When visiting Peru, most people head to discover the mysteries tucked away in the majestic mountains or get an up-close look of the abundant wildlife and lush landscape of the Amazon. This leaves Lima as more of a layover destination. However, there is plenty do and see in Lima, and the capital city has a lot to offer that you should take the time to experience if you find yourself here.
Matt and I spent over four months in Peru, using Lima as a home base for our South American travels. We did a fair bit of wandering around the city, so without further ado, here are six of our favorite things to do in Lima.
1. Admire the Street Art
Many of Lima’s streets are adorned with colorful creations that brighten the walls of various parts of the city. We particularly enjoyed walking around to see the street art in Callao and Barranco. One piece of art flows into another, filling the streets and parks with lively images.
In Barranco, most of the art can be found near the Plaza de Armas where there are also many shops, restaurants, bars, parks, and more. To see the art in Callao, it is best to make a day of it, visiting the many free art galleries and making a stop at La Punta for some time at the beach.
Many of these pieces were done as a project to enhance the beauty of the city, and walking around amongst the art is a great way to see the area. And, for those on a budget, this is also one of the free things to do in Lima!
2. Enjoy the Many Parks
Despite Lima being a massive city, there is plenty of green to be found within its many parks. Some are large and central, while others lie tucked away in the residential areas. Each district takes caring for these parks to another extreme. There is always somebody sweeping up leaves, planting flowers, trimming trees, and doing other tasks to keep the parks in pristine condition.
On Sundays, the road is closed off around Parque Kennedy in Miraflores for free public dance classes, roller blading, art exhibits, festivals, and more. If you are staying in Lima and want to get some exercise, many of the parks also have exercise stations set up and are a great place for a run.
If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of daily life, head to one of the local markets. Here you will see an abundance of fruit and Peruvian veggies, various meats, food stalls, and household items for sale. Some markets, such as the local Surquillo market, set up food stands and extra booths on Sundays. You can buy local products and satisfy your taste buds with some tasty local food.
If you are looking more for art, souvenirs, and alpaca items, head to the crafts markets, such as the Inca Market, Indian Market, Cuzco Market, or others. Here you will find endless trinkets and other items for a great price. Make sure to brush up on your bargaining skills!
4. Visit the Centro de Lima
In the center of Lima, you will find many old churches, the beautiful Plaza de Armas, and various other sights to see when walking through the streets. There are many available tours of the catacombs, churches, and city for a small cost. Some walking tours can even be done for free.
Just walking around on your own, you can go inside many of the churches, see some of the museums, watch the changing of the guard, and more for a full day in the city center. There are also abundant places to grab some excellent local Peruvian food, such as the Estadio Fútbol Club.
After the sun sets, head to see the Circuito Mágico del Agua, a large display of colorful water streams at a fountain on the edge of the city center.
5. Walk the Malecón
Head to the coast to walk the Malecón overlooking the Pacific. The several mile stretch winds along the cliffs above the sea where you will pass through several beautiful parks, such as El Parque del Amor. You can either bike or walk this stretch, and it is also a common place to exercise.
Larcomar, a large upscale shopping center, also sits on the cliffs along the Malecón, selling clothing and tasty food. For more action, take the one of the many pathways down to the beach for some surfing. You can also soar above the city by paragliding from the cliffs.
Peru is known for the many ancient ruins that lie in the mountains; however, there are many ruins along the coast that are mostly overlooked. There are various ancient Limeño ruins, such as Huaca Pucllana, that are cool to visit if you’re in the city. They offer a completely different scene and experience than the more commonly known ruins in Peru.
It’s definitely no Machu Picchu, but it is cool to take a tour to learn about the agriculture, rituals, and daily life of the people who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago.