Lima, the capital of Peru, is often the starting point for many travelers aiming to see the epic and mountainous Machu Picchu. But don’t overlook this magical city! Here is a guide for spending four days in Peru’s beautiful capital.
When To Go
Year-round: A mild and dry climate means comfortable capital visits year-round.
Dec–Mar: (Summertime) The hottest, blue-sky months ideal for surf and sun on the coast.
Arriving In Lima
The Lima international airport is only about 20 minutes from one of Lima’s most populated touristic neighborhood – Miraflores. There are many taxis that you can take from the airport and around the city, but I highly recommend using Uber.
Many taxis don’t use a meter, which means that they can negotiate any price up or down as they see fit.
Uber has a fixed price, and a lot of the time, I found it to be cheaper than what taxis would charge from one neighborhood to another. It’s also nice to not have to rely on exact change, or carrying much cash on you at all for that matter – especially at night.
The Districts of Lima
Miraflores is a large district near the airport that runs along the waterfront and has a boardwalk that runs for miles above the ocean. The Malecón itself is six miles of bike lanes, walking trails, parks, and eateries, including Larcomar, a popular open-air food and shopping center. Be sure to visit the famous Parque del Amor – an oceanfront park with a giant statue of two lovers that you can’t miss.
The Malecón will take you to Barranco a couple miles down, which is another district you won’t want to miss full of museums, a major art scene, and a ton of nightlife. You’ll hit many other beaches and parks if you follow the Malecón all the way down the coastline.
Barranco offers a little bit of a different scene – cool cobblestone streets to stroll down, a strip of nightlife, a terraced village of souvenir shops, markets, bars, and restaurants makes this bohemian quarter one of a kind.
Don’t miss El Puente de Los Suspiros (The Bridge of Sighs), a quaint wooden bridge located at the top of the stone steps that wind down to the beaches below Barranco.
There is a Barranco By Night tour, where a guide takes you around to a few of Barranco’s iconic bars and restaurant, dating back to the 1920’s!
I appreciated staying in a quieter neighborhood, Miraflores, and having the freedom to explore Barranco by Uber or by renting bikes and riding the short distance down the Malecón.
Things To Do In Lima
Stroll Around Kennedy Park
There may be one thing you’ll notice about this park that’s a little abnormal – it’s full of cats! Not mangy, stray cats – but looked after, fed cats that are free to roam about as they please and are ready for adoption. It’s a truly brilliant idea, and everyone seems to love it; especially the cats. Getting pets and free food all day doesn’t sound like the worst life, does it?
Historical Walking Tour
We booked a historical walking tour in Quito and it was awesome. There are so many different companies online to choose from, and many of them are free!
The guides will take you through the highlights of the Center of Lima, or Old Town District. The tour takes about 3 hours and usually ends with a few recommendations for lunch or dinner in the area.
I usually don’t like organized tour groups, but it was really fascinating to hear about the history of the city. Having questions answered by a knowledgeable professional made the experience worthwhile. Those personalized moments are the type of things you can’t experience by merely tracing the steps on your own. My favorite stop on the tour was visiting the San Francisco Monastery.
Lima is home to many fine religious buildings, but the San Francisco Monastery is one of the best. Providing an oasis of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, and sitting atop the catacombs underneath the monastery where more than 50,000 skulls and bones are neatly arranged in. This is a must see attraction when visiting Lima, Peru.
Circuito Magico Del Agua
AKA The Magic Circuit of Water We had heard of a dazzling water and lights show about 20 minutes away from Miraflores that occurs every night. So, following the historical tour we hopped in a cab from Old Town to check out this novelty. The entrance fee was extremely cheap, less than a dollar per person. The park was bustling with people, tourists and locals alike.
The only thing comparable to this experience is what I remember of seeing Fantasia. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, you are guaranteed to appreciate this show. There are 13 fountains, some of which are interactive, provide plenty of entertainment, especially at night with the illuminated shows.
This show is dazzling with a display of lasers and music all coordinating with the lights.
The light display is about an hour long. Adults and kids alike will love it, but be prepared to get wet; take a plastic bag or two to keep your cash and camera dry.
Jump Off A Cliff
Yes – you read that correctly! Grab one of the many professional guides and soar through the sky on a tandem paragliding flight.
The hotspot for paragliding in Lima is Parque Raimondi, along the Miraflores stretch of El Malecón, where highly skilled paragliding instructors can take you for a 10-minute tandem glide.
Whatever way you end up hitting the skies, pick a day that’s not too overcast, and you can expect views of the coast southwards towards Barranco, as well as far out to sea. If paragliding doesn’t appeal to you, be sure to catch a sunset one night from the park.
Sample The Cocktail Of Peru
A refreshing aperitif served before a plate of ceviche, the pisco sour is a staple cocktail in its own right. Whipped up from a mixture of pisco, lemon juice, bitters, sugar and egg white and whizzed in a blender over crushed ice, it’s impossible to visit Lima without trying a glass or three.
Learn To Surf
Lima’s Costa Verde has some surprisingly good spots for surfing. La Herradura, south of Barranco, is considered one of the best, with its powerful swell reaching up to 10-feet, making it only for those with experience. Waikiki, in Miraflores, is a good option for beginners, particularly as there are surf schools where you can learn the ropes.
Grab A Brewski
If you’re into craft artisanal beers, Lima is the place for you. There are a number of breweries in Miraflores and Barranco offering a number of local beers.
Barbarian was my favorite brewery in Miraflores, offering 20 beers on tap in a number of different sizes. There is a 10 oz size which is the perfect sampler size for those who can’t commit. This place is a must visit for any connoisseur.
Barranco Brew Company is a smaller brewery with a variety of their own craft beers, boasting great food and a chill atmosphere in the bohemian Barranco district.
While you’re at it, check out these posts for more itinerary suggestions (like why you absolutely MUST see Laguna 69), our top five can’t miss locations, our favorite hotel and inspiration for your trip to Peru and Machu Piccu!