Lima City Guide
Founded in 1535, Lima is Peru’s largest city with just under 10 million people calling it home. This cliff-top capital located on the Pacific coastline is culturally rich and has a food scene to write home about. What was once a stopping point on route to Cusco, Puno and the Inca Trail, is today a charismatic and chaotic mix of nature, history and modern architecture. Although a lot of the original city was devastated by the earthquake of 1746, there are a few unaffected ancient and historic sites that are not to be missed.
Things to Do
Lima has a little something to offer everyone. There are numerous museums and monumental landmarks to visit, such as the Presidential Palace and the iconic Basilica and Convent of San Francisco. This world heritage site is an absolute must, but be forewarned that it’s not for the faint hearted as it displays the bones and skulls of 25,000 people in its catacombs. The Plaza Mayor is a popular and central square designed by Francisco Pizarro in the 16th Century, and is quite significant as it marks the birthplace of the city. There are also many parks and gardens including Parque del Amor, for a leisurely stroll or to simply take a breather from the busy city.
Lima boasts 43 different districts, but some of the trendiest and affluent ones are to be found on the seafront. Miraflores is the hotspot in Lima, packed with places to shop and cafes and bars where you can lounge around, knocking back a few Pisco Sours (a local cocktail), while soaking in the coastal yet cosmopolitan atmosphere. While this fashionable neighbourhood is a tourist haven, don’t let its modern and hip vibe fool you. Lurking in its shadows is Huaca Pucllana, a 3rd Century clay pyramid that pre-dates the Incas by a thousand years, proving that ancient history lives and breathes alongside modern day Lima.
As a seafront city, Lima is head over heels in love with food. The Peruvian cuisine pays homage to coastal ingredients, including the latest catch of the day. During your trip be sure to feast on fresh Ceviche to capture the vibrancy of this South American city on your palate. Another local delicacy is ‘Cuy’, which may at first appear to resemble chicken, but it is in fact Guinea Pig.
With the Pacific right on its doorstep, Lima is every beach bum and surfer’s paradise. Wind permitting, the cliffs form the perfect launching pad for paragliders who can take their sightseeing adventure to new heights. To get a real taste of Lima, take a bus downtown to visit the traditional bars and cafes in the area.
Lima is not exactly the easiest of cities to get around. There are roads stretching miles, which don’t make it easy to venture on foot. But if you give into the madness, then you are set for an adventure and then some. So be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes! Although taxis may be a quick and affordable means of transport, not all of them are registered taxi drivers. Haggling is quite common in Lima, so be sure to try your hand at bargaining with your taxi driver. Be sure to agree on a price before accepting the ride. Lima does have a Metro and bus service in place, but as some bus services are privately owned and operated, it can be a little chaotic to get your head around.
When to Go
Weather in Lima is usually warm and sunny all year round. November through April sees a hazy mist settle in, giving the city a grey feel, though it is still mildly warm. The heat generally turns up from December to March when it can get pretty hot and humid. To hit the city running, head over in October, because even though it’s a busy time of the year, you can still join in the Senor de los Milagros celebrations. What more better way to experience the heart and soul of a city than joining in their festivities?
Health and Safety
Conditions in Lima have dramatically improved in the last decade, but despite this it is still advised to travel with caution as in any other city around the world. Locals assume tourists are rich, which make them an easy target for robbing and scamming. Dressing like a local is the best way to avoid standing out from the crowd or as someone with money.
Whether you’re just passing through or there to spend some quality time, take a look at our accommodation in the city to find the right one for you.