Lima is the capital city of Peru and has a population of over 10 million people. It is a bustling city with over forty districts. Typically Lima is the starting point for holidaying tourists and definitely marked the point of change for us in terms of tourists numbers. Maybe this was also due to the fact we were there in July. Like Bogota in Colombia, Lima did not get a very warm portrayal from fellow travellers so our expectations were low. We spent two full days exploring the city and left wishing we spent another day or two there. Overall we thought it was a great place and there’s enough to keep you occupied for at least three days.
Lima has lots of districts with different attractions
Below is what we did in Lima over two days.
Explore Lima’s districts
The most popular areas to stay are Miraflores and Barranco. We stayed in Miraflores and visited Barranco and Central.
Barranco is a bohemian district with cafés, graffiti and an alternative vibe. There are things to do like visiting the museums (MATE, MAC) and galleries but for us, a relaxed walk around and a nice lunch while watching the World Cup was just as good.
Barranco’s main square
Head to Puente de los Suspiros (bridge of sighes) where supposedly if you can manage to hold your breath while crossing the bridge your wish will come true! We tried and failed, its made extra long trying to avoid the selfie sticks! The bridge connects over to a little park where you can view the run down La Ermita Chapel.
Barranco’s Puente de los Suspiros
There is a path leading to the water-front and it is lined with restaurants. Keep your eyes peeled for the stairway and walls decorated with vibrant street art. Our favourite street art was a bridge up a bit from the bridge of sighs. Depicted underneath was the night sky and portraits of people. It was so vivid.
Some of Barranco’s incredible street art
To get from Miraflores to Barranco
Take the Chama bus (red, green, white stripes) with Barranco on the side\front from Parque Kennedy. Ask on entering is it the bus to Barranco to make sure. It costs 1 sole per person. Otherwise you can walk along the malecon from Miraflores or take an Uber.
Miraflores is the most popular place to stay as it is deemed safe and is in a good location. It has restaurants to satisfy the majority of budgets, clothes shops/malls (Lacromar, Fallebella, OE) for a spot of retail therapy and is a short walk from the coast.
El Malecón is a coastal walkway where you can admire the sea and cliffs. Along the walk make sure to stop by Parque Amor. It is a pretty area with beautiful mosaics and flowers. There is a big statue of a man embracing a woman and words of wisdom\love decorate the walls. A little further down the malecón you can watch paragliders enjoying the sky and stop by the lighthouse for a cool picture.
El Malecon – looks grey and overcast in the winter months
Ever shopped in a shopping mall built into the side of a cliff? Well here is your chance! Lacromar is a multi-level complex with views of the sea, restaurants and shops. It is very different to the markets of Chiclayo, thats for sure. But if looking to buy some branded goods, its a good place to browse.
Lacromar shopping center
Parque Kennedy or sometimes called cat park is a really nice area in the center of Miraflores. Walk through and you wont have to look very far for cats. There are lots of cafes and restaurants circling the park so its a good landmark to know when in Miraflores.
Sometimes after travelling a bit of normality is welcome so we looked for a cinema with English movies and found one only a short walk from Parque Kennedy. We finally had our long over-due cinema date. It was a chick flick but thankfully Alan didn’t find out until the movie started.
The Historic Center
The elegant Plaza de Armas is the historic core of Lima and colonial Peru, and is home to the Government Palace, Lima Cathedral and other important buildings. The surrounding streets are full of colonial casas and churches, including the Convent of San Francisco with its bone-strewn catacombs.
Plaza de Armas – Lima, Peru
When we headed to the very impressive Plaza de Armas, it was full of activity. The changing of the guard was on so there were big crowds with music in front of the Government Palace. This is one of the prettiest squares in all of South America, full of history, so take your time to have a look around.
The Presidential Palace – Through bars
We went to the San Francisco Monastery and catacombs. A guide is required but included in the price of 15 soles (€4). Photos are prohibited which is annoying as it is very pretty. We may have taken some sneaky ones! Over 25,000 people were buried in the catacombs, with the remains only being rediscovered in 1943. It’s a fascinating tour and one we would encourage to do if in Lima.
The San Francisco Monastery from the outside
The catacombs – eerie
To get from Mirafores to Central we used the metro bus. It is necessary is purchase a card and add money onto it from the dispensing machine located at the bus stop. We felt safe using the system but as always, use common sense and take the basic safety precautions.
Other things to do
Try local food/drink
Peru is famous for Ceviche and Pisco Sour and downtown Lima is littered with restaurants where you can try these Peruvian specialties. Indeed Lima is a bit of a foodie paradise and the Michelin star restaurant ‘Central’ can be found in Miraflores.
Circuita Magico Del Agua
A water display show with flashing lights, and all for the price of 4 soles. Only come here at night for the show (it’s not on during the day). It comes highly recommended but it’s something we skipped. Happens in Parque de la Reserva, which is sort of inbetween Lima central and Miraflores.
Miraflores is a hotspot for paragliding and you will see numerous places to take flight along the Malecon there.
MATE Mario Testino Museum
This museum is located in the Barranco district and contains works of art by the famous Peruvian photographer Mario Testino.
Where we stayed
We stayed in the Miraflores neighbourhood in hostal Alpes Lima. The location was great, beds comfortable and really friendly and helpful staff. I would definitely recommend it.
Traffic is crazy so allow for at least an hour to get to the bus station from Miraflores. We had 40 minutes and it was stressful and arrived 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time. And after all that the bus ended up being an hour late!!