Lima Travel Guide
Introduction to Lima
Situated along the desert coast of Peru, the capital city of Lima stands out from its arid surroundings with a variety of attractions that will keep you here longer than you planned.
From the best food scene in the entire country, to a historic center that will have you happily snapping your camera for hours, there is much to see and do in this city of 8.4 million people.
Cultural Attractions in Lima
Upon arrival in Lima, you should head directly to its historic center. While there are many amazing sights and attractions within its bounds, you will get the best return for time spent by exploring Plaza Mayor.
The main town square from which Lima grew, it is surrounded by palaces, cathedrals, and other colonial buildings that were essential to the administration of this city and the nation of Peru.
The Government Palace is home to the president of Peru, and it is where the executive branch of the nation meets to conduct its business, the archbishop’s palace is where the archbishop of Lima resides, the municipal palace is where the councillors and mayor of the city run the affairs of the city of Lima, and the Cathedral of Lima is an almost 500 year old Roman Catholic church where one of the first conquistadors that founded Lima (Francisco Pizarro) is buried.
If you are looking to get in a bit of shopping before leaving the city, the top street for commerce (Jiron de la Union) extends from the southwest corner of the square with numerous department stores and boutiques lining each side.
While the Cathedral of Lima is an impressive sight, you should certainly not miss touring the Monastery of San Francisco during your time here.
Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1991, this Spanish Baroque work of art is not only impressive in its construction, but it also contains interior design elements that borrow from the Moorish school of design, it has a courtyard with a peaceful garden, and it also has a convent library with many rare texts and amazing works of art from the colonial period.
That’s not all though, as it also has a series of catacombs beneath the church where it is estimated 25,000 people were laid to their eternal slumber. After being discovered in 1943, many of the bones were laid into mesmerizing patterns, which gives this monastery a morbid but fascinating vibe.
If you wish to explore the history of Peru through visual art, you will enjoy a visit to the Larco Museum. A privately-held collection that contains over four thousand years of human history in the form of pottery, jewelry and textiles.
This may not be the best place to take your children, as the residents of this land were not bashful about representing the most intimate parts of our lives in the form of pottery. Translation: there are graphic sex acts in the form of ceramics; you have been warned.
Other Attractions in Lima
Before heading back to Miraflores or Barranco, which is where many visitors stay during their time in Lima, be sure to check out Parque de la Reserva. Time your visit so that you arrive here in the evening, as this park is world famous for its fountain displays.
Brilliantly lit up as the skies darken, you will enjoy walking underneath a tunnel of water, watching jets of water dance to popular songs, and the showpiece fountain blasting H2O to heights exceeding 80 feet.
When you do head back to the modern district of Miraflores, one place you should definitely make time for in your schedule is Kennedy Park, especially if you love cats. After the first unwanted cats were dropped off here many decades ago, it has become a common place for similarly other unwelcome cats to be dropped off, as people began to feed and care for these felines. They are now also actively being adopted out.
While people are divided on this situation, it is undeniable that if you enjoy the company of kitties, you will genuinely dig this park. Vendors sell food that you can feed to these eternally hungry pets, and if you’re willing to do a little paperwork, you can actually take one of these guys home!
If you’re looking to find some excitement in this part of the city, walk along the waterfront cliffs south towards the exciting barrio of Barranco. Known for its art galleries and its nightlife options, Barranco is a thriving neighborhood where hipsters, artists, and young people congregate in large numbers.
The brilliantly colored houses will win you over the second you see them, so be prepared to spend an entire afternoon or evening within the bounds of this sector of Lima.