Our city guide for Lima, Peru
Most people come to Peru to visit the Sacred Valley and ultimately Machu Picchu. However, if you are traveling through Peru the chances of you passing by this busy coastal capital city by plane or road are high. Lima, the second largest city in South America, has so much to offer every type of traveler – from backpackers to luxury holiday goers. The city center was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988. There are endless things to do in Lima, Peru.
Explore Pre-Incan ruins and discover the history of this ancient area. Visit an abundance of beautiful churches and eery catacombs. Sunbathe on the beaches or surf in the bright blue waters with great swells. Shop in modern malls or purchase handmade goods from local markets. Learn about Peruvian culture at the numerous museums scattered around the city center. Enjoy delicious Peruvian Cuisine in some of the worlds best restaurants. The ‘city of kings’ is a must-see modern metropolitan bustling with archeological sites, culture and activities. Before you pass through this wonderful city let us guide you through our list of best things to do in Lima, Peru.
Travel tips for Lima
- The city of Lima sits at 0-1,550m so you shouldn’t feel the effects of altitude sickness.
- Despite being located in a desert, the cool pacific ocean leads to lower temperatures than expected, because Lima is a coastal city. However, this doesn’t mean its cold by any standards! Pack for weather between 14°C – 29°C as it doesn’t tend to differ much outside this region. Summer runs from December to April and Winter is June to October.
- Like most global cities, Lima suffers from air pollution so if you are affected by pollution then wear a mask.
- Tap water is not safe to drink in most of Peru, therefore we recommend buying bottled water. Using reusable water bottles and recycling plastic is advised to decrease pollution.
- Most areas of Lima are very safe. However, it goes without saying for all big cities to keep your valuables well hidden, travel in taxies at night and be vigilant when using ATM’s.
How to get to Lima
- Fly: Lima has one main airport called Jorge Chavez International Airport. It is Peru’s largest airport and hosts large amounts of international flights. Lima has 5 other airports but this is the main airport for most flights. It is served by an abundance of taxis, private transfers and public buses making it easy to get to your hotel.
- National buses: There are easily accessible buses from all over Peru to Lima. It is worth remembering that Lima and a lot of other cities in Peru do not have one central bus station. Instead, you have to visit the individual bus companies. Some reliable companies include Cruz del Sur, Civa and Movil Tours.
- International buses: You can enter Peru by bus from Ecuador, Colombia and Chile. If traveling by bus through land borders, ensure to arrive with ample time in case it is busy.
Historical things to do in Lima
- Like most Catholic cities Lima is scattered with beautiful churches. The La Catedral de Lima originally built in 1551. This historical church has suffered from earthquake damage and has been rebuilt quite a few times. Monasterio de San Francisco is a bright yellow church famous for its catacombs which contain an estimated 70,000 remains.
- The beautiful square of Plaza de Armas is surrounded by many important buildings such as the Governor’s Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace.
- In the San Isidro district lies this seriously impressive archeological complex of Huaca Huallamarca. It is a pyramid that dates to before 200AD. A small onsite museum explains the pyramid along with housing some mummies from the site.
- Another pyramid but this one is located in the Miraflores area of central Lima. Huaca Pucllana is an impressive structure also dates back to before 200AD.
Modern things to do in Lima
- Museo de Arte: If you are a creative soul then visit this fine art museum which is housed in the Palacio de la Exposición. Guided tours are available on special exhibitions.
- Biking tours: Organised day tours around the different districts of the city, bikes included. The tours are usually 3 hours long or you can rent bikes and see the city by yourself.
- Other museums: Other interesting museums include Museo Larco hosting an impressive collection of ceramics and Museo de la Cultura Peruana showcasing Peruvian folk art.
Free things to do in Lima
- Museo de la Inquisición: A funny wax figure museum inside a beautiful colonial building, free tours available.
- Parque Kennedy: If you love animals then you’ll love this cat park in Miraflores. Inside this park lives around 100 cats. It is unknown why the cats, which have been there for around 20 years, are here. Some people think they were introduced by a local church as demousers! Some are friendly, some are feral and mainly sleep in the trees. A local charity now looks after them and sets up adoption programs for the friendlier cats.
- Surfing: Lima’s beaches are perfect for surfing, but are busy during the summer months. The best locations for surfing are Punta Hermosa and San Bartolo, located about an hour from the center but worth a trip.
- Miraflores: A beautiful modern area of the city, very popular with tourists and abundant with hostels and hotels. This area is not the cheapest to stay but is one of the safest.
- Central Lima: This area of Lima was once too dangerous to walk around in and stay as a tourist. In recent years the government has made a lot of effort to clean up the area and a lot of secure hostels are now available. It is also generally the cheapest area to find accommodation. Bolivar Hotel is also worth a visit or a stay if it’s in your budget, this historic hotel built in 1924 has housed many celebrities such as Orsen Welles, Mick Jagger and President Richard Nixon.
- Barranco: Another up and coming area of the city to stay, also safe but similar prices to Miraflores.
- AirBnB: Its always worth checking Airbnb when staying in a city, sometimes you can find whole apartments or bedrooms for very reasonable prices!