Top 8 Things to do in Lima
Top 8 Things to do in Lima
Among travelers and Spanish students in Peru, popular sites to visit in Lima are the neighborhoods Miraflores and Barranco, the architecture in the city center around the Plaza de Armas, and the “Costa Verde” – a famous beach strip on the Pacific Ocean. But there is much more Lima has to offer! Do you plan to learn Spanish in Peru? Taking a Spanish language course in Cusco is always a great choice. Still, Lima can indeed be a fantastic experience too!
First visit to Lima
The first visit to the majestic Peruvian capital is often both an impressive experience and an orientation challenge. Since its establishment by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, the “City of Kings” has grown into an urban giant home to a population as significant as 8.4 million. Compared to other Peruvian cities, Lima´s tourist attractions are more dispersed in the town. Therefore, they are not that easy to explore on foot. To get a surrounding impression of Lima and enjoy a relaxing stay in the city, you should have a minimum of 2-3, but hopefully 4-5 days.
If you come to Lima as tourist, it’s recommended to have reliable travel agency help you plan the time of your trip to Lima, organizing pick-ups and drop-offs to and from your hotel as well as communicate the points of interest you would like to visit beforehand. But of course, as a backpacker, you will want to do it all by yourself and that is surely possible too. When learning Spanish in Lima, you can use the afternoons and the weekends to explore the amazing city.
To help you get an impression of what there is to do and to see in Lima, we have collected the 8 highlights you shouldn´t miss: Top 8 Things to Do in Lima!
Top 8 Things to Do in Lima
1. The center of Lima: Plaza Mayor and surroundings
The historic center of Lima, where the Spaniards built their monuments after conquering Peru, is famous for tourists and locals due to its impressive colonial architecture. At the Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas of Lima, you should visit the Cathedral of Lima, featuring the tomb of conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
The Palace of the Government occupies the complete north side of the Plaza in the heart of the historic center. Many colonial mansions have been transformed into cafés, restaurants, and stores, making Lima’s center worth a visit. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Monastery of San Francisco, a famous landmark in the city center one block northeast of the Plaza Mayor. It holds numerous skulls and bones, neatly organized into geometric figures.
2. Culinary Lima: Find out why Lima is so famous for its cuisine
Lima has risen to one of the best culinary destinations in the world. In 2016, the World Travel Awards (WTA) selected Peru as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination. In addition, it has won several awards every year!
Since 2012, Peru has consistently beaten other culinary giants like China, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, and the United States. As a result, national Geographic featured Lima among the Top 10 destinations on its list of “Where to Travel for Food in 2016.” In 2015, the World Travel Awards named Lima South America’s Best Culinary Destination.
The 2nd best restaurant in the world, Central Restaurante, is located in Lima, in Miraflores. This list could be continued, but I think you get the idea: 7 of Lima´s other restaurants are worth exploring and should certainly be on your list of “Things to do in Lima”.
*Central ranks # 1 on the list Best Restaurants in Latin America in 2022
If you want to explore the flavors of Lima, there are some great and unique culinary routes through Lima.
3. Miraflores: Parque del Amor and Paragliding off the coast
Located on the coast of the city, the neighborhood Miraflores is the more exclusive residential and commercial area in Lima. One can find tons of restaurants, bars, hotels, stores, etc. in this green, clean neighborhood spotted with parks and beautiful green spaces. This is also the part of the city where the Spanish school in Lima is located.
Various shopping outlets along the coast and famous restaurants invite delicious Peruvian ceviche, sanguchos or anticuchos. A popular spot in Miraflores is the Malecon of Lima, stretching all the way down on the coast to the southern Lima district of Barranco. A must-see indeed is the famous ‘love park’ in Miraflores (Parque del Amor), a park at the ocean-influenced by Barcelona architect Gaudí and featuring a sculpture by Peruvian artist Victor Delfín. You can even jump off these beautiful green cliffs towards the blue Pacific – on a Paragliding flight, of course. For those who enjoy a little adrenaline, this is the perfect thing to do in Miraflores. If it’s more your thing to stay in touch with the ground, there are also fun bike rides from Miraflores to Barranco, cycling all the way along the coast.
4. The alternative part of Lima: Barranco
Barranco is a Lima district south of Miraflores which is considered the city’s youngest, coolest and most relaxed district. It stretches along the Pacific Ocean, enchanting visitors with impressive architecture as well as beautiful ocean views. As it is also known for its nightlife, a lot of cool bars are established in large colonial villas and are a must-see for visitors and locals.
Pay a visit to Victoria Bar, located on Barranco´s main street Pedro de Osma 135. The restaurant and bar, set in an antique building of colonial times, invite for drinks at night as well as delicious and well-priced menus during the day.
Many young “Limeños” frequently visit cool cafes and bars with live music. However, Barranco shines with classic street art, alternative street markets, and beautiful architecture.
Don´t forget to hold your breath when walking over the “Puente de Suspiros”! The Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful attraction in Barranco. Tradition says that if you cross the bridge holding your breath, the wish you are asking for will be fulfilled.
5. Museums Tour: Explore Peru´s history
Lima features an impressive collection of excellent museums presenting fascinating pieces of Peruvian history, art, and archaeology. The museums are distributed all over the city, so an organized tour is an easiest and most time-saving way to go when you want to explore the best ones in the city.
Don´t miss the Museo Larco in Av. Simón Bolivar 1515, Pueblo Libre that presents the most extensive private collection of pre-Colombian art in the world. It holds an exhibition of ‘gold and silver from ancient Peru’ as well as a great room of erotic art. Next, you should visit the Museo de Oro, the Gold Museum in Alonso de Molina 1100 in Surco. As the name tells, the museum boasts an extensive collection of gold artifacts from Peruvian pre-Columbian cultures as well as weapons of the world.
The Museo de Arte de Lima or MALI located at Parque de la Exposición, Paseo Colon 125, is famous for its extensive collection presenting 3000 years of Peruvian art.
Lastly, a visit to the Museo de la Nacion (National Museum) in Av. Javier Prado Este 2466 in the San Borja district is highly recommended. It features thousands of artifacts from impressive ancient civilizations in Peru, as well as a recreation of the burial chamber of the Lord of Sipan.
6. Lima illuminated: the Water Circuit in Parque de la Reserva
Explore the beautiful side of Lima by night. The fountains in Parque de la Reserva are world famous for the water play and light show. The Parque de la Reserva even holds the world record for having the largest water fountains in a public park!
The water play consists of 12 ornamental fountains that dance in harmony to an excellent show of lasers, lights, and music. You can find the park between the two districts Pueblo Libre and La Victoria. The show starts during the night and is not offered daily.
7. Ancient ruins in Lima: the Sacred City of Pachacamac
Pachacamac is an archaeological site found in the Valley of the Lurín River, 40 kilometers outside of Lima. It is located adjacent to the Pan American highway, right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. “Pachacamac” means “Creator of the World” in Quechua, the ancient Inca language that is still spoken in parts of Peru. The Pachacamac Temple was used to worship the Pacha Kamaq, the creator god of the Ichma people, a pre-incan civilization that existed in Peru around 1100 A.D dominating the area of what is today south of Lima.
The site of Pachacamac features at least 16 pyramids built by the Ichma. Due to its high historical and archaeological significance, Pachacamac is definitely worth a visit, however, many structures are damaged due to heavy rains that occur in the area during the phenomena of “El Niño”.
8. Costa Verde: Lima´s beaches
One of the most popular things to do in Lima if you have a spare day and feel like getting away from the traffic in Lima is a lovely trip to the coast. The areas around the district of Miraflores are famous for surfing, especially in summer, and boast a great community of water athletes. You will find many pavilions by surf schools along the coasts that will rent wetsuits, and surfboards and even give beginner´s classes. Just head down one of the stairs in Miraflores that lead over the Panamericana highway down to the coast. You will find green parks, areas to hang out at the water, and nice restaurants to have lunch or dinner after your stay at the beach.
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