What to do in Lima, Peru – Popular Sights, hotels and food ideas from a local

Published on: January 23rd, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Finding yourself in need of a new destination for your next holidays? How about heading over to South America, and going straight to Peru or adding it to your entire journey? Whichever the decision, you need to include a Lima city visit, I recently had the chance to explore this HUGE city for myself but today I wanted to get it explained perfectly by a local resident!

A local travel guide to Lima, Peru. Learn things to do, places to see and food to eat.

Mariana loves to travel and try out different desserts around the world. When she’s not travelling, she’s discovering new baking ideas to share on her blog, called Life is Sweet. Today though she is sharing with us the best parts of her amazing South American city.

As a local that has lived abroad for many years, I can tell you that something no country can honestly replicate is the food! So yes, any advertisement you see about Lima being a gastronomic hotspot, they are not overreacting.

What I most like about my city is its diversity in general, from the style of houses and parks to the closeness to the beaches and countryside. It is so extensive that you get a feel of it throughout the area.

Keep reading so you can see some of the top suggestions I have for your trip to Lima:

4 Things to do in Lima

If you keep searching online on what great activities there are should be done in the city, you will find a gazillion options. But I want to share with you only a few I focus on and recommend friends that have only a few days in the city and are totally worth the trip.

Visit the Historic Centre of Lima

One of the main building in Lima's historic centre
Walking your way around the historic centre of Lima should be on the list of activities to do when visiting the city

You have to go over to the historic centre of the city to get an idea of how the place used to be in the past having the main Plaza surrounded by the most important buildings in the area. The Plaza Mayor de Lima is the oldest public square in Lima. It has the main buildings, such as the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, and the Municipal Palace around it. The whole idea was to set it as a core spot for the future and developed capital city.

A beautiful fact about the Cathedral is that you can see in its design a mixture of Baroque, Neoclassic, and Gothic elements in every detail and stone decoration.

Now that you are in the neighbourhood, walk over to the San Martin Square and see the homage made to José de San Martín, the country’s liberator back in 1821. It’s curious how this square is right in the middle of a very busy avenue and still gives you a sense of peacefulness. You will get to enjoy the view around the big and traditional buildings with French architecture.

If you also want to include the Museum and Convento of San Francisco, you will get to see their big grounds and catacombs. These catacombs have been used since the 19th century and hold about 25,000 bodies. It even has a diverse and well-kept library filled with antique texts.

TIP: The earlier you go, the better chances of discovering the Church and catacombs interior with less noise, and more flexibility.

OPENING HOURS OF CONVENT:

Every day from 9 AM to 8:15 PM.

PRICE FOR CONVENT:

PEN 15 (USD 5). Tickets can be bought at the building entrance.

Join the Procesión Señor de Los Milagros 

Now that you are still in the city centre, head over to the Iglesia Las Nazarenas.

The beauty of this church focused on the image and representation it homes. Back in the 17th century, there was a slave who painted his version of the Crucifixion on one of the church walls. By 1655, a very strong earthquake left Lima in ruins, but among these ruins, the wall where the painting was created still stood.

In the 1700s, a new church was built around the painting, and although there have been many earthquakes throughout the years, it is the only wall that still stands every single time. That is how the church becomes home of “El Señor de Los Milagros” which means the man of miracles.

So every year, the entire month of October is devoted to this religious image and people wear purple to honour him. On October 18th especially, the mural is taken out of the church and carried around different churches so all devotees around the city can pay tribute.

Could you imagine walking around more than hundreds of people dressed in purple following a belief? It is really impressive, and you not only leave peaceful in mind but also body because you’re surrounded by such true devotees.

Go for some fun at Parque de las Aguas

It is a fun and attractive activity for visitors of all ages. Near the historic centre is the Parque de la Reserva. It is a very big park that has different water fountains and games for children, which makes it a family-friendly tourist destination.

It was created as a tribute to the people who fought during the Pacific War, so it has architectural structures with an art-deco and indigenous style to honour them.

Some fountains work most of the afternoon and some even look like they were made on purpose to get the kids wet, but still all very beautiful. But here, the main attraction is in the evening when the central fountains are illuminated and synchronized with music and a laser show. The show includes Peruvian dances, tune a local waltz, and show our native and majestic birds fly across the mountains.

MULTIMEDIA WATER SHOW TIMES:

7:15 PM, 8:15 PM, 9:30 PM.

OPENING HOURS:

from Tuesdays to Sundays: 3 PM to 10:30 PM.

PRICE:

PEN 4 (USD 1.50). You can purchase the ticket at the entrance.

Finish your walk at Larcomar

The cliff line that seperates Lima from the sea in the city
If you’re not already aware then it is handy to know that the city of Lima has a huge cliff line separating the city from the sea

Although Larcomar is really a shopping mall, it is the easiest way to find my idea of the destination. Once you get there, yes, you can head downstairs to the shopping stores and go crazy or sit at one of the cafes and restaurants to have a meal with a lovely beach view.

But, I recommend you stay on higher grounds and walk your way to the lighthouse in Miraflores. Along the way, you will see people paragliding over the beach areas, families enjoying the walk surrounded by green areas. And if you look closer to the water, you will even catch a glimpse of many surfers wanting to catch great waves.

It is a nice way to see the city and go for a relaxing walk before going back to more eating tours or jumping around all the great museums we have. 

Doing a city tour is a great way to see many of Lima’s wonderful attractions while also finding out much of the history. Also getting a one-day city bus tour is recommended as Lima is a HUGE city.

Where to eat in Lima 

ceviche is a favourite dish you will want to try while in Lima
Lima is famous for being the food capital of Peru

There is no doubt that if you are stopping by Lima, you are in for a gastronomic tour! With so many culinary options to choose from and the famous trend of international food fusion (like Chifa that is Chinese with Peruvian), you won’t know what to eat or where.

I for one, tend to suggest my foreign friends go to a buffet-style restaurant. You can also go to any restaurant but try to ask for a couple of different dishes between the entire table so you can try out a nice variety of meals.

Let me give you some ideas of the internationally voted best restaurants. Oh! And also some of my personal favourite that hit the perfect spot on their core dishes.

Lima’s must try restaurants and their best dishes

Maido – it is the best Peruvian/Japanese fusion (Nikkei) restaurant in the city.

Astrid y Gastón – it is a gastronomic powerhouse that comes up with different dishes every time and owned by two great Peruvian chefs.

Punto Azul – it is a popular “cevichería” that focuses on seafood dishes but has other traditional plates.

Siete Sopas – there is no better place to try out authentic Peruvian soups.

La Lucha – the best fast-food style of food you’ll find. Delicious homemade sandwiches that you can enjoy on a park bench.   

Primos Chicken Bar – if there’s something we don’t lack is chicken. You’ll find many places selling “Pollo a la Brasa” which is our local version of slow-cooked chicken, juicy on the inside, crunchy on the out.

And my favourites…

Grimanesa Anticucheria or La Panka for some of the best anticuchos you’ll eat!

Add to your gastronomic tour, going for a Pisco Sour. This alcoholic drink has the original presentation with lemon juice, but you can now find it with a variety of local fruits, which make them AMAZING. 

Look at completing a fun and adventurous food tour that will allow you to try many of the local dishes in recommended locations all in one evening.

Accommodation options in Lima 

Although I have lived abroad for the last 5 years, most of my life, I have lived in Lima to know how the city’s traffic works. Thankfully, some areas have become more attractive to tourists and friendly in the sense that there are stores and restaurants near the accommodations. 

Based on my experience, I suggest you stay in Miraflores. The suggestion is not only because of the local shopping and great dining options. But also because there is a convenient bus that takes you from the airport to a couple of stops along the Miraflores area. 

These are my most recommended options for you on where to stay in Lima segmented by price ranges per night:

Luxury (more than USD 170)

Hotel Aloft Miraflores by Marriott 

Hotel Radisson Decapolis Miraflores

Middle-priced (between USD 55 and USD 170)

Hotel Ibis Lima Reducto Miraflores

Innside Lima Miraflores

Budget (less than USD 55)

Selina Miraflores Hotel 

Pariwana Hostel Lima

Family-friendly  

Casa Andina Premium Miraflores

Apart Hotel El Doral

DoubleTree El Pardo by Hilton

Other options are for you to go over to the old-fashioned but historically filled Barranco hotels or the San Isidro hotels surrounded by green areas while being close to the business centre. 

Find a selection of all the best hotels in Lima and read the many reviews to determine which is best for your trip and budget.

Travel to Lima tips

I have shared some great ideas on activities to add to your trip itinerary, part of the most amazing food you’ll try in this city! But now, thinking like a foreigner, here are some general tips on travelling to Lima that I know you will find very useful. 

When is the best time to visit Lima 

I am afraid there is no direct and single answer. Lima has an interesting climate with a personality of its own. You can have a sunny day while walking along Miraflores and then face a cloudy stroll around Barranco and all in less than an hour. 

Personally, I’d go for spring or autumn, it has its sunny days once in a while, at least for some minutes, but it’s not too cold to have to weather a million sweaters. Our summers and winters might not be as intense as in other countries, but because of our high levels of humidity, it feels three times more powerful. 

It does make more sense to check the weather for Cusco, assuming you want to visit Machu Picchu because that has a specific season, so you avoid the rains. And based on that, you can schedule your stop in Lima. 

Check out the latest flight prices for the time you want to visit or search the cheapest month and plan accordingly.

Currency exchange tips

My first observation is that you can definitely change USD (US dollars) and EUR (Euro) at any place. Any other currency is more difficult but not entirely unlikely. 

So, to make the best use of your cash and get the worthy exchange rate, I suggest you approach the options in order. The last one is your last resource or your best option if you arrive late and need some cash. 

  1. Casa de Cambio (Exchange House)
  2. Banks
  3. Airport exchange house 

Conclusion 

If you had the crazy idea you would see us walking around in traditional clothing and having our pet llama follow us. I have to kill that image and mention that it can be seen mostly in the highlands rather than the big cities.

Each part of Peru has its unique vibe and magic, so you can’t really compare them, but you can enjoy them all! Lima is only the start of your whole adventure.

Find all of Aussieinwanderlust’s South America blogs

There is so much to share about Lima that this post is not long enough to do so, but still, I tried to give you a taste of my city. I honestly enjoyed putting all these ideas on “paper” for you to read and find the beauty of the metropolitan city of Lima! 

I hope you have found all the tips, activities, and hotel suggestions useful for yourself or any known person that is planning a trip down south.

If you’ve been to Lima and think I should add something super special to these options, let me know. 

Have a great trip!

Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use

Book Your Flight

Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.

Book Your Accommodation

This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.

My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?

As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.

I also have a couple of great blogs that share quick and easy ways to save money on flights or accommodation. Take a look and save some cash on your next trip.

The Best Place To Book Your Tours

If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.

They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.

Other posts that might interest you:

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Find out the sights to see, hotels to stay at, food ideas in Peru and things to do. A complete travel guide from a local

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Last Updated on: February 6th, 2020 at 3:11 pm

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