Discover the colonial history, picturesque seaside, and bohemian culture of Lima with a speedy day in Peru’s capital city.
To the coast
Start the morning with the wind in your hair by renting a bicycle to ride along the Costa Verde. This seaside cliff is named for the abundance of vegetation that grows here and its main route, the Circuito de Playas passes a series of beaches along the Pacific Ocean. Given Lima’s warm climate, its beaches are open year-round so if the weather and your mood permits, take a rest at one of the sandy stretches dotted along the shore like Playa Dondo or Playa La Estrella. You might see a few paragliders here jumping off of the Costa Verde and soaring over the beaches as the area is a popular spot for adrenaline seekers. You might even be tempted to strap yourself into a parachute if you’re itching for a thrill.
Make your way to the city centre, stopping along the way at Sanguchería El Chinito for a butifarra — the classic Peruvian sandwich. El Chinito was started by the son of Chinese immigrants in the 1960s and their menu combines Peruvian classics with Asian flavours. When your stomach is full, head to the Iglesia de Santo Domingo. This basilica and convent, established in the 16th century, is home to beautiful works of art and craftsmanship like decorative tiles and coffered ceilings. Be sure to climb up the bell tower to get a beautiful birds-eye view of Lima. Then hop over to the Casa de Aliaga next door. Wander through the rooms of this mansion, built in 1535, to take in its historical relics and works of art from Lima’s colonial past.
Mira, Mira on the coast
Make your way to the posh district of Miraflores, where Lima’s elite spend their time. While there’s plenty of high-end shopping available in the district, including the oceanfront Larcomar shopping mall, you can also head to the Mercado Indio for souvenirs like Peruvian textiles (alpaca scarves and hats) along with ceramics and jewellery at affordable prices. Head to a rooftop bar (most are in hotels — try the Radisson, Belmond, or Hostel Kokopelli) to catch the sunset with a pisco sour in-hand — this tart, refreshing cocktail is Peru’s signature alcoholic beverage.
Barranco is known as the bohemian heart of the city where artists, musicians, and photographers make a living. It’s also a prime location to sample modern Peruvian cuisine which has recently become a worldwide dining trend. It combines local ingredients with diverse culinary influences — Amazonian, Japanese-Peruvian (Nikkei), Chinese-Peruvian (Chifa), and Creole. You can find the latter at Isolina which serves up Peruvian soul food (don’t miss the eco de carne — cilantro beef stew). Or head to Awicha for upscale Peruvian seafood. Dance off your dinner at El Dragón, known for its rotating roster of music from retro 80s tunes to electronic beats and live bands. Regardless of what’s playing, it’s known for being a nightlife hotspot in Lima.
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