Lima is not only the capital of Peru, it is also an extraordinary place where you can get to know Peruvian culture at its liveliest. Your going to love sampling the local food and seeking out historic monuments all while enjoying the beauty and richness of the Pacific Ocean.
Where to Stay?
Lima has thousands of hotels and other types of rentals, so whatever your budget, you will surely find the most suitable place. The city has 43 districts, but only a few of them are recommended for tourists. One of these districts is of course the historic center of the city. This area is where most historic sites are located. The other area is called Miraflores. It’s an upscale district with plenty of restaurants, bars and hotels of every kind. You will find budget facilities such as Flying Dog Hostels to fancy places such Sol de Oro or Crowne Plaza.
You may want to look for accommodation in San Isidoro as well. This neighborhood offers plenty of suitable rooms for backpackers and for those looking for more leisure as well.
Where to Eat?
Whether you are looking for fine dining opportunities, street stalls that provide the best local dishes or anything between the two, Lima will surely astonish. You will find rich flavors, exotic ingredients and special cooking procedures at many of the local establishments.
One of the dishes you must try is cheviche, a dish made from raw fish marinated in citrus juices. There are places, such as Avenida La Mar called cevicherias that specialize in this dish. Please try it as no exploration of Lima can be complete without it.
There is another dish that is delicious, but considered to be weird by many: the roasted guinea pig called Cuy. Conquer your reluctance and pop in to Las Tejas in Miraflores for a cuy garnished with yucca – you won’t regret it. If you think your cuy was too heavy, you can try traditional Peruvian drink, the pisco sour, a grape brandy.
What to Do?
The history of Lima dates back to the pre-Columbian era, but most of the old Inca buildings were destroyed by the Spanish who conquered the area in 1532. If you are interested in even older history, Miraflores cradles Huaca Pucllana, a pyramid built between 300-700 AD. Also, don’t miss the Larco Museum, which features a huge collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, metal and textile objects.
There are two features that make the museum really special. First, visitors are allowed to take a look at the store rooms to see objects that are not displayed. Second, there is a room dedicated to only to erotic artifacts which can be, well, interesting to say the least.
The dominant architectural style of modern day Lima is a combination of renaissance elegance and traditional local building design. You can see this in the historical center as well as the many buildings and architectural complexes scattered through out the city. For example, in Main Square you will find the Plaza de Armas, The Plaza de la Vera Cruz or the huge convent of San Francisco. The later is famous not only for its religious role, but also for its catacombs and huge cemeteries built under the churches. You can explore the Old City either on foot or by bike, there are many bicycle rental shops in the city.
Lima is certainly a city of contrasts and paradoxes. It is located in one of the driest areas on Earth, but it has been very aptly nicknames the Garden City and the home of one of the largest fountain parks in the world. The Magic Water Circuit in the Park of Reserve is among the major attractions of the city. Thirteen fountains are turned on at 3pm and work until 10:30. To see the show, you will have to pay a less than 2 dollars fee.
City Explorers Tip
There is a place in Lima that the locals know as cat park. The park is officially called Parque Kennedy and it is a place decorated with the most beautiful plants. It received its unofficial name because it is populated by hundreds of happily purring and stretching cats. If you love cats or you just want to see this beautiful park, it is in the center of Miraflores.
A Day off the Beaten Path
Lima is a very relaxed and friendly place. If you think your sightseeing schedule was too tight and you are looking for a more relaxing day, here is an alternative itinerary. This itinerary will allow you to sample not only beautiful and tasty Lima, but bohemian Lima as well.
Start your day at Pasteleria San Antonio in Avenue Angamos Oeste and have breakfast. Grab a sandwich, a tasty mango juice and a coffee, then head for Gamarra, the city’s garment district in La Victoria. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, the colors, the business of the market will certainly energize and amaze you. Who knows, maybe you fall in love with an alpaca sweater or shoal – they are beautiful and inexpensive.
After the busy marketplace, it is time to relax a bit. Follow the coastline from Miraflores towards the south and you will soon get to Barranco, the city’s bohemian district. It is a place where poets and artists can show their art to the world. It’s also a district with lots of great eateries, stylish restaurants and cafes. The area has some beautiful old buildings and a special wooden bridge called El Puente de Los Suspiros (The Bridge of Sighs). Cross the bridge, then continue to the beach where you can enjoy even more tranquility. If you are hungry, try one of the eateries or restaurants at the beach. You will find Peruvian, traditional South American and fusion kitchen just as much as European dishes.
As an alternative option for the more daring visitor, you can take in the city’s panorama paragliding as well. It is an amazing view, indeed, a combination of old and new like nowhere else.
In the evening, you can choose a cozy place in Miraflores or Barranco such as La Noche (most bars usually open at around 9 or 10pm). Just relax, and reminisce at the days events as you wait for the night to start. Nights are always exciting in Lima!