It is always hard to know how much time to allocate for travel. I found that we were able to visit the key places and had a wonderful time in 8 days. We wanted to see as much as possible as it is very unlikely we would be returning any time soon. We were 4 people (2 adults in 50’s and our 2 kids early 20’s) Also, we did not do a trek, but did hike around some of the ruins and Machu Picchu. I thought others might like to know what we did.
Day 1 - Arrived around 11 pm and stayed over night in Lima near airport (Vista del Sol hotel.)
Day 2 - Flew late morning to Cusco (11:20 am arrive 12:45 pm). Dropped luggage at hostal and went on the 2 pm city tour which visits the key ruins and sites in and around Cucso. Finished at 6 pm and had dinner. Note that we did not have much altitude affect as we live in Colorado which helps.
Day 3 – Had a private all-day tour of Sacred Valley. Stops included the Animal Rescue Sanctuary, Pisac ruins, Pisac market, Ollantaytambo (both the fortress and town). A private tour was a perfect way to see this for our family. We were comfortable in a combi (minivan) and stopped for only as long as we wanted. The animal rescue reserve was really great. We were inside the pens touching a condor.
We then took the 7 pm train to Aguas spending the night in Aguas.
Day 4 – Machu Picchu (MP). We got up early for the bus up and the early (7-8 am entrance to Wayna Picchu) This is definitely the better time to avoid waiting in line. Also, clouds and rain came later in the day but we were done and back in Aguas Calientes when the rain came. After climbing Wayna Picchu, we spent most of the rest of morning and early afternoon enjoying MP. Enjoyed time in Aguas. Took the 6:45 pm train back to Ollant and then a bus from Ollant immediately back to Cusco and the hostal which had stored our luggage. Got there late - about 11 pm but was ok.
Day 5 – We decide to take it easy this day. We stayed in Cusco. Shopped and enjoyed walking about the streets.
Day 6. - Bus to Puno. We took the Cruz del Sur double decker bus which was very, very comfortable and relaxing. Saw some great sites along the way, especially Andahuaylillas and Raqchi. Arrived about 6 pm and spent the night in Puno.
Day 7 – Took the day tour to the Floating Islands of the Uros and visit to Taquile Island. It was a boat trip with tour guide. A bit touristy but enjoyed Lake Titicaca, the views and the cultural information. Spent night again in Puno. We thought the time we were in Puno was just right. More time would have been ok but would add any additional time to Cusco or Lima.
Day 8 – Flight to Lima from Juliaca arriving Lima around 1 pm. Spent the rest of the day with a tour of Lima, (City center, catacombs, Miraflores and Magic Fountains). Luggage was checked all the way from Juliaca to our next flight (which was Buenos Aires) so we didn't have to worry about storing it or bring with us as we toured Lima. Our flight left that night at 11:45 and was an overnight flight.
In essence it was a fast trip but most of the tours were relaxing (trains, buses, flights) so there were down times. We felt we saw some of the key places in southern Peru, although there is sooo much more to see. I had spent two additional weeks volunteering at Traveller not Tourist in Arequipa and saw Colca Canyon during that time. Both Arequipa and Colca are great to visit too so recommend those as well as Traveller not Tourist. The other three with me were very happy with this itinerary and chances for all of us going back together would be low. We all felt we had the best family vacation ever!
Hope this is helpful!