We know for a fact that most people come to Peru to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco, it’s understandable. Thankfully, things are slowly changing, and tourists now tend to spend much more time in Lima and less frequented regions. Lima offers a great mix of things to do. Gastronomy (food tours!), museums, art, and shopping. There’s an activity for everyone. And here is our list of the best things to do in Lima.
Eat At A Top Restaurant
Lima is well-known for its food scene. And although most tourists don’t spend more than two days in the Peruvian capital, foodies would certainly find enough quality restaurants to spend at least for a couple of weeks without getting bored. The most obvious venues will be those of renowned chefs such as Central (Virgilio Martínez), Maido (Mitsuharu Tsumura), and Astrid & Gastón (Astrid Gutsche & Gastón Acurio). Still, there are plenty of other restaurants that are just as good: Barra Lima, Statera, or Mayta, for example, just to name a few. You can also check our guide to the best restaurants in Lima for more options that fit your taste and budget.
Price : from S/70 to S/900 per person, depending on the restaurant and what you order (shoot us an email if you need more help with that!)
Locations : Maido – Calle San Martin 399, Miraflores; Central – Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco; Astrid & Gastón – Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro; Barra Lima – Av. Los Conquistadores 904, San Isidro; Statera – Av. Mariscal La Mar 463, Miraflores; Mayta – Av. Mariscal La Mar 1285, Miraflores
Appreciate The Work Of Photographer Mario Testino
Ideal for those who enjoy fashion photography. Mario Testino’s work features hundreds of international stars, including Lady Diana and Kate Moss, who have their rooms in this museum. Testino, one of the very best in his field, has worked for prestigious brands and magazines such as Versace, Burberry, Gucci, Vogue, GQ, and Vanity Fair, just to name a few. This small museum is located in an elegant casona.
Price : S/25 for tourists; S/10 for residents
Location : Av. Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco
Connect With The Lima Civilization At Huaca Pucllana
This pre-Inca pyramid built with adobe and clay is one of Lima’s most iconic landmarks. Located in Miraflores, surrounded by residential buildings and a modern private clinic, Huaca Pucllana is definitely a place to visit for history and architecture nerds. The site is said to have been used as a spiritual and administrative center by the Lima culture (100-600 B.C.). If you’d like to visit the highest section of the pyramid, you will need to visit Huaca Pucllana during the day. But the nocturne visit (only available Wednesday through Sunday, 7-10 pm) offers a slightly more mystical atmosphere thanks to the artificial lighting. And if you are around for lunch or dinner, the best steakhouse in Lima, Carnal, is just around the corner.
Price : S/15
Location : Calle General Borgoño, Block 8, Miraflores
Introduce yourself to paragliding
Paragliding in Lima is quite famous. When preparing your trip, you most certainly came through several pictures of the Costa Verde – Lima’s oceanfront – featuring a few paragliders. The “jump” most commonly departs right next to La Marina Lighthouse in Miraflores. There are other less crowded and cheaper locations further up the coast in Magdalena and San Miguel districts.
Price : S/250 approx.
Location : Malecón Cisneros 18, Miraflores (Marina Lighthouse)
Stroll Along The Pacific Ocean On The Malecón
If your nerves don’t tolerate paragliding, then don’t worry since you can still enjoy the beautifulness of Lima’s Costa Verde from the ground. You could start in Malecón Saenz Peña in Barranco right after taking a food tour (see below), visit the Dédalo art gallery first, and then start your walk along the coast until you reach Larcomar. In this modern shopping center, you can find shops and souvenirs of all sorts or just sit for a drink. Afterward, your next stop should be Parque del Amor, a cute park whose design was largely inspired by Barcelona’s Park Güell. You will then reach the Marina Lighthouse, an excellent spot for photos. Although most tourists stop here and simply go back on foot, we recommend that you continue and walk through the multiple parks ahead, until you reach Maria Reiche Park. Why? Because the view on the Pacific Ocean is beautiful, and it gets less crowded and peaceful as you advance. You can end your walk with a sweet or salty treat in one of Avenida La Mar’s many restaurants and cafés before you go back to your hotel or apartment.
Take A Food Tour
As the culinary capital of Latin America, Lima is definitely a city where you will want to take a food tour. Not only to eat delicious treats but also to understand better how Peru became a foodie mecca over the last decade. That being said, you will learn most dishes are way older and can be traced back to past wars, migrations as well as ancient civilizations. You could take part in our Barranco food tour, which features Peru’s most typical dishes. Or a night tour in the Historic Centre of Lima to visit old taverns and taste Peruvian street food, or if you want something fancier, we have a gourmet tour that, without a doubt, will blow your mind. We have plenty of other options and would also be happy to design something fully adapted to your needs.
Prices : from $39 to $179
Location : it depends on the tour you select, and we can arrange to pick up and drop off anywhere in the city!
Discover Pre-Inca And Inca History At Museo Larco
Just like the Night at the Museum movie, the Larco Museum is the place where history comes to life. This beautiful 18th-century viceroyalty mansion surrounded by colorful gardens holds a collection of 5000 years of history about multiple Andean civilizations – not only the Incas. You will be able to discover art and history through photos, textiles, pottery, and jewelry. Make sure you ask for the museum’s guides if you want to turn this simple visit into an experience.
Price : S/35
Location : Av. Simón Bolivar 1515, Pueblo Libre
Go To A Local Market
A local market is also a great way to feel the vibe of a city and its residents anywhere around the world. In Lima, each district has at least one market. While the most advertised among tourists is the one located in Surquillo called Mercado N.1 de Surquillo, just a walk away from most Miraflores hotels, it is not the one we recommend the most. Sure, it’s a reasonably good market, and of course, the easiest to access for most tourists. But if you want to take your market experience to the next level, then you will want to consider Mercado Central and Mercado de Magdalena. The former is basically Lima’s biggest market, located just 15 minutes away on foot from the Plaza de Armas. We actually pay a visit during one of our food tours! The latter is in Magdalena district, where tourists usually don’t go, unfortunately. Well-sized, diversified, clean, and with great on-the-go lunch options – our favorite, basically.
Familiarize Yourself To Natural Wines And Artisanal Cheeses
Even though Peru is not the most famous destination when it comes to wines and cheeses, we highly recommend that you take some time to familiarize yourself with the exquisite artisanal products the Andean country has to offer. While cow and goat cheeses are most common, you will also find a variety of sheep cheese from the Junín region that could be compared with Manchego cheese in some ways. In terms of wines, most come from the Ica region and are made with grapes commonly used for Pisco. All types of wines can be found in Peru, including orange, natural, and biodynamic wines.
Wander Around The Historic Centre Of Lima
Also known as Plaza Mayor, Lima’s main square should be at the very top of your to-do list. Surrounded by architecturally impressive and history-rich buildings, the Plaza will take you back to 1535 when conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded Lima. From the square, you will be able to see and photograph the Government Palace, the Municipal Palace and the majestuous Cathedral of Lima. Nearby, you will also find numerous historical buildings such as the Basílica and Convent of San Francisco, the Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced, and Casa de Aliaga. If you feel like walking a bit, you could take Jirón de la Unión (perfect for a people-watching session) until you reach Plaza San Martín. If you are into art, you could continue to the Lima Art Museum (MALI). FYI, we cover most of these areas in our Street Food & Old Taverns food tour.
Watch A Spectacular Water And Lights Show
Not sure what to do after the Lima Art Museum? Well, you are only five minutes away by taxi from the Magic Water Circuit! Composed of thirteen illuminated fountains. The Magic Water Circuit actually made it to the Guinness Book of World Records back in 2007 as the world’s largest water fountain complex in a public park. With three shows a day (7:15 pm; 8:15 pm; 9:30 pm), it is one of Lima’s most visited attractions. The show makes use of colorful lights and water in a quite spectacular way, which most often makes happy guests of all ages. Lima similarly built on a desert like Cairo (Egypt), the complex takes advantage of the situation to sensibilize visitors about several water-related issues.
Price : S/4
Location : Parque de la Reserva, Door 5, Av. Petit Thouars, Cercado de Lima
Have A Drink At One Of The Best Bars In The World
Did you know Lima is home to the 13th best bar in the world? Carnaval, located in the heart of San Isidro district, will undoubtedly blow your mind. Although you will find exceptionally well-executed classic cocktails led by bartender Alonso Palomino, make sure you take a look at their Alquimia menú, which consists of more creative options you won’t find anywhere else. Peruvian ingredients are widely used, and the “glasses” in which the cocktails are served are part of the show. Yes, Head Bartender Aaron Diaz and his team definitely put on a show. Don’t forget to ask for a trip to the ice room before you go.
Price : S/40-65 per cocktail
Location : Av. Pardo y Aliaga 662, San Isidro
Become A Chocolate And Coffee Expert
Peru is the second-largest organic cacao producer in the world and holds the same position when it comes to organic coffee. In addition to that, several Peruvian chocolate and coffee makers won international awards with their bars and beans. That’s why you can’t leave Peru without visiting El Cacaotal, where Amanda and Felipe will welcome you into their world. There, you will have the opportunity to learn more about all the work and efforts behind cacao and coffee production, while tasting chocolate and coffee from all around the country. You will, for example, learn that a chocolate bar from Piura won’t taste the same as a chocolate bar from Cusco made with chuncho cacao. This will offer you a chance to find out which type of chocolate is best for your palate, yes, just like wine!
Prices : S/20 on average per chocolate bar; S/6 per cup of coffee – free samples available
Location : El Cacaotal – Jr. Colina 128 A, Barranco
Delve Into Jade Rivera’s Urban World
Jade Rivera is one of Peru’s most famous urban artists. If you wander around Barranco, you will certainly notice his paintings, which quite often feature a child and a bird. Jade tends to represent the connection of humans with nature and never explains what his paintings are all about as he likes his visitors to come to their conclusions. In Barranco, apart from enjoying his art by simply walking around, make sure that you stop at his museum. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn more about his tools and the process behind his creations, any why not buy some art. Plus, the museum has a really cool café for breakfast and lunch.
Price : S/15 for tourists; S/10 for residents
Location : Jr. Cajamarca 202, Barranco
Venture Off The Beaten Path In Callao
Sadly, Callao is feared by many locals due to high crime rates. Despite being historically-rich, this reality has definitely been a significant factor in slowing the area’s progress into becoming a major Lima tourist destination. That being said, the La Punta area can safely be accessed during the day with a trusted operator. By the way, Callao is not technically part of Lima. It’s a separate province, home to “Lima’s” international airport and Peru’s most important port. It’s also where trips to Islas Palominos leave from. The 3-hour tour to Islas Palominos is an excellent alternative to Islas Ballestas in Paracas if you don’t have the time to go south. After having lunch in Cabos, head to the Real Felipe Fortress, which was built to defend Callao’s port from pirates during colonial times. Finally, end your trip to Callao with a visit to the colorful Monumental area filled with old Casonas, restaurants, urban art, and art galleries.
Price : Islas Palominos S/170; Real Felipe Fortress S/10
Location : Jorge Chávez 120, La Punta, Callao
Learn How To Cook Peru’s Most Emblematic Dishes
Eating good food is not the same as being able to prepare it. Apart from food tours, we can offer cooking classes, during which you will learn how to prepare ceviche, lomo saltado, causa rellena, pisco sour, and suspiro a la limeña with an expert chef graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. And if you want to prepare other dishes, that’s also possible. We even have vegetarian and vegan cooking class options. Just send us an email.
Price : $84
Location : depends on the chef – we will pick you up at your hotel!