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15 TERRIFIC THINGS TO DO IN LIMA, PERU
(+ Bonus: COMPLETE GUIDE TO LIMA)
Are you planning on visiting Lima? How do you decide what to see and do?
Here is a list of 15 terrific things to do in Lima, Peru.
Plus, bonus: complete visitors guide to Lima – when to go, how to get to Lima, how to get around, where to stay, and more.
Image Credit: Google Map data ©2020
EXPLORE LARCO MUSEUM
Ok, there is a lot of museums in Lima, however, the one that you must explore is Larco Museum. Believe me, of all the things to do in Lima, Larco Museum needs to be on your list!
First of all, the museum is housed in a beautiful 18th century viceroyalty former mansion, built on a site of a pre-Columbian temple.
Larco Museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens. So, if you have a few minutes to spare, check them out as well.
Second, Larco Museum offers a stunning collection of 5,000 years of ceramic, textile and metal artifacts of ancient Peru.
In addition, there is quite a collection of mummies that show off the different ways ancient cultures preserved their dead.
- To begin with, you are allowed into explore the museum’s store rooms. Isn’t it so cool! And, literally, there are hundreds of rows and rows of racks with different pots in shapes of animals, plants, and humans.
I found the pots with human faces so fascinating. The faces show an array of expressions and the incredible diversity of shapes.
- Furthermore, there is a special room completely devoted to erotic archaeological treasures. Specifically, there are hundreds of pots portraying a variety of sexual positions and acts. Many of these erotic pots were destroyed by Spanish conquerors, deemed by them as inappropriate.
What caught my attention was the very interesting textile collection.
The value attributed to textiles by pre-Columbian societies can be compared to the importance to gold and silver. Textiles served as much more than clothing; they were also a medium for the spreading of religious ideas and for transmitting messages to the next world when they were employed to wrap the mortal remains of the dead. They also served as exquisite gifts for the rulers of these societies, as well as to denote social status.
Next, do not miss the Gold and Silver Gallery. It is absolutely fascinating.
It showcases the largest collection of jewelry used by many notable rulers of pre-Columbian Peru.
The Gold and Silver Gallery comprises a collection of crowns, earrings, nose ornaments, garments, masks and vases, finely wrought in gold and decorated with semi-precious stones.
Did you know that in ancient Peru several societies practiced skull trepanation and deformation? Honestly, I had no idea!
Skull trepanation was a surgical procedure used to relieve pain or other afflictions affecting the head. Skull deformation was also practiced. It was likely performed to signify a social status.
Lastly, do not miss a very interesting display of what appears to be knotted cords.
These are quipus – the main system used by the Incas to record information.
The colors, knots, and the positioning of knots represented objects and the characteristics of these objects.
Larco Museum is located at Simón Bolívar Avenue 1515, Pueblo Libre, Lima 21, Peru. However, make a note that the entrance to the museum is on Navarra Street.
Larco Museum is open daily from 9 am till 10 am. (December 24, 25, 31, and January 1, opening hours are from 9:00 am till 6 pm).
The entrance ticket costs 35 soles for adults, 17 soles for students (with identification) and minors up to 17 years (with identification). Children up to 8 years old are admitted at no charge.
HAVE A ROMANTIC DINNER AT MUSEO LARCO CAFE-RESTAURANT
Seriously, Museo Larco Cafe-Restaurant is a little gem that you cannot miss. Make sure to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You will love the romantic atmosphere, for sure. The menu is extensive and covers all different regions of Peru. It is one of my favorite things to do in Lima at night.
VISIT PUCLLANA TEMPLE (HUACA PUCLLANA)
Pucllana Temple is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Peru. It dates back to about 200 AD to 700 AD and comprises of adobe and clay pyramid.
The pyramid consists of seven staggered platforms. It is solid, meaning it does not appear to have any interior rooms.
If you are looking for things to do at night in Lima, then my recommendation is to visit the site in the evening when it is beautifully illuminated.
Pucllana Temple is located on Calle General Borgoño s/n, cuadra 8, Miraflores (Lima 18, Perú).
It is open on Mondays from 9 am till 5 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Wednesday through Sunday, it is open from 9 am till 5 pm, and 7 pm till 10 pm.
The entrance ticket is 15 soles for the day tour and 17 soles for the evening tour.
HAVE DINNER AT HUACA PUCLLANA RESTAURANT
Just an idea..
If you decide to vist Huaca Pucllana in the evening, then after your tour, stop by for a dinner at Huaca Pucllana Restaurant. I do not think anything beats a meal in a setting of a pre-Inca pyramid.
STROLL ALONG THE MIRAFLORES BOARDWALK (MALECON DE MIRAFLORES)
The Miraflores Boardwalk (Malecon de Miraflores ) stretches for 6 miles along the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. It comprises of several parks. So, it is just perfect for a leisurely stroll and to soak in the views.
If the weather cooperates, and you are looking for things to do at night in Lima, comeback for a sunset and stay a bit longer to see the coastline all lit up.
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STOP BY THE LOVE PARK (PARQUE DEL AMOR)
While you are strolling along the Miraflores Boardwalk, you will come across the most popular park in Miraflores – the Love Park (Parque del Amor).
- First of all, the Love Park features a kissing statue called the Kiss (El Beso). It depicts the sculptor, Victor Delfin, and his wife kissing.
- Second, check out the colorful mosaics decorating the walls and benches reminiscent of Parc Guell in Barcelona, which was designed by Antoni Gaudi.
- Lastly, try to find some love quotes from from various Peruvian writers interwoven between the mosaics:
- “Canta amor mío, desnúdate bajo la lluvia” (Sing my love, undress beneath the rain) – Rodolfo Hinostroza
- “Amor gran laberinto” (Love, great labyrinth) – Sebastián Salazar Bondy
- “Tu estas por encima del infinito mar” (You are above the infinite sea) – Augusto Tamayo Vargas
WATCH PARAGLIDING AT PARK RAIMONDI (PARQUE RAIMONDI)
Keep walking for a a few minutes north of Parque del Amor and you will reach Park Raimondi. Park Raimondi is a popular spot for watching pilots fly paragliders.
There are a few paragliding operators that offer tandem flights. Basically, you are strapped to an experienced paragliding instructor, who will take you for a 10-minute flight above the seafront cliffs.
GO SHOPPING IN LARCOMAR
Larcomar is an upscale shopping mall. So, if you feel like shopping, then Larcomar is the place to go. It offers an array of stores to choose from.
What is special about Larcomar is that it has a splendid location. It is built into the cliffside and offers breathtaking views of the coastline.
Image Credit: Christian Cordova via Flickr
If you are looking for things to do in the evening or at night in Lima, then visit Larcomar during sunset and stay for dinner. There is a food court, lots of restaurants, and cafes.
The entrance to Larcomar is on Block 6 of Malecon de la Reserva across the street from JW Marriott Hotel.
HAVE FUN AT THE MAGIC WATER CIRCUIT (CIRCUITO MAGICO DEL AGUA)
The Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Magico del Agua) is a fountain park that puts on a water and light show in the evening.
If you are looking for things to do at night in Lima, then hands down, head to the Magic Water Circuit.
If you are looking for free things to do in Lima, then you can visit the Magic Water Circuit for free during the day.
If you are interested in watching a colorful display of lights and water, then the entrance ticket costs 4 soles. By the way, there is a show that chronicles the history of Peru with movies projected into the water fountains. The shows are Tuesday through Sunday at 7:15 pm, 8:15 pm, and 9:30 pm.
Barranco is a neighborhood in Lima that is best explored on foot. Nearly all of the sights in Barranco, as well as most of the best places to eat and drink, are within five or six blocks of each other.
What you will see are many rambling, boldly painted houses, colorful murals, and interesting street art.
In addition, there are many galleries, restaurants and cafes. So, take your time and meander around and check out all the places.
SEE PLAZA DE ARMAS (PLAZA MAYOR)
Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor) is Lima’s colorful main square. It is the birthplace of the city of Lima, as well as Lima’s beating heart.
Plaza de Armas is located in the Historic Center of Lima. On the north side of Plaza de Armas sits the Government Palace and on the three other sides are Cathedral Of Lima, Archbishops Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union.
Make sure to take a closer look at the intricately carved wooden balconies that adorn the buildings.
If you are looking for things to do at night in Lima, then Plaza de Armas is a great place to come back in the evening and see all the buildings beautifully illuminated.
VISIT THE CATHEDRAL OF LIMA
While you are strolling around Plaza de Armas, make sure to visit the Cathedral of Lima. The construction of the Cathedral of Lima began in 1535 and it was completed in 1649. It is dedicated to St John, Apostle and Evangelist.
Make sure to check out the main facade, which is very elaborate. And, take a closer look at the nave, it is absolutely stunning.
The Cathedral of Lima houses a museum with an extensive collection of historical objects including paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewelry, sacred vessels as well as antique religious vestments and robes of former archbishops. Much of the collection is from Cusco School (Escuela Cuzquena) of painting.
Cathedral of Lima is open Monday through Friday from 9 am till 5 pm. On Saturdays, it is open from 10 am till 1 pm. On Sundays, it is open from 1 pm till 5 pm.
My recommendation is to join a guided tour that will take you through the cathedral as well as the museum. The entrance ticket is 10 soles.
STOP BY THE GOVERNMENT PALACE
Continue strolling around Plaza de Armas until you reach the next building that occupies the north side of the plaza. It is the Government Palace.
Image Credit: Diego Delso
The Government Palace is the official residence and office of the president of Peru. Originally, it was the first Spanish palace, however, it was rebuilt many times since 1535.
What you can see is the Changing of the Guards. It happens everyday at noon right in front of the Government Palace.
Image Credit: Diego Delso
GO BACK IN TIME AT THE ALIAGA HOUSE
So, I have to make a confession. I loved Larco Musuem. Of all the things to do in Peru, Larco Musuem is my number one choice. I felt like I got a better understanding of the Inca culture.
Now, my number two of all the best things to do in Lima was the visit to the Aliaga House. Do not miss it. You will feel like you stepped back in time and landed in the 16th century Lima.
- First of all, the Aliaga House is the oldest continuously occupied private mansion in Lima. It is meticulously maintained and preserved.
- Second, it was built on land given by Pizarro to his lieutenant Jeronimo de Aliaga. And, it has been in the possession of the Aliaga family ever since.
- Lastly, it is decorated with colonial art and furnishings.
In order to see the Aliaga House you need to join a guided tour. The tour lasts about 45 minutes. My recommendation is to send an email to the Aliaga House and inquire and sign up for the available tour.
Once you join the tour, make sure to check out the beautiful hand-painted tiles decorating the rooms. And, do not miss a showcase where the sword of Captain Aliaga is kept.
Connecting to the corridor are various rooms, which are family sitting-rooms and bedrooms.
In those rooms, you will see a large collection of items that the family gathered through the years: Louis XVI furniture and paintings, a bronze stove which won an award at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889, two fine multicolored Japanese vases, just to name a few things.
The Aliaga House is open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am till 3:30 pm.
The tours cost 30 soles.
EXPLORE THE CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO
The Church of San Francisco is located just a block away from the Plaza de Armas. You will not miss it. It is painted in canary yellow color.
The Church of San Francisco was built in the baroque-style in the late 1600’s.
To be honest, I was very impressed by the nave and the isles decorated in Mudejar style.
WHAT IS MUDEJAR STYLE?
In architecture, Mudéjar style does not refer to a distinct architectural style but to the application of traditional technical, ornamental and decorative elements derived from Islamic arts to Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles.
Mudejar decoration and ornamentation includes stylized calligraphy and intricate geometric and vegetal forms.
Make sure not not miss an impressive lattice dome.
Adjacent to the Church of San Francisco is the monastery. In order to visit the monastery, you will need to join a guided tour. The tours are offered several times a day and last about an hour and a half.
First of all, the guided tour will take you through the beautifully maintained cloisters. Make sure to take a look at some of the famous Sevillian tilework decorating the walls.
Next, the tour goes though the library. It has a superb collection of ancient religious texts brought over by the first wave of Spanish priests.
Finally, the tour stops at the famous catacombs.
Did you know that Lima did not have graveyard till the 19th century. Nobility and the rich were buried in the floors of churches or in niches in side chapels while the majority of corpses were placed into large pits full of lye within the catacombs.
Some of the remains were excavated and arranged in interesting patterns.
The tours are offered daily from 9:30 am till 5:30 pm and cost 7 soles.
EAT AT MAIDO RESTAURANT
First of all, I had no idea that Lima has 2 of the top 50 rated restaurants in the world according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Maido restaurant is rated at number 10 and Central restaurant is rated at number 6.
Now, reservations are a must. So do not delay and book your table asap if you want to check off some superior dining experiences.
Maido offers a unique Nikkei experience. It is a fusion between authentic Peruvian cuisine and Japanese cuisine created by celebrity chef Mitsuharu “Micha” Tsumura Maido
According to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants:
Chef Micha’s Nikkei Experience menu is a journey through Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood. There is succulent cod marinated in miso with crispy nuts, nigiri sushi, sea urchin rice, 50-hour beef short rib and even tofu cheesecake ice cream. Everything sings with flavor, zing and the natural bright colors that come from Peru’s produce.
My recommendation is to go with the the Nikkei Experience. It is their 13-course tasting menu.
EAT AT CENTRAL RESTAURANT
Now, if you want to try some Peruvian food then reserve the table at Central restaurant. It is rated at number 6 according to the World’s Best 50 Restaurants.
In my opinion, it was an interesting experience.
Central restaurant is run by husband-and-wife team: Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León.
According to the 50 World’s Best Restaurants:
Martínez and León like to play with the many varieties of corn, potato and much more obscure products offered by Peru’s vastly biodiverse landscape. Classics include Land of Corn and Extreme Stems, with newer dishes such as Waters of Nanay featuring piranha fish served in an entire, sharp-tooth-filled piranha head. The menu explores every altitude, from 20m below sea level to 4,100 meters above it, in 17+ courses.
BONUS: COMPLETE VISITORS GUIDE TO LIMA, PERU
WHEN TO GO TO LIMA
Well, when you think about it, Lima is only 12 degrees south of the equator, so you would definitely expect a tropical climate. However, it is not the case. The climate is subtropical desert. It means that Lima has two seasons – winter (June through October) and summer (December through April), with May and November being transitional months.
Winters are cool, humid and cloudy with temperatures ranging from 14 to 20 degrees C.
Summers in Lima are sunny, warm, and muggy with temperatures ranging from 18 to 29 degrees C.
Now, something interesting, the humidity is very high in Lima year round, however the rainfall is very low. Winter precipitation occurs in the form of persistent morning drizzle events, while summer rain is infrequent and occurs in the form of isolated light and brief showers.
If you are planning to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu as well, then my recommendation would to to head to Peru during the summer months.
HOW TO GET TO LIMA
All international flights land at Jorge Chavez Airport located in Callao. And, Callao is 16 km northwest of Lima.
If you are arriving by bus, most of the bus companies have their terminals just south of the historic city center. Quite a few of them have their terminals on Avenida Carlos Zavala.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN LIMA
- If the weather is good, then in my opinion, the best way to explore Lima is on foot. For example, you can easily walk around the Historic Center of Lima.
- Taxis are the best option to get from one area to the next. For example, once you are done exploring the historic section of Lima, hail a taxi and head to Miraflores.
- As far as public transportation, Lima has a metro system, however, it offers only one line that services more inland sections of the city. Next option are the buses. Lima has a rapid transit bus system. It is called Metropolitano. Check out the route system in advance and buy a reloadable card for 4.50 soles at any station.
WHERE TO STAY IN LIMA
Hands down, stay in Miraflores section of Lima. It is my top choice. Specifically, I am recommending JW Marriott Hotel Lima and Hilton Lima Miraflores. Both hotels are modern and trendy with spacious rooms. Bonus is the free breakfast.
If you are short on time, then stay near the airport. My top choice is Costa del Sol Wyndham Lima Airport. It is just across the street from the airport. The rooms are nice and comfortable. If you need help with planning your tour of Lima, let the reception desk know about it they will arrange a private driver and a guide for you.
INTREPID SCOUT’S POINTERS FOR THINGS TO DO IN LIMA
That is quite a list of things to do in Lima, right? What if you only have time to do a couple of things?
No problem! Here are my absolute 3 things to do in Lima:
- Hands down, of all the things to do in Lima the number one is to explore the historic city center. Start with Plaza de Armas and check out the Cathedral of Lima and the Government Palace. Next, head to the Church of San Francisco and join the guided tour of the church, cloisters, library and the catacombs.
- Second, visit the Larco Museum. For me it was the highlight of my visit to Lima.
- Third, head to Miraflores and soak in the spectacular views of the coastline.
- Finally, to help you with your planning process of your trip to Peru, make sure to check out my post: 1-Week Peru Itinerary (+BONUS: 3-Day Extension Itinerary to Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.
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