I recently travelled to Peru and I must say this South American country has some strong magic! However, when people travel to Peru, they usually dismiss its capital city Lima. It’s a mistake! This city has a lot to offer. So, instead of writing it off, why don’t you use this blogpost as a guide to a cool and unusual Lima?
Peru is a unique and fascinating country. It stands out from the crowd with its different cultural, natural and gastronomic treasures. If I had to sum up Peru in one word it would be diverse!
The same goes for Lima. Peru’s capital city is a genuine cosmopolitan capital, where the most popular activity is seeing a few tourist sites, shopping, and having dinner at one of its many restaurants.
I stayed 3 days in Lima, which I think is the right amount of time to get a good idea of what the city is about, and even get a favourite neighbourhood!
So without further due, here are 4 cool ways to explore Lima:
- Visiting its historical & archaeological heritage
An interesting way to get to know a city is to visit its historical and archaeological sites. Lima has a few of them, almost all located around city-centre.
On your first day, you can visit Lima’s “Plaza de Armas”. This main square is home to the Town Hall, the presidential palace and the impressive cathedral. It’s one of the biggest four-sided squares I’ve ever seen. I really liked the mustard-coloured Moorish palaces bordering the plaza, perfectly highlighting the splendour of the cathedral.
Following your visit of the Plaza, walk to the fascinating “Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco”. Although this church is very grand, the spooky catacombs are its main attraction. Stepping into their darkness is like stepping back in time, during colonial-era Spain.
Before exploring Lima’s only intramuros archaeological site, wander the streets around Plaza de Armas. You’ll notice delicatly sculpted wooden balconies.
After Lima’s historical centre, you can head for “Huaca Pucllana”. This adobe-made pyramid is the only archaeological site within Lima’s wall. There you can also spot your first local “Cuy” aka guinea pigs.
FUN FACT: Guinea pigs are a culinary delicacy in Peru, which you may or may not want to taste…
2. Indulging some retail therapy in Barranco
As any capital worthy of name Lima has a thriving shopping scene. You can literally shop till you drop!
Having had enough time to explore the whole city, I can for sure say Barranco is my favourite neighbourhood! It’s the artsy, boho district of Lima, full of cute little boutiques, art galleries and cafés.
Here are a couple of my favourite boutiques, where you can indulge some pretty and ethical (!!) souvenir shopping:
This modern store is ethical in the best way possible, using or working with Peruvian brands only. It’s part art gallery, part home goods & fashion item shop, part coffee house.
Puna is the perfect boutique if you like quirky, original objects or gifts to bring back home. They feature home items, fashion accessories, art, and beauty products.
I absolutely loved this place!
This popular store features all Peruvian designers. About a quarter are expressly ethically made, so ask questions! I totally loved their impressive jewellery collections!
You can also stop for a cold drink or a healthy snack in their adorable interior courtyard/bar.
I didn’t personally visit (which I kind of regret, but hey Lima being so vast it’s tough to see its every corner). However, this museum created by celebrity photographer Mario Testino, was strongly recommended.
And cherry on top, the museum hosts an excellent shop! It displays wraps, jewellery, and all kind of stunning high-end Peruvian and South American designer brands.
3. Strolling the streets of Miraflores
If you’re like me, your favourite way to explore a new place is to walk around, exploring the streets and back alleys. This is how I soak up a city’s vibe.
Not far away from Huaca Pucllana is the “Parque Kennedy”. This green oasis is home to more than 100 cats. People don’t really know how those cats ended up here. However they don’t seem unhappy, being fed and cared for by locals.
From the Parque you can walk to the “Malecón”, Lima’s spectacular coastline promenade, stretching from Miraflores to Barranco and home to yet another iconic park, the “Parque del Amor”. This park looks a bit like the Parque Güell in Barcelona.
Although Miraflores isn’t my favourite district, I loved walking down the Malecón and observe local surfers attempting to tame the Pacific Ocean. It felt like being in a chilled seaside town. And if you’re not too tired from all your exploring, Barranco can be reached by feet. It takes 20-30 minutes.
4. Exploring Barranco’s vibrant street art scene
As I already mentioned, artsy Barranco is my favourite neighbourhood! And while you could spend hours going from one boutique to the other, it would be a shame to miss the vibrant street art scene. Colourful, large scale graffiti and paintings are literally everywhere!
In Barranco you’ll also see some of Lima’s most beautiful architecture. The district’s quiet streets are lined with gorgeous early 20th-century homes. Originally built as summer houses for the country’s well-to-do, many of these homes now serve as landing spots for artists.
I hope these four suggestions convinced you Lima is worth a prolonged stop in your Peruvian itinerary?! Moreover, if you’re looking for a place to stay while there, check out this post.
I myself really loved the city’s cool almost laid-back vibes! There is a difficult-to-describe-energy, some irresistible urban buzz, merging old-world charm with quirky cool culture.
And if you’ve already been to Lima and have further suggestions, please share them in the comments. Would love to hear them!