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Lima, founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, is a treasure trove of history with plenty on offer to satisfy every keen traveler’s appetite. Be it surfing, the colonial style architecture, nightlife, or world-class food, this Peruvian gem really does have something in store for everyone.
What’s more? With a climate that ranges from tropical lush to “freeze your face off” in the Andes, Lima also packs a whole lot of diversity between its sea-level elevation beaches and the 22,000+ foot top of the nation’s tallest mountain, Huascaran.
But first, before we touch on places you should visit and things you should do Lima, Peru, here are several interesting facts about the city.
- Lima is one of the only three locations in the world where Coca-Cola is not the leading soft drink in the world (India and Scotland also share this bragging right.) The most famous drink in the nation has always been Inca Kola, the neon yellow bubblegum-flavored beverage sold on every corner in the city.
- On New Year’s, Peruvians wear yellow. Different nations in South America have distinct colors they wear for luck during the New Year, and in Lima, Peru, that color is yellow.
- Dogs here wear clothing at all times. And not like simple sweaters on tiny dogs during winter (it never snows in Peru), but sundresses during sunny days and maybe little booties and a coat during cold days. Even some stray dogs have sweaters in the winter.
- A surprising huge percentage of artifacts in Museum Larco is sexual figures crafted by Incans.
- Graveyards in the nation are also party destination. I know, it sounds disrespectful, but it actually is a beautiful tradition. When family members visit graves of their deceased loved ones, they don’t just bring flowers. Most families also bring radio and coolers of beers to get drunk and dance into the night as they celebrate the life of the person they lost.
- The entire city was founded on the land of Taulichusco, the last chief of the Incas. When you visit, you’ll even see ruins in the garden of a manor compound right off Lima’s main square
- Lima is the second largest desert capital city in the world after Cairo in Egypt. The city is situated on a desert strip between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
- The city’s coastline extends more than 80 kilometers
- A third of the Nation’s population calls Lima home
- The city connects to the Peruvian highlands through a Central Highway that goes through a scenic countryside
With those interesting facts in mind, let us skip to the main section of the post and list things to do and best places you must check out when visiting Lima, Peru.
Join a free Lima walk tour
As you may know, the best way to truly enjoy a location is through the eyes of a native, and Lima is no exception. Join the city’s free walking tours and learn about the history and culture that resulted in the present-day Lima.
Tours depart every day from the Tourist Information center in Miraflores. These one-day tours will take you through the ancient center of Lima, where you’ll see the most famous spots in the city. Most importantly, the guide will explain, comprehensively, the history of each of those attractions.
Check out the Circuito Magico del Agua
Circuito Magico Del Agua is one of the most beautiful fountain parks I have ever seen in my life. It is a great place to visit during the day, but during the night, the site turns truly magical. The fountain lights up, resulting in a truly remarkable sight.
Picture by Ryan Somma
Take a brief Escape from Lima
Do you fancy discovering an exclusive desert oasis? Or would you like to check out the “Poor Man’s Galapagos in Peru” filled with penguins and sea lions? Then take a brief round trip from Lima to Huacachina and Paracas.
These trips take 1 to 3 days and are amazing ways to see and do a lot while relaxing on the all-year-round sunlight that exists south of Lima.
This district is, without a doubt, among the coolest destinations in Lima and the picture-perfect escape from Miraflores for several hours. Barranco boasts a booming art scene and a great historical architecture.
At night, the district transforms into the City’s party district with themed alternative bars and great restaurants for foreigners and Peruvians alike. While here, ensure you check out Puente de Los Suspiros. This bridge is situated in the main part of Barranco, where it connects two main streets. It is said that if you cross the bridge whilst holding your breath, your wishes will be granted.
Paraglide by the coast
Remember the 80+ Kilometers coastline we talked about earlier? Paragliding is the best way to have a bird’s eye view of the entire thing. It is not as scary as it sounds.
Paragliding by this coast is also the perfect day activity if you want to catch the urban buildings, ocean, and green areas of Lima’s coast with a 360° view.
Swim alongside Sea Lions at Palomino’s Island
Lima, Peru also has something for adventure and wildlife lovers. What better way to spend your vacation than by swimming with Humboldt penguins, spying birds, and sea lions? Palomino’s Islands are also home to large colonies of seabirds.
Located in Miraflores, Larcomar is a shopping center and arguably the most famous attraction travelers visit when in the city. This is the perfect place to spend your afternoons shopping for some amazing Souvenirs and Peruvian Gifts to carry home.
Explore the ancient Museo De Sitio Huaca Pucllana ruins
How often do you hear someone tell you they had a chance to explore a pyramid constructed around 400 AD? Not often, I presume. But when you visit Lima, you could be easily transported the past at the Huana Pucllana ruins, where tourists from all around the world immerse themselves in ancient civilizations.
Indulge in the city’s street food
Lima is, without a doubt, the unofficial gastronomical capital of South America. The Capital even boasts world-class chefs, such as Virgilio Martinez and Gaston Acurio. The first meal that is a “must try” in the city is Ceviche.
There are lots of traditional Peruvian Dishes to try, but no one can say they’ve had fun in Peru if they did not try some Ceviche in Lima.
In addition, you can enjoy the city’s cuisine at a bustling market, the fishing docks in Chorrillos, or at a fine dining restaurant at Miraflores. The options list is endless.
Surfers would be pleased to know Lima boasts some of the best waves in the world. Longboarders can head down to Playa Wakiki, whereas short boarders can check out Punta Roquitas with its punchy crossed up sections.
Both sites are only a short walk from Miraflores.
When it comes to perfect vacation destinations, it does not get much better than Lima, Peru. I hope this insightful Lima guide has prompted you to include the city in your “Must Visit” list.