Lima Travel Guide
Refined, elegant, rich in history and with one of the best gastronomic scenes in America, the capital of Peru really deserves its nickname of City of Kings.
For centuries, Lima was the center of the Spanish Empire overseas, so its fabulous wealth can still be seen when touring the current city.
But modern Lima treasures other gems. The works of modern Latin American art exhibited at MAC Lima, the Creole rhythms that are danced in places like La Oficina and exquisite flavors in its restaurants.
- The 5 best reasons to visit Lima
- What to do in Lima
- When to visit Lima
- How to get to Lima
- Where to stay in Lima
- How to move around Lima
- Cost of living in Lima
- Where to eat in Lima
The 5 best reasons to visit Lima
The impressive architecture of the Colonial Center
Downtown Lima is simply beautiful. Built during Spanish colonial rule, the UNESCO listed city centre includes masterpieces such as the Archbishop’s Palace, the twin towers of Lima’s cathedral and mansions such as Casa Riva Agüero or Casa de Aliaga.
Gastronomy of world prestige
All Latin American food lovers should go to Lima, whose culinary diversity is incredible. The delicious seafood, such as the ceviche from La Mar Cebicheria, the Peruvian soup in Siete Sopas and the sofritos de carne from Pollos Hikari are wonderful.
Evening party and live music
The soul of Limeños is reflected in the criolla, the local musical creation. Capable of fusing Andean, African and European music, it can make you dance and cry. Clubs like La Oficina and Ekeko Bar have regular programming.
Lima is a fantastic shopping destination. The Mercado de la India is the best place to buy souvenirs. The Flower Market is another experience not to be missed, where beauty and bargains are paired in an irresistible mix.
Lima is a great creative center, as well as a historical and commercial center. You will always find art galleries and theaters to attend. MAC Lima and MATE, an institution dedicated to fashion photographer Mario Testino, are two true national references.
What to do in Lima
Getting to know the Plaza Mayor
This square has occupied the heart of the city since the 16th century, and is surrounded by the most important places in Lima. Among beautiful fields of flowers you will discover the historical cathedral of Lima and the Government Palace of Peru. Walk to the luxurious mansion Casa de Aliaga and, a little further, to the monastery of San Francisco.
Marvel at the Larco Museum
This 18th century house, transformed into an art gallery, offers fascinating pre-Columbian treasures and objects. Many of them predate the emergence of Lima, but their complexity and usefulness are remarkable. Also the erotic ceramic pieces are impressive.
Getting lost in Miraflores
Locals and tourists mingle in the streets of the modern Miraflores neighborhood to visit its fashionable shops, cafes and clubs. Kennedy Park, in the heart of the neighborhood, often hosts fun flea markets and public art exhibitions. Nearby, the ancient pyramid of Huaca Pucllana looks fascinating. The luxurious Larcomar shopping center is the perfect starting point for a stroll along the malecón.
Enjoy in the Plaza de la Reserva
Lima’s urban landscape is dotted with beautiful public parks. The Spanish style Plaza de la Reserva is particularly unique. The fountain known as the Magic Water Circuit is made up of thirteen dynamic reservoirs, the largest network of fountains in the world, and never fails to impress. The show is beautifully lit at night.
Explore a romantic and inspiring setting
Situated south of Miraflores, Bohemian Wonderland is a cliff-top neighbourhood with romantic and atmospheric streets. Lima’s community of artists considers it their home and one of their main sources of inspiration.
When to visit Lima
Lima’s high season begins in December and lasts until mid-April, when temperatures hover around 24ºC and sunsets are sublime. The winter in Peru, between June and September, is usually colder, but it is still mild and room prices are more economical.
How to get to Lima
Jorge Chavez International Airport has excellent connections with US cities such as New York and Houston, as well as good communications with downtown Lima. The cheapest option to get there is to take the local IM-18 bus to Miraflores, which costs 2 S/, although you can also use a taxi for about 40 S/. The car rental companies Hertz, Budget and Avis have offices at the airport and offer another practical alternative to cover the 12 kilometers that separate Lima from its airport.
If you choose to rent a car at the airport, going into town is fairly easy. Turn right on Elmer Faucett Avenue until you reach Argentina Avenue, when you will need to turn left. Turn right at Ramón Castilla Square and you will have reached the downtown area. If you are driving from Cuzco, take Highway 3S to Ayacucho, then take Highway 24 to Pisco, and finally head north to Lima on Coastal Highway 1S. Another option is to follow Highway 1 south of Trujillo and Cajamarca.
Buses are a popular means of transport in Lima, with many routes and companies. Operators such as America Express, Cruz del Sur and CIVA run buses from cities such as Arequipa, Cuzco and Trujillo. Delivery points vary, but they are generally clustered around the La Victoria neighborhood, south of the historic center. Depending on the route, tickets range from 60 to 100 S/.
Where to stay in Lima
Lima offers excellent hotels with 5-star facilities. Among the best central options are the Sheraton Lima Hotel and Convention Center, the Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel, in one of the most luxurious areas of Lima, and the splendid Country Club Lima Hotel, in San Isidro.
Interesting neighborhoods in Lima
The historical centre, which extends through the central districts of Rimac and Cercado de Lima, provides an admirable collection of historical architecture.
Just south of the historic center is Miraflores, where upper-class Peruvians live, dine, shop and play. Its location in front of the sea, as well as its historical sites, such as the ancient temple Huaca Pucllana, and Larcomar, the best commercial center in the city, attract visitors.
San Isidro, north of Miraflores, is the financial capital of Peru. It is prosperous and relaxed at the same time. It has beautiful parks, gardens and some great Lima restaurants, such as Segundo Muelle.
How to move around Lima
The Metropolitan bus network and the modern urban railway system are the main modes of public transport. To use them, you will need a rechargeable travel card. Train fares start at 1.50 S/, while individual bus tickets cost 2 S/. More adventurous travelers also tend to use Lima’s microbuses, which accept cash and charge a minimum of 0.50 S/ per trip.
Taxis are a popular form of transportation, but they don’t have a meter. You will have to agree on a fare with the person in charge: do not pay more than 20 S/ for an interior tour of the city.
If you choose to drive, you can visit the southern beaches, such as Punta Negra, and organize excursions to places as attractive as the historic port of Pisco. You can rent it at Budget and Avis branches all over the city, with quite affordable rates, around 22 S/ day.
Cost of living in Lima
If you’re looking for designer brands, the city is full of modern shopping malls, with Jockey Plaza, Mall del Sur and Larcomar at the top of the list. If you prefer crafts, art or traditional dress, go to the Gamarra market, the Piedra Liza flower market or the maze of craft stalls along Petit Thouars Avenue in Miraflores, where you’ll find great bargains.
Groceries and others
You will never be far from a supermarket in Lima, usually from local firms such as Wong, Vivanda and Metro. Prices tend to be low: the 12 eggs cost about 5.40 S/ and a beer, in a bar, about 24 S/.
Where to eat in Lima
Lima is every gourmet’s dream. Tasting all its culinary nuances is almost impossible. However, if you feel like a good ceviche, go to Cevichería Bam Bam or Punto Azul. To try other traditional Peruvian dishes, reserve a table at the Central Restaurant, or opt for chef Gastón Acurio at Astrid y Gastón, where the menu includes 28 dishes. The food is fantastic, and the prices are low: an average of 18 S/ per head.
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