Ah, Lima, famous for scrumptious food and a hip, urban food scene, endless coastlines, world-class museums and that misty fog that’s constantly sitting over the city.
While many travellers I’ve met don’t consider Lima to be one of their Peru highlights, the city is getting more and more popular every year. It’s becoming a vibrant capital with much to offer. Many Latinos travel in for the weekend, spend time in the markets, restaurants and bars and of course enjoying the beach.
While many days in Lima may not be on your itinerary you are bound to spend some days here on arrival or while waiting for a bus elsewhere. Two days in Lima is definitely enough to get your bearings and sample the cities’ sites and delicacies. Why not use this guide to plan your time in Lima and make the most of it? Here’s my guide to what to do in Lima, Peru’s buzzing capital.
As a traveller the two neighbourhoods likely to interest you the most are Miraflores and Barranco. Here you can find the best hotels and restaurants and these barrios are really picturesque for walking around in during the day. I’d recommend staying here.
#1 GO FOR A RUN
If you’ve been travelling around South America for a while you’ll have noticed the shortage of running friendly cities. Make the most out of a gorgeous strip of coastline and go for a run. While in some places you’ll have to share the sidewalks with pedestrians and cyclists as well as having busy roads right beside you, neighbourhoods like Miraflores offer cliff-side parks perfect for sunset jogs of all distances.
#2 LEARN A BIT ABOUT LOCAL HISTORY IN PLAZA DE ARMAS
Peru is, after all where the Spanish landed first when they ‘discovered’ South America and Lima is heaving with history and beautiful colonial buildings. The best place to start is the Plaza de Armas. Here you’ll find the spectacular, heavily guarded Government Palace, the beautiful Archbishop’s Palace and striking Municipal Palace. The adjacent streets are also filled glorious colonial churches, secret courtyards and intricate balconies. Walk around and marvel at the richness of Peru’s history.
#3 TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR
If you want to find out more about Peru’s history and what all these buildings in the Plaza de Armas are exactly why not have it explained to you by a local guide? There are many different companies offering a free walking tour, lasting about 2-3hours. Just make sure to give you guide a tip at the end of what you think the tour was worth.
#4 RELAX AT THE BEACH
If you’re coming back to Lima after sending time in Cusco or the mountains, relaxing on the beach might be just what you need. Head to Playa Costa Verde towards the North of the city or Playa Pulpos and Playa San Bartolo just outside of the city in the south. While you probably shouldn’t expect the same quality of beaches you might find in the north of Peru, these are still a decent place to relax on for a day.
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#5 HANG OUT WITH THE LOCAL CATS AT KENNEDY PARK
If you’re a cat lover this park might just be the best park you’ve been to in your life. Located in the southern part of Miraflores, this small green space is home to hundreds of stray cats. While the word ‘stray’ does send out warning alarm bells for some, these cats all well fed and receive medical treatment from local animal charities. For the most part, they are extremely friendly and love a good cuddle so why not kill a few hours in Lima making some new feline friends?
#6 VISIT THE LARCO MUSEUM
This is a private museum that houses fascinating insights into Pre-Colombian art. The vast, well-curated collection of art from all over Peru doesn’t fail to impress. Make sure to also seek out the largest collection of erotic pottery in the world. If the collection doesn’t impress then the building itself most certainly will. This was an 18th Century vice- royal building which is teeming with grandeur and the surrounding garden adds a colourful beauty to the grounds. If you’re feeling a bit pekish then check out the museum restaurant – its beautifully laid out and overlooks the beautiful gardens. There’s no better setting in Lima for an afternoon coffee.
#7 EXPLORE BARRANCO AND PUENTE DE LOS SUSPIROS
Barranco is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Lima. It’s full of bohemian charm, small contemporary galleries, modern restaurants and a plethora of street art too. One of the best things to do is just to wander around, explore and see what grabs your attention. An unmissable part of Barranco is the Puente de los Suspiros- a wooden bridge surrounded by viewpoints, boutiques and seafood restaurants. In the 1900s this bridge was the meeting point for lovers or the place to go if you wanted to get lucky. Now it’s the perfect place for people watching and to soak up the local atmosphere.
#8 EXPLORE THE FOOD SCENE
Lima is famous for its delicious food throughout South America. Check out world-famous restaurant Central, which year after year makes it into the Top 50 Restaurants in the World List. Here you’ll be transported on a culinary journey of Peru and while it is expensive- it’s nothing compared to a Michelin Starred- Restaurant in the West.
If your budget doesn’t quite allow for this, don’t be disheartened. There are many different restaurants and cuisines to be tried in Peru including Nikkei- a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese and of course ceviche. Don’t go home until you’ve tried it.
#9 LEARN TO SURF
Few major cities have a thriving surf culture and waves to match quite like Lima. Why not rent a board and go for a surf? If you’re new to surfing Lima is a great place to learn as the swell tends to be small and unintimidating. Olas Peru’s instructors will help you out with equipment rental and instruction to get you standing up in no time.
#10 SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY
Peru is full of churches and monasteries but nothing quite like this one. It’s a place of calm amid the hustle and bustle of central Lima, with lavish cloisters, beautiful chapels and an unbeatable historic library. Combine this with a trip to Plaza de Armas.
Any comments or questions about what to do in Lima? I’d love to hear from you, comment below!
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