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If seeing the important archaeological sites, ruins, and museums is your main priority, start your journey in Trujillo with the important Moche pyramids of the Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, as well as Chán Chán, built by the Chimú people (but be sure to take at least a day to walk around and enjoy the spectacular colonial architecture). From here, head north to Chiclayo and peer into the Tomb of Sipán, the pyramids at Túcume, and explore world-class historical museums. If you can extend your trip past a week, probably for another four to five days, take the bus from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas and visit Kuélap, a precursor to Machu Picchu built over one thousand years before.
If you want to see the spectacular mountains of the highlands, head up (and up and up) to the mountain town of Huaraz. Drink lots of water and take a day or so to acclimatize to the altitude, taking in the local sights and hot springs. Take a three-day trek around the Cordillera Blanca. Discuss the numerous options with your guide. If you can extend your trip past a week, head to Trujillo to enjoy the architecture and ruins. Note: You can fly to Huaraz, but there's only one small flight per day, so it takes careful advance planning.
If you want to take a week to relax, fly from Lima to Piura, walk around the city, eat in one of the excellent restaurants, and sleep in one of the first-rate hotels. After a relaxing breakfast at your hotel (almost always included in the price of your room), head to Máncora or Punta Sal for the next few days. Regardless of where you stay, you'll be able to relax on the beach or poolside, and—if you're inspired to get out of your beach chair—go on a fishing trip, learn to surf, or try the even more adventurous kite-surfing.