Lima is just one crazy city…there is no other way to sum it up. The city is shared by beautiful structures reminiscent of colonial times, amazing plazas and awesome neighborhoods, and surrounded by traffic pretty much everywhere you go.
Also, there doesn’t seem to be a sure way to get around without hopping on the wrong bus and getting lost. It is no joke, getting around Lima is certainly no easy task. If you’re anything like me, you are sure to feel overwhelmed within two minutes from exiting the airport.
But there is a different side to Lima which many discover on their first day in the city. Lima bursts with life in each of its epicenters; whether it is in Lima’s Historic Center, Miraflores, or Barranco districts. Lima is also one of the culinary centers of the world and a city with one of the best gastronomies. It also has incomparable nightlife and bars, and there is definitely something for everyone to do and love in this great city.
Here are my favorite places to visit while in Lima:
1. Lima Historic Center:
The Historic Center in Lima IS.JUST.BEAUTIFUL. Buildings from the colonial era, colorful and old, one can easily spend two full days strolling around just looking at these. There are also restaurants galore to satisfy any type of hunger.
- Basilica de San Francisco: One of Lima’s main tourist attractions, this cathedral is a beautiful example of colonial architecture in Peru and South America. The church also boasts a tour including a visit to catacombs, which history tells that over 30,000 people were buried up until the early 1800s. The catacombs still show crypts filled with actual human remains. It is dark, humid and can be somewhat scary…claustrophobics beware.
- Plaza de Armas: The town’s main square, the Plaza de Armas de Lima (also known as Plaza Mayor) is one of the most beautiful in all of South America. The square is surrounded by many of the city’s sights, including the Catedral de Lima, Palacio de Gobierno (presidential palace), the Palacio Municipal, among other sights. The yellow color of many of the buildings surrounding the plaza only add to its charm. Take a seat on a bench and enjoy the view.
- Plaza San Martin: An UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Plaza San Martin is not only one of Lima’s most beautiful town squares, but also one of the most popular ones. A great place for people watching. Stand in the middle of the plaza by the statue of general San Martin and look around at the white buildings surrounding the plaza and for a view of this place’s grandiose architecture.
- Cerro San Cristobal: Stay by the Plaza de Armas and you are sure to meet some touts selling tours to the Cerro San Cristobal. The bus will drive you around the historic center before going up the San Cristobal mountain, where you will get a bird’s eye view of Lima. Although the mountain itself is nothing spectacular, it is worth the 5 PEN for the hour and a half the tour will take. The bus will drive through Lima’s historic center including some landmarks and sights, while a Spanish-only guide will give the history of the buildings and the city. While going up the mountain, take a look at the houses and the way people live, reminiscent of the favelas in Brazil.
- Parque de las Aguas (Magic Water Circuit): This daily water show is one of Lima’s main and most beautiful attractions. The circuit has 13 water fountains located throughout the park, and each include a variety of shapes, lights and music. The park is packed every night, with 3 water shows starting at 7:15PM, 8:15PM and 9:30PM. The park is open everyday except on Mondays.
Lima’s backpacker central, the district of Miraflores is one of the most important ones in Lima. Although not much in terms of attractions, Miraflores boasts a good nightlife in Lima, and has many of the best hostels in the city.
- Kennedy Park: Centrally located, the park is surrounded by shopping centers and restaurants sure to have what you need. Stroll down Jose Larco avenue for some of the best coffee shops and dessert places on your way to Larcomar.
- Calle de las Pizzas & Berlin Street: Right across Kennedy Park is a little lively street better known as la “Calle de las Pizzas” (or Street of Pizzas). This little block has charming terrace restaurants and bars, which are perfect to start a night out.
One block west is Calle Berlin, popular with both locals and tourists due to its many bars and pubs. An excellent spot to continue the night.
- Larcomar: Nothing more than an overpriced outdoor shopping center, Larcomar still has some of the best views to the sea the city has to offer. From there you can clearly see the famous La Costa Verde restaurant. Take a walk north on the Circuito de Playas for some more scenic views of the sea until you get to El Parque del Amor. Feeling adventurous? Try to do some paragliding with Aeroxtreme, located near the park.
Barranco is one of Limeños’ favorite neighborhoods. Artistic, quiet and laid-back, it is a small neighborhood worth spending a day touring around. The little streets of Barranco are colorful and are worth the sometimes uphill stroll.
- Puente de los Suspiros: Kind of a big deal in Lima, the Puente de los Suspiros (or Bridge of Sighs) is a favorite for local (and foreign) couples. The view of the path below is quite beautiful. Rumour has it that whomever sees the bridge for the first time and crosses it while holding their breath will have a wish granted.
- Bodega Piselli: One of the nicest drinking spots in Barranco, Bodega Piselli has a great variety of drinks to offer visitors. Built in colonial wood, the owners have done marvels to maintain the old time feel of the place. Pass by during the day to see groups of old friends catching up about old times, or at night when music and food share the floor with a bohemian ambiance.
- Bajada de Baños: Right under the Puente de los Suspiros, this very short but colorful pathway is worth the walk to admire one of the nicest streets in all of Barranco. Many hostels and restaurants are also located in this area. Just before the restaurants, turn left and go up the stairs for some of the nicest wall-paintings in the neighborhood. Continue straight past the restaurants until you get to one of miradors and onto the Barranco Malecon (pier).
Getting around Lima can be very overwhelming. There is traffic everywhere you go, with many streets clogged bumper-to-bumper. Lucky for us there is one bus which can passes by all three areas mentioned above, all for the small cost of S./ 2.50 per trip.
The Bus Metropolitano covers Lima’s main touristic areas and more, it passes through the Paseo de la Republica Express Way (via expresa). Here are the name of the stations for each of the above points of interest:
- Historic Center (C buses): Colmena station (a few blocks from Plaza San Martin).
Jirón de la Unión station (located between Plaza San Marin & Plaza de Armas).
- Miraflores (C buses): 28 de Julio station (located near Larcomar).
Ricardo Palma station (located near Kennedy park).
- Barranco (E & C buses): Bulevar station (located one block from the Barranco Plaza de Armas and main touristic area of the district).
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