Despite the fact that most trips to Peru and Machu Picchu begin and end in Lima, travelers often choose to bypass Peru’s capital city in favor of other Peruvian destinations. Yet veiled beneath the surface, this city of 10 million inhabitants features a variety of culinary, historical, and artistic jewels waiting to be uncovered.
Colonial History and Fine ArtDeemed “The City of Kings” during colonial times, Lima was once the capital of the Spanish colonial empire. The city’s former imperial prominence is evident at well-preserved historic sites, such as the Palace of Torre Tagle, the Monastery of San Francisco, and buildings throughout the colonial city center. Through the years, Lima has also developed one of Latin America’s most respected art scenes, ranging from pre-Columbian art exhibitions and colonial exhibits to photography museums and modern street art.
While the history and art scene is noteworthy, the culinary scene is even more impressive. If Cusco is the cultural capital of Peru, then Lima must be the culinary capital. With the cold Humboldt Current running along the coastline and a rich marine life, Lima is blessed with some of the best seafood in the world. The ceviche in Lima is out of this world and delicious local Peruvian restaurants abound. There seems to be an exquisite chino restaurant around every corner, and several of the top 50 restaurants in the world are located in Lima.
Lima Practical Information:
The city itself is extremely diverse, and the urban atmosphere varies greatly across districts. The Miraflores and Barranco Districts are particularly appealing to high-end travelers. Miraflores’ cliffside parks make for a beautiful sunset walk with incredible views of the Pacific. The nearby Barranco district has a bohemian, artsy atmosphere and is home to a variety of spunky coffee shops, clubs, and colonial buildings. The San Isidro business district has a more modern feel with a plethora of shopping opportunities for the trendy and fashionable traveler.
As with any major Latin American city, we do not advise wearing flashy clothes or jewelry when you’re walking around Lima. While we advise travelers to avoid walking around the colonial city center at night, there should be no problem walking around nice areas of the Barranco, Miraflores, or San Isidro district during evening hours. As far as transportation is concerned, we recommend setting up transfers privately rather than arranging public transportation.
There is a conveniently located airport hotel in Lima that is recognized as one of the nicest in South America year after year. For those arriving from an international flight late at night, a one-night stay here before flying to Cusco or elsewhere in Peru the following morning is advisable. This can also be a nice option for travelers that have a late-night or early-morning flight out from Lima and would like a place to relax, sleep, and catch up on work during their layover.
It is important to note that the airport is located in the Callao district, which is not the nicest area of town. We advise travelers with an overnight in Lima to either stay at the airport hotel or one of the nicer districts. It is not advisable to explore the area surrounding the airport during your layover. Bear in mind that traffic can be very bad in Lima, and traveling from the airport to the seaside Miraflores and Barranco districts can take anywhere from 45 minutes to more than an hour depending on traffic conditions.