Lima, Peru Travel Guide
- Nice weather all year round
- Rich in history: ancient ruins and some colonial-era mansions
- Lively nightlife with popular clubs and folk dance nights
- Plethora of museums
- Seaside location
- Known as the gastronomical capital of the Americas
- Lots of parks
- Great shopping, particularly for jewelry
- Range of hotel styles and prices
- Significant street crime, and some areas (such as El Centro) become particularly dangerous at night
- Water and raw veggies can be risky (relying on bottled water is a safe bet)
- Lots of traffic
- Beaches are rough and better suited for surfing than swimming
What It's Like
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.
Where to Stay
- Barranco: There's not much going on during the day, but this seaside neighborhood (home to Playa Barranquito) is a lively spot at night with popular bars and cafes centered around the square, and artists selling their work. The neighborhood boasts cobblestone streets, historic mansions (some converted into hotels and restaurants), and one of the nicest parks in the city.
- El Centro: The center of Lima's history, El Centro is home to grand old buildings, museums, and a historic cathedral with catacombs. A relatively safe place during the day (but beware of pickpockets), El Centro clears out at night and can become sketchy. There are numerous budget options in El Centro, including hostels.
- Miraflores: Located by the water, Miraflores in one of the most popular neighborhoods for tourists to stay in, with its many hotels and restaurants, and Avienda la Paz, lined with craft and jewelry shops.
- San Isidro: Also a popular place to stay, San Isidro is a quiet residential area with nice parks. It is also home to Huaca Huallamarca, ancient temple ruins, and luxury hotels and shops.
- Pueblo Libre: This neighborhood doesn't have much to offer aside from a couple museums, such as the Peru History Museum and the Museum of Ancient Art.