Despite how exotic the country can feel to many visitors, with some minimal planning, Peru can also be quite family friendly. In this 8-day itinerary, there is more than enough to keep children of multiple ages stimulated without ever stepping off the beaten path.
Day 1: Urban Exploring
Get your children’s attention right from the start of the trip. Take them to Lima’s historic center, making a beeline for the Convento de San Francisco de Asis, a colonial-era church and convent with a spectacular library of old books, which will not blow their minds nearly as much as the catacombs beneath the complex, where tens of thousands of bones are spookily arranged in intricate patterns. Afterward, stroll over to the Plaza Mayor, making sure to catch the changing of the guards at the Palacio de Gobierno, precisely at noon. After lunch in the Barrio Chino, taxi to Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores, where your kids will love exploring a 4th-century pyramid complex and dining at a restaurant overlooking the site.
Day 2: Out on the Water
From the district of Callao, spend the day on a boat trip to the Islas Palomino, where you’ll spot nesting seabirds such as Peruvian boobies and Inca terns, as well as Humboldt penguins. Some tours will even allow groups to jump in the water with a wetsuit and snorkel to swim with sea lions. Return to your hotel in the afternoon, and then end the day at the Larcomar Shopping Center, a mall and entertainment complex peering over Lima’s coastal cliffs.
Days 3 & 4: Ahhh! Stimulation Everywhere!
With the city’s high altitude, keep Cusco plans light and flexible. Take your time strolling through museums like the very visual and interactive Museo Machu Picchu Casa Concha or the Museo de Arte Precolombino (MAP), which will give kids a history lesson and build up their excitement for their upcoming trip to Machu Picchu. Spend some time hanging out on the Plaza de Armas and visit La Catedral, then move uphill to pedestrian-only Calle Hatunrumiyoc and point out the 12-angled stone outline of the puma immersed in the wall. Plan an afternoon for Sacsayhuamán, not just the ruins but the huge rocks with slick grooves that make for superb slides, plus a meal at Gastón Acurio’s burger joint Papacho’s, which will be familiar enough for the kids and have enough booze to keep parents happy. Save some time for shopping distractions that will undoubtedly arise.
Day 5: Crowd-Pleaser Machu Picchu
Take a train from Poroy, Cusco’s nearest rail station, to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. Plan on spending the night in town, giving you ample time to explore the ruins at the pace the kids can handle, rather than rushing in and out.
Days 6 & 7: Soaking Up the Sacred Valley
Allow everyone to sleep in (or if they’re up for it, take an early walk along the riverfront) and then catch a train to the Sacred Valley, checking in to the Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel outside Urubamba, where the family can spend the next 2 nights enjoying the pool and spa, taking excursions to the market and ruins at Pisac, and touring the Salineras de Maras.
Day 8: Back to Lima
Catch a morning flight back to Lima. Spend your last day picking up any souvenirs you haven’t bought at the Mercado Indio close to Parque Kennedy in Miraflores. Prepare for your flight home.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.