I’d always wanted to see Machu Picchu, to feel the clouds drifting through its jagged peaks and take in its enormity and the physicality of those crazy Inca stairs in person. My architect husband had long been enthralled with the Inca citadel too. We take a trip every fall, and when it came time to plan our most recent adventure, a classic Peru itinerary – Lima, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, then Cuzco – topped our list.
Lima, our first stop, serves up big, modern-city energy with surfing culture and a side of seriously legit ceviche. I loved exploring the Barranco neighborhood and shopping for local jewelry and accessories in its stylish boutiques. Cuzco greeted us with its typically cooler, sunnier climate, colonial buildings, and laid-back vibe. You can sit on its Plaza de Armas and people-watch for hours. One evening, a large group of schoolchildren paraded through with the police band; the next day, we watched a wedding party celebrate at one of the square’s beautiful churches.