11 incredible things to do in Lima, Peru

11 things you can only do in Lima, Peru

11 things you can only do in Lima, Peru

11 things you can only do in Lima, Peru

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Lima’s bustling capital city has more than enough to keep visitors entertained for a couple of days. But before you visit the City of Kings, you should learn about the sights that make Lima, as well as the unique Lima. Check out our guide to 11 things you can only do in Lima.

Enjoy the best museums in Peru

If you want to see museums in Peru, Lima is your place. The nation’s capital is home to all of Peru’s most famous and well-kept museums, and they all contain some of the country’s most valuable things. The best museums to visit are the Museo Larco, MALI and Museo Oro.


Gold artifacts © bobistraveling / Flickr

Sitting in the big city.

There aren’t many places in the world that offer a big city lifestyle with year-round waves, but Lima is one of them. You’ll find waves just a short walk from Miraflores and one of Peru’s best breaks, la herradura, just a short drive away. Lima is a great city for surfing!

Paragliding over the Pacific Ocean

For those who want a bit of a rush, you can take a paraglider over Miraflores, the Rock and the Pacific Ocean. Head to the Miraflores area of Lima and you’ll find that paragliders are shot all year long. It will be for you if you can muster up the courage.


Paragliding in Miraflores © Pixabay

Enjoy the best restaurants in the world

Restaurant Central and Maido are just two of the stellar restaurants that call Lima home. Both are respectfully ranked in the top 10 in the world and are part of Lima’s culinary revolution. World-class restaurants now abound, serving Peruvian classics such as ceviche with a modern twist.

The city’s great ruins.

There, embedded in Lima’s dense high rises and traffic, stands the ancient pyramid of Huaca Pucllana, which dates back to around 500 AD, long before the Inca controlled Peru. The ruins are a sight to behold amidst the modernity of Lima. You can tour the site or even dine at the ruins at night.

The best ceviche in the world.

Peru’s flagship dish is, without a doubt, ceviche. You can find delicious ceviche served almost everywhere, all fresh and absolutely delicious.


Pisco sour.

The drink that calls Peru home was invented and mastered in Lima, which means no trip to the capital is complete without sampling the country’s national cocktail. If you want a glass with historical company, stop by El Gran Hotel Bolivar, where JFK, Walt Disney and Hemingway all stayed and enjoyed a drink.

A walk through the historic center

Lima’s historic center is a living museum. You can see the country’s beautiful colonial architecture and most colorful buildings.

Eat chifu at Barrio Chino

Limeños and visitors are just as obsessed with chifa, Peruvian Chinese food. It’s one of Peru’s most beloved dishes, and the best is at Barrio Chino, near Lima’s historic center. Gorge on chaufa (fried rice) and lomo saltado (stir-fry with meat and fries), two of chifa’s favorite dishes.

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Chifa rice dish © Pixabay

The oldest colonial house in South America

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 patrons. The mansion has survived countless earthquakes, fires, and even wars. You can tour the house and see its beautifully restored interior.

Ancient Peruvian Erotic Pottery

Museo Larco is now known for its collection of pre-Inca ceramics, copies of which can be found in any souvenir store in Peru. The images are interesting and worth a trip to Museo Larco.

Top 20 things to do in Lima, Peru

First positive experiences are hard to find in the midst of Lima’s coastal fog, humming buses and the general chaos of the big city. However, if you leave judgement for a day or two, you might find yourself in the so-called “City of Kings” with its incredible history, culture and world-class gastronomy.

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Stand in the historic heart of Lima at Plaza de Armas

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Plaza de Armas, also known as Plaza Mayor, is located in the heart of Lima’s historic center, one of the few remaining parts of the city that still gives a glimpse of the city’s colonial past. This site, where Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535, has been recognized for its historical and cultural significance, receiving UNESCO World Heritage status in 1988. The colonial fountain serves as the centerpiece of the square and some of Lima’s most important buildings surround the historic square. ,

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Take photos of the city’s most significant colonial landmarks

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Arm your camera and head to the Palacio de Goberno, the official home of Peru’s president, on the north side of the square, where you can watch the palace guards change at noon. To the southeast is the Catedral de Lima, the final resting place of Pizarro himself, built on the site of Lima’s first church. Other photo opportunities include the archbishop’s palace and the city palace (Lima City Hall), which are decorated with ornate carved and beautifully preserved wooden balconies.

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Miracle at the Monastery of San Francisco

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Lima is home to many beautiful religious buildings, but the San Francisco Convent is one of the best. Providing an oasis of tranquility amidst the bustle of the city, its rooms showcase beautifully preserved Baroque architecture, gilded altars and works of religious art. Don’t miss the monastery library with its massive religious texts and Harry Potter atmosphere.

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Giggle at the pre-Columbian X-Ray pottery

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The Museo Larco, which contains the most comprehensive collection of pre-Columbian ceramics, however, has become known for one particular part of its collection: the Erotic Gallery. This room has made many tourists blush because of its display of ceramics depicting X-rated scenes.

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For the more serious historians, the museum has an exceptional assortment of ceramics for families, covering cultures as diverse as Chimú, Nazca, Wari and Moche, as well as a home for the museum’s greatest lover: mummies.

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Get into the fight against ancient Peruvian history

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While the grandest and most significant of Peru’s many pre-Columbian monuments are outside the capital, Lima has plenty of museums to whet your appetite for exploring the country’s ancient cultures.

The oldest of all Peruvian museums is the mammoth-sized National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropologia, Peruvian Historical Museum, covering every Peruvian culture you’ve ever heard of (and many of you haven’t). Here you’ll find artifacts including the crossed-arm stone from Cotoche and the seven-foot-tall carved monolith, the Raimondi stele from Chavin de Huantar.

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Fill up on modern and historical Peruvian art

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Lima has many fine art museums, the most famous of which is the Museo de Lima (MALI), located on the northern edge of Exposición Park, which houses objects spanning 3,000 years of history, including a magnificent collection of religious paintings from a school in Cusqueña.

Farther south in Barranco, the Museo de Arte Moderna de Lima (MAC Lima) is a good place to sink your teeth into modern and contemporary art. Keep an eye out for evening events (En Lima has a list of what’s happening at Lima’s museums), where you can sometimes meet artists. Don’t miss the nearest MATE, the Mario Testino Museum, where the spacious rooms are filled with works by the famous photographer who became famous for his portraits of her royal highness, Princess Diana.

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Tour of the ancient Adobe Brick of Ouaca Puclana

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You don’t need to leave Lima to begin exploring Peru’s historic sites. Built in the culture of Lima between 300 and 700 AD and made of millions of adobe bricks, Huaca Pucllana is a giant pyramid located in Miraflores. After touring the ruins (don’t forget your sunscreen – the sun can be strong), head to the site’s restaurant, Huaca Pucllana, to sample some outstanding (but expensive) regional dishes.

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Try the most exquisite Peruvian dish

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Nothing says Peruvian cuisine like a plate of ceviche practically straight from the sea and a visit to one of the best cevicherias capital should be high on your list of things to do in Lima. A mix of fish, red onions, chili peppers and sweet potatoes marinated in lemon, you can try this simple but delightful dish at almost any restaurant in town, but for guaranteed quality look for Punto Azul, which is known for the delicate flavors, freshness of its ingredients and affordable price (about 32 soles).

In a league of its own (and price point), La Mar, owned by renowned chef Gaston Acurio, is expensive, but justifies the hype with the delicacy in northern Peru. Ceviche Conchas Negras (black shell ceviche) and even vegetarian ceviches are on the menu. For a truly authentic experience, dine at Chez Wong, a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain considered a fan.

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Explore Peru’s trendiest neighborhood

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Miraflores is one of Lima’s most prestigious neighborhoods, full of trendy bars, stylish restaurants and trendy discotecas , Kennedy Park is the focal point of the neighborhood and perfect for those watching – or admiring the cats. It’s home to a population of fun-loving cats, most of which have been abandoned and are now under the care of a local NGO, so don’t be surprised if you make some new friends here.

Heading toward the coastal cliffs, you’ll find El Malecon, the city’s waterfront with the picturesque Parque del Amor (Park of Love), which features modern sculptures, colorful mosaics and couples in love lounging on grassy lawns. Stroll along El Malecon for a breathtaking view of the sea, or rent a bicycle or a pair of roller skates to cruise the coastal bike paths.

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Soar through the sky in a paraglider

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If you get a glimpse of your trip to Lima, more than likely you’ll spot a paraglider or two catching heat in the air. The hot spot for paragliding in Lima is Parque Raimondi, in the Miraflores section of El Malecón, where highly trained paragliding instructors can take you on a 10-minute tandem plan. Whichever way you end up in the sky, choose a day that’s not too cloudy, and you can expect views of the coast south toward Barranco as well as the sea.

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Catch the lights and the water show at Parque de la Reserva

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Lima, Parque de la Reserva (Reserve Park) dates back to the late 1920s, but in 2007 the municipality of Lima completed El Circuito Mágico del Agua, “The Magic Water Chain.” Thirteen fountains, some of which are interactive, provide plenty of entertainment, especially at night, with illuminated shows. Kids will love it, but be prepared to get wet; take a plastic bag or two to keep your money and camera dry.

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Store for souvenirs and quench your thirst at Czech Barranco

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Head south along the coast from Miraflores and you’ll find yourself in the small neighborhood of Barranco. This is Lima’s bohemian neighborhood, a place for poets, artists, and the city’s alternative crowd. A day’s walk will take you past stylish cafes and plenty of fairs selling handmade goods, as well as fairs, food and handmade products, most of which are made by local designers or come from all over the country. Don’t miss El Puente de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), a quaint wooden bridge perched atop stone steps descending to the beaches below Barranco.

But at night you can see the true colors of Barranco. Check out the chic Barranco Brewing Company, a craft brewery with a gorgeous rooftop terrace, or the slightly boring but truly Barranco-inspired Bodega Piselli, built in 1915.

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Take a stroll through the city’s historic mansions

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Many of Lima’s once great colonial mansions have fallen into a sad state. Others, however, have been lovingly preserved, complete with furniture and personal belongings of their original owners. Most are open to the public by appointment only or through travel agencies, but history buffs (and interior designers) will find additional advance planning appropriate.

Among those not to be missed is Casa di Aliaga, the block north of Plaza de Armas, which was the former residence of Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of Pizarro’s conquistadors and now the oldest house in America. One block northwest is Casa de Oquendo, a 19th-century mansion with a watchtower, and south of the plaza you’ll find Palacio Torre Tagle, an 18th-century mansion with finely carved wooden balconies that now houses the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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See the cityscape from Cerro San Cristobal

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One of Lima’s most prominent landmarks, the Cerro San Cristobal hill rises northeast of downtown Lima. If you want a panoramic view of the city, this is where to go. Take a cab or a tourist bus from Plaza de Armas (it’s not particularly safe to walk here). From the top you can see right across the city and all the way to the sea – at least on a clear day. The thick coastal fog can greatly obscure your vision, so choose your moment wisely, while a tour closer to evening allows you to see views enhanced by the twinkling lights of the city below.

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A sample of Peru’s ubiquitous cocktail: the Pisco Sour

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Although most often a welcome refreshing aperitif served before a plate of ceviche, sisco pisco is one of Limeño’s staple cocktails. Despite the controversy over the origin of the pisco (don’t mention Chile when you order one), there’s no doubt that the Peruvian version of the sour is the most delicious.

Whipped from a mixture of pisco, lemon juice, bitter milk, sugar and egg white and whizzed in a blender over pounded ice, it’s impossible to be in Lima without trying a glass or three. The most famous tasting spot is the Gran Hotel Bolívar, a bar said to include Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, whose mammoth-sized drinks are as magnificent as the building itself.

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Dance until dawn in a traditional chant

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Every country has its own unique way of partying, and Peru is no different. For a truly authentic experience, head to one of Lima’s most famous Peñas A small bar where Creole music performed by live bands offers energetic traditional dancing and plenty of pisco.

Unfortunately, many of these peñas operate behind closed doors of people’s homes, and the vast majority can only be found if you know where to look. Don Porfirio in Barranco is one of the most famous, but it’s only open on Fridays, while La Candelaria in the same area is a more upscale option that’s also open on Saturdays. Be sure to make a reservation, as both are very popular with locals.

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Walking in the footsteps of Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa

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During a cultural day, nothing beats checking out the old haunts of Peru’s most famous writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, whose novels such as War of the End of the World saw him rise to international acclaim.

Having spent most of his childhood in Miraflores, the area is full of places that influenced his writing. Contact the municipality to join a tour beginning in Kennedy Park that stops through the various roads and buildings that were featured in his work.

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Learn to surf along the Costa Verde in Lima

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While beaches like Mancora in northern Peru are better known for their waves, the Costa Verde in Lima has some surprisingly good surfing spots. La Herradura, south of Barranco, is considered one of the best, with its powerful left break and a wave that can reach four meters, making it only for those with experience. Waikiki, in Miraflores, is a good option for beginners, especially because in some schools you can learn the ropes. It’s also home to the Waikiki Club, founded in the 1920s, making it one of the world’s first surf clubs.

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Go back in time at the Pachacamac Archaeological Complex

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Only 35 km southeast of the city, the Pachacamac site dates back to 200 AD, making it much older than Huac Puclan and virtually ancient compared to Machu Picchu. Most of the modern buildings were built during the Inca occupation in the 15th century, and you will need a little imagination to return the brick temples to their former glory, many of which look as if they have melted a little in the sun. Still, if you want a glimpse of Peru before the Spanish really show up, this is a great place to start.

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Discover Peruvian gastronomy at its most delicious

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Peru has long been considered home to some of the most exciting restaurants in South America, and its restaurants are consistently ranked among the best in the world. Among those not to be missed is Central, led by chef Virgilio Martinez, which has a tasting menu that explores every inch and height of Peruvian territory and cuisine. Maido, with its Peruvian-Japanese fusion tasting menu, a la carte dishes and sushi is another, while perhaps Lima’s most famous restaurant, Astrid y Gastón, which opened more than 20 years ago, continues to lead the way when it comes to top-notch contemporary Peruvian cuisine. Book early and expect to pay for the experience-you may leave with an empty wallet, but it will be an evening you won’t forget.

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