Don’t miss a few days in Lima for its beautiful food and local scene.
Many travelers head to Peru for the famous Machu Picchu, therefore Lima is often, unfortunately, overlooked. With a rising movement of gastronomy supported by the government and a slew of growing activities to do, Peru’s capital is a city that plays a key role in South America’s thriving tourism. You can plan a trip through Peru luxury vacation planner and experience these top ten must-dos that we think you shouldn’t leave Lima without trying!
1. Say a little prayer inside Basilica de San Francisco.
Do the basilica in the morning then spend a few hours walking, eating and drinking in the main plaza a few blocks away. Spend the money for the tour, it’s worth it. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a gorgeous church and a monastery that contains a library and catacombs, which will blow your mind away with an estimated of 70,000 burials.
2. Get some bench time in Plaza Mayor.
Jirón Huallaga, Lima, Peru (map)
Just a few blocks away from Basilica de San Francisco, you’ll stumble upon Plaza Mayor, which centers around a gorgeous fountain. Spend a good amount of time chilling on one of the park benches and admire: Government Palace (the official residence and office of Peru’s president), Cathedral of Lima, and Peruvian House of Literature (Lima’s old train station restored by the government in 2009 and transformed into a reading room of Peruvian literature) situated right behind the Government Palace.
Stick around at noon to see the changing of the guards at Government Palace, which you don’t need tickets for.
For the hidden gem, look up and notice the yellow umbrellas above the Plaza. The umbrellas are from Restaurant Olamo Terraza Lima, which you can go for the best view of Plaza Mayor.
3. Eat lots and lots of ceviche.
If Peruvians were to label one thing as their national dish, ceviche would be it. Raw fish, citrus juice, lots of chewiness mixed with local vegetables and again with aji amarillo. If you’re not familiar with ceviche, then you should know that the acid in the citrus juice cooks the raw fish, while marinating it with tons of flavors. If you’re up for it, drink up the ceviche juice after eating the raw fish. #Instanom.
4. Go artisan shopping at Parque de Kennedy then say meow to the kitties.
Diagonal, Miraflores Lima 18, Peru (map)
Parque de Kennedy has great street artisan shopping, and tons of alley cats hanging out at the park which are fed and taken care of by the government. So if you’re allergic to the feline kind, you might want to avoid this popular park. Besides artisan shopping, there’s live music that start in the evening, you can check out Peruvian grandmas getting their grooves on to Red Hot Chili pepper covers, with alley cats snuggling with the local crowd.
We also highly recommend tasting turkey sandwiches sold at street vendors in the park. Delish.
5. Try Pisco Sours in all sorts of tropical fruit flavors.
One cocktail to order every night: the Pisco Sour, which incorporates fresh lime juice with sugar, egg white, and Angostura bitters. It tastes dry and tarty. Peruvians will make them with local fresh fruits such as passion fruits or mangos, try them all if you love a good, tarty, sour cocktail.
6. Wanderlust through the bohemian Barranco district
Paseo Chabuca Granda, Lima, Peru (map)
The most romantic and bohemian district out of the 43 districts in Lima. Home to many of Peru’s famous artists, photographers, musicians and designers. You’ll notice vibrant street art culture here, along with houses painted in bright and lively colors. Back in the 19th century, this area was known for its fashionable and aristocratic crowd.
In today’s Barranco, we highly recommend you to wanderlust, then cross the Bridge of Sighs or Puente de los Suspiros.
7. Visit Huana Pucllana then grab a drink at the museum restaurant.
Hard to imagine but there’s a clay pyramid that sits right in the middle of Lima. If you don’t have time to visit Machu Picchu during your trip to Peru, you must spend at least an hour at Huana Puclliana which back in the years of 200 AD and 700 AD, this was an important ceremonial and administrative center for a society which developed in the Peruvian Central Coast.
We highly recommend you do the one hour tour with a guide then grab a drink at the museum restaurant, the view is gorgeous.
8. Kickstart your days with the mighty and powerful Peruvian coffee.
You may now this already, but Peru is one of the largest producers of coffee in the world. In addition, it’s also one of the major producers of organic and fair trade coffee beans. They’re strong with major kick. Need something greater than your alarm clock to start the day? Get your Peruvian coffee on!
9. Museo Larco
Although Museo Larco is located 20 minutes (by car) from downtown Lima, you’d still want to invest in spending a few hours here. It’s a privately owned museum that houses Peru’s pre-Columbian past and 44,000 pieces of collection from the Chimu and Moche era. Don’t miss the pre-Columbian gallery of erotic pottery.The museum itself is built in an 18th-century vice-royal building, over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid.
The museum also has a small restaurant where you can rest your feet and enjoy a nice meal and one or two cocktails.
10. Stroll, jog, or bike through El Malecón, Miraflores
Miraflores 15074, Peru (map)
El Malecón is a six-mile stretch of a gigantic park along the Pacific Ocean. You’ll see beautiful cliffs, masses of beaches and endless greenery. You should spend some time to stroll, jog or bike through the area. The Malecón can be seen by three names, in the north is Malecón de la Marina then it stretches to Malecón Cisneros and ends at Malecón de la Reserva in the south.
If you’re there to enjoy the view, chill out at BuenaVista Café.
If you love parasailing, just walk north of Parque del Amor, there will be a station for parasiling. You can take a 10-minute flight with a guide for $50. Rides are offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you love to bike, you can rent a bike at Bike Tours of Lima (Bolivar 150 in Miraflores). For $15, you get a bike, a lock and a helmet.