Something of a hidden gem, Lima has been described variously as ‘overlooked’, ‘understated’ and ‘Latin America’s best-kept secret’. While its charms may not be immediate as its more well-known neighbours, keen travellers will find a wealth of life and vitality to explore in Peru’s delightful capital.
The oldest city in the Americas, many believe Lima is blessed with the continent’s finest food, while its oceanfront setting and vivid nightlife make it a superb destination for both the sojourner and the thrill-seeker alike.
For those planning a Peruvian getaway, be sure to check this guide to Lima’s highlights, including how to get around, the attractions you have to see and how to get around the city.
How to Get Around in Lima
Make no mistake, Lima is a sprawling city and getting around can be pretty daunting at first. Drivers can be cavalier and reckless at times but if you know the ropes, travel in Lima isn’t a problem.
Travelling by taxi in Lima is quick and reasonably priced, but they aren’t regulated by the government. This means anyone can become a taxi driver if they have a car, and a TAXI sticker in their window. And more often than not, these unregistered drivers don’t really know their way around the city.
To be on the safe side, call a registered company – Taxi Amigo, Taxi Line, Taxi Seguro and Taxi Movil are the best – if you’re travelling by taxi. You’ll still have to bargain a price, but you’ll get to where you need to be quickly and easily.
2010 saw Lima inaugurate the Metropolitano, a mass transit system that helps to bypass a lot of the congestion that affects the city, and makes getting around a whole lot easier. Buy yourself a tarjeta, a rechargeable, electronic card and recharge at any station. Once it’s charged with credit, present it at the station’s card readers and you’re good to go.
Things to See and Do in Lima
With a wealth of history and culture, there’s loads to see and do in Peru’s enigmatic capital.
Founded in 1926, this stunning museum is housed in an 18th-century viceroy’s mansion and boasts a huge variety of ceramic works from Inca, Nazca, and Cupisnique cultures. Parents be warned, there’s also a large (and separately housed) collection of pre-Columbian erotica that’s certainly not for little ones. After this, cool off in the café’s private garden, perfect for trying the city’s speciality: ceviche.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
A religious site of storied significance, this pink church and its accompanying convent were finished in the 16th century, renowned for being the final resting place for three of Peru’s most important saints: San Juan Macias, Santa Rose de Lima and San Marin de Porres. The skulls of the latter two are even enshrined in the main altar.
El Circuito Mágico del Agua
These spectacular fountains dance to the rhythms of traditional Peruvian songs and choice tracks from the likes of ABBA, illuminating themselves with vivid, brilliant lights as they do. Ending with a laser light show at the 120m Fantasy Fountain, you won’t have seen anything like this before.
Where to Eat and Drink
Peruvian food isn’t just limited to guinea pig. Though there’s plenty of chances to dine on the household rodent, you’ll find a variety of culinary creations to wow your taste buds.
Astrid y Gastón Casa Moreyra
Considered Lima’s finest restaurant, this popular eatery is highly regarded for its modern approach to traditional Peruvian ingredients. Spearheaded by culinary maestro Gastón Acurio, the restaurant’s much-vaunted menu features the chef’s signature take on lomo saltado, a sirloin stir-fry, as well as innovative use of quinoa and cocona, a yellow fruit that’s like a hybrid of a lemon and a tomato.
With a 28-course tasting menu, there’s a precision and passion for food here like nothing else – there’s good reason this frequently ranks as one of the world’s finest restaurants.
Regarded as the fifth best restaurant in the world, Central transforms the familiar into something else entirely. Dedicated to culinary exploration, Central is certainly a curious, unique experience, and well worth forking out the cash for. If you’re intrigued by spiders with mussels, exciting takes on octopus and razor clams and their unbelievable versions of ceviche, this is a culinary adventurer’s dream.
The local drink: Pisco
A Peruvian brandy made from grapes, be sure to give the local favourite pisco a try. There’s plenty of places to choose from too.
La Rosa Nautica is a superb oceanfront bar with an amazing view, that has a great selection of pisco cocktails, while the Hotel Maury – believed to be the site where this cocktail was first served – is steeped in ‘30s heritage and atmosphere. If you subscribe to the old “bigger is better” adage, then stop by Hotel Bolivar too; their pisco sour uses five ounces of pisco – almost twice the size of other servings in the city. Still draped in 1920s décor, important figures flocked here back in the day. Soak in the atmosphere and raise a glass to the celebrities of the past in true Golden Age style.
At Cruise1st, we have a range of South American Cruises perfect for exploring Lima, the Chilean fjords and all the other magnificent areas around the continent. Take a look at our cruise deals online, or call our friendly team of cruise specialists on 0808 256 7010 today.