In the 16th century, Spanish settlers arrived in Lima and stayed in the area for its warm, mild weather. They built up the city, now Peru's capital and the largest city in the country, with beautiful colonial structures, some of which can be found in El Centro, an area in Lima with a historic square and church, and numerous museums. However, natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes destroyed many of these buildings; some remain and work has begun to restore those in disrepair, but Lima's architecture does not reflect the city's rich history.
Although often overlooked as a vacation destination, seaside Lima is a fun, lively city. There are tons of great restaurants for a range of budgets; ceviche is the city's speciality, but as Lima is a melting pot, all kinds of international cuisine can be found -- including Chinese food with a Peruvian twist in Lima's Chinatown. The nightlife scene is also lively -- bars are open 'til the wee hours of the morning and dance-oriented folk nights, called penas, are popular.
During the day, tourists and locals check out museums, shop (Lima is known for its silver and gold jewelry), and stroll through the city's many parks, including Parque del Amor, a favorite among couples. The city's history dates back to much earlier than the arrival of the Spanish, and the ancient temple ruins at Huaca Huallamarca are also a popular stop for tourists, as are the beaches in Miraflores and Barranco during the summer months. Still, the water can be rough and is more suited for surfing than leisurely swimming.
Like any big city, Lima has its fair share of traffic -- and perhaps more than its fair share of crime. Tourists should keep a close eye on their belongings, particularly at the beach and while riding public transportation.
June - August
January - March
Varies; U.S., Canadian and European citizens don't need a visa
220 V; 60 Hz
10% in restaurants is often included; an extra 10% is appreciated for good service