Arguably the best place in Peru to get Ceviche, Lima is a capital city that should not be overlooked. Admire the surfers in the Pacific from the coastal walk, drink a Pisco sour downtown or catch a Magic Water Fountain show in the evening.
The last leg of our Peruvian adventure, after Cusco & Machu Picchu, was spent in the capital – Lima. Since our bodies were a little tired from the hiking and altitude, we were ready to eat some good food and take it slow. If you only have a limited time in Lima, here are our top recommendations and tips to discover this capital city.
Miraflores is the neighborhood I would recommend staying in when visiting Lima. It is the nicest part of the city, with plenty of bars, restaurants and shopping. We stayed in a studio apartment Airbnb that was a great location for exploring the area. (It was one of the only places we stayed in Peru that had air conditioning, which was a big plus!)
We also found a great breakfast spot at La Posteria Cafe, about a 5 minute walk from the Airbnb in Miraflores. Highly recommend if you’re looking for an inexpensive and quality breakfast.
Parque del Amor
Parque del Amor is located along the Malecon de la Reserva, a coastal cliff walk above the beaches in Miraflores. If you don’t have a lot of time, set your sights on Parque del Amor, rather than the cliff walk, to take in some of the best views. As you could probably tell from its name, this park is dedicated to lovers and even has a large statue in the middle titled El Beso (the Kiss).
If you’re looking for a snack, check out the crepe stand Besos Frances for a sweet or savory treat. There’s outdoor seating so you can enjoy a view of the ocean. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset or see the surfers catch some waves below.
Huaca Pucllana is a great clay pyramid and archeology site in Miraflores. The Lima Culture was the society that used the pyramid for religious and social ceremonies. Lima Culture pre-dates the Incas and is said to have formed along this coastal region between the years 200 and 700 AD. It costs ~$5 to enter and includes a guided tour. The archeology site is massive and still being worked on today. If you’re in the Miraflores region, this is something you don’t want to miss.
Pisco sour is a traditional Peruvian cocktail made from Pisco, lime juice and egg whites. Pisco is technically a type of brandy, made by distilling fermented grape juice. The lime or syrup, gives the cocktail a sweeter flavor. In downtown Lima, you can participate in a pisco sour tour and learn more about the origins of this classic drink, as well as try varieties of it. If you’re curious about making pisco sours, there are a few tour companies that offer classes where you can learn how to perfect this cocktail too. We decided to attempt our own pisco tour by visiting a few local bars in the downtown area one night.
Now to go along with the theme of trying Peruvian specialties, you can’t leave Lima without getting some ceviche. Ceviche is fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices (lemon or lime) with chili seasoning. It’s typically served with sweet potatoes and corn. Out of the places we visited in Peru, we were holding off on trying Ceviche until we were close to the sea and knew the fish would be fresh. I am not a really big fish person but I must admit that the flavor was totally there.
Another great spot in Miraflores is Parque Kennedy, named after the 35th President of the US. We found ourselves strolling through this park more than once during our short stay here. There was a small market with local artisans and one evening we even caught locals dancing to some live music!
The Inca Market
In every big city, it’s always fun to visit a market to find some nice souvenirs to bring home. The Inca Market is a great spot in Miraflores to find some hand made crafts. Even if you are not looking for anything to purchase, it’s a great place to walk around and soak it all in.
Circuito Magico del Agua
The Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Magico del Agua) can be found in Parque de la Reserva. The Park was originally finished in 1929 to commemorate the last soldiers to fight in the Battle of Miraflores and the Battle of San Juan Chorrillos, but in the year 2007, the magic water circuit was completed as part of the area. To visit this part of the park it costs ~$1.50 per person (which is an absolute bargain). Currently this Water Circuit holds the world record for largest fountain complex – with 13 various fountains that include lights and music. I recommend visiting in the evening since every hour there is an automated show at the Fantasia Fountain that is synched to lights and music.
Finally, after a busy week in Peru we decided to treat ourselves to a day at the spa on our last morning in Lima. After doing a bit of research we discovered Heavenly Spa which is part of the Westin Hotel (located halfway between downtown Lima and Miraflores). They offer a variety of services but we ended up choosing a package called Heavenly Sunrise so we could try a few things. This consisted of 30 minutes in a ‘bath area’ (steam room, shower & jacuzzi), followed by a 50 minute full body massage, 50 minute facial and 20 minute express manicure. It costs roughly ~$130 per person to do a package like this, which we thought was a great deal considering the cost of these services in the US. The spa was beautiful and everyone was professional and friendly. After all the hiking we did at Machu Picchu, this was the perfect way to treat our sour muscles after a long trip. For more info about the packages this spa offers, click here.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a fun fact about Lima: It hasn’t rained in the city since 1998. Yes, you read that correctly. It hasn’t rained in over 20 years! Why? Lima is actually part of a coastal desert that runs from Northern Peru down to Chile. The Andes prevent the wind, rain and snow from reaching the Western part of the country. Although it never rains, Lima is normally very humid. In the winter, humidity averages 95%!
Lima was originally planned as a strategic stop along the way home from Machu Picchu & Cusco, but we discovered it is so much more than that. Be sure to schedule a little time in this bustling city before flying home from Peru.
Hasta luego, Amanda