Lima is one of South America's best kept secrets. Once treated as a stopover by travelers on their way to the famous Machu Picchu, the capital of Peru has always been a vibrant destination in its own right. And the world is now taking notice.
This sprawling metropolis is the second-driest world capital, rising above a long coastline of crumbling cliffs. To enjoy it, climb on the wave of chaos that spans high-rise condos built alongside pre-Columbian temples and fast Pacific breakers rolling toward noisy traffic snarl-ups. Think one part southern Cali doused with a heavy dose of America Latina.
But Lima is also sophisticated, with a civilization that dates back millennia. Stately museums display sublime pottery; galleries debut edgy art; solemn religious processions recall the 18th century and crowded nightclubs dispense tropical beats. No visitor can miss the capital’s culinary genius, part of a gastronomic revolution more than 400 years in the making. This is Lima. Shrouded in history (and sometimes fog), gloriously messy and full of aesthetic delights.
The city of more than 9 million citizens is a sprawling metropolis with sights and smells at every turn. The historic city center, given the name Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings) by Spanish conquistadors, enchants visitors with its pre-Columbian history and colonial architecture. Meanwhile, the modern Miraflores district beckons sun seekers and trendsetters and the Barranco district is a bohemian paradise. Plus, any world-traveling foodie will tell you that the vast and delectable Peruvian cuisine is not to be missed. In short, Lima has something for everyone. Don’t even think of missing it.
BEST TIME TO VISIT LIMA, PERU
The best time to visit Lima is from December to April. Since Lima is in the Southern Hemisphere, these months offer warm, summer weather (sometimes upward of 80 degrees). The city's geography as a coastal desert means it experiences moderate temperatures throughout the year, very little rainfall, but plenty of high humidity. If you visit from May through November, considered Lima's cooler months, you're likely to find what locals call la garua: a thick misty sea fog that hangs over the city along with overcast skies.
December to April - Summer in Lima is peak tourist season, and with good reason. High temperatures hover in the upper 70s and 80s, with sunny skies and few clouds (Lima experiences very little rain, aside from the occasional isolated shower). You'll want to find a good vantage point for sunsets, which are known for being colorful this time of year. Be mindful that Easter and other religious holidays are considered national holidays in Peru, so some shops and restaurants may be closed.
May to November - Winter in Lima is characterized by overcast skies and mild temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the low 70s. You'll likely find misty fog and light rain through the city's winter months, but this also means you can expect discounts on lodging as tourist demand is lower. This is also a good time to experience local festivals and celebrations, such as Peruvian Independence Day. If you consider yourself a foodie, then plan your visit during the annual Mistura, the largest food festival in South America, in September.
GETTING TO LIMA, PERU
Lima is the gateway for international tourists and business travellers to Peru. Getting to Lima is easy. The capital of Peru is well connected to the world and can be reached by air, road and sea, while a flight might be the most convenient way to get there. Lima is also the starting point to all other destinations within Peru.
By Air - Flights to Lima arrive at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao which is around 13km from the city center and about 18km from the tourist district of Miraflores. Several international airlines operate regular direct or connecting flights to Lima's airport from numerous cities in North and South America as well as Europe. Major airlines serving Jorge Chavez International Airport are American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air Canada, Iberia and KLM.
By Road - The Pan American Highway (Pan Americana) is Peru's only international highway running from north to south along the coastline. In the north it connects Ecuador and the Peruvian cities of Tumbes, Piura, Chiclayo and Trujillo with Lima; in the south it connects Chile, Arequipa and Nazca with the Peruvian capital. The Central Highway (Carretera Central) runs from east to west and links the Peruvian highlands with Lima.
By Sea - Since Colonial times Lima's international port is located in Callao, some 13km away from the city center. Vessels from all over the world bring cargo and sometimes travelers to the capital of Peru. Nowadays even some international cruises find their way to Lima via the port of Callao. Major cruises include Princess Cruises, Holland America, Regent Seven Seas, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Seabourn.
By Train - There are no international rail services to Lima. The only public train leaves and returns to Lima's Desamparados Train Station on a regular base for a trip on the world's highest railway connecting Lima with the Andean town of Huancayo.
GETTING AROUND LIMA, PERU
The best way to get around Lima is on foot. To a first-timer, getting around Lima can be a little complicated. Not only is Lima the name of the city, but also the name of a district within the city, as well as the name of the region surrounding the city and the larger Peruvian province in which the city and district lies. If you're exploring the Historic Center or strolling the Malecon in Miraflores, you'll be fine on foot. There are a few transit options for traversing districts; the best one depends on how far you're going. Taxis are readily available, but you'll want to stick to prearranged rides (most hotels can call one for you) because street taxis are unregulated. The city also has multiple options for public transportation, but make sure to familiarize yourself with your route or carry a map along. You should avoid renting a car, as Limeños will tell you that it's a hassle to drive in the chaotic city.
On foot - You can walk around the central (Lima) district to soak up the sights or spend the day strolling Miraflores , where most tourists and travelers base themselves. There are plenty of public plazas and squares to rest in along the way. Just make sure to bring along plenty of water and comfortable shoes. Also, there aren't any official crosswalk laws so look both ways before crossing the street.
Taxi - Taxis are a good way to explore more of Lima's popular districts, but travelers should be cautious when choosing a cab. Taxis are unregulated in Lima, so it's best to have your hotel arrange one for you – especially at night – even though you'll pay a little more to do so. If you do hail a taxi on the street, make sure to agree on a price before you get in the vehicle.
Public Transportation - Lima has an extensive bus system and a metro. The metro is easy to navigate but only offers one line that mainly services more inland districts of the city. Bus service, however, is much more widespread. The city offers a rapid transit bus system called Metropolitano that provides an efficient way to travel from one district to another because it uses private lanes to bypass Lima traffic. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the main street near your desired destination before boarding since most buses have the main avenues along their route painted on the side. If you're unsure if you're on the correct route, ask the cobrador (bus conductor).
WHERE TO STAY IN LIMA, PERU
Set in Lima, 6 km from Larcomar, Dazzler by Wyndham Lima San Isidro offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. With a bar, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and luggage storage for guests. At the hotel, all rooms come with a desk. Guests at Dazzler by Wyndham Lima San Isidro can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The accommodation offers a sun terrace. Dazzler by Wyndham Lima San Isidro features amenities such as an on-site business centre and hot tub. Museum of the Nation is 6 km from the hotel, while San Martín Square is 7 km away. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International, 13 km from Dazzler by Wyndham Lima San Isidro, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
Set in Lima, within 500 m of Larcomar and 8 km of Museum of the Nation, Helen's House El Mirador offers accommodation with a garden and free WiFi throughout the property as well as free private parking for guests who drive. The property is around 11 km from San Martín Square, 11 km from Government Palace of Lima and 11 km from Museum of the Santa Inquisicion. The property is 3 km from Huaca Pucllana and 4.4 km from Los Delfines Beach. The units in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. At Helen's House El Mirador all rooms are equipped with a private bathroom with a bath. Speaking English and Spanish at the 24-hour front desk, staff will be happy to provide guests with practical information on the area. Las Nazarenas Church is 12 km from the accommodation, while Monterrico Racecourse is 12 km away. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International Airport, 19 km from Helen's House El Mirador.
Situated in Lima, 1.5 km from Larcomar, Tierra Viva Miraflores Centro features accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking. The property is located 7 km from Museum of the Nation, 9 km from San Martín Square and 10 km from Government Palace of Lima. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, and currency exchange for guests. At the hotel, the rooms have a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. All rooms at Tierra Viva Miraflores Centro have air conditioning and a wardrobe. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Museum of the Santa Inquisicion is 10 km from Tierra Viva Miraflores Centro, while Las Nazarenas Church is 10 km from the property. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International Airport, 18 km from the hotel.
Situated in the exclusive Miraflores district in Lima, Andesmar Hotel offers accommodation right on Grau Avenue, only a 12-minute walk from Larcomar shopping mall. Free WiFi and parking are available on site. A complimentary buffet breakfast is served daily. Rooms at Andesmar Hotel are spacious and feature a private bathroom with free toiletries, a SMART TV with cable channels, air conditioning, a minibar, and a microwave. Guests are also provided with a complimentary bottle of water in the room. Guests can enjoy a drink or a snack at the Terrace Bar. Andesmar Hotel also features a 24-hour front desk, a concierge service, a tour desk, and a luggage storage. Shuttle services can be requested at the front desk for a surcharge. Laundry services are offered for a surcharge. Parque Central de Miraflores is 400 m away. Museum of the Nation is 6 km from Andesmar Hotel, while San Martín Square is 8 km away. Jorge Chavez International Airport is 14 km from the property.
Set in Lima, 140 m from Larcomar, AC Hotel by Marriott Lima Miraflores offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness centre and a bar. The property is situated 8 km from Museum of the Nation, 11 km from San Martín Square and 11 km from Government Palace of Lima. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free WiFi. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel, all rooms include a private bathroom with free toiletries. Buffet and à la carte breakfast options are available every morning at AC Hotel by Marriott. The accommodation offers a terrace. A business centre and vending machines with drinks are available on site at AC Hotel by Marriott Lima Miraflores. Museum of the Santa Inquisicion is 12 km from the hotel, while Las Nazarenas Church is 12 km from the property. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International Airport, 20 km from AC Hotel by Marriott.
Tierra Viva Miraflores Mendiburu has a privileged location, in the middle of the best gastronomic area of Miraflores; at walking distance from the best restaurants in Peru, such as: Cevicheria La Mar, Mercado, Pescados Capitales, La Cucharita, Matria, among others. Three blocks away from the ocean view sidewalk and with fast access from the "Costa Verde" makes arrival very easy and ideal for corporate and leisure travellers. The 36 rooms have a king or two twin size beds, private bathroom with high-pressure showers, A/C, 40" LCD with cable, national and international telephone service, hair dryer, safe, desk, among others. Buffet breakfast is included, along with Wi Fi and a bottle of water. In addition, the property offers internet centre and hot beverages, in the lobby, available 24 hours a day.
Pariwana Hostel Lima in Lima provides adults-only accommodation with a restaurant, a bar and a shared lounge. Featuring a tour desk, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, a shared kitchen and free WiFi throughout the property. Guests at the hostel can enjoy a continental or a buffet breakfast. Guests can enjoy playing table tennis or sing karaoke, or take advantage of the business centre. Larcomar is 2.1 km from Pariwana Hostel Lima, while Museum of the Nation is 6 km away. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International Airport, 18 km from the accommodation.
Featuring a shared lounge, garden and views of garden, La Casona Azul is located in Lima, 700 m from Larcomar. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a concierge service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The guest house features family rooms. The guest house offers a continental or buffet breakfast. La Casona Azul offers a terrace. Museum of the Nation is 8 km from the accommodation, while San Martín Square is 10 km away. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International Airport, 19 km from La Casona Azul.
Set 9 km from Las Nazarenas Church, Villa Soriana offers accommodation with a garden, a terrace and a 24-hour front desk for your convenience. Free WiFi is offered throughout the property. There is a fully equipped private bathroom with shower and free toiletries. à la carte and American breakfast options are available every morning at the bed and breakfast. San Martín Square is 9 km from Villa Soriana, while Government Palace of Lima is 10 km from the property. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International Airport, 8 km from the accommodation.
Located in Lima, Uli´s house provides free WiFi, and guests can enjoy free bikes, a shared lounge and a garden. A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast. Uli´s house offers a terrace. Larcomar is 2.8 km from the accommodation, while Museum of the Nation is 6 km away. The nearest airport is Jorge Chavez International, 20 km from Uli´s house, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN LIMA, PERU
The bustling capital of Lima has more than enough to entertain visitors for a couple of days. But before visiting the City of Kings, you should learn about the attractions that make Lima, well, uniquely Lima. Check out the list of Turisti-Info to the Places to visit & things to do in Lima.
If you want to see museums in Peru then Lima is your place. The nation’s capital is home to all of Peru's most famous and well maintained museums and all containing the country’s most prized possessions. The top museums to visit are Larco Museum, MALI and Museo Oro.
There’s not many places in the world that offer big city lifestyle with year-round waves but Lima is one of them. You’ll find waves only a short walk down from Miraflores and one of Peru’s best breaks, la herradura, only a short drive away. Lima is a great city to be a surfer in!
For those looking for a little bit of a rush, you can take a paraglide over Miraflores, the cliffside and the Pacific Ocean. Head to Lima’s Miraflores district and you’ll find paragliders taking off all year. It’s there for you if you can muster the courage.
Restaurante Central and Maido are just two of the star-studded restaurants that call Lima home. Both respectfully rank in the top 10 in the world and are part of Lima’s culinary revolution. Now world-class restaurants abound, serving Peruvian classics like ceviche with modern twists.
There, embedded in the thick of high rises and Lima traffic, stands the ancient pyramid Huaca Pucllana, which dates back to around 500 A.D., well before the Inca controlled Peru. The ruins are a sight to behold amongst the modernity of Lima. You can take tours of the site or even have dinner on the ruins at night.
Peru’s flagship dish is without a doubt ceviche. You can find delicious plates of the dish served nearly everywhere, all fresh and absolutely delicious.
The drink that calls Peru home was invented and mastered in Lima, which means no trip to the capital is complete without trying the country’s national cocktail. If you want to drink a glass with historic company, go to El Gran Hotel Bolivar, where JFK, Walt Disney and Hemingway all stayed and enjoyed the drink.
Lima’s historical center is a living museum. You can see some of the country’s finest colonial architecture and most striking buildings.
Limeños and visitors alike are obsessed with chifa, Peruvian Chinese cuisine. It is one of Peru’s most beloved food and the very best is found in barrio Chino, near Lima’s historical center. Gorge out on chaufa (fried rice) and lomo saltado (a stir fry with meat and french fries), two of the most beloved chifa dishes.
Casa di Aliaga is widely considered the oldest colonial house in South America. The mansion dates back to the 16th century and was a gift from Pizarro to one of his wealthiest backers. The mansion has survived countless earthquakes, fires and even wars. You can take tours of the house and view its beautifully remodeled interior.
Museo Larco is now famous for its collection of pre-Incan pottery, replicas of which can be found at any gift shop in Peru. The images are entertaining and worth a trip to Museo Larco alone.
On January 18, Lima celebrates the day it was founded by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizzaro. There are parades and parties taking place all over the city.
The historical center of Lima is an architectural beauty and worth a day to explore. There is the spectacular Presidential Palace, the old cathedral, and plenty of beautiful balconies to enjoy looking at.
The most beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean are undoubtedly those from the Miraflores boardwalk, perched up on a stunning cliffside. Rent a bike and explore all of it.
This water park is a great place to bring kids and let them run around and get wet from all the shooting fountains; just remember to bring a towel.
WHERE TO EAT IN LIMA, PERU
Peruvian cuisine finds itself at the center of a growing international buzz. In this cosmopolitan city, entire streets and neighborhoods specialize in a single type of food. With its endless supply of exotic ingredients and chefs producing new twists on classics, Peru’s capital is slowly but surely becoming the foodie capital of South America. Turisti-Info gather the ten of Lima’s top restaurants.
Character, humor and native dishes form the basis of this fine-dining empire. Hidden behind a nonchalant, colonial facade, this stylish and modern spot serves a creative criollo-Mediterranean menu. Astrid y Gastón is the signature restaurant of Gastón Acurio, Peru’s celebrity chef and creator of a burgeoning empire of fine-dining restaurants not only in Lima, but also other cities in both North and South America. High, white, peaked ceilings and orange walls decorated with colorful modern art create a warm and sophisticated environment. Specialties include spicy roasted ribs or the excellent noble robado fish served in miso sauce with crunchy oysters.
A tribute to Peru’s cuisine, El Mercado opened its doors in 2010 as the brainchild of top chef Rafael Osterling's curiosity to experiment with new spins on traditional recipes. El Mercado tries to establish a permanent, respectful dialogue with its sources, the sea, producers, fishermen and farmers. The restaurant is a canopy-covered patio with rattan-backed chairs, where the wooden tables are set with charming retro print place mats. The large menu is presented on crude workmen’s clipboards adding to the market-like atmosphere. One of the most beautifully presented dishes is the ceviche pejerrey (silverside fish), small filets of pejerrey perfectly lined up in a bright yellow lime, aji amarillo marinate.
A minimalist restaurant owned by rising culinary star Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Malabar has always ranked among the top five in Summum, Peru’s equivalent of the Michelin guide. Influenced in particular by Amazonian produce and cooking techniques, Schiaffino’s seasonal menu features delicacies such as crisp, seared cuy and Amazonian river snails bathed in a sauce made with spicy chorizo. Other stand-out dishes include tiradito (a refined ceviche) of sole dyed magenta using a medicinal herb from the Amazon, with tumbo juice from the Andean fruit in the marinade, served with tobiko (flying-fish roe). For an after-dinner treat, Malabar’s desserts are perhaps the lightest and most refreshing in Lima.
The 'Witches of Cachiche' celebrates 2,000 years of local culture with a menu that’s a taste of the cuisines of pre-Columbian Peru, with ancient recipes and ingredients included. The extensive menu presents classic Peruvian dishes, such as ají de gallina, but concentrates on fish, shellfish and fine cuts of meat with interesting twists and unusual accompaniments. In this sprawling old house with the several warmly decorated dining rooms, guests can taste a steak in pisco-butter sauce with braised mushrooms. Among the excellent desserts, several continue the indigenous theme, such as mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding and dried fruit). On top of excellent dining options, Witches of Cachiche is also home to various gastronomic festivals.
Known as the President’s cafe, this restaurant is on the list of the not-to-miss spots in Soutth America. A Lima institution since 1905, this old-world dining hall has served practically every Peruvian president for the last 100 years and is considered a historic monument by the National Institute of Culture. Located across the street from the presidential palace, Cordano serves local specialties like tacu-tacu, a traditional Lima dish of beans and rice fried together in a crispy pancake called acorazado de bolsillo.
With a name that translates to ‘The Corner Joint You've Never Heard Od', one might expect this to be a modest little hut. Instead, it’s a rather handsome and cozy two-story restaurant with high ceilings and a warm atmosphere. Head chef Teresa Izquierdo Gonzales has been cooking here for 30 years. Although her neighborhood joint may have become a little more polished and popular over the years, it hasn’t deviated from its mission of classic creole cooking. In this authentic, amiable and old-school Peruvian criollo restaurant, a good place to start is with a causa (a yellow potato torta stuffed with chicken, shrimp or tuna), or perhaps a palta rellena (stuffed avocado). The menu is long, portions are large and even the most discerning of foodies can’t go wrong.
Located within the compound of a 1,500-year-old adobe pyramid built by the original inhabitants of Lima, Huaca Pucllana is one of the city’s greatest dining experiences. This beautiful and serene restaurant with knockout views of the pyramid and secluded in the midst of Lima’s chaotic jumble, makes for a remarkable night out. The low hump of adobe bricks and excavation walkways are illuminated at night, and diners can take a tour of the construction and digs after dinner. The restaurant is handsomely designed in a rustic colonial style. The menu is creatively Peruvian, with fusion touches spicing up classic criollo cooking. Excellent appetizers include humitas verdes (tamales) and causitas pucllana, balls of mashed potatoes with shrimp and avocado.
Set inside a vivid red 1920s house with a modern interior and art deco details, Rafael Osterling's warmly welcoming restaurant serves Peruvian fusion with Mediterranean influences. Pizza, prosciutto, figs, basil and pine nuts jostle on the starter menu with ceviche of sole, scallops and black baby clams, and tiradito nikkei, yellowfin tuna sashimi with yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), mirin (rice wine), guacamole and smoky sesame oil. Some of the most recommendable mains include a stew of north Peruvian grouper cheeks with vongole, calamari and confit potatoes, and a Peruvian dish of rice and puy lentils with pan-fried foie gras, river shrimp, scallops and roast banana.
Everyone in Lima seems to be lining up to get into this upscale cevicheria by famous chef Gastón Acurio. Fashionable, stylishly designed, and moderately priced, it represents the best of traditional Limeño cooking, but with an edge. The airy, plant-filled space has a chic, modern touch, with an angular, poured concrete facade, bamboo roof, turquoise chairs, and cement floors. The fish is always fresh and carefully prepared. The restaurant even features a cool cocktail bar with great pisco-based drinks like the cholopolitan. But owing to cevichería tradition, it’s strictly a daytime affair.
WHERE TO SHOP IN LIMA, PERU
Lima is without a doubt the best place to shop for just about everything in Peru. It is home to Peru’s most famous and best designers, with their shops lining the streets of Miraflores and San Isidro. The nation’s capital also has Peru’s best and largest malls – one in particular has an unrivaled view – so when you find yourself in Lima, get ready to shop until you drop.
Larcomar might be the most beautifully located mall in the world. It is on the cliffside of the Miraflores boardwalk with a view of the Pacific Ocean and surfers catching the waves below. On a sunny day, you can’t find a better view in Lima. The mall is filled with European and American brands, and when you get hungry, the mall has some of Peru’s best and most well-known restaurants.
When you’re shopping in Miraflores – and in Lima – you won’t find a shopping mall that has all the stores you’re looking for, but you’ll find streets that are mostly made up of boutique stores, and Avenida La Paz is one of those. Walk down the street and pop your head into all the shops that catch your eye.
Jockey Plaza is Peru’s mega-shopping mall extraordinaire. It is one of Peru’s newest, so it is equipped with the best facilities and is similar in style to western mega-malls. You’ll find shops and boutiques offering everything from clothes and home appliances to boutique shoes and sports gear.
This street in San Isidro is home to the best collection of boutique stores in all of Peru. It is lined with shops selling cutting-edge fashion using Peruvian materials and traditions.
This renovated colonial mansion has it all, from quality handmade furniture to designer accessories and handcrafted pottery. Explore the entirety of the mansion, popping into all of the shops. If you get hungry, there’s food to be had and beers to be drunk in the back.
Another boutique-lined street in San Isidro, this one is also filled with designer brands from Peru’s best up-and-coming designers. The boutique stores in San Isidro are expensive, so make sure to bring plenty of Peruvian soles for shopping. Most places will also accept American money. If you’re in the mood for Peruvian chains and a shopping center, it’s only a short walk away and makes for a perfect full day of shopping.
Not exclusive by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly the best place to go if you’re looking for souvenirs, this building is lined with vendors selling Peruvian T-shirts, key chains, and all the alpaca gear you could ever want. It’s the perfect place to head before you leave Peru so that you can stock up on gifts for your friends and family back home.