If you’re visiting Peru from abroad, you’ll surely be landing in Lima’s International Airport first, so why don’t you take a day to experience a bit of the best things this huge capital has to offer. Although some travelers tend to overlook this city during their adventure to Peru, here we’ll tell you why you should consider giving it a try.
Lima is the most important city of the country since it gathers a lot of pre-Columbian, colonial and contemporary history that you definitely can’t miss. Besides, the city isn’t called the Gastronomical Capital of Latin America for nothing since here you’ll be able to experience the best of our culinary art.
This bustling and busy city isn’t as chaotic as many travelers have described it, there are really unique places that you’d be glad to read about before jumping to other cities and regions. However, as massive as the Peruvian capital can be, here we have summarized everything you can do in just one day!
We believe that the best way to travel is getting immersed in the cultural expression and history of the places we visit, which is why we’d love to give you a glimpse at the unmissable attractions of Lima so you can plan your trip according to your interests.
1. Explore the Historic Center of Lima
Although Lima’s history didn’t begin in the Colonial era, it definitely was one of the most important periods in our country. The city’s old town gathers over 600 historical monuments, where towering religious and colonial buildings still remain in the very heart of Lima.
This is the main thing to do there, a place full of vibrant colors and authentic architecture that will surely leave you enchanted. As you may know, this part of the city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, which is why many structures have kept their original characteristics and details. If you’re eager to experience Lima in just 1 day, here are a few attractions that you simply can’t miss:
- Plaza Mayor: Lima’s Main Square
Every colonial city was organized on a grid parting from the central plaza, which allowed the city to expand uniformly around it. The colonial Lima was organized like a chessboard with perfectly squared blocks.
As in most colonial centers in Peru, the Plaza Mayor is surrounded by the principal guvernamental and religious buildings, such as the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, the Municipal Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima and the Union Palace.
- Basilica and Convent of San Francisco
Most of the main attractions in the historic center are located within a walking distance from Plaza Mayor. The Basilica and Convent of San Francisco is one of the most significant religious monuments of the old town.
It holds an authentic historical and artistic patrimony, where beautifully decorated rooms, one of the oldest libraries of the Americas and the catacombs, make it the best tourist attraction to visit in Lima.
- Jirón de la Unión
Make your way through the historic center and visit one of the most picturesque pedestrian walkways in Lima. Jirón de la Unión is a commercial street that gathers some of the most important restaurants and shops in the area.
Also, the architecture here will leave you spellbound to their uniqueness, where thoughtfully carved balconies and colorful colonial buildings will give you the perfect photo opportunity for an instagram post.
There’s so much to know in the Historic Center of Lima that you should consider if a day would be enough for you. Otherwise, if you’re eager to visit these attractions only it would give you time to experience more of our country’s capital.
2. Discover the Huaca Pucllana
As we mentioned earlier the Lima region was already inhabited long before the Spaniards invaded their lands. The Huaca Pucllana, an important ceremonial, administrative and residential center, represents one of the biggest pre-Inca settlements of the region.
The ancient construction is located right at the heart of the upscale Miraflores district, a neighborhood with a great touristic infrastructure. For those looking to experience a bit of ancient Peru, this is the way to go.
Huaca Pucllana was built by the Lima culture, which developed between 200 and 700 A.D. The site comprises a truncated pyramid of 25 meters of height, a group of courtyards, plazas and precincts, all of them constructed with adobe bricks filled with pebbles and sand.
The site has been adapted to tourism, so visitors can have a broader understanding of the customs and ceremonies carried out in this massive construction.
The archeological complex also holds a museum where the archeological findings of the site are exhibited; a native flora and fauna park, where they show how the Lima culture managed to cultivate different types of plant species; and a famous restaurant that offers exquisite Peruvian dishes.
3. Sample the best of Peruvian Gastronomy
Just in case we haven’t mentioned this enough, Lima is the perfect place to try the best of Peruvian cuisine. The so-called Gastronomic Capital of Latin America holds an extensive list of famous restaurants belonging to The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list.
Therefore, if sampling the most delicious Peruvian dishes is one of the main goals of your trip, you must not leave Lima behind. Our gastronomy is as extensive as our history and each dish comprises a mixture of cultures and exotic flavors from all around the country.
The culinary art of Peru comes from the ancient cultures and foreign influences that marked our country, as well as the ones that are currently living here. Our cuisine has European, African and Asian influences, which combined resulted in a total delight.
If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Lima, here we have listed three restaurants that you should visit if visiting Miraflores or Barranco:
- Maido Restaurant
This is the 10th best restaurant in the world, characterized for harmonizing the exotic flavors of Peru with the complexity of the Japanese cuisine. The Maido restaurant offers a Nikkei gastronomic experience, prepared by the very hands of the renowned Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura.
Address: Calle San Martin 399, Miraflores, Lima.
- Central Restaurant
Undoubtedly, the Peruvian cuisine is known worldwide and you surely have heard of the most skilled and innovative chefs of our country. That is the case of Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon, two chefs that gave a turn to our gastronomy with exotic and unique flavors of the amazon. The Restaurante Central is the 6th Best Restaurant in the World, a fine dining experience that you cannot miss in Peru!
Address: Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco, Lima.
- Punto Azul
For those looking for the best ceviche in town, Punto Azul could be the best option! The renowned restaurant started with a small establishment in 1992, which due to its authentic flavor grew exponentially and eventually became one of the best seafood restaurants in Lima. If you’re looking to experience the best of the coastal cuisine, this is the right place to go.
Address: Calle San Martín 595, Miraflores, Lima.
These are just a few of the many restaurant options in Lima. However, some institutions and restaurants offer a more intimate way to experience the Peruvian Gastronomy.
Keep in mind that if you wish to learn how to cook one or two typical dishes of Peru, then you must join a cooking lesson in Lima to do so!
4. Stroll around the Miraflores District
Most travelers visiting Lima stay in the upscale Miraflores district since it gathers the best hotels and hostels in Lima. This beautiful neighborhood is a shopping and tourist hub, with many shopping centers, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and touristic activities.
Either you’re staying in Miraflores or not, you should definitely give yourself some time to explore and get to know the best attractions there:
- Kennedy Park
Also known as Miraflores Central Park, it is located in the heart of the district and has an extension of 22,000 m2. The beautiful square is surrounded by the main restaurants, shopping centers, and top hotels in Lima.
The Parque Kennedy is recognized for sheltering hundreds of stray cats which are taken care of by the Municipality of Miraflores and some non-profit foundations. Likewise, the famous Central Park offers recreational spaces for local artists, musicians, and many other activities.
- Miraflores Boardwalk
It is located at the edge of the coastal cliff in Miraflores, granting outstanding views of the Pacific ocean and its surroundings. Also known as Malecón de Miraflores, it is an esplanade of over 5 kilometers long, which comprehends several parks on Lima’s coastal side.
- Indian Market
If you’re looking for a varied and big artisan market in Lima, then you should definitely visit the Indian Market in Miraflores. Located in Petit Thouars Avenue lies one of the biggest local markets where you can buy cheap souvenirs of your trip.
The market holds a great variety of artisan crafts and clothing. However, it is worth mentioning that if you’re looking for alpaca sweaters, it is advisable to do so in the city of Cusco since there’s a more considerable price range and better quality products.
There’s so much more to know of Miraflores, and these are just a few of the many places to visit in this touristic district. If you’re eager to visit many other places in the capital of Peru, make sure to check our Lima travel guide.
5. Experience Barranco’s Nightlife
Barranco houses some of the trendiest bars and resto bars in Lima, where you can easily sample international drinks or even the Peruvian flag drink Pisco Sour.
There are many places that offer different nightlife experiences according to your interests. From gin bars to beer companies, you’ll be grateful you visited the bohemian district. Here are a few recommendations for you:
- La Noche de Barranco
Right at the heart of the Bohemian District of Lima, lies a characteristic bar full of magic and cultural expression. La Noche de Barranco was founded almost 24 years ago and has been open ever since, captivating their clients with live music every evening and an extensive selection of Peruvian and international cocktails.
Address: Sanchez Carrion 199, Barranco, Lima.
- Ayahuasca Restobar
It is certainly a one-of-a-kind setting located in a restored colonial mansion built between 1875 and 1895. The Ayahuasca Restobar offers an avant-garde atmosphere with a great selection of drinks and dishes.
The place is very popular among local and foreign tourists which is why it tends to be booked out quickly. If you’re analyzing a few lima nightlife blogs, you’ll realize that this one is included in almost every one of them.
Address: Av San Martin 130, Barranco, Lima.
- DaDa Bar
If you’re looking for a more artistic and cultural oriented experience, the DaDa Bar is the most suitable option for you. The establishment is located within an remodeled colonial mansion composed of several indoor and outdoor rooms, decorated with the artistic expression of the region. Likewise, the quality of the service is great, which is complemented with their wide range of drinks.
Address: Av. San Martin 154, Barranco, Lima.
Lima is definitely a destination that you shouldn’t overlook while traveling to Peru. If you’re considering visiting our beautiful capital, we have the perfect travel itinerary including Lima, make sure to check it while you’re here.
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