Insider’s Guide to Lima: 10 Things to Do in Lima
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Insider’s Guide to Lima: 10 Things to Do in Lima

8 min read

Apr 3, 2012

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By Kaitlin McMichael

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Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

10 Amazing Things to do on a

Lima Tour

The things to do in Lima are endless, especially if you’re interested in history, culture, and food. Many travelers to Peru think of Lima as a resting place on the way to see the real Peru travel destination, Cusco and Machu Picchu. However, the capital of Peru is worth visiting. Its historical importance in Peruvian colonial history, lively nightlife, world-class Peruvian cuisine, and verdant coastline makes Lima a top destination. Read below for our expert-rated 10 things to do in Lima, Peru – Peru’s great capital city.

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Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

1. Visit the Plaza de Armas in the Historic District

One of the best things to do in Lima is to visit the Historic District. The heavy influence of the Spanish colonial era is evident in the historic district of the city, called El Centro Historico. The Plaza de Armas (Main Square) is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. Here, people-watch or witness the Changing of the Guard at the Palacio Gobierno (Government Palace). The palace is decorated in a lavish French neo-baroque style, with wrought iron gating and ornate façade. Sit on the steps of the Cathedral and admire its soaring front doors, called La Portada de Perdon, or Doorway of Forgiveness.

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plaza de armas
historic district at sunset

Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

2. Drink Pisco Sour in Plaza San Martin

From the Plaza de Armas, walk along Jr. de La Union Street to Plaza San Martin. The Jr. de La Union street was once full of churches, elegant homes, and small shops, as evidenced by the ornate facades on the top level of the buildings. One of the most unique is the Casa Courret, decked in Art Nouveau style. But now there are large electronics and clothing stores and pollo restaurants – an interesting juxtaposition worth pondering while you browse the shops. In commemoration of the liberator, San Martin square boasts his statue in the center, built in the 1920s, and the white buildings surrounding the square a lit up beautifully at night.

Head to Hotel Bolívar and order a Pisco Sour from this 20th-century establishment that has earned the reputation of being both elegant and reliable when it comes to pouring a perfect Pisco. Peruvians have perfected the Pisco, a strong brandy mixed with lime, bitters, and an egg-white froth. A Peruvian culinary tour would not be complete without a taste of Peru’s national cocktail.

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Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

3. Go paragliding over the Costa Verde

While you’re near the coast of Lima, you’re sure to see paragliders riding the drafts that come off the Pacific and hit the jutting cliff side. If you’re in for a spin, head to Larcomar, the shopping center and park in the most beautiful part of the Miraflores District. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the Larcomar when you see the glass-gilded JW Marriott Hotel looming overhead. Here many paragliders and guides take off, and you can ask for a guide to take you out over the Costa Verde for a fee. Soaring over the coastline, you’ll view Lima from it’s most beautiful angle – the sea and sky. Admire the size of the capital – a sprawling metropolis now with a population over 9 million – and wave hello to the shoppers and diners in the Larcomar shopping center.

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paragliding over lima peru at sunset
side view of paragliding over the costa verde

Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

4. Visit the ruins of Huaca Pucllana

There are a number of interesting archaeological sites in Peru. Before the Incas, an ancient community gave the land its name and built large huacas throughout the region of Lima. Some of these huacas are still visible and the Huaca Pucllana is one of the most impressive. In the Miraflores District, the sandy dirt and adobe bricks of this pre-Inca temple are on all sides by suburban homes. Browse through the ruins, which most notably are made up of bricks laid vertically rather than horizontally.

After dark, the ruins are lit up beautifully and the adjacent a 5-star restaurant enjoys a direct view of the ruins. Dine on aji de gallina, a Peruvian specialty while gazing out at the centuries-old adobe bricks. Make sure to add this visit on to any of our tours in Peru, just like this best-seller one: The Travels of the Incas Tour.

5. See the Well of Souls at the Monastery of San Francisco

Although photography inside the monastery and subterranean catacombs is prohibited, occasionally a brave soul will sneak a photo or two of the impressive “Well of Souls”. The Well of Souls is a geometric arrangement of femurs and skulls inside the catacombs. The San Francisco Monastery is near the Plaza de Armas and is worth visiting even if this is the only church you see while in Lima.

Founded by Emperor Charles V and Pizarro, this baroque-style church painted in canary yellow is often full of pigeons. The pigeons roost among the concave ridges in the façade. Inside, the monk’s library contains thousands of books dating from the conquest and even before the colonial era. This is one of the most impressive library collections in the Americas.

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6. Visit the second home of Victor Delfin and Parque del Amor (Park of Love)

The Peruvian sculptor and artist Victor Delfin has produced many works of art that have placed modern Peruvian art on the international art scene. Perhaps most notable of his works is the Parque del Amor, or Park of Love, located just north of Larcomar. Walk from Larcomar along the Malecon, a walkway that follows the Costa Verde. At Parque del Amor, enjoy the sunset, read the quotes of Spanish love poems, and gaze upon the larger than life statue of lovers in a passionate embrace.

Delfin owns a bed and breakfast called The Second Home, which is also located on the coast, just south of Miraflores in the Barranco District. He occasionally uses this seaside home as an art studio, and often times the B&B is open for tours of his work scattered about the property.

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park of love in lima peru
couple gazing at the view at the love park

Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

 7. Circuito Mágico del Agua (Water Fountain Park)

Built within the Parque de La Reserva is a set of 13 fountains. In 2007, they opened and quickly became one of the most popular attractions for tourists staying in Lima. During one free evening, take a short taxi drive from Miraflores to visit the largest fountain complex in the world. At night, it is a great walk through the park, as many of the fountains are illuminated and change their colors according to the music played in the background.

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8. Visit Lima’s most bohemian neighborhood: Barranco

A walking tour of Barranco is a great thing to do in Lima. Barranco has rapidly become the coolest neighborhood in town and a great addition to exploring in the city. Barranco has great historical architecture and a booming art scene. If you prefer boutique local hotels, Barranco is the place for you. At night, Barranco also is Lima’s best area to go out to, with great restaurants and hip bars for Peruvians and foreigners alike.

One of the most interesting places to see is Puente de los Suspiros. This bridge lies in the main part of the district where it connects two main streets. It is said that if you can cross the bridge while holding your breath, your wish will come true. Make sure to check out Barranco’s best museum: MATE, created by the celebrated Peruvian photographer Mario Testino.

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yellow building in barranco neighborhood lima peru
bridge and buildings in barranco neighborhood of lima peru

Last updated on October 13th, 2020 at 07:45 am

9. Visit the Larco Archeological Museum

A beautiful 18th-century former vice-royal building holds Peru’s best history museum, named after a local archeological collector. It showcases chronological galleries that provide a thorough overview of 5,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. Its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery is also popular. This is the perfect museum to visit before heading out to Machu Picchu and Cusco. Its interactive rooms will help you learn more and understand the Inca worldview and culture.

Note: Make sure to add a visit to this museum to any of our tours including Lima, just like this one: Machu Picchu and Amazon Jungle Tour.

10. Enjoy an evening at a traditional Peña

For anyone interested in music and local culture, visit a traditional Peña in Lima. This will give you the opportunity to see how an authentic traditional music venue will entertain peoples of all ages. The music you will hear – like marinara and the criollo waltz – will be by live band. These venues could be small houses or large, sophisticated venues.

There are a variety of peñas. Some have become a bit touristy, offering Andean music and dances and often inviting visitors to join in on stage. For more traditional peñas, head to Barranco and visit La Oficina and Don Porfirio. This a great entertainment option for an evening Lima, to add to any of our Peru tours.

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