What to Do In and Around Lima: Our Selection

December 15, 2022

The epicenter of culture, history, and discovery sits on the Pacific coast of Peru in its capital, Lima. The city is a defining part of Peru and its identity, preserving the traditions of thousands of years while never shying away from innovation and progress. In this context, coming to Lima is equal to rest, relaxation, adventure, and wonder. Perusing shops and visiting museums, activities of the norm in many other places, feel surreal when surrounded by pre-Columbian art and colonial architecture.

The landscape is diverse, replete with glittering beaches that bleed into the ocean to the west and the desert to the east. Its culinary chops rival those of New York City, and much of what Peru serves across the globe comes from Lima's families, traditions, and roots. The mystique of its parks and neighborhoods pay homage to the past, present, and future, representing romance, beauty, and the magnetic people who have made it come to life.

But Lima offers so much more than your average city. The people, their connection to the heart and soul of Peru, provide a unique opportunity to see the world in a new light. They allow you to get caught up in the magic of South America. Andean Experience knows that crafting an all-encompassing experience in Lima is the best way to enjoy the city. Whether exploring Peru for the first time or returning for yet another unforgettable escape, they will create a trip around your needs to make your stay in Lima the best it can be.

Without further ado, here are our top reasons to come to Lima, Peru.

EAT

The food of Lima, and Peru in general, is no secret, and its dedication to culture and sustainability pushes it to an iconic level. Ceviche was born in Lima, and the many variations of Peruvian potatoes are often inventively included on menus across the city. Stir-fried beef and rocoto relleno round out typical fare, but how these items are prepared is an intricate part of the allure. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains means ample fresh food and tradition. The Barranco and Miraflores neighborhoods are home to some of the best restaurants in the world, but you can find dining options in top-tier establishments in every corner of the city.

One particularly intriguing aspect of Lima's food culture is the intimate setting where you dine. You will feel at home with the restaurant and those around you, and it should be no surprise that this encourages a close relationship with the meal. Even the architecture is intentional, bringing you closer to the dishes presented and making you aware of its Peruvian connection. A few of its best restaurants take these concepts and practices extremely seriously.

Aptly named in the heart of the city, you can go to Central, arguably the best of the best. The chef makes a point of finding definitive Peruvian ingredients to incorporate into his dishes. The tasting menu is designed around the altitudes of its items, catering to the incredible spectrum of the cuisine and the varied terrain across the country. If you want to impress, this is a must-eat destination in Barranco that will undoubtedly please.

One of Peru's defining characteristics is its attention to history, the way a cultural story is told through the food. At Kjolle, a female-chef-run eatery running neck and neck with neighboring Central, you will find a menu that features cow cheek and corvina prepared in this way. Inviting in an atmosphere yet opulent in display, the aim is to enjoy the meal with every sense, so the aesthetics are thoughtfully balanced with their cultural flavors.

Maido perfectly fuses Peruvian and Japanese foods and cultures. This Miraflores gem is textbook Peruvian Nikkei – Japanese techniques used on Peru's classic ingredients. From seafood to peppers, Maido delicately treads the line of sharing histories and stories at the table around fresh food served to the community. The people-first approach here makes it rare and unique, even in such a providing city as Lima. 

SURF

It is only right that the beaches of Lima have some of the best surf spots in Peru, South America, and the world. The miles of sand, the accommodating weather, and the sheer natural beauty offer the Holy Trinity of surfing lore. The spaciousness of land and sea provide every level of wave chaser an opportunity to shred without fear of judgment, a rarity for anyone coming from Mancora. If you go early or late, you can beat the crowd and catch a glimpse of the beautiful setting sun, a real Pacific treat.

Those within the city don't have to go much further than Miraflores. As one of the most popular places to surf, you can easily take a lesson and learn the ropes without heading too far out of town. Makaha is a great place to start for beginners, with gentle beach breaks that go hand in hand with instruction and learning. On the southern side of the neighborhood, Redondo and its reef breaks are also consistent enough for those who aren't yet professionals.

A bit south of the Green Coast of Miraflores lies Herradura, home to one of the most well-known point breaks in the country. The horseshoe-shaped cove takes southwest waves and tees them up so you can ride them. At times, they can be over ten feet high. Locals know it well, and those who want a more intimate view of the surf culture in Lima can head here to learn some trade tricks.

Just south of the city center, Punta Hermosa is a great destination for everyone with varying difficulty levels. The swells are steady, and depending on how you surf, there are right- and left-breaking beaches (Caballeros and Señoritas, respectively). Punta Hermosa also has a slew of other navigable beaches that allow for space – plenty to choose from.

Many of the world's top surfers are from Peru, and Lima is often considered – yet again – a focal point for those who come for water sports. The history surrounding the sport within the country is fascinating – some schools even believe surfing originated in Peru, as ancient pottery portrays the act as early as 1000 BCE. You can enjoy simply learning about surfing, even if you don't want to ride any waves.

STROLL

The neighborhoods of Lima are cozy and unique, so taking some time to explore them on foot is a great way to gain insight into this remarkable city. Barranco, one of the most popular parts of Lima, is renowned for its street art, which comes from its seemingly effortless ability to be hip. Along with the aforementioned restaurants, it has a vibrant nightlife, making it a great place to explore.

Arguably the most popular attraction in the neighborhood is the Bridge of Sighs ("Puente de Los Suspiros.”) As the subject of Chabuca Granda's hit of the same name from 1960, it became immortalized in Lima and overall Peruvian lore, but it had long been a Barranco attraction dating back to the 19th century. Originally built in 1876, the near-100-foot bridge served as a functional footpath to the beach until the alleged visits of some of Peru's most notable poets, including Eguren and Ribeyro. Since then, it has been a symbol of romance, accompanied by the legend that if you can span it with one breath, you are granted one wish.

The parks around the Bridge of Sighs, including Parque Federico Villarreal and Parque Municipal de Barranco, are great places to take a stroll and appreciate the artwork that is graffitied and painted – even under the bridge. If you happen to find yourself near Restaurante Javier, there is a stairway always covered in street art. You can reach the beaches to the west and the restaurants to the east, so it's a perfect place to navigate Barranco or stop and take it all in. The entire neighborhood, however, is well-covered in art, so you won't fail to miss any as you make your way through town.

LEARN

With such an illustrious history exuding from its streets, Lima has a lot to offer in its museums. The ancient history of earlier civilizations, pre-Columbian dynasties, and colonial architecture all come together for a compelling narrative of a complex culture. The buildings that house artifacts and art are themselves structural works of art, adding to the appeal and an enhanced appreciation of the experience.

With over 5,000 years of Peruvian history, the LARCO Museum is an absolute must for visitors who want to see the human connection throughout history. With an adjoining park and contemplative garden, LARCO sits in an 18th-century royal structure and offers a chronology of Peru's development, boasting a splendid exhibition encapsulating the Andean worldview, including a captivating look at the societal progressions of the country and its people.

At the time of its construction, the building that houses the Museum of Art of Lima, known as MALI, was a marvel because of its cast iron composition. What's more, inside the Palacio de la Exposicion is over 3,000 years of art, ranging from pre-Incan to contemporary. Inaugurated in 1961 and located at the entrance to the Historic Center of Lima, this is one of Peru's most visited museums, and one is a must for art enthusiasts. Temporary exhibits range from 1960s paintings to Prehispanic Interactions, offering a glimpse into the contemplative life of a metropolitan art house.

Lima's Museum of Contemporary Art, known as MAC, also features local and foreign artists in the contemporary arts. Its recent emergence has allowed it to be at the forefront of city activity. The grounds include a terrace and a park where shows and events occur. The MAC also engages Peruvian and foreign visitors, promoting participation, critical thinking, enjoyment, and creation. An immersive and meaningful experience for art lovers and travelers, this is a must-see museum for a cultural trip to Lima.

DISCOVER

Beyond the museums, there is a never-ending list of authentic adventures in Lima and Peru. The Historical Center of Lima is full of colonial architecture and reaches even further back when you peel back the city's layers. Take a stroll through Plaza Mayor and see why it is considered the birthplace of Lima. Its central location is just one aspect of its importance; it features a bronze fountain dating back to 1650. Walk the storied streets and enjoy green areas of recreation and culture and the yellow facades of government buildings. Unlike other parts of Peru, the atmosphere is heavy with personal and emotional weight.

To the west of the Plaza Mayor, you can discover the Plaza de Armas. This colorful square is set in history for Lima as a city back in the 16th century and Peru as a country in the early 19th century. Beautiful gardens are outlined with palm trees, making for a picturesque spot to watch Peruvian life pass by.

To the east of Plaza Mayor are perhaps a more exciting historical gem – the catacombs. Below the Baroque-style Convent of San Francisco is a network of crypts believed to be the largest in South America. The size of the catacombs lends itself to many interesting details, such as the link to other churches and convents at Lima's center and secret passages. There is even a legend of an elderly monk who walks the corridors at night. Captivating and authentically Lima, this is an excellent opportunity to see the underbelly of such an ancient city.

THINGS TO KNOW

Not only is Lima one of the most important cities in Peru, but it is also an essential part of the South American identity. The city has been inhabited for centuries, with many cultural phenomena like ceviche and surfing shaped by the "City of Kings." Founded on Epiphany in 1535, its coastal location, desert climate, and proximity to the Andes helped establish it as a historical stronghold for pre-Columbian cultures and build it into the metropolis of more than 10 million people we know today.

Its geographic location makes it perfect for executing expeditions to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon Rainforest. It is known as the second-largest desert city in the world, awash with rolling hills, hundreds of miles of pristine beaches, and thousands of years of cultural history. The city is the country's primary destination, ahead of Arequipa and Cusco.

One of the best aspects of coming to Lima is that there is no wrong time to visit. Peru's capital offers action and relaxation all year round. For surfers, swells are bigger in the winter (June through August), but the water is warmer, and waves are more forgiving in the summer (December through March). Lima's general weather is consistently full of sunshine – often more than 300 sunny days a year – and even when the temperatures recede into the 60s in winter, you can still expect comfortable days for any plans.

While relatively large, commuting and navigating in and around Lima is a breeze. Flights to and from Lima are plentiful, arriving from across the world daily. Private cars allow for speedy intercity travel while keeping you relaxed and ready for the days ahead. If you are heading to other parts of Peru, high-end rail service is the premier way to connect multiple legs of your journey around the country.

Shopping is ideal in Miraflores, with the entertainment of Larcomar as the main attraction along the coast in the former neighborhood. For the style-minded, San Isidro also has a fashionable street of shops – Los Conquistadores Avenue or Dasso.

Outside of Lima are some fantastic experiences as well, and if you have the time, you will want to include them in your travel plans. UNESCO sites can be seen across Peru, including the ruins and pyramids at Caral. You can also take a short trip to the oasis at Huacachina to ride dune buggies at sunset. The Ballestas Islands are just off the coast of Piscos – sip the national drink (Pisco Sour) and see a prehistoric geoglyph on your way to check out penguins, seals, and sea lions.

No matter what you have in mind, the team and concierge at Atemporal are ready to handle any request. This magnificent six-room casa builds experiences specifically for you, all within a stunning 1940s Peruvian mansion. Thoughtfully designed with immaculate service, you will be swept away in comfort and care – down to the last detail. The concierge is accompanied by a chef and housekeeper to ensure your stay is perfect.

Located at the doorstep of the best of Miraflores, you will have no trouble finding your way down quaint streets and buzzing avenues. The team at Atemporal will help you get to where you need to be seamlessly, making your stay and experience in Lima unique and unforgettable.

The allure of Lima is inviting and unrelenting, and Andean Experience sincerely knows this Peruvian beacon of culture – tailoring a trip to show you its hidden gems is their specialty. Surf the best waves, eat the best food and see one of the best cities in the world.

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