In Lima, history and innovation are intertwined. The whole city is a blend of architecture, traditions and art of different times and cultures. There are so many great things to do in Lima, such as visiting the amazing Parque de Amor or trying some of the fantastic cooking classes.
If you want to go far back into history, look for the Huacas: dusty hills on the outskirts which hide ancient ruins of the famous Incas or even older civilizations. In Miraflores - the modern and international district in the centre of the city - you can visit the Huaca Pucllana, a big adobe pyramid which was built more than 2500 years ago. Another interesting site is the Pachacamac archaeological site, a centuries-old pilgrimage centre, with many impressive pyramids and temples.
Many tourists travel to Lima and use it as a hub to get to Cusco and access Machu Picchu, but Lima is vastly becoming famous in its own right - home to over 10 million people and boasting a booming gastronomic scene. Some excellent ways to see Lima include exploring the historic city centre, visiting the pre-Inca temples of Pachacamac, or experiencing the glitz and glamour of the Larcomar - a stunning mall and hotel complex built into the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Below is our Lima travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
TRIP TO PARACAS AND HUACACHINA – Day trips to the south are hugely popular. Stops such as Chincha, Paracas and Huacachina are all within coach rides from the city. If you plan your trip well and depart early in the morning you can visit the Ballestas Islands off the coast of Paracas, and for the adventurous, in the afternoon Sandboard and dune buggy on some of the biggest sand dunes in the world at the real-life desert oasis – Huacachina!
VISIT PARQUE DE AMOR – On a hillside overlooking the Pacific you can find a beautiful park with amazing sculptures, including a huge sculpture of a portly-looking couple in an amorous embrace. Spend an afternoon people watching or join the locals picnicking here at the weekend for some of the best views in Lima.
COOKING CLASSES – Lima is officially the gastronomic capital of Latin America, meaning the best food you can eat on the whole continent is found in this buzzing metropolis. Ceviche, causa, papa huancaina, lomo saltado...the list goes on, but however long you spend in Lima, make sure you sample some of the local cuisine, or even partake in cooking classes or food tours: they are fast becoming some of THE must-do activities in Lima.
CITY TOURS – Taxis are safe (although do take care at night) and walking tours of the city are highly recommended. However, for those short on time a hop on hop off city bus tour is ideal.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
A Visit to the Magic Water Circuit – Lima hosts the largest fountain complex in the world. There are nightly shows with Peruvian music and synchronised lighting, creating a magical spectacle that is well worth the 4 soles entrance fee.
Visit the chocolate museum in Miraflores right beside Parque Kennedy.
Shopping – Lima is one of the biggest retail destinations in South America. Huge malls merge with bustling markets, and if counterfeit goods are your thing look no further than Polvos Azules, a huge multi storey maze crammed with every type of merchandise you could ever imagine. Make sure you pick up the more traditional products – perfect for gifts for family and friends – at the Inca Market (Av. Petit Thouars) and get bargaining!
Choose from thousands of local Cevicherias, or for something more fancy try Astrid y Gastron (Av. Paz Soldan 290), the flagship restaurant of the famous Peruvian chef, Gaston Acurio: in Lima, you are spoilt for choice. Pollerias (Roast Chicken Houses), Chifas (Peruvian Asian Restaurants) and Sangucherias (cafes selling sandwiches) dot every street corner. Try as much food as you can in Lima - your stomach will thank you for it later!
For one of the best Chifas, go to Wa lok (Av. Angamos Oeste 700). It's above the average price you'd pay in standard Chifas, but you can really taste the difference in the quality and flavour of the food. The wantans are amazing!
Lima has a huge and varied nightlife scene. From touristic spots in Miraflores to trendy hipster bars in Barranco and upmarket joints in San Isidro, Lima caters for all. Nightclubs in the Larcomar complex (Malecon de la Reserva 610) remain open until dawn and can fit thousands of eager clubbers; however, drinks can be expensive at 20 soles a bottle of beer. Smaller salsa clubs and reggae bars are also popular.
Check out Mangos, found in the Larcomar, for dinner, drinks, and later dancing, all in a fabulous location looking down at the ocean. For a more bohemian hangout, go to Ayahuasca (Av San Martin 130) - this is a beautiful bar set in a colonial house. Explore the maze of different rooms, each with its unique decor and style, and sample the varied drinks menu - don't forget the Pisco, of course - you're in Peru!
Lima is one of the biggest desert cities in the world, for this reason there is never a need to worry about rain. However, there are 2 distinct seasons, summer and winter. Winter runs from April to October and summer lasts the rest of the year. The summers are very warm and humid, it usually stays well over 25 degrees all day. When it is winter, the temperature can occasionally drop as low as 13 degrees, and with dense cloud cover for most of the winter months.
You can fly into Lima from a host of destinations around the world and nearly all internal flights are via Lima too. The airport is one of the most important in South America. Unfortunately given its poor public transportation system and growing population, traffic to and from Lima airport can be chaotic. Callao, the area in which the airport is located, is crime-ridden so be sure to choose a registered taxi when leaving the airport.
Lima has not got a central bus station; however, all the major bus companies have one if not two of their own private terminals with frequent departures.
Bus from Arequipa – 18 hours.
Bus from Cusco – 22 hours.
Bus from Mancora – 18 hours.
TAXI COSTS IN LIMA
Airport to Miraflores - 65 soles.
Bus Stations to Miraflores - 15/20 soles.
Miraflores to Centro Lima - 12/15 soles.
Miraflores is the safest and most modern area of Lima and where most hotels and hostels are based. It is located close to the waterfront and has some beautiful parks and ocean views. Barranco is the bohemian and artisanal area of Lima, home to some boutique hotels. There are also plenty of options in Lima Centro, but most travelers stay in Miraflores and Barranco as they are safer areas, and make a day trip to the centre of Lima.
Pariwana (Av. Larco 189) is a popular choice among travelers, and the hostel has a range of fun activities on offer, from salsa lessons to ping pong tournaments - there's never a moment to be bored!
Be careful outside of the zones of Miraflores and Barranco particularly at night-time, use registered taxis only.