A developing capital of great contrasts, what to do in Lima took us by surprise. Although some parts are a bit unsafe, it’s a vibrant city with vast history. With majestic colonial buildings, art deco and neo-baroque, it’s shocking this is just one town. 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 epic ceviche to fascinating Peruvian-Chinese fusion, we never thought the food would be so amazing. Their seasoning is truly unique and we couldn’t get tired of it!
What to Do in 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. This city facing the Pacific has that special something of all places by the sea.
Find out what to do in Lima below!
Traveling – How to Get To Lima
Peru’s special geographic location allows Lima’s airport to be a hub. It’s easy to find flights connected from the northern and southern Pacific. Lima 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, including Los Angeles and Toronto . Plus, there are many flights from western Europe cities. 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 check ahead.
The neighborhood where the airport is located isn’t very nice, so keep your eyes open. To get to your accommodations, take either the official bus service or a taxi. Be sure to book your cab inside the airport.
Living – Where to Stay in Lima?
For our stay, we went for a lovely AirBnB in Miraflores. I would highly recommend this neighborhood: it’s hip, lively and near the boardwalk! If you prefer staying hotels, there are many big chain ones along the boardwalk.
Suburban Miraflores is often considered among the nicest areas in Lima. 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 perfect for those looking for the “urban jungle” feel!
Exploring – Top 5 Things to do in Lima!
I cannot stress this enough: your primary focus here should be eating. That said, most things to do in Lima that revolve around its history.
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. Lima is where all the country’s flavors mix, hosting Michelin restaurant and small, great eateries.
When visiting, brace yourself for incredible fruits and vegetables, one-of-a-kind ceviche and Asian fusion. Below you can find some of our favorite restaurants!
La Plazita – Our Favorite Little 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 is greatly focused on the sea flavors of Peru and includes a few interesting variations. Shrimp pizza and octopus rind tacos are some of the most exotic Specials. 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. La Plazita is 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 an inviting place. Light-colored wood, plants everywhere and a vegetable garden finish the peaceful setting.
We loved every second of our time here. The service is really good, to boot. Small, stylish and hip, we’d visit La Plazita weekly if we lived in Lima.
Huaca Pucllana – Unforgettable Ambiance
Steps away from the museum of the same name, Huaca Pucllana is a true experience. The food was truly outstanding and so were all their Pisco Sours. The passion fruit Pisco Sour was a revelation!
A bright place decorated in traditional Peruvian manner, it’s all very friendly. This wide restaurant feels even bigger when at the terrace, which faces the pyramid. Basking on the atmosphere and the hundreds of years of history here is a true joy. Still, that joy turns into awe when you know its history.
The original Huaca Pucllana is a sacred and ancient place. The site’s structure, a clay pyramid in Miraflores, served as an administration hub for clergymen. There are also ceremonial tombs, including one of human sacrifice.
It’s quite breathtaking to eat right next to this feat of ancient engineering!
Amaz – A Jungle Experience for Foodies
Amaz is small, cozy and inspired by the Amazon. The design is fascinating, an homage to the South American jungle. Featuring different types of wood, everything is reminiscent of nature. Straw is another prominent element, with beautifully crafted chairs and lamps.
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 was modeled after Amaz’s menu, which strives to bring the Amazon into the mainstream. There’s an extra focus on modernizing Amazonian cuisine, which amounts to fascinating flavors. Loved the unique food here!
While the food, design, and atmosphere were fantastic, the service didn’t live up to my expectations. The drinks were all right, but we tried better Pisco Sours.
Madam Tusan – A Tasty Chifa Food Experience
Eating chifa food (traditional Chinese-Peruvian cuisine) should be on every list of things to do in Lima. This very unique cuisine is how Chinese immigrants adapted their dishes for Peruvians. Our favorite place for chifa was Madam Tusan!
A growing chain specializing, this is a fine place for the first approach to the distinct chifa. Unfortunately, as it happens with restaurant chains, the service and ambiance are a little lacking. Still, the design is spectacular, with elements from both Chinese and Peruvian cultures.
2. Exploring Down Town – A Trip through Lima’s Multi-faceted History
Lima has plenty of cultural landmarks! One of the best things to do in Lima is digging into its ancient history. Lima’s center is the place to see Peru’s colonial past, as this UNESCO World Heritage Site features many colonial buildings.
Lima’s historic center has a high concentration of monuments from the Spanish reign. For example, there are over 1,600 luxurious balconies scattered downtown. Perhaps the best-known building in the area is the Archbishop’s Palace, from the 16th century.
In Love with these Balconies
3. The Impressive Museums
There are many fascinating here, covering different eras of Peru’s history. One of the most fascinating is the Larco Museum, focusing on pre-Columbian art. Its collection showcases 4,000 years 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 from the 7th century.
Another unmissable museum is Huaca Pucllana. 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 incredible. When Spanish conquistadors arrived at the Americas, they were fascinated with natives’ gold jewelry. Europeans spent years traveling across the continent, looking for the golden city of El Dorado.
Lima’s imposing museum contains numerous pieces manufactured by ancient South American cultures. There’s also a collection of weapons from the world, some made 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. I thrive when I leave the crowds behind and explore the local life. Usually, this a different and much more authentic experience. Doing this, you will meet the real culture, the most amazing people and find the real gems.
In Lima, you do not have to go far. A walk to the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco is one of the essential things to do in Lima. It’s less developed than the rest of the city and has a shabby chic vibe. Street art is present in every corner, surrounded by nearly destroyed houses. Such a cool and colorful experience!
In Barranco, we also found an oasis, a glimpse into the luxury celebrity life – the MATE museum. Founded by Mario Testino, it is so pretty and his photos are just amazing!
5. Enjoy The Boardwalk & The Wild Pacific
When you’ve had your share of history, the boardwalk should be the next item on your list of things to do in Lima. 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!
Lastly, Lima is a Pacific Coast city, and for sports enthusiasts, that means one thing: surfing. The water is cold, though, so bring proper surf wear!
Lima truly has a lot to offer! Hope you enjoy this Pacific city of fusion as much as we did!
More on Travel with a Silver Lining
Before knowing all the things to do in Lima, we had only planned to stop on our way to the Inca trail. We were pleasantly surprised by this beautiful city, and now I have a lot of recommendations!
- Don’t miss out on all the incredible food in Lima in my restaurant guide!
- Read my Lima travel story and discover what was it like visiting this gorgeous Pacific city!
- For more on our Peruvian trip, read my Cusco travel guide. And then find out more about our adventure going into Machu Picchu on my Inca Trail travel story and travel guide!
- Do you love discovering gems wherever you travel? So do I! Check out my top 3 posts, focused on the most amazing things in each place. My Lisbon Instagram Guide, My Amalfi Photography Guide, and my Top Trendy Moscow Restaurants await!
- If you love boutique hotels as much as I do, don’t skip my review on a recent favorite: The Harbour Rocks Hotel in Sydney!
Booking Support & Input
- Plan the South American adventure of your dreams through Momondo, where you’ll find incredible flight fares. Don’t forget to download their all-in-one travel app!
- Through Booking.com, the loveliest Lima hotels are just around the corner. Book your stay!
- Book a transfer from Lima airport to your Miraflores hotel right here!
- GET YOUR GUIDE is my go-to site to find incredible and unique tours everywhere I go. The site offers everything from customized tours to one-on-one experiences you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Figuring out what to do in Lima? This 4-Hour Walking Tour of the Historic Center of Lima is a gem!
- Find more amazing experiences in the Get Your Guide Lima guide below!
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