Besides its amazing food, Lima is an extremely vibrant city with lots to offer to visitors who hail from all over the world. It doesn’t matter if you are a history buff, a foodie or an avid shopper (or a combination of everything) – there’s bound to be something in Lima that excites you! We spent a total of 9 days in Lima, and felt that we had so much left unexplored. If you are headed to this awesome city, here are some things that we think you should consider adding to your travel itinerary! 🙂
1. A visit to Barranco, Lima’s cultural district
Barranco is a district with a very unique flavour. Take a walking tour around Barranco and you will see beautiful murals adorning the walls of buildings and houses. What used to be a spillover district from neighbouring Chorillo, Barranco was where artists congregated, lived and started honing their craft. The district then slowly evolved into the artistic centre of Lima, and is now Lima’s most expensive neighbourhood.
While at Barranco, it is also common to spot many cafes dotting the sidewalks. One of the most popular cafes to visit is La Panetteria, a favourite breakfast haunt of locals. We tried their signature mango maracuya juice and cappucino, and shared a jamon queso sandwich (ham and cheese sandwich) and lomo (meat) empanada. The food was tasty and service was good, but the place was small and very crowded.
Address: Barranco, Av Grau 369, Cercado de Lima, Peru
A cheap alternative to indulging in the cafe culture of Barranco is to try one of its many local cereal breakfast stands, which serve a hot cup of cereal mix made of a variety of grains and milk. It is cheap, extremely tasty and very nutritious! You can choose the grains you want or ask for ‘especialidad‘, which refers to their specialty. We ordered the latter and absolutely loved it.
When walking around Barranco, try spotting the famous Bridge of Sighs, which got its name from couples standing on the bridge and sighing at the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. There is also a lovely Banos boardwalk that takes you along the coast of the Pacific, which makes for an easy and romantic stroll!
Another interesting place to visit is the site of the landing of the last train to the Andes, which has now turned into an eclectic art gallery. The view of the ocean from the train carriage was so beautiful – it bordered on inspirational.
A visit to Barranco easily takes up an entire day, but the district has lots to offer at night too. Pop into one of its endless bazaars, which house shops selling souvenirs, food, and even feature live bands and school choirs that perform for free! Different bazaars are held at various times of the year, but there is almost always at least one that is ongoing all year round.
2. Take a historic tour around Central Lima (City Hall)
City Hall (or Central Lima) teems with history and is a must-visit if you are interested to learn more about the city. Getting to City Hall is easy – take the Metropolitan (which is a “train” in the form of a bus) to Union Station. Tickets cost just 1.50 soles. We recommend signing up for the Free Walking Tour to get more information on Lima’s historical centre.
Central Lima’s main activity is concentrated about the Main Square and its surrounding buildings, like the Palace of the Government and the Main Cathedral. The buildings around the main square are decked in yellow owing to Spanish colonial influence. If you visit the square during the weekend, you will miss the office crowd and see areas around the square being cordoned off for various events such as a cycling race or colourful parade. We managed to witness a huge group of cholitas dancing to the beat of traditional Peruvian music to commemorate the Battle of Angamos! The atmosphere was very lively; we had the time of our lives.
Near the square, there is also a rock-like statue, which is actually the Statue of Tauli, the ‘father’ of the Incan civilisation (photo above, left). It is said that his remains and part of his house were used to create the statue, and the locals believe that if you place your hand on the statue, you can get some of Tauli’s ‘positive energy’.
3. Have Chifa at Chinatown
Lima is a foodie’s paradise, and Chinese food here has also earned a name for itself. In the 1600s, immigrants from Asia, most notably China and Japan, arrived on the shores of Peru and started to eke out a living here. The next wave of Chinese immigrants arrived in the late 1800s, and this is when Chinese cuisine started to flourish in Lima. Today, Lima is well known for its chifa (Peruvian Chinese cuisine), whose name evolved from the Chinese term ‘chifan’ (which means to have a meal). The chaufa (fried rice, which evolved from the Chinese term ‘chaufan’) is an especially popular dish in Peruvian Chinese cuisine. Today, the Peruvians consider chifa as part of their national cuisine, and it is common to find a non-Chinese chef cooking up a mean storm of chifa.
The best place to have chifa, in our opinion, is Chinatown, which is full of Chinese eateries selling dim sum, wanton noodles and chaufa. The place is also worth a visit for cheaper priced items if you would like to do some shopping. However, do note that it gets very crowded on weekends.
4. Shop at Centro Comercial Larcomar
This is a shopping centre located in the Miraflores district, and is very popular amongst locals and tourists. It houses a variety of local and international fashion brands and is home to many restaurants, most of which offer a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean. Y especially loved the Prune store, which sold the trendiest leather bags made in South America :p
Larcomar is especially crowded during sunset, and visitors will spend time at the sky deck watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. The view is exceptionally beautiful and the deck is a perfect place to unwind after a long day.
Address: Malecón de la Reserva 610, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Opening hours: 11AM to 10PM
5. Catch a traditional Peruvian Paso Horse and Dance Show
Peru is well-known for its Paso horses, which have a four-beat gait that make for an extremely comfortable ride. A visit to Peru wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the beauty of these horses! For this, we visited Hacienda Mamacona, which was located a 20 minute drive from the city centre.
Our visit started off with a performance by the gauchos on their horses, and we were given an extremely delicious welcome drink, complete with some fried fritters. The weather was perfect! The show was translated into English as well, and at the end of the session we had the chance to try riding the horses.
After the performance, we had a delicious buffet lunch at the dining area! The spread was super extensive and we ate… and ate.
After lunch, we roamed about the hacienda to take some photos. There were also blankets for us to just lie on the grass and snooze – perfect holiday activity!
Getting to the hacienda from Miraflores is most convenient by taxi. We should share a very unpleasant experience here, though – we were cheated by a taxi driver who refused to let us disembark when we had agreed on the price beforehand. Luckily, the owner of the hacienda came to our rescue. Anyway, taxi scams are quite common in Lima so it is advisable to get the driver to write out the amount he is charging you and keeping that as proof, in case of any dispute. We learnt to be wiser after the incident :p
Address: Alameda Mamacona s/n, Lima Lima 37, Peru
6. Eat fresh at the Mercado (Market)
The mercado is where locals go to for the freshest produce, including fruit, raw meat, vegetables and even flowers. In recent years, it has become a tourist attraction in itself. The market also houses several stalls selling cooked food and drinks for breakfast and lunch. These are extremely popular with the locals as they are affordable and tasty.
There is also a section dedicated to fresh ceviche! A word of caution, though, it is always good to do some research on recommended stalls as hygiene standards can be a little questionable. We recommend Cevicheria Alex, which is popular amongst locals and tourists for its fresh ceviche (and of course, good hygiene). 😉
Address: Jr. Santa Maria de los Angeles Mz. N1 Lote 07 Urb. San Diego San Martin de porres, Lima 36 Lima, Peru
The Kennedy Park is an extremely popular park situated in the heart of Miraflores. It is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, and within the park, there are street vendors selling all types of sweet snacks.
The park is a gathering point for locals who take part in the community salsa, and on Saturday mornings, mothers gather at the park to dance with their toddlers!
Artists also take to the park to display their works and craftsmen sell their handmade jewellery on the pavements.
The park is an excellent place to have a picnic and people-watch. There are loads of cats here though, so if you are afraid of cats (like Y is), you may want to take special note. :p
We hope this summarises Lima and entices you to make a trip to this beautiful city! Stay tuned for our next post on Ica and Huacachina – sand dune haven. 🙂
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