The capital of Peru is a great metropolis and home to around 8 million people, making it one of the largest cities in South America. Even though most tourists only use it as a gateway to the country, it deserves to be on any tourist itinerary. There is a beautiful and historical centre with colonial architecture, plenty of museums and a thriving and delicious restaurant scene. There are many different barrios (neighbourhoods) to visit, each with their own identities. Set on the Pacific Ocean, there are many wonderful spots to enjoy your first Pisco Sour while overlooking the ocean and eating the freshest ceviche!
These are our top 5 picks in Lima
1. Gastronomic tour
As Lima is now firmly on the foodie map, it’s possible to take a gastronomic tour of the city. There are a few to choose from including day and night tours as well as ceviche and Pisco Sour making classes. A particularly well run and informative company to use is The Lima Gourmet Company. It’s also a great way to see the city and have a whistle stop tour of the some city’s finest eateries.
2. Larco Museum
If you only go to one museum, then make it the Larco Museum. It is housed in a former mansion and the grounds are beautiful. The collection has over 3,000 years of ceramic, textile and metal artifacts. And you can learn all you need to know about the Incan Empire here. Plus visit their store room to see what’s not on display and also see the erotic archaeological room! There is also a lovely restaurant with delicious food and a terrace to enjoy the afternoon sun.
The Bohemian district in Lima doesn’t even feel like it’s in a big metropolis, instead it feels more like a laidback coastal resort. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a drink on a sunny afternoon or to go out in the evening. It’s also very easy to wander the streets taking in all the little quirky shops and cafes.
4. Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor
For a proper sense of the history of Lima, a visit to the main plaza is a necessity. Here you can see the Government Palace, which has been rebuilt many times, the last time in the 1930s (that time with a French influence). It occupies one side of the square while the other sides are home to the Cathedral of Lima, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace (City Hall) and some private office buildings. Some of the buildings date back to the 1600s and the Cathedral and Government Palace are open to the public. After visiting the Plaza de Armas you can walk down the pedestrianised shopping area and take in the Art Deco and neoclassical architecture.
5. MATE Museo Mario Testino
One of the world’s most famous photographers, Mario Testino, was born in Lima.
In July 2012 he opened MATE – the Mario Testino Association in the district of Barranco. Located in one of the beautifully restored 19th Century mansions typical of the area, it houses the largest collection of his photographs in the world. He wanted to contribute to the city’s cultural scene so therefore promotes exchange and local artists. The collection is divided into different rooms and there is even a room solely dedicated to his portraits of Diana, Princess of Wales. There is also a café to enjoy some sustenance in the tranquil surroundings.
Lima is a fascinating city and gateway to exploring one of South America’s most interesting countries, Peru. After a few busy days Lima why not head out to one of the country’s historic haciendas for a few days rest and relaxation? Have a look at Historic Haciendas for some inspiration on where to stay.
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