One of our favourite South American cities, Lima is a great place for ambling around and enjoying the cafe culture. I always love a city with a coastline and beaches, and the ocean views you get here are just stunning.
We didn’t exactly race around trying to tick off all the main tourist attractions in our 3 days here. We met some friends and had a pretty relaxed time all in all before we all travelled on to different directions, but before parting ways we made an effort to check out some of the culture.
If you’ve got a few days in the city – most people end up here for a while on their travels as it’s a popular hub for international flights and buses in South America – here’s what you should try and see:
1: Larco Museum – this is a museum focusing on Peruvian history with an (in)famous ‘erotic gallery’ that showcases some very interesting ancient pottery. What’s really great about this place is that it doesn’t just focus on the Incas. Whilst they’re the most famous and well known Peruvian culture, they’re by no means the only one that it’s worth finding out more about. Peru has a rich history and many ancient civilisations with fascinating stories and this museum does a great job of communicating more about cultures such as the Nazca and Chimu. There are a lot of exhibits to enjoy – from traditional clothing to pottery, jewellery and even some trepanned skulls.
It’s a little out of the way if you’re staying in Miraflores, around 40 minutes or so in a taxi but well worth a visit. It’s also included on one of the routes on the open top bus tours run by Mirabus which might make it a bit easier to visit.
2: Historic City Centre – we were warned that this part of Lima can be quite dangerous, although we didn’t see too much evidence of it on our visit. Based on what we heard we decided to take a tour on an open top bus, something we haven’t done since Paris several years ago and always a great way to see the main highlights of a city in my opinion. Yes it’s a bit touristy and they can be pricey, but good for seeing the essentials and not walking miles. We paid around 70 soles / £17 for 3 hour tour that included a guided trip around the church and crypt. This was really interesting and definitely made the tour worth the money for us.
3: Miraflores & Barranco Districts – chances are you’ll end up staying in one of these districts, Miraflores in particular is host to many hostels and hotels, and it’s the safest area of the city. We wandered round at all times of the day and night and didn’t have any issues whatsoever – it feels very European with many big international brands and shopping malls such as Larcomar (worth a visit for cocktails and fab sunset views). In the evening there’s lots of bars and restaurants to enjoy, and Barranco is a popular district for going out, especially if you fancy a dance.
Both districts are located by the coast and we walked an hour or so between them along the coast line where there’s some great viewpoints. They make a great base for relaxing and seeing other areas of the city.
4: Beaches & Surfing – Sadly we didn’t get to try surfing, although we’re planning on taking some lessons in Oz if we have time. We heard from loads of people that Lima is an amazing destination for surfers worldwide, and it’s cheap and easy to turn up and take lessons. The beach stretches for miles with many easy waves suitable for beginners. The coastline is stunning, and wandering along the coast road admiring the beach views is a great way to spend a couple of hours.
The beaches in Lima are great and more than a match for Rio. Lots of spots to relax in the sun, and along the coastal paths there are plenty of parks and cafes where you can enjoy the views.
5: Magic Water Circuit – this is located in Parque de la Reserva which is a short taxi from Miraflores and is an awesome collection of fountains that are displayed nightly with accompanying lights and music. It’s probably one of the best things we did in the city and definitely one of the cheapest at only 4 soles / around £1. There are 3 shows per night at 7.15, 8.15 and 9.15 and many of the fountains are interactive – including one in the form of an illuminated archway that you can walk through. The park boasts 13 fountains in total, and the show is well worth seeing – the complex itself has made it into the world record books for the number of fountains in action.
6: Paddington Bear Statue – people may or may not be aware that Paddington bear came from ‘deepest darkest Peru’ in the original stories and it’s a fact that has been seized upon to promote strong diplomatic relations between the Brits and Peru! No visit to Lima is complete without searching out the stature that was gifted to the country by Britain to celebrate that relationship in 2015. It’s located on the coastal walk through Miraflores near the Larcomar shopping centre on the edge of Parque Salazar so not that hard to find – happy hunting!