When it comes to Peru, Lima is often overlooked as simply the gateway city to get to Cusco and Machu Picchu but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Lima is a wonderful city with many things to offer. From checking into the chic Royal Park Boutique Hotel in San Isidro, to spending the day exploring the historic El Centro area and eating the most delicious meals I’ve ever had, Lima was delightful and memorable. Thus, here are some reasons why you should spend more time in Lima.
Boutique Hotels in Chic Neighborhoods such as San Isidro and Barranco.
We stayed at the Royal Park Hotel, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The rooms were spacious, the beds, oh so comfortable and the welcome was warm. The hotel is located in the chic neighborhood of San Isidro, not far from Miraflores and Barranco and it is within walking distance from Parque El Olivar, a grove of interesting looking olive trees that you can easily get lost in.
El Centro’s gorgeous architecture and churches
The bulk of the attractions are located in the historic El Centro area. Here, you will find tons of restaurants, street food, churches and shopping.
Tip: If you plan on visiting El Centro during dusk and into the evening, have your hotel call a cab to drive you to El Centro and accompany you while you walk around. For around $10 an hour, you will have a local roaming the historic center along with you. This is an efficient and safe way to see the city center in a short period of time. We even befriended ours and he joined us for dinner!
Monastery of San Francisco, Lima
The convent and church are close to the city square and it made the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. Aside from the church, it also contains catacombs which you can roam through.
Plaza de Armas
The heart of the city and the spectacular main square is the most popular area in El Centro. Here, you will find beautiful architecture and shades of yellow, great people watching and churches.
Markets galore, hundreds of vendors line the streets with tons of goodies to buy.
Colorful streets and kind locals
I couldn’t put my camera down! Tip: look up! El centro’s balconies are stunning and unique in their own way.
From fresh ceviche to delicious Peruvian dishes such as my favorite, Lomo Saltado (combination of strips of sirloin, fried potatoes and rice), Lima lives up to its award by World Travel Awards as being recognized as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination.
The fact that this restaurant is situated on 1,500 year old ruins is reason enough to dine at this gorgeous restaurant. The best tables are outside which overlook the ruins. But a reservation far in advance is in order to snag one of these highly sought after tables. Perk: if you dine at the restaurant from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, a 20 minute partial tour of the ruins is available.
Royal Park Lima’s Le Molière restaurant
Le Molière offers gourmet Peruvian and French dishes as well as delicious home baked bread. We tried their shrimp and prawn colonial style causa (Peruvian layered mashed potatoes), ceviche and lomo saltado. Not to mention their decadent and gorgeous dessert! The hotel’s restaurant is an excellent choice for dinner.
While we didn’t make it to the Miraflores area, it is known to be a popular area on the oceanfront, full of restaurants, hotels and views of the ocean. But if you prefer to hang with the locals, the San Isidro and Barranco neighborhoods are the places to be.
LAN Airlines is the airline with the most domestic flights with a dozen per day to Cusco. You can catch a short 1 1/2 hour flight from Lima to Cusco en route to Machu Picchu. Tip: grab a window seat! This was one of the most scenic flights I’ve ever taken. The mountains of Peru are simply breathtaking. Flying with LAN is an efficient and smooth way to get around South America, as the airline is timely, the service is great and all of the planes we boarded felt fresh and new.
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Nastasia was invited to tour the cities of South America with LAN Airlines. All opinions are my own.