A developing capital of great contrasts, Lima took us by surprise. Although some parts are a bit unsafe, it’s a vibrant city that retains a lot of its long history. With majestic colonial buildings, art deco and neo baroque, it’s shocking this is just one city. Still, while there are plenty of things to do in Lima, one was our absolute favorite: eating!
Throughout South America, the Peruvian capital is known for its flavors. From their epic ceviche to their fascinating Peruvian-Chinese fusion, we never thought the food would be so amazing here. Their seasoning is truly unique, and we couldn’t get tired of the places to eat in Lima.
The Best of Lima
Dozens of languages and cultures from pre-Columbian times still coexist in Peru, giving Lima an extra edge. The Peruvian capital is full of ancient cultural gems and museums, with relics from even before the Incas. This city facing the Pacific has an eclectic nature and that special something of all places by the sea.
Enjoy my travel guide and find out where to stay, where to find the best restaurants and what are the best things to do in Lima!
Traveling – How to Get To Lima?
Peru’s special geographic location, in South America’s Pacific Coast, allows Lima’s airport to be a hub. It’s easy to find flights connected from the northern and southern Pacific because of this. It receives flights from the region’s main capitals and many important cities, like Brazil’s Sao Paulo or Colombia’s Medellin.
You can also arrive directly from many North American cities from both coasts, including Los Angeles and Toronto . Plus, there are many flights from western Europe cities like Madrid , Paris and Amsterdam . In all, wherever you’re traveling from, you might be only one or two flights away from Lima.
The airport is located in the nearby city of Callao, 10 km away from Lima center. Some hotels in major tourist neighborhoods offer free airport pickups, so it’s a good idea to check ahead.
The neighborhood where the airport is located isn’t very nice, so keep your eyes open at all times. The best option to get to your accommodations is either the official bus service or a taxi. Be sure to book your cab inside the airport, as the lines outside are less trustworthy.
Living – Where to Stay in Lima?
For our stay in Lima, we went for a lovely AirBnB in Miraflores. I would highly recommend this neighborhood for a stay in town: it’s hip, lively and near the boardwalk! If you prefer staying in hotels, there are many hotels in this area along the boardwalk like the Mariott hotel.
Suburban Miraflores is often considered among the nicest areas in Lima, with plenty of cafés, restaurants and green areas. Another great neighborhood is San Isidro, albeit fancier and with a more upscale vibe. It’s the unofficial financial district of Lima, with a lot of tall glass buildings. It’s a great area for those looking for the “urban jungle” feel when traveling to big cities!
Exploring – Top 5 Things to do in Lima!
I cannot stress this enough: your primary focus when visiting Peru’s capital should be eating. That said, there are plenty of things to do in Lima that revolve around its vast history. Plenty of pre-Hispanic cultures inhabited the region, and later it was a major Spanish hub in colonial times. That, plus hundreds of years of independence, turns Lima into a unique metropolis of many eras.
1. Eating- The Best Restaurants in Lima!
Peru has over a thousand types of potatoes, and some of the most famous chefs in the world. Its capital is the place where all the country’s flavors mix, hosting Michelin restaurant and small, great eateries. There are just so many incredible places to eat in Lima!
When visiting town, brace yourself for incredible fruits and vegetables, one-of-a-kind ceviche and Asian fusion. These were some of our four favorite restaurants in Lima:
La Plazita – Our Favorite Little Lima Eatery
Without any doubt, my favorite little eatery in town. Located in our neighborhood, Miraflores, La Plazita is the best place for every meal. Their menu, greatly focused on the sea flavors Peru is known for, includes a few interesting variations. Shrimp pizza and octopus rind tacos are some of the most exotic items from their Specials section. Their ceviche and avocado toast are just magic!
La Plazita’s broad menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and plenty of seafood. They also have a solid offer of coffee, desserts and infusions, perfect for an afternoon snack. Their drinks, including Lima classic Pisco Sour, are not too shabby either!
While the food is varied and amazing, I also fell in love with the venue. A fresh and open restaurant, it’s the kind of place that invites you to try new things. With a lot of light-colored wood and plants everywhere (plus their own vegetable garden), it’s such a peaceful setting.
This all amounts to a very chill and pleasant atmosphere: we loved every second of our time here. The service is really good, to boot.
Small, stylish and hip, we’d definitely drop by La Plazita every week if we lived in Lima.
Huaca Pucllana – Food in Lima in an Unforgettable Ambiance
A Peruvian restaurant steps away from the museum of the same name, Huaca Pucllana is a true experience. The food, as we came to expect from Lima, was truly outstanding and so were al their variants of Pisco Sours. I loved the passion fruit one!
A bright place decorated in traditional Peruvian manner, it’s a very friendly type of venue. A very wide restaurant, it feels even bigger when at the terrace, which faces the pyramid. Being here, basking on the atmosphere and hundreds of years of history, is a true joy. Still, that joy turns into awe when taking the location into account.
The original Huaca Pucllana is a sacred and ancient place from Lima culture, which existed between 200 and 700 AD. The site’s structure, a clay pyramid in Miraflores, served as an administration hub for clergymen. There are also ceremonial tombs, including one of a human sacrifice, from a culture long gone by.
It’s quite breathtaking to eat right next to this feat of ancient engineering. A truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Amaz – A Jungle Experience for Foodies
Amaz is small, cosy and inspired by the Amazon. The design concept in this place is fascinating, an aesthetic homage to the world’s most biologically diverse region. Featuring different types of wood around the venue, even the shapes of the furniture are reminiscent of nature. Straw is another prominent element in the décor, with beautifully crafted chairs and lamps in this material.
Interestingly enough, the very rustic materials just add to the venue’s upscale vibe. The interior designer’s hand is very visible, and you can tell every detail was well thought out. The design concept is clearly modeled after Amaz’s menu, which strives to bring Amazon foods and culture into the mainstream. This is all with an extra focus on modernizing this cuisine, which amounts to fascinating flavors. Loved the unique food here!
While the food, design and atmosphere were fantastic, the service didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The drinks were all right, but we tried better Pisco Sours elsewhere in Lima.
Madam Tusan – A Tasty Chifa Food Experience
Eating chifa food (traditional Chinese-Peruvian cuisine) should be on every list of things to do in Peru. This very unique cuisine is how Chinese immigrants adapted their traditional dishes for local consumers, and the mix is amazing. Our favorite place to try chifa out was Madam Tusan!
A growing chain specializing in chifa, this is a fine place for a first approach to this distinct flavor. Unfortunately, as it happens with restaurant chains, the service and ambiance are a little lacking. Still, the restaurant’s design is pretty spectacular, picking elements from both Chinese and Peruvian cultures.
2. Exploring Down Town – A Trip through Lima’s Multi-faceted History
If you strive to see cultural landmarks, you’re in luck: they’ve got plenty in Lima! Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Peru is digging into its ancient and multi-faceted history. Lima’s center is the place to see Peru’s past as the biggest hub in colonial South America. This area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features many colonial buildings, some dating back to the 16th century.
Lima’s historic center has a high concentration of historic monuments from centuries of Spanish reign. For example, there are over 1,600 luxurious balconies scattered downtown, from varying centuries. Perhaps the best known building in the area is the Archbishop’s Palace, from the 16th century. This is where the city’s archbishop resided, as planned by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
3. The Impressive Museums
The museums. There are many fascinating museums in Lima, covering different eras of Peru’s history. One of the most fascinating is the Larco Museum, which focuses on pre-Columbian art. Its collection showcases 4,000 years of settlements in Peru, with pieces from multiple local cultures. The museum itself is a work of art: it was an 18th century mansion for the Spanish viceroy. Plus, it’s built over an ancient pyramid dating back to the 7th century.
Another unmissable museum is Huaca Pucllana, as I mentioned in the previous section. It’s even more astounding to see this is right in the middle of a vibrant, modern city!
The Gold Museum of Peru is also downright incredible. When Spanish conquistadors arrived to the Americas, they were fascinated with the locals’ jewelry, heavy on gold. Many Europeans spent years traveling across the continent, looking for the legendary and gold-filled city of El Dorado. Although, of course, this place was fictional, pre-Hispanic use of old was notorious and beautiful. Lima’s imposing museum contains numerous pieces manufactured by ancient Peruvian cultures, and from elsewhere in South America. They also feature a strong collection of weapons from the world, including several in precious metals.
4. An Artsy Trip into the Bohemian Barranco Neighborhood
For me travel with a silver lining is to step out of the more developed and exploited areas, leave the crowds behind and explore the local life. Usually a different experience, more authentic and this is where you will meet the real culture, the most amazing people and find the unforgettable gems.
In Lima, you do not have to go far. A walk to the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco is a must when in Lima. Less developed with a shabby chic vibe and street art in every corner mixed with almost destroyed houses. Such a cool and colorful experience!
In Barranco, we also found an oasis, a contemporary world, a glimpse into the luxury celebrity life – the MATE museum. Founded by Mario Testino, this place is so pretty and his photos are just amazing!
5. EnjoyThe Boardwalk & The Wild Pacific
When you’ve had your share of history, the Lima boardwalk is the place to visit. Located on a cliff, its view of the city is magnificent. You can stride along from fancy and residential San Isidro to the less-developed and bohemian Barranco. Enjoy the magic sunset and a crepe at Besco Frances with the locals is a must!
Lastly, Lima is a Pacific Coast city, and for sports enthusiasts, that means one thing: surfing. The water is cold, though, so if you’re up to the challenge, bring proper surf wear!
Lima truly has a lot to offer! Hope you enjoy this Pacific city of fusion as much as we did!