Here are 6 things to do in Lima, Peru that you don’t want to miss, written by an expert in Lima Peru Tours.
Lima, Peru has garnered the nickname “The City of Kings,” and for good reason. In the 1530s, a fierce Spanish leader by the name of Francisco Pizarro, hot on the trail of El Dorado, sailed south from Mexico to the coast of Peru, where it was rumored that a people called the Incas drew gold from the land as if it were maize. Within a year, the conquistador Pizarro claimed the coastal town of Lima as his capital, from where Spanish viceroys established the Spanish New World.
Many travelers to Peru consider Lima merely a resting place on the way to see the real Peru travel destination, Cusco and Machu Picchu. But the capital of Peru is worth visiting, not only for its historical importance in colonial Peruvian history, but also for its lively nightlife, world-class Peruvian cuisine, verdant coastline, and much more.
#1 Visit the Plaza de Armas in the Historic District
Today, Pizarro’s tomb lies in the Lima Cathedral, and the heavy-handed influence of the Spanish colonial era is evident in the historic district of the city, called El Centro Historico. The Plaza de Armas, or the Main Square, is a lovely place to while away an afternoon, whether people-watching or witnessing the Changing of the Guard at the Palacio Gobierno, or Government Palace. The palace is decorated in a lavish French neo-baroque style, with wrought iron gating and ornate façade. Sit on the steps of the Cathedral and admire its soaring front doors, called La Portada de Perdon, or Doorway of Forgiveness.
#2 Drink a Pisco Sour in Plaza San Martin
From the Plaza de Armas, you can walk along Jr. de La Union Street towards Plaza San Martin. The Jr. de La Union street was once full of churches, elegant homes, and small shops, as evidenced by the ornate facades on the top level of the buildings. One of the most unique is the Casa Courret, decked in Art Nouveau style. But now there are large electronics and clothing stores and pollo restaurants – an interesting juxtaposition worth pondering while you browse the shops. In commemoration of the liberator, San Martin square boasts his statue in the center, built in the 1920s, and the white buildings surrounding the square a lit up beautifully at night. Head to Hotel Bolívar and order a Pisco Sour from this 20th century establishment that has earned the reputation of being both elegant and reliable when it comes to pouring a perfect Pisco. Peruvians have perfected the Pisco, a strong brandy mixed with lime, bitters, and an egg-white froth. No Lima Peru Tour would be complete without a taste of Peru’s national cocktail.
#3 Go Paragliding Over the Costa Verde
While you’re near the coast of Lima, you’re sure to see paragliders riding the drafts that come off the Pacific and hit the jutting cliff side. If you’re in for a spin, head to Larcomar, the shopping center and park in the most beautiful part of the Miraflores District. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the Larcomar when you see the glass-gilded JW Marriott Hotel looming overhead. Here many paragliders and guides take off, and you can ask for a guide to take you out over the Costa Verde for a fee. Soaring over the coastline, you’ll view Lima from it’s most beautiful angle – the sea and sky. Admire the size of the capital – a sprawling metropolis now with a population over 9 million – and wave hello to the shoppers and diners in the Larcomar shopping center.
#4 Dine in the Huaca Pucllana Restaurant and see the Ruins
Well before the time of the Incas, an ancient people called the Lima gave the land it’s name, and built large huacas, or temples, throughout the region. Some of these huacas are still visible and the Huaca Pucllana is one of the most impressive. Located in the Miraflores District, the sandy dirt and adobe bricks of this pre-Inca temple are surrounded on all sides by suburban homes. Browse through the ruins, which most notably are made up of bricks laid vertically rather than horizontally. After dark, the ruins are lit up beautifully and the adjacent 5 star restaurant enjoys a direct view of the ruins. Dine on aji de gallina, a Peruvian specialty, or a number of other delectable dishes, while gazing out at the centuries-old adobe bricks.
#5 See the Well of Souls at the Monastery of San Francisco
Although photography inside the monastery and subterranean catacombs is prohibited, occasionally a brave soul will sneak a photo or two of the impressive “Well of Souls,” a geometric arrangement of femurs and skulls inside the catacombs. The San Francisco Monastery is located near the Plaza de Armas, and is worth visiting even if this is the only church you see while in Lima. Founded by Emperor Charles V and Pizarro, this baroque-style church painted in canary yellow is often lined with pigeons, who roost among the concave ridges in the façade. Inside, the monk’s library contains thousands of books dating from the conquest and even before the colonial era, and makes up one of the most impressive library collections in the Americas.
#6 Visit the Second Home of Victor Delfin and Parke del Amor
The Peruvian sculptor and artist Victor Delfin has produced many works of art that have placed modern Peruvian art on the international art scene. Perhaps most notable of his works is the Parke del Amor, or Park of Love, located just north of Larcomar. You can walk from Larcomar along the Malecon, a walkway that follows the Costa Verde. At Parke del Amor, you can enjoy the sunset, read the quotes of Spanish love poems printed on colorful mosaics, and gaze upon the larger than life statue of lovers in a passionate embrace. Delfin owns a bed and breakfast called The Second Home, which is also located on the coast, just south of Miraflores in the Barranco District. He occasionally uses this seaside home as an art studio, and often times the B&B is open for tours of his work scattered about the property.