Introduction to Lima
Although visitors to Peru often only pass through the airport en route to Cusco and the rest of Peru, we think that Lima’s chaotic yet fascinating capital city offers numerous sights and surprises that are well worth discovering!
Lima is a city of contrasts. A mix of the old world and the new, modernity and tradition, abundance and poverty awaits each visitor willing to take the time to explore this city, which has grown in the middle of a dry and sandy desert. From the diverse range of cultural events, historical sites and museums, to the packed golden beaches, breathtaking views from the city’s numerous skyscrapers and a ride in a micro across the pueblos jovenes; this is a city sure to astound any visitor.
Nestled comfortably on the Pacific Coast of South America, Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535. It went on to become the most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Today it is the cultural and economic hub of the country with over 8 million inhabitants crammed into its ever-growing metropolitan area. Be sure to make the most of the great culinary offerings in the many delicious restaurants that serve amazing food with influences that reflect the multicultural flavors of the city.
What not to miss in Lima
Miraflores & San Isidro
Lima is the largest city in Peru and the cosmopolitan heart of the country. A mix of the old and the new fills the capital city. To explore the modern side of Lima make sure to visit the modern suburbs of San Isidro and Miraflores.
The Plaza de Armas is the city’s beautiful and recently restored historical center, designated a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity site in 1991. Visit the San Francisco Monastery and its famous underground crypts known as the Catacombs.
The Larco Museum is a privately owned museum of pre-Columbian art, located in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima. The museum is housed in an 18th-century viceroyal building built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid.
The Museo de Oro or Gold Museum in Lima is one of the city’s top tourist attractions, and contains over 10,000 gold, silver and copper pieces in its collection. In addition to the precious metals, the museum has a fine compilation of textiles, stone carvings and ceramics.
The National Archaeology, Anthropology, and History Museum (Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología, e Historia) in Lima explores the history of Peru from prehistoric times to the colonial era.
Eat as much as you can! Peru has some of the best food in South America and in Lima you can try a little bit of everything. Don’t miss ceviche, raw fish in lemon and chili, or the classic pisco sour! Check out restaurants such as La Mar, run by internationally renowned chef Gaston Acurio.
The pretty architecture makes it a beautiful district to lazily wander around. It is also the best place to go for nightlife. Try ‘La Noche’ bar for a sample of the local bands and music.
What you need to know
When to go
With mild temperatures and infrequent rain, Lima is pleasant to visit at any time of the year. To enjoy the numerous beaches, the best time to visit is during the summer months of December to March when the temperature averages between 77ºF – 82ºF (25ºC – 28ºC). In October, Lima’s most important festival, the Lord of the Miracles (Senor de los Milagros), is celebrated with a series of street parades that include a life-size replica of Jesus carried on an elaborate adorned altar.
How to get there
For air service to Lima, Jorge Chávez International Airport is Peru’s main international and domestic airport. Many airlines in North America, Europe and across Latin America offer direct flights to the capital.
Lima is also connected by bus to several neighbouring countries and all major cities in Peru. While no central bus terminal exists, the multitude of bus companies serving various regions of the country all have their own terminals in downtown Lima or in the suburbs.
Where to stay
Lima has a wide range of places to stay and every type of traveler is sure to find something to their liking. While a number of hotels can be found throughout the city, we recommend staying in Miraflores or Olivos. Both neighborhoods have a great selection of hotels, ranging from super modern to quaint colonial buildings and, from luxury hotels to boutique bed & breakfasts.
The city’s gastronomy also offers a wide range of choices. Many upscale restaurants dot the culinary map of the city and also include plenty cheap meals that make dining out one of the finest aspects of a visit.
For getting around the city, visitors can use public transportation including buses and minibuses. However these methods of transport are only available from 5am to midnight.
While there are some services that run through the night, their rates can increase by up to 50% and this collection of old minibuses is not recommended.
There are three types of taxis available in Lima: black limousine service is available at the airport and outside most hotels; radio taxi companies that are requested by phone, and the standard yellow taxis registered with the municipality. It is inadvisable to use independent taxis as they offer no security. Also keep in mind that in Lima there are no taximeters. Fares are settled before boarding except when taking a hotel or radio taxi services.