Known as the “City of Kings”, Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru.
As the seat of the Spanish rule for over 300 years, Lima is filled with history and packed with colonial architecture, archeological sites, and museums teeming with ancient artifacts from Peru’s past civilizations.
Did we mention ceviche? The city is scaling the lists as the culinary hot spot of Latin America. As you can see, Lima is so much more than just the main transit center to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Lima is a stop that is worth staying multiple days for. You will want to stay forever, but in case you can’t, we’ve come up with the perfect itinerary for you to see the sights and eat all the dishes. Here is what you can’t miss in the 48 hours you are in Lima.
We recommend starting today off in the center of Lima. To take advantage of an early opening, head over to Museo Larco. This museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from local Andean cultures including the Moche, Chavin, and Incas. If you are on your way – or just got back from – Machu Picchu, this collection provides valuable insight into the ancient cultures of Peru
OPTIONAL: If you are museum lover and have time leftover, try to include Museo de Arte de Lima and Museo Nacional de Arqueología in your itinerary for further exploration.
After your walk around the museum, you might be getting hungry. Luckily for you, Lima is bustling with incredible restaurants. If you want something different, you can head over to the world-renowned Chez Wong for a delectable ceviche lunch.
More on the pricey side, this restaurant was started and still run by Chef Javier Wong. As the only working chef in the restaurant, he serves you inspired ceviche dishes of his choosing (that means no menu and little choice). So, if you are dare devil with your food palate and have a bit of cash to spare, head that way!
Alternatively, if you are a bit tighter on your purse strings, then stay right where you are and try the Museo Larco Cafe which is known for their picturesque table setting, great food, and excellent service.
After lunch, head to the historic district of Lima to walk off your meal. Did we mention the historic district is a UNESCO world heritage sight? Plaza Bolivar is home to the Peruvian Parliament and several museums.
From Plaza Bolivar you can mosey around the historic district at your own pace. But don’t forget to look out (and up) for the wooden balconies of Lima. These balconies were built in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Spanish colonial rule. It’s said there are over 1600 of them!
One of the highlights of the historic district of Lima is the Basílica y Convento de San Francisco which holds frequent guided tours down into catacombs beneath the church. Over 25,000 bodies were buried here up until 1808, and the remains can still be seen during the tour. A bonus of the tour is visiting the Cathedral library which has impressive wooden carvings and holds over 25,000 volumes of books
If you enjoy spectacles, the Presidential Palace of Peru has a changing of the guards every day at 11:45am. This impressive building was established by Francisco Pizarro in 1535 and has been the residence of all Peruvian Presidents to date.
LocalAventura Tip: If you are in Lima on a Sunday, check out our City Center Bike Tour that takes you around all the highlights of the historic district. Alternatively you can take in these sites on a walking tour which includes a Peruvian lunch!
Don’t forget to walk by the Cathedral of Lima (and go inside if there is time) as you walk over to Gran Hotel Bolivar for their famous “Catedral Pisco”. You can’t go long without having a Pisco Sour in Peru, and Gran Hotel Bolivar makes the best on the block!
For dinner, we recommend heading down to Tzuku Restaurante Nikkei for a Japanese-Peruvian fusion meal that will have you flying back to Peru next week! Tzuku masters the Peruvian ceviche with a Japanese twist that will leave your mouth watering. Indulge in a desert here, too! You won’t be disappointed.
After an early start (or late – depending on how many Pisco Sours you enjoyed last night), we recommend grabbing a light breakfast and coffee at Estacion 329 in the popular Miraflores district. Peruvians don’t hold much value in breakfast, focusing more on lunch and dinner (hence why restaurants opening times average around noon).
After you’ve enjoyed your breakfast & coffee, head north to the infamous Huaca Pucllana. This can’t-miss attraction is an ancient clay pyramid dating back 450 A.D. It is comprised of 7 staggering platforms and made up of millions of adobe bricks. This pyramid pre-dates the Incan civilization and is one of the most important ancient monuments in Lima.
LocalAventura Tip: Enjoy the pyramids via our bike tour with local guides Beto and Arturo.
Now, it’s probably close to lunch time, so we recommend one of Lima’s notorious ceviche restaurants (who said you can only have ceviche once while in Peru?). La Mar is a cebicheria (a restaurant specializing in ceviche) and came in at #15 on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. There will likely be a line, but trust us, it’s worth the wait.
After lunch, a walk along the Miraflores Malecón is a must. This 6 mile boardwalk is set along the cliffs of Lima providing a phenomenal view of the Pacific ocean. You will pass through numerous parks that litter the boardwalk.Watch the parasailers run off the cliffs and into the air. If you are feeling adventurous, join a tandem glide for some amazing views of the city.
It’s best to walk south along the Malecón in the direction of Barranco. On the way you will run into the Larcomar shopping centre which provides an even more spectacular view, as the building is set into the cliffs.
OPTIONAL: Head to Kennedy park, home to over 100 stray cats. Fun fact: these cats are protected by the Municipality of Miraflores.
As you reach the end of the Miraflores Malecón, you will find yourselves in the Barranco district. This is a small neighborhood that is teeming with character and culture, filled with art, music, and great bars.
While in Barranco, feel free to grab a pick-me-up at some of the finest coffee shops in Peru. We recommend the La Bodega Verde for a coffee and snack in cozy indoor setting or enjoy the outdoor seating if weather permits. There are two locations, but we love the one in the main square of Barranco, which is a site in and of itself. If you are here on a weekend, check out the artisan fairs that set up shop in the square along with theatre performances and live music.
As you walk around this eccentric neighborhood, you might notice the bohemian feel, colorful buildings and street art on almost every block. Many of Lima’s best artists call this neighborhood home. If you are feeling up for it, art galleries are continuously popping in Barranco as well-known artist present their interpretation of traditional Peruvian culture for everyone to admire.
Also note, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) and MATE, some of Lima’s best museums, are nearby for you to visit. Don’t forget to look out for the incredible colonial mansions (many have been turned into boutique style bars) that used to house the cities elite!
Hungry yet? We have a few recommendations for dinner while in Barranco. If it’s before 6pm Sun-Wed (open till 11pm Thu-Sat), head over to the famous El Muelle for some traditional Peruvian delicacies. Don’t expect a fancy atmosphere or modern elements. This restaurant is all about the food. Locals flock here so be prepared for a wait. If that’s not your style, check out La Canta Rana just across the street. Both places serve excellent Ceviche. (when in Peru, right?)
After your meal, walk across the street (dependent on the restaurant you chose) and grab your final Pisco Sour at Ayahuasca, a boutique bar lounge set up inside one of the colonial mansions you probably saw during your walk!
Want something different than a Pisco Sour? Head over to a small micro-brewery with an English pub theme, called Brewpub Wicks or head over to Barranco Beer Company and enjoy your last night in Lima!