Lima is a South American capital that is often overlooked by tourists who use it as a jumping-off point for trips to Cusco and the Amazon rainforest; however, to skip Lima is to miss seeing a city with history dating back thousands of years - a city integrating rapid economic growth with an ancient culture. Lima is full of friendly, generous people, and has a wide range of daytime and nighttime activities, beautiful coastlines, bustling financial centers, and some of the best food in the country.
Lima, the capital of Peru, is a cosmopolitan city combining modernity with historical and cultural richness. Located on the central coast of Peru, 500 meters above sea level, it is connected with the major cities of the world through daily direct flights and connections. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991, Lima is a city that offers all tourist services, the most varied cultural and nightlife entertainment in the country, some of the best cuisine of the Americas, and the entryway to all the natural, archaeological and historical tourist attractions of Peru.
Lima is the capital city of Peru. Founded by Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, it was known as the City of Kings and was the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Lima is the most important city in the country and is home to 26.6% of the total population.
Since its foundation, Lima has retained the pride and grandeur of a great city. Its mysteries, wealth, battles, myths and traditions recount magical and poignant events, such as the wall with a depiction of Christ that was left standing after a terrible earthquake in 1740 and gave many a faith that has lasted and grown to this day. There is also the story of the stone carved by the devil in the very center of the city, the tale of a European witch buried in a cemetery in Lima, or the unfathomable mystery of the catacombs that lie beneath the city and is the gateway to the most important sites of a city full of secrets.
Lima is comprised of over 50 districts ranging from financial centers, beach zones, and popular tourist areas, to highly populated shanty towns created by the influx of Andean peoples to Lima. Here we offer an overview of some of the most visited districts in Lima.Miraflores
Miraflores is one of the most visited districts in Lima. From the central location of Parque Kennedy extends a wide range of restaurants, shops, hostels and hotels, bars, and clubs. Parque Kennedy regularly has craft markets and art exhibitions at night and on the weekends. Not far from the park is Larcomar, a shopping mall located atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where there is entertainment for everyone and includes a video arcade, movie theater, bowling alley, up-scale shopping markets, restaurants, bars and clubs overlooking the sea. Nearby Larcomar is the Costa Verde, or green coast, where surfing is popular year-round. Another popular park is the Parque del Amor, where an evocative statue overlooks the sea.Barranco
Barranco is a district known for its arts, and its bohemian, romantic feel. The Bajada de los Baños is a beautiful walkway that winds its way down to the sea. It is crossed by the romantic Puente de los Suspiros leading to the central park of Barranco which has a large cathedral, and is surrounded by cafés, art galleries and exhibits, hotels and hostels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. You can also find Peñas here, which feature typical Peruvian dances and creole and Peruvian music.San Isidro
San Isidro, which shares a border with Miraflores, is the financial center of Lima, with over 20 banks and a large commercial center. It is also home to 28 foreign embassies.Cercado de Lima
Cercado de Lima, also known as Lima Centro, or Downtown Lima, is home to the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Lima which contains the Presidential Palace and the grand Catedral, where the remains of Francisco Pizzaro rest. Overlooking the Plaza is the Cerro San Cristobal with its giant cross. From the plaza, a one hour tour (s./5) will take you to the top of the hill for stunning views of the city. Nearby the plaza on the shore of the river Rimac is the Alameda Chabuca Grande where you can find a large craft market, typical Peruvian food and drinks(mainly from the jungle regions), and live music and dance shows. Another nearby plaza is Plaza San Martin, connected to the Plaza de Armas by the pedestrian shopping street, Jirón de la Union.
Lima's traffic can be quite hectic and unruly making it an unappealing option for many travelers, although rental cars are available at fairly reasonable rates. Public transportation consists of large vans and buses, called micros, or combis, which can take a little getting used to. The routes are listed along the side of the bus, and the collector, or cobrador, calls out the major streets and intersections along the route. To exit the combi, call out your desired stop to the cobrador one block in advance by saying "baja" (go down) or "a la esquina" (at the corner). A one way trip costs s./1, or s./1.20 for much longer trips.
Taxis are an alternative option to the combis. It is necessary to bargain with the driver before entering the taxi as meters are not used. Most of the many taxis in the streets are unofficial, and the safest option is to call for an official, registered taxi, or hail one at taxi stands outside of major hotels and supermarkets.
Lima is home to many pre-Incan archaelogical sites, left over from cultures that lived throughout the valley of the Rimac River centuries ago.
A restored pre-Incan religious site turned cemetery of the Cultura Lima (AD 200-700). It is a pyramidal huaca, or sacred place, built with adobe which holds the Princess of Huallamarca, the mumified remains of a noblewoman. Located in the district of San Isidro at 210 El Rosario at Nicolás de Rivera Street. Tel. 424-4124. Open Tu-Sun 9am-5pm. s./5
Huaca Pucllana or Juliana
A ceremonial center dating from the earliest stages of the Lima culture. A huaca with a pyramidal shape built after the Huaca Huallamarca was abandoned, dedicated to the God Pachacámac. Located in the district of Mi raflores, entrance at General Borgoño Street. Tel. 445-8695 Open Mon and Wed-Sun 9am-5pm. Free entrance and 1 hour tour
Lima has a wide variety of museums with themes spanning from archaeological artifacts, ancient and contemporary art, to torture, gold and weapons. Here are just a few that present information about pre-Incan and Incan culture, Colonial Lima, and modern Lima.
Museo de la Nación (Museum of the Nation)
The Museo de la Nación traces Peru's archaeological history back to 10,000 BCE, with 4 floors of artifacts from the Moche, Nasca, Wari and Inca cultures.
Located in the district of San Borja, 2465 Javier Prado Este.
Tel. 467-9878 or 476-9873 Open Tu-Sun 9am-5pm. s./6 entrance.
1 hour guided tour s./10
Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera
This museum, founded in 1926, is located in an 18th century vice-royal mansion and holds over 40,000 pieces of pre-Colombian Peruvian art including gold and silver jewelry, textiles and thousands of ceramic pieces. Its permanent exhibit is shown chronologically and by regions of Peru. Also on site is the popular Sala Erótica with more developed ceramics. Also inside the museum complex is the Museum Café, serving food and beverages on the terrace and gardens. Located in the district of Pueblo Libre, 1515 Avenida Bolivar. Tel. 461-1312 or 461-1835 Open Mon-Sun 9am-6pm, open on holidays. S./30
Museo de la Inquisición y del Congreso
This gruesome museum depicts the tortures inflicted during the Spanish Inquisition which lasted for 250 years.
Located in the district of Lima Centro, 548 Junín, off Abancay.
Tel. 311-7801. Open Mon- Fri 9am-5pm. Free entrance and 30 minute guided tour.
Convento de San Francisco
A seventeenth century church with elegant vice royal architecture, thousands of rare books, and beautiful murals, including a Peruvian rendition of the Last Supper. The biggest draw, however, is the famous catacombs, discovered in 1943, which are underground passages containing the skulls and bones of over 25,000 bodies.
Located in the district of Lima Centro, 471 Ancash at Lampa, a 5 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas.
Open Mon-Sun 9:30am-5:45pm. s./5 entrance includes guided tour.
Fuerte Real Felipe
A fort built in 1747 to protect the coast from pirates, and it is the location of the last stand of the Spanish royalists during the battles of independence in the 1820s. A guided tour (offered in Spanish only) takes you through the vast grounds of the fort and shows Lima's history of pirates, the war of Independence, the area where prisoners were kept, and magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and the port of Callao.
Located in the district of Callao, Plaza Independencia.
Tel. 429-0532. Open 9am-2pm
Museo de Arte
This museum is dedicated to art by native Peruvians, and spans over 3000 years of history, including a Contemporary art exhibit from the past 50 years. Located in the district of Lima Centro, in the Palacio de la Exposición, which was built in 1872 with plans made by Gustave Eiffel and is located in the Parque de la Exposición, 125 Paseo Colón at Garcilaso de la Vega and Grau.
Tel. 423-4732 / 423-6332 / 423-5149. Open Thurs-Tues 10am-5pm, closed Wed. s./12, s./1 on Sundays
Lima offers various other activities aside from museums.Lima Centro
Visit the Plaza de Armas- the main plaza of Lima where the Presidential Palace is located. The plaza was founded on January 18, 1535 by Francisco Pizzaro, whose remains rest in the Cathedral, which has been rebuilt several times following devastating earthquakes. From the main square take a tour (s./5) to the Cerro San Cristobal which offers views of the city from 1324 ft (409 m) up.
The Parque de la Exposición is a popular park among locals and tourists alike, who come to stroll the grounds, enjoy an ice cream on a hot day, or catch live music over a pisco sour and some traditional Peruvian food.
The Parque de la Reserva is home to the fuentes magicas or magic fountains, and offers various lighted water shows day and night. Reopened in July, 2007 after a $13 million remodel, it holds more water than any other park in the world. Located in the district of Jesus Maria, between blocks 8 and 9 of Arequipa.
s./5 entrance fee.
The Parque de las Leyendas is a large, well maintained zoo divided according to the three geographical regions of Peru- coast, mountains, and jungle, and contains lions, tigers, parrots, sloths, monkeys, llamas and alpacas, among many others. It also contains a botanical section with greenery from all over Peru, as well as a pre-Incan archaeological site.
Located in the district of San Miguel (near Callao), block 24 of Avenida la Marina.
Tel. 464-4282 Open 9am-5:30pm Mon-Fri s./8.50, Sat-Sun s./9
Another zoo is Huachipa, located just outside (9.5 km) of Lima, with over 2,000 animals and over 300 species, including many endangered or threatened species.
Located in the district of Ate/Vitarte, Avenida las Torres.
Tel. 356-3141/ 356-3666 Open Mon-Sun 9am-5:30pm, s./10.
Lima offers a variety of shopping options for every budget. From upscale designers to Indian craft markets, it's easy to find something for everyone on your gift list - even yourself!Larcomar
Perched upon a seaside cliff, this is a fantastic place to do some upscale shopping. Shops include sportswear and accessories, health and beauty, books and music, jewelry, gifts, fashion, restaurants, cafés, candy shops, travel agencies and more.
Located in Miraflores, end of Avenida Larco.
The areas around the central park of Miraflores are filled with shopping opportunities. The largest department stores, Saga Fallabella and Ripley are here, along with tons of small boutiques and cheap clothing and shoe stores.Mercado Indio
This crafts market is a great place to buy art such as paintings, sculptures or decorated gourds, jewelry, or clothing- sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves- made out of warm alpaca fiber. Prices and quality vary among vendors, so look around before making any purchases and don't forget to bargain!
Located in Miraflores, Avenida Petit Thouars 5245.
Open Mon- Sat 9am to 10pm
Located on the border of San Borja and Surco districts near the University of Lima, this large mall contains the large department stores Saga Fallabella and Ripley, as well as many designer boutiques, a movie theater, and several restaurants and cafés.Jirón de la Unión
For some downtown shopping, visit Jirón de la Unión, located between the Plaza de Armas and the Plaza San Martin. This pedestrian walkway is packed with small and large shops in a variety of price ranges, and will also lead you past a beautiful church, as well as many restaurants and casinos.
Peru is well known throughout Latin America for its great variety and creativity in its many different dishes, and Lima is the gastronomic center of Peru. Styles vary, from Peruvian "creole" cuisine, to seafood, to specialties from the jungle and highlands, to a Peruvian-Chinese fusion known as chifa, but everything is delicious.
Ceviche: considered Peru's national dish, is made by marinating fish or shellfish (or both) in a combination of lime juice, chili pepper, onion, and salt and pepper. It is usually served with yam, choclo, a type of large Andean corn, and roasted corn kernels called canchitas, and sometimes with chifles, thin fried slices of banana.
Papa Rellena: mashed potato stuffed with ground beef and fried.
Causa Rellena: mashed potato stuffed with tuna or chicken and served cold with onion slices and avocado.
Rocoto Relleno: a roasted red pepper stuffed with cheese and ground beef. A typical dish from Arequipa.
Anticuchos: grilled beef heart, marinated in vinegar and spices, served on skewers. These can be found in restaurants as well as on the street from street vendors with moveable carts.
Arroz con Mariscos: a delicious seafood dish of rice and mixed seafood, usually made with calamari, mussels, clams, and fish, among others.
Arroz con Pollo: a dish of rice with chicken made by first marinating the chicken in beer, and then cooking it together with the rice in garlic, onions and chili.
Ají de Gallina: shredded chicken served with a creamy yellow sauce made with yellow chilis, cheese and milk, served with rice.
Pachamanca: a dish typically baked underground, made with marinated lamb, mutton, pork, chicken or guinea pig, as well as potatoes, lima beans, sweet potato and corn. Usually served with very large portions.
Lomo Saltado: a stir fry dish made with strips of steak and peppers, tomatoes, onions and french fries, served with rice.
Tallerines Verdes: spaghetti noodles served with a basil and spinach, pesto-style sauce, with grilled steak or chicken.
Pollo a la Brasa: a rotisserie style chicken served with french fries and salad. Found all over the city in specialized chicken restaurants.
Cuy: a specialty of the highland regions, cuy means guinea pig, and is usually served roasted, and whole.
Arroz con leche: a sweet dish of rice made with milk. Sold together at street stands with Mazamorra Morada, which is a type of purple gelatin made by boiling purple corn, cinnamon, pinapple, and other fruits.
Suspiro Limeño: a dessert made of milk and dulce de leche, topped with meringue and cinnamon.
Picarones: a doughnut-style dessert made with dough made from either squash or pumpkin, and served with a sweet syrup made with raw sugar cane. Found in restaurants or at street stands.
Alfajores: a soft baked pastry filled with caramel or molasses and covered in powdered sugar.
Helados: Peru has a wide variety of ice creams outside the traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, featuring many local fruits that most foreigners have never heard of such as lucuma, tuna, camu camu, guaraná, and maracuya, among others.
Chicha Morada: a sweet drink made by boiling purple Peruvian corn with pineapple, apple and cinnamon, and adding lime juice and sugar.
Inca Kola: Peru's answer to the Coca Cola invasion, this very sweet soft drink is yellow, and has a bubble gum flavor.
Pisco Sour: Pisco is the national liquor of Peru, and is a type of brandy made from grapes. Pisco Sours are made by blending or shaking pisco, lime juice, sugar and egg white, and come in many flavors aside from the traditional, such as mango, maracuya, coca, and more.
Chicha: an alcoholic version of the purple corn drink, chicha morada, served mainly in the highland regions of Peru.
Beer: Peru has a few national beers, all light in flavor for those hot, humid days. Some of the most popular are Pilsen, Cristal and Cusqueña.
Coca Tea a traditional drink in the mountainous regions made with coca leaves,
Peru is well known throughout Latin America for its great variety and creativity of its nutritious and savory dishes, as well as an abundance of restaurants to match all tastes and budgets. Meals can be served a la carte, or by menú which is a fixed price meal with a starter, a main course and a drink. This is usually the cheaper option served with large portions, and is a great way to sample the variety of dishes that Peru has to offer. Seafood
There are tons of seafood restaurants around Lima, along the coast and throughout town. They're usually slightly more expensive than other restaurants but are served with large portions and are great for sharing.
Punta Sal 948 Conquistadores, San Isidro, Tel. 441-7431 $$
Segundo Muelle 156 Malecón Cisneros, Miraflores, Tel. 241-2517 $$- $$$
Pescados Capitales 1337 La Mar, Miraflores, Tel. 421-8808 $$
Sonia 173 Jirón Agustín Lozano, Chorrillos, Tel. 467-3788 $$
Restaurant-Lounge Chala 343 Bajada de Baños, Barranco, Tel. 252-8515 $$
Las Brujas de Cachiche 460 Bolognesi, Miraflores, Tel. 444-5310 $$- $$$
Mangos Café Restaurant- Larcomar, Tel. 242-6779 $$
Las Tejas 340 Diez Canseco, Miraflores, Tel. 444-4360 $$
Chifa is a Chinese-Peruvian fusion that can be found all over the city and are as easy to find as Starbucks is in some US cities. The most common dish is chaufa, or fried rice, and there are often cheap menús that come with wanton soup.
Italian food is very popular in Lima, mostly in the form of pizza. Visit "Pizza Street" or calle de las pizzas, a pedestrian street just off Parque Kennedy filled with Italian restaurants of varying prices and offers, bars, discos and karaoke bars.
Pollo a la Brasa is a popular and relatively cheap option. Rotisserie chicken served by the quarter or half served with french fries, salad and different sauces. The largest commercial chain is Norky's, whose green sign you'll see scattered throughout the city, but don't be afraid to try smaller, more family style restaurants, such as El Buen Sabor, near the Ovalo Benavides.
Although not typical, there are vegetarian restaurants to be found in Lima, creatively making veggie versions of the national favorites. Govinda 630 Schell, Miraflores, Tel. 444-2871 $
Vrinda 185 Javier Prado Este, San Isidro, Tel. 421-0016 $
Natur 132 Moquegua, Lima Centro, Tel. 427-8281 $
Restaurant Bircher-Benner 413 Avenida Larco, Miraflores, Tel. 446-5791 $$
El Angelito Verde 451 Avenida Benavides, Miraflores, Tel. 241-8140 $
Lima has plenty of the staple budget-friendly and upper-end restaurant chains -McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Chili's, Fridays, Starbucks and more.
Lima has a wide variety of nightlife options to choose from. There are movie theaters at Parque Kennedy and Larcomar, Miraflores, and Ovalo Gutierez in San Isidro, and bowling at Larcomar. Parque Kennedy often has a craft market and live music and dance shows.Bars and Clubs
People generally head out to bars and clubs late and stay out until the early morning. Beers are usually sold in large bottles or pitchers with several glasses to share among friends. Check local listings for happy hours and live shows.
+ Huaringas 460 Bolognesi, Miraflores
+ Zatarra 255 Berlin, Miraflores
+ Treff Pub Alemán Ave. Benavides, C.C. 571-104
Los Dueños, Miraflores
+ Murphy's Irish Pub 627 Schell, Miraflores
+ Bierhaus 192 Berlin, Miraflores
+ Mecano Avenida Larco, Miraflores
+ Gothica Larcomar, Miraflores
+ Saquarra 240 República de Panamá, Barranco
+ Mamá Batatá Larcomar, Miraflores
+ Aura Larcomar, Miraflores
+ Vocé 2161 Petit Touars, Lince
There are plenty of options for daytrips to different sights just outside of Lima, whether for tourism, camping, or just a day at the beach.Pachacámac
Pachacámac is an archaeological site in the valley of Lurin, 19.26 miles (31 km) south of Lima. Researchers estimate that it was inhabited by Pre-Inca and Inca peoples from the year 200 CE until 1533 CE. Among the pre-Incan structures are the Templo Pintado, or colored temple, and the Templo Viejo, or old temple, as well as ramped pyramids. Next to these structures is the Incan Templo de Inti, or temple of the sun, which has a terrace overlooking the ocean. Open daily from 9am-5pm. s./5 entrance.Puruchuco
Another Incan archaeological site, located 4.66 miles (7.5 km) east of Lima. In Quechua, the language of the Incas, its name means 'hat of feathers', and the site consists of a well restored political palace used by the Incas in their domain over the Rimac valley. Open Tues- Sun from 9am-5pm. Tel. 494-2641.Marcahuasi
Marcahuasi is a location outside of Chosica, in the Lurigancho district of Lima which is excellent for hiking and camping. After a bus ride around precarious cliffs, visitors arrive in the small village of San Pedro. From this point visitors begin a challenging up-hill, high altitude hike (mules are also available for rent from locals) to the top of the Marcahuasi plateau, located at 3,657 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level. On top of the plateau is an area for camping and plenty of routes to explore the "Crock forest" full of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures naturally appearing in the giant rocks, as well as several lagoons and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.Southern Beaches
In the summer time, Limeños head down to the southern beaches to relax and take in the sun, or stay out all night in one of the many clubs near or on the beach. There are many delicious seafood restaurants to be found, as well as excellent waves for surfing. Popular beaches are Punta Hermosa, Punta Negra, San Bartolo and El Silencio, located between 36 and 52 kilometers south along the Pan Americana highway. Farther south are the beaches of Asia in the district of Cañete about 100 km south of Lima. This area has been in development since the 1970s and has various hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and nightclubs, as well as beaches for sunbathing and surfing and a golf course coming soon.