Many visitors to Peru prioritize their exploration time in Cusco and Machu Picchu, leaving undiscovered the best things to do in Lima. Peru’s coastal capital is a bustling city that’s deeply Peruvian– which means it is incredibly diverse and can be difficult to navigate for first-time visitors. A melting pot of flavors and cultures that derive from all regions of Peru, Lima is a city that is best explored using all five senses.
Let’s say you arrive in the evening for your Peru private tour with two nights in Lima before you fly onward to Cusco. How do you get the most out of your short stay in the metropolitan city? Our Kuoda travel experts have mapped out the top things to see, do and taste in Lima.
1. Savor A Top Ranked Dining Experience
Book a hotel in Miraflores or Barranco and you’ll be within walking distance of some of the best restaurants in the world.
Our travel experts can make restaurant reservations at your choice of world-class restaurants. In the charming Barranco district can be found a modern ode to Peruvian gastronomic heritage, Central. Ranked number 4 in the world and number 1 in Latin America, the restaurant of Chef Virgilio Martinez & Pía León offers a tasting menu that takes guests through the diverse ecosystems of Peru. It’s a trip to the jungle, highlands, and coast in one sitting!
A very distinct culinary proposal awaits in Miraflores at the Nikkei (a culinary style utilizing Japanese techniques and Peruvian ingredients) restaurant Maido. Ranked number 7 in the world and number 2 in Latin America, Maido offers a unique, 12-course tasting menu that tends to highlight the amazingly fresh seafood of Peru’s coast.
2. Shop At A Cliffside Mall
Start any day in Miraflores, one of the best shopping districts in Lima and one of the most popular with tourists. Luxury tours of the city are not complete without a few hours spent browsing the upscale mall, Larcomar. Fine alpaca knits and other pieces from national designers make this a great place to purchase a functional souvenir from your trip to Peru.
Built into the cliffside and perched above the sea, this shopping complex includes a movie theater and a large, open-air dining area. Of course, not much can compete with the fantastic ocean views, especially at sunset. This mall is a great jumping-off point to the next top thing to do in Lima, which is a walk on the malecón.
3. Stretch Your Legs On The Malecón
A paved pathway that snakes its way along the cliff sides of Lima, the malecón is an incredibly scenic way to tour some of the top districts while simultaneously exercising. While walking, biking, or jogging this path, one will pass clay tennis courts, various children’s parks, small snack shops, a skatepark, and countless grassy areas to lay out and stretch.
While here, consider a paraglide experience over the coastline of Lima for a bird’s-eye-view you are sure to remember for a lifetime.
4. Step Into The Past In Central Lima
Walk around the historic city center of Lima and imagine you’ve stepped back in time. Admire the fine colonial buildings lining the main plaza and venture into the haunting catacombs found underneath the San Francisco Monastery featuring a grand collection of eerie skulls.
Founded in 1535 with the help of Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro, Lima would remain an important political and economic hub for Spanish colonizers of South America until the mid-18th century. This chunk of Lima history, which includes the influence of the Catholic church, is evident to this day in the architecture and plazas of the historic center of Lima.
5. Be Bohemian In Barranco
Visit the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco, whose name literally means ravine. The deeply-cut banks of this ancient river are today filled with a colorful patchwork of bars and restaurants. Follow the path leading to the Pacific Ocean, passing under the landmark bridge, El Puente de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs). According to legend, inhaling fresh, salty air on this bridge alongside your partner is said to ensure eternal love.
By day, this district is a lovely area to stroll, sip on specialty coffee and browse concept stores and galleries. By night, enjoy a nightcap at one of Barranco’s lively bars or dance to tropical beats at a nightclub.
6. Spend Half A Day At Museo Larco
Head to the Larco Museum next, which showcases artifacts from many important pre-Columbian civilizations. Lima is home to a number of wonderful museums, but the Larco Museum is a particular stand-out. Check out its eye-catching displays of gold, jewelry, and erotic pottery. This is an opportunity to travel through 5,000 years of Peruvian history!
You can even eat lunch at the on-site restaurant, which offers traditional culinary delights with a modern twist on the museum’s beautiful, serene grounds.
7. Visit A Pre-Inca Pyramid
Dating back more than 1,800 years, Huaca Pucllana is an ancient Peruvian pyramid located in the heart of the bustling Miraflores district. Archaeologists believe that the construction of the huaca (meaning ‘sacredness’ in the native Quechua tongue) likely began around 200 AD and was impulsed by the Lima culture. Construction would continue for multiple centuries, at times under the rule of other Peruvian cultures such as the Wari.
Tour the pyramid, surrounding ramps and plazas, and the on-site museum. After your visit, break for lunch or dinner at Restaurant Huaca Pucllana, a restaurant built right in the middle of the pre-Incan archeological site. The restaurant offers unmatched views of the archaeological site and an elegant atmosphere.
8. Sample Exotic Fruit In The Surquillo Market
For an authentic taste of Lima, head to the Surquillo Market to pick up some ingredients for a cooking class or to simply taste some exotic flavors. Here you will find a mind-blowing array of produce from all corners of Peru. From the green scaly skin of chirimoya (custard apple) to purple potatoes and corn, curious foodies will delight in a trip to the Surquillo Market.
Neighboring Miraflores, the Surquillo Market is one of the largest and most popular district markets in Lima. It also has the most variety, including medicinal plants from the jungle and fresh fish from Lima’s coast.
Plan Your Trip To Peru With Kuoda
Contact a Kuoda travel designer to start planning your private Peru holiday. We’ll help you to discover Lima’s variety of diverse attractions in a 24-hour whirlwind, tailored to your interests. From cooking classes to scenic bike tours, we can design a Peru itinerary that includes the best of Lima!