Lima flows from inner-city Latin flair to flashy seaside suburbs overlooking the Pacific. Peru’s capital embodies the classically chaotic charm of Latin America, yet its pioneering art and culinary scene are carving out its own reputation as a must-visit. You could spend months weaving through its grand avenues, quaint barrios and leafy colonial squares. However, is Lima worth visiting if you only have one day to spend? The short answer: definitely. In fact, earlier this year it made our list of the top five South American cities.
Take a look at our tips on spending one day in Lima.
One day in Lima
1. Plaza de Armas
Also known as Plaza Mayor, this is where Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded Lima. In 1535, King Charles I of Spain ordered that the city was centred on a square-shaped plaza, and it’s still here today. Steeped in important historical landmarks, which include the Lima Cathedral and the mesmerising Government Palace, a relaxing stroll through here is one of the best things to do in Lima.
The grand cathedral is stunning from outside, yet its exterior is even more impressive – and the best part: It’s free to enter. However, If you fancy seeing the array of religious art that dorn its inner walls, you’ll have to part with 10 soles (around 3 US dollars). The Government Palace is also free to enter. We suggest visiting at noon to watch the crashing cymbals of flamboyantly dressed soldiers performing the changing of the guard.
2. Grab a Ceviche
For an authentically delicious helping of Peru’s national dish head to the Canta Rana in Barranco. Located in an old Casona (mansion), this exquisite restaurant is famed for its exceptional ceviche. Enjoy this piquant delight while smartly dressed waiters zigzag through walls clad in football memorabilia. The word bizarre doesn’t do it justice, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.
Keep in mind that this charming eatery is only open in the day and fills up super quick, so arrive early to ensure you get a table.
3. Stroll around Barranco
After filling up on ceviche, meander through Barranco for leafy squares, vibrant street art and quirky bars. This barrio is one of the coolest and best places to visit in Lima. One of its landmarks is the Puente de Los Suspiros (the bridge of sighs). This bridge connects two main streets in the heart of this neighbourhood; it is said that if you can cross the bridge while holding your breath, your wishes will come true. When night falls, Barranco transforms from a laid-back haven into Lima’s party district. Visit any one of its lively bars to grab a delightfully strong pisco sour to let your hair down with the locals.
4. MATE Museum
Another treat that lies in Barranco is the MATE museum. This culture vulture hotspot is the only museum in the world that has a permanent exhibition of the works of Mario Testino. After spending 35 years living abroad, the photographer decided to return to his home city to set up this intriguing gallery. Venture inside to marvel at intimate portraits of the late Princess Diana, Miley Cyrus, The Rolling Stones and many more. Alongside this permanent collection, it also hosts a range of exhibitions from up-and-coming artists.
5. Visit the Pyramids of Huaca Pucllana
Retrace the steps of pre-Inca civilizations with a visit to Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores. These ancient ruins provide a fascinating insight into life in ancient Lima. There is also a world-class restaurant here that serves its own exquisite take on dishes from every corner of Peru. Head here at night to dine with illuminated views of these grand pyramids.
6. Hit the beach
Although the beaches in Lima are nowhere near the best in Peru, a few hours on the beach will give you a taste of Peru’s leisurely side. Of course, the usual beach activities are on offer such as surfing, paddleboarding, snorkelling etc. But, if you’re feeling adventurous, take to the skies and paraglide along its coastline for breathtaking 360 panoramic views and a generous shot of adrenaline. Fancy something more chilled? Then simply grab a beer, melt into a sun lounger and watch the sun sink into the Pacific – not a bad way to end your day in Lima.
When is the best time to visit Lima?
Try visiting Lima from Autumn to May for mild and dry weather. Keep in mind, however, that the pleasant climate makes this time of year most popular with tourists. Winter (June to August) is again a bit cooler, but still dry; in fact, Lima is one of the driest cities in the world so there isn’t much threat of rain all year round. Plan your trip in winter to experience an array of vibrant festivals, such as Peruvian Independence Day on July 28th.
Ready to sample the best attractions in Lima? Then check our exciting range of package tours to Peru.