While the city of Cusco captures the imagination of most international visitors with its ancient Inca charm, Lima, Peru’s capital, is a melting pot that brings together contemporary comforts with the city’s storied past. Colonial architecture and ancient ruins are oftentimes just blocks away from top restaurants, emerging galleries and top-tier hotels. This duality of lifestyle and activities is precisely what lends to some of the Lima highlights.
A large, coastal metropolis, Lima can be admittedly overwhelming for travelers which is why it is important to note the best things to do, see and eat prior to visiting. By considering the following Lima highlights chosen by the Kuoda travel team, you will see just how valuable it is to not base the capital off of its chaotic first impression.
– What To See & Do In Lima
In Lima, historic museums displaying pottery and other ancient artifacts are interspersed amid modern galleries exhibiting edgy, contemporary art. From hip Barranco to the historic center of Lima, there is a large variety of cultural options in this metropolitan capital.
One of the best museums in the city is the Museo Larco, which houses the most important archeological collection in the country. Located in Pueblo Libre, the renowned museum is often recognized for its cheeky collection of erotic ceramics and is also home to a large gold and silver collection from Ancient Peru. After viewing the collections, enjoy a coffee or perhaps a meal at the on-site restaurant overlooking lush gardens.
Tucked on an unassuming street in Miraflores, the Museo Amano is an important cultural center dedicated to the amazing history of pre-Columbian textiles. For over 50 years, this museum has remained in the family of its founder, Yoshitaro Amano, and continues his legacy of preserving such a vivid and vital part of Peru’s history.
Looking for a taste of contemporary artists? Head to Barranco, a favorite district amongst artists and creatives, to peruse the art on display in boutique shops and up-and-coming galleries such as Wu Galeria or Crisis Galeria. Of course, you can’t enter the neighborhood without passing the MAC (Museum of Contemporary Art) and it is worth stopping by to see what is currently on exhibit or even what public classes are being offered.
• Outdoor Activities
Located on Peru’s Pacific coast, the city offers beautiful views over the ocean from the lovely coastal pathway known as the malécon. Run, walk or even rent a bike to explore this paved route that is immensely popular with locals and tourists alike. Winding through numerous districts, the malécon is ideal for working up a sweat and taking in breathtaking views. There is even a cliffside mall, Larcomar, ideal for shopping or grabbing a bite to eat between activities.
The coastal location also makes Lima an excellent base for surfing, paddle boarding, paragliding, and other adventurous activities. If you are looking to dip your toes in the water, don’t expect the city’s section of the Pacific Ocean to be warm. Luckily, there are surfboard as well as wetsuit rentals stationed along the beach.
A paragliding experience will prove to be one of the most exhilarating travel memories you’ll have while in Lima. Though you will soar in the sky for less than 20 minutes, the birds-eye-view of Lima’s coastline is unforgettable.
Lima’s colorful historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with grand neo-classical influenced buildings. Don’t miss the Church of San Francisco, a fine example of 17th-century architecture. The church’s most famous attraction is its underground catacombs, which contain the remains of over 70,000 people.
The city’s outer suburbs reflect an even more ancient history, home to pre-Columbian pyramids dating back thousands of years, such as the Huaca Pucllana pre-Incan archeological site located in the heart of the modern neighborhood of Miraflores.
– Where To Eat In Lima
Undoubtedly the biggest draw for many international visitors is Lima’s food scene. Regularly ranked among the world’s top culinary destinations and a new favorite among food writers and foodies, Peru, and particularly Lima, is only now receiving what is long-overdue recognition for its culinary output.
Inspired by ingredients that have been part of the Peruvian diet since Inca times and weaving traditional dishes served in their childhood homes with innovative techniques, the current line-up of chefs in Peru are providing sensorial experiences.
Lima’s popular restaurant, Central, has been a mainstay in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking since it reached the number 4 spot in 2015. In the most recent edition, Chef Virgilio Martinez saw his flagship restaurant be named the best restaurant in Latin America. Celebrating his home nation’s biodiversity and culture, Martinez presents an impeccable tasting menu that is a feast for the eyes.
Ranked among the top 10 restaurants in the world, Maido is a fusion of Japanese techniques and Peruvian ingredients. The result? A unique cuisine known as Nikkei that Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura has come to master. The elegant restaurant is located in Miraflores and offers a tasting menu as well as sushi and makis a la carte.
A local darling that wows in terms of warm ambiance, large portions, and home-cooked flavors, Barranco’s Isolina will surely win over more than just your stomach. Less posh than the previously mentioned restaurants, Isolina aims to transport diners back to Chef José del Castillo’s childhood home. This is the best place to try comida criolla, such as cau cau (potato stew) and ossobuco stew.
– Where To Drink In Lima
While national dishes have been at the forefront of Peru’s culinary popularity, the drink scene deserves its own presence in the spotlight. A citrusy body built of freshly squeezed limón and a frothy finish thanks to blended egg white, the classic pisco sour is considered the national drink of Peru and is nearly a rite of passage for alcohol-inclined first-time visitors to Peru.
We recommend sipping on Peru’s iconic pisco sour in a legendary sweet spot like English Bar. Located inside the swanky Country Club Lima Hotel, English Bar has appealed to the local elite since the early 20th Century. Leather armchairs and wood-paneled walls invite you to step into a world of elegance that inspires you to indulge in a night out.
Meanwhile, Carnaval is a new stunner on the scene that forgoes the classics for inventive and at times surreal cocktails. Located in the posh district of San Isidro, Carnaval offers a tasting menu of seven house cocktails, all served in exquisite glassware and ceramics made with the specific drink in mind.
Last but not least, one of the best bars in Lima is Hotel B’s Rooftop Bar. Sip on sophisticated cocktails and munch on tapas as you gaze across Barranco, a favorite Lima neighborhood among Kuoda travelers. Getting there at sunset is ideal in order to catch an illuminated view of the Pacific Ocean.
– Where To Stay In Lima
The city offers a range of hotels catering to all kinds of budgets, from value to luxury. At Kuoda, we can help tailor your itinerary according to your financial needs and travel wants.
Private travel in Peru doesn’t get much better than the oceanfront Belmond Miraflores Park, with its rooftop swimming pool and lush spa. Located in Miraflores, the city’s main tourist district, you will be within walking distance of excellent shops, restaurants, and parks. It is set along a curve of the malécon (Lima’s coastal pathway) and a green park.
Hotel B in Barranco is a favorite among those with an eye for design and a taste for contemporary art. The boutique hotel is nestled among galleries, art shops, and hip cafes. Of course, the hotel’s own restaurant and bar are not to be overlooked. Part of the Relais & Chateaux family, Hotel B has just 23 suites making for an intimate setting with impeccable service.
Across town, in the swanky San Isidro district, the Country Club Lima Hotel has only gotten better with age. Spacious rooms overlooking a golf course, a luxurious lobby and public areas, outstanding options for onsite dining and wining, and hundreds of pieces from the Pedro de Osma Museum, this hotel has the ideal balance of old-world charm and modern comfort.
– Visiting Lima Highlights With Kuoda
Don’t let your first impressions of Lima deter you. Spend a day or two discovering the fantastic cultural offerings of Peru’s offbeat capital. Contact us and talk with one of our travel designers with any questions you might have about Lima, or to discuss other exciting potential destinations for your private Peru vacation.