are not only based on her own family’s experiences, but those of many clients of Apus Peru who have entrusted Ariana’s organizational abilities, and that of her passionate team. Our advice is not based on a one-off visit, but many visits over the years.
While we would recommend spending much more time in Peru, but you feel that you want to do a 10 day itinerary these are our suggestions.
If you want general travel information about Peru, check out Lonely Planet travel books. We have traveled with them for years and always find them a valuable resource for any location.
10 Day Itinerary – Peru With Kids
Day 1 – Arrive Lima/Overnight Lima
Your day’s activities will largely depend on what time your flight arrives. If you arrive late in the day, we’d recommend getting to your room, going to the hotel restaurant (or even ordering room service) and get a good night’s rest.
This is not the most glamorous or immersive suggestion. However, at this point, it is all about making sure your family are well rested and in good health in order to be fit to face the altitude of Cusco tomorrow.
Our own experience (with many years traveling to altitude) is that your body is better able to deal with the mild effects of altitude sickness if you are well rested and healthy. Being exhausted from your flights, and the dehydration that occurs during flying is not the best way to arrive at altitude.
As this is a short of time itinerary we would recommend staying at Lima’s airport hotel the Costa del Sol which is directly outside the main doors. Check here for currents rates to stay at Costa del Sol.
If you want to stay more time in Lima, our “Lima Peru Hotels –Best Kid Friendly Choices” is a good place to start!
Day 2 – Fly to Cusco, Transfer to the Sacred Valley / Overnight Sacred Valley
We recommend taking a mid-morning flight into Cusco. Even national flights in Peru require a 3 hour wait time at the airport. So, a 10am flight requires being at the airport at 7am. If you are staying in Miraflores or Barranco this will mean departing your hotel at 6am (ish) and a 5am rise. In our world, this puts too much pressure on your families’ body and will trip you up later in the day. Make sure you eat at the airport!
After arrival in Cusco, assuming around midday, you should be picked up in a private transfer and transferred to the Sacred Valley. Even if you are bus type of folks, this is one transfer that I wouldn’t skimp on.
If you have chosen to fly to Cusco with younger children, then it is very advisable to get to the Sacred Valley as quickly as you can. To do so, go via Pisac, which is lower altitude but a touch slower than the Chinchero route (which takes you up to 3,762 m/ 12,375 feet). Plus, on the Pisaq route stop, at Awanacancha to get in some llamery goodness! This is something to reward the little folks after quite a bit of travel. Again, make sure you have eaten at the airport!!!
If you are wondering where to stay in the Sacred Valley then read our post “Where To Stay In The Sacred Valley With Kids“.
Looking for specific hotel recommendations? Check out our post “Best Sacred Valley Family Hotels”.
We’d spend Day 2 in the afternoon doing a short walk in the countryside of your hotel, or if you have chosen to be in one of the villages, wandering the streets.
Once again, get to bed early for the rest of your trip.
Day 3 – Exploring the Sacred Valley/ Sacred Valley
There is so much to do and see in the Sacred Valley, the best place to start planning is to understand the logistics. Our post “Sacred Valley Peru with Kids” list in detail the many things to do in the Sacred Valley.
Day 4 – Exploring the Sacred Valley/ Sacred Valley
Today is another full day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Sacred Valley.
You will return to the same hotel from the previous two nights.
Peru Itinerary with Kids – We Provide Choices!
We don’t want to create confusion, but here we provide some choices! These are based on the logistics of Machu Picchu entry (which are frankly, confusing) and are designed to inform you about how you could best organize your time. If you have more time in Peru than 10 days, then we would definitely go for Option B.
Option A allows a little less time in the Sacred Valley and an afternoon visit to Machu Picchu. While you are not there for the clouds parting over the city, you are there for the soft afternoon light and statistically, the city is much less visited during the afternoon session (this may change but was true at the time of writing). You arrive at Cusco at a reasonable time on Day 7 which will be a relaxed day.
Option B allows for more time at the Sacred Valley, and then an afternoon visit to Machu Picchu on Day 6. Then, you can either opt for a second go at visiting Machu Picchu (maybe childfree, should you decide to opt for child minding services) or a relaxed pace around town. Then, you head back to Cusco in the afternoon arriving much later than Option A on Day 6. The main advantage of Option B is that as visiting Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime experience, many people wish to “opt” for a second visit (should it be rainy or poor weather the day before).
Our hints on “Visiting Machu Picchu with Kids“ also, here we explain “Book Your Machu Picchu Family Holiday Early; 6 Reasons Why”.
Day 5 – Travel to Machu Picchu
Option A: Exploring Sacred Valley/ Train to Machu Picchu PM/ Overnight Aguas Calientes
Option B: Exploring the Sacred Valley/Overnight Sacred Valley
Day 6 – Machu Picchu
Option A: AM entry at Machu Picchu, afternoon enjoying hot springs/town/ Overnight Aguas Calientes
Option B: Train at to Machu Picchu AM/ afternoon entry PM at Machu Picchu / Overnight Aguas Calientes
We have stayed in Aguas Calientes many times, and these are our family’s personal list of favorites: “Best Family Hotels in Machu Picchu“ plus a review of one of our favourite hotels in the WHOLE world the “Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo – Hotel Review”.
Day 7 – Return to Cusco
Option A: Train to Ollantaytambo AM, transfer to Cusco PM/ Overnight Cusco
Option B: Second day at Machu Picchu, or exploring hot springs, and then return to Cusco PM / Overnight Cusco
Day 8 – Explore Cusco/ Cusco
For the next two days, you will have the chance to explore Cusco. A fascinating city considered the bellybutton of the world by the Incas. In Cusco, you see global modernization exist alongside an ancient indigenous culture. Wander into some of the more traditional barrios (those surrounding Mercado San Pedro) and the indigenous culture; its language is alive and well.
What is there to do in Cusco with kids? Read “Cusco With Kids“.
Where to stay in Cusco with Kids? This describes the best locations in our post “Where To Stay In Cusco With Kids“.
What are the best hotels to stay at in Cusco? Check out “Best Family Hotels in Cusco“.
Day 9 Explore Cusco/ Cusco
If your kids are small (ours were 2 and 5 during our last trip) then they will most definitely be itching to get to a Playground. There are some good ones in Cusco.
A general note on the itinerary: If you look at the list of things to do with kids in the Sacred Valley vs. the list of things to do in Cusco and think that the Cusco list appeals to your family more, just cut one of the Sacred Valley days and switch it for a day in Cusco. This will depend on your likes and interests.
The reason the Sacred Valley days are at the front of the program is to help with acclimatization. We always recommend for smaller kids that you always build up to a stay in Cusco.
Day 10 -Fly Home
What If You Have More Time In Peru?
We would recommend spending MUCH more time in Peru than simply 10 days. However, we built the 10-day itinerary around the idea that people want to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco. When traveling with small kids, it is important to be kind to their bodies and go slow at altitude. If you have more time we would add any of these to your Peru itinerary:
14-16 days – Non-Trekking Itinerary
Add 1-2 days in the beginning to explore Lima. We love this city and have documented the best things to do In Lima and the best things to do in Miraflores here:
Add a 3-4 day jungle visit:
We know the jungle in Puerto Maldonado best. We also always think that when traveling as a family cost and practicality are important. Puerto Maldonado is a short 1-hour flight from Cusco. There is a range of top quality lodges in this area (see links below). We plan to be visiting these lodges during our Peru 2018 trip. So, if you want our opinion on which one/why please feel free to email us about.
Puerto Maldonado is a malaria zone, but at a lower risk (that is, fewer cases in recent years) than other parts of the Peruvian Amazon. See our post here about traveling to malaria zones with kids.
14 Days In Peru With Kids – Trekking Itinerary
If you are keen to trek in Peru with your Kids then absolutely you have to answer the question: “Should I Take My Children Trekking In Peru“?
If you are traveling with toddlers or young people under 4, then this post gives you a starting point “Trekking With Toddlers In The Andes“.
We trekked the “Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu” with a 1-year-old:
For the purposes of these Peru itineraries, we will assume you are keen to do the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – it is most commonly done in a 4 day variation, but if you feel that your kids (and you!) might benefit from a slower pace, then some agencies do offer different variations, like this itinerary from Apus Peru.
An important note about the Classic Inca Trail!
Even though this in on most peoples Peru itineraries, you need permits to do this trek as entries are limited to 500 per day, (200 trekkers 300 trekking staff). At the time of writing (early 2018), high season sells out 7 months in advance. In other words – if you are thinking of trekking May through August (the dry season in the Andes, and the ‘best’ season to trek) you should be booking BEFORE Christmas!! Some shoulder and wet season dates don’t sell out until 1-2 months before, but don’t count on it!!!
Got your heart set on Peru but found out you are too late for Inca Trail Permits? Don’t despair, in our opinion, there are many wonderful treks that are off the beaten path and offer insight into the real Peru! One of the best for smaller children (Under 10) is the Lares trek.
Day 1 – Arrive Lima/ Lima
Day 2 – Explore Lima / Lima
Day 3 – Fly to Cusco, transfer to Sacred Valley / Sacred Valley
Day 4 – Explore Sacred Valley / Sacred Valley
Day 5 – Sacred Valley exploration and acclimatization/ Overnight Sacred Valley
Day 6 – Day One of the Classic Inca Trail/ Overnight Camping
Day 7 – Day Two of the Classic Inca Trail/ Overnight Camping
Day 8 – Day Three of the Classic Inca Trail/ Overnight Camping
Day 9 – Final Day of trek to Machu Picchu, visit Machu Picchu/ Overnight Aguas Calientes
Day 10 – Second day at Machu Picchu, or exploring hot springs, and then return to Cusco PM / Overnight Cusco
Day 11 – Explore Cusco/Cusco
Day 12 – Explore Cusco/Cusco
Day 13 – Explore Cusco/ Cusco
Day 14 – Fly out or onto next destination.
You could always decrease the number of days in Cusco and have just two days there, then fly onto the jungle to have 3 days there, bringing your final itinerary to 16 days, and include a trek and a visit to the jungle!
21 Days In Peru With Kids – Best Peru Itineraries
In addition to adding more time in Lima, a trek and a short trip to the Peruvian Jungle (bringing you to 14-17 days) there are a number of other sites you can consider to take your trip to 21 days. This would enable you to spend a good amount of time in Peru and feel that you have seen all the major highlights in the popular touristy areas.
Adding 3-4 days for Arequipa and the Colca Canyon at the beginning of your trip, after Lima. This allows you to acclimatize super slowly and properly. We enjoyed Arequipa with kids, and the Colca Canyon is a bucket list experience, with condors and lots of stunning views.
You could add a 2-3 day Lake Titicaca to the end of your trip – it is a high altitude city at 3800 m and it pays to be well acclimatized. It is also bitterly cold and many accommodation options on the Lake are homestays, so really basic. We wouldn’t recommend Lake Titicaca for kids under 8 or even 10.
This is a particularly appealing option for people visiting in the December – February period; that is Cusco and Machu Picchu’s wettest period and in the mountains. The South Coast of Peru is sunny with blue skies for a few months of the year and has a distinctly “Latin” feel (vs the more Andean feel that you have in Cusco, Puno, or Arequipa). We would highly recommend adding 3-4 days in this area. See “A Guide To Peru’s South Coast With Kids“.
Nazca Lines – While the Nazca Lines are very interesting historically, I don’t feel that it would be particularly good for kids under 10. We haven’t been there with children ourselves, and it is not on the priority list. Mumma Traveler says it is one of her least favorite experiences in Peru – she has flown the lines several times and each time felt underwhelmed. Also, read about the safety record of the flights – they have improved a lot in recent years but worth knowing what the planes are like.
Our unspoken assumption for travel with kids in any place or country includes:
- Make sure you allow time in your itinerary for arriving and departing in the country. We always plan nothing for the first day after we fly in.
- Kids need downtime in order to not become anxious or stressed (which translates as tantrums, bad tempers, or unwillingness to do things)! This not only helps them adjust to their new surroundings but also helps ease the effects of jet lag. See our post “Jet Lag With Toddlers: How To Deal With It“.
- We generally follow a one-day activities/one-day rest pattern; or alternatively do half day activities each day. Particularly during acclimatization days, you want to be kind to your body!!!
Have you heard about the Insta-famous Rainbow Mountain in Peru? This is now another “must-see” destination on many Peru itineraries. Thinking you want to visit with kids? Then check out our full blog post: “The Rainbow Mountain Peru With Kids“.
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