What are the best things to see and do in Lima?

From the colonial architecture of Lima's historic city center to the thriving art galleries and nearby beaches, there is more than enough to keep travelers occupied. Here are five of Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite things to see and do while exploring Peru's capital city.
 
1. The local cuisine. It might not be your reason for heading to Lima, but once you start to explore the city’s food culture, you'll understand immediately why so many people are raving about the culinary creations coming out of Peruvian kitchens. Because of the city’s diverse cultures, Lima is one of those rare South American cities where you'll find everything from Japanese cooking to Creole delicacies. Don't miss out on the chance to sample the goods all over town.
 
2. The beaches along the Pan-American Highway. Sure, beaches near a highway might not initially sound like the most idyllic place to spend an afternoon, but they truly are. There are beautiful stretches of sand less than 25 miles south of downtown Lima. Hit up Villa and San Pedro for great views and waves recommended only for experts. El Silencio and Caballeros are ideal for excellent surfing conditions and plenty of chances to meet younger travelers (and locals). For a more laid-back fishing village vibe and calmer waters, Pucasana is your locale.
 
3. Miraflores. This is the neighborhood where foodies, night owls, and sophisticates will feel most at home, considering its high concentration of edgy restaurants, well-stocked pisco bars, and cafés ladling out organic Peruvian roast to keep well-dressed locals and travelers caffeinated.
 
4. The Historic City Centre. The site’s historic monuments date back to the 17th century and are typical examples of Hispano-American Baroque, and see more than their fair share of tourists. Nonetheless, for photo ops and a picnic lunch packed with people-watching, hitting up the old-world Lima in the city’s center is recommended.
 
5. Convento de San Francisco. For a peek into Lima's past, a tour of this monastery and church is a must. Here, you'll find catacombs, a gigantic library of over 25, 000 antique texts, and a beautiful cupola dating back to the 1600s. For architecture fans, those who value history, and anyone who wants a look at yesteryear, this is a must-see spot.

  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best beaches in Lima?

    The finest beaches near Lima are found south of the city, less than an hour away by car, provided traffic is reasonable. Those who want a stretch of sand to themselves will have to travel farther from the city, but families who prefer a full-service resort feel, surfers in search of the country's best waves, and younger travelers who want to revel with likeminded beach bums all have will find specialty beaches located 30 miles (about 50 kilometers) or less from downtown Lima. For surfers with experience, Villa, San Pedro, El Silencio, Punta Hermosa, and San Bartolo are good bets. For those who want to learn to surf, Punta Negra is an excellent choice. Upscale waterfront options are the draw at Santa María, where nautical clubs attract the yachts that dot the coast. For families, Punta Hermosa and San Bartolo are good, as are Naplo and Puscana, where resorts and quiet fishing areas coexist peacefully.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best thing to bring home from Lima?

    Though not internationally known for it, Peru is makes some of the best coffee you’ll find anywhere in the world, which makes the local blends one of the best things to bring home from a visit to Lima. They’re difficult to find outside of Peru, but just as rich, nutty and flavorful as the coffee blends produced by its other South American neighbors. Visit Café Verde in Miraflores to pick up some of the beans, which are roasted on-site. With a fresh strong brew like this, you'll forget Starbucks exists (and so will anyone you share your spoils with you once you're back home).
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best food experiences in Lima?

    Narrowing down the best food experiences in Lima, a place where many unexpected cultural influences combine to create a cuisine that’s all its own, is a difficult task.  Here are our picks for some of the best food experiences in the Peruvian capital you should try before heading home.
     
    1. A pisco sour. Chile and Peru can fight over who is responsible for creating this beverage, but the fact is that making one properly (not too syrupy sweet with a reasonable amount of egg whites) can be difficult. Fortunately, Lima is a great place to get a taste of the classic drink, and Pisco Bar is a good place to find one. Stick to the classic recipe or sample one of the more than 50 varieties of the classic drink.  
     
    2. Traditional Peruvian food, family-style. A landmark of the neighborhood, El Tio Mario has been in Lima’s Barranco area since the 1980s, when it was just a street cart selling local recipes. Dig into family-style portions (in other words, huge) of local delicacies, including anticuchos, ají-smothered beef heart on skewers.
     
    3. Late-night tacos. Stop at local restaurant Super Rueda and join the throngs of late-night revelers queuing up for crispy empanadas, seafood tacos, and fresh-squeezed juice. If you’re not much of a night owl, you can have the same experience in the daylight by stopping in for lunch.
     
    4. Fresh seafood. Visit Punto Azul, which is open for lunch and lunch alone, but serves the the best seafood in Lima. The menu features grilled fish, lobsters and more, sometimes all combined in dishes like ceviche, causa and tiradito.
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  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best nightlife in Lima?

    Depending on whether you want to sip a glass of wine or dance with 500 people to an internationally-acclaimed DJ, your best bets for the best nightlife in Lima can be found in either the Miraflores or Barranco neighborhoods. In their own ways, both areas are epicenters of all that is hip and happening, so naturally, they're where the stylish tend to flock when the sun goes down and the weekend begins. For wine bars and cocktail lounges where it's possible to hear your companion without shouting, Miraflores is the best destination. For Bohemian dive bars, live music, culture centers, the biggest club in the city (Sargento Pimienta), Barranco is the better option.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Lima in one day?

    To see Lima in one day, begin at the historic center where you can wander through plazas, peak into historic monasteries, and generally get a feel for the 17th and 18th century architecture. Grab a cup of Peruvian blend coffee in one of the city center cafes, and then head over to Parque de la Cultura, the home of Lima's two biggest museums, which has an epic green space that offers a break from the bustle of downtown. Once your batteries are fully recharged, head over to Miraflores and browse the various boutiques and pick up some new locally-made clothing and accessories to add to your wardrobe. Duck into one of the neighborhood's hot new restaurants, or opt for a trendy spot like Lima 27, and start your dinner off with at least one pisco sour, a signature Peruvian drink made with lime, egg white and Angostura bitters. Depending on your mood, you can retire after you dine, or head out to for a night of dancing and drinking at one of the local hot spots such as Sargento Pimienta in Barranco or Ayahuasca.for
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to eat in Lima?

    For adventurous eaters, Lima is a paradise. Its kitchens are a melting pot of cuisines from various cultures, some of which are well-honed and integrated into the local cuisine, and some of which have just popped up. The Peruvian capital is a wonderland of opportunity for eaters interested in flavor — and street food that moves beyond hot dogs and sausages. Here are five of the best places to eat in Lima for those who are serious about food.
     
    1. La Mar. La Mar is where Peru's best-known chef creates Peru's best-known cuisine. This cevichería does every imaginable variation on traditional recipes, and also delivers them unchanged, much to the chagrin of those who say that particular variations can't be done in highbrow fashion.
     
    2. Chala. This restaurant is an upscale bistro in Barranco where the creative use of Peruvian fruits and herbs is unlike any you’ve ever tasted before. There's a focus on seafood, but other meat-based dishes pepper the menu, too.
     
    3. Costanera 700. You may have experienced the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine elsewhere (Nobu, for example), but this restaurant is one of Lima’s best local options for trying fresh sashimi prepared with a South American accent. From seafood ceviche to tempura langoustines, everything served is delicately flavorful and expertly prepared.
     
    4. Café Verde. This café is the kind of upscale, unpretentious European bistro that you might hope to find in any city — only the coffee at this one comes with a Peruvian twist. The twist is the fresh-roasted beans, which are locally sourced and then turned into some of the most flavorful and high-octane coffee you've tried. There’s also a pleasant array of pastries to choose from.
     
    5. La Tranquera. If for some reason you tire of Peru's myriad of home-grown cuisines, take a break from fish and feast on the red meat at this Argentine-influenced steakhouse. What this means? Avoid all pastas and anything that cannot be thrown atop the charcoal, and do not bring vegetarians along.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Lima?

    Travelers will find that the big international chains are your best bet in Lima, especially when you’re in need of full-service amenities. But with the changes in this vibrant metropolis come different lodging choices, too, including a slew of boutique hotels that are popping up in neighborhoods and the city center. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editor’s picks for the best places to stay in Lima.
     
    1. DUO Hotel Boutique. This bright and cozy house in Lima's San Isidro neighborhood has simple, tastefully-decorated rooms, a quiet back terrace with a swimming pool, and modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, flatscreen televisions and air conditioning. The multilingual staff can arrange for anything from airport pick-ups to dinner reservations — and they do so with warmth and kindness.
     
    2. Miraflores Park Hotel. A contemporary full-service hotel in Lima’s stylish Miraflores neighborhood, this modern tower has views of the ocean from just about everywhere you turn, including from the stunning 11th floor infinity pool. Rooms are classic, comfortable and oversized, with beds swathed in crisp, white lines and large marble bathrooms.
     
    3. Casa Andina Private Collection. For a local take on luxe, there's no better pick; you're in the center of Miraflores in a distinctive, memorable box-shaped glass building that's conveniently located (you can walk to shopping, to the beach, or to dinner). A nice choice for those who want to be in a minimal, modern room that comes accessorized with art.
     
    4. Country Club Lima Hotel. This hotel situated in the middle of San Isidro offers something that no other hotel in the city possibly can — a golf course. Come here for traditional afternoon tea, or to check-in to one of the large, Spanish-influenced, classically decorated guest rooms.
     
    5. Swissotel Lima. With 244 guest rooms housed in a modern tower, this San Isidro hotel is popular with business travelers, who make good use of the executive lounge, where you’ll find dedicated concierge service and refreshments throughout the day. There are also six restaurants serving everything from sushi to fondue, and a recently renovated fitness center.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best shopping in Lima?

    For anything besides the typical knickknacks you might expect to take back home (find these at the Inca Market), the best shopping in Lima can be found in the neighborhood of Miraflores, where you'll find everything from secondhand bookstores to Peru's own local answer to Abercrombie & Fitch (it's called Kids Made Here). For those who want to check out local designers and artists, there's Estereofonica, which brings together a bunch of the city's hottest up-and-comers in the world of skinny jeans, well-tailored dress shirts and t-shirts. Something to keep in mind while shopping at any of the stores in Miraflores: here, quality is high, and prices, if you're working with dollars or euros, are still low.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do with kids in Lima?

    As a capital city in one of South America's developing countries, Lima might not be as obviously child-friendly in terms of activities as its Brazilian and Argentine counterparts. Nonetheless, it's easy for a family to find activities that will keep all members contented and occupied for their trip. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for five of the best options, most of which apply to children of all ages.
     
    1. Get out of town and go to the beach. Avoiding the beaches south of the city with rougher waters is probably a good idea for families with younger children, but plenty of the resort towns and fishing villages that are less than an hour from downtown Lima, including Pucusana, make for a great day trip.
     
    2. Take in a game of soccer. If you can secure tickets for the family to see a match at Estadio Monumental "U," it won't be an experience soon forgotten. As the largest soccer (football) stadium in the country, there's usually a passionate match happening at the "U," and like the rest of South America, Peruvians take this sport more seriously than all the others combined.
     
    3. Fortaleza del Real Felipe. This historic fort is tailor-made for children with adventurous imaginations. It was built in the 1700s to help safeguard against pirates, was where the Spanish soldiers tried to fend off those battling for independence, and still has some uniformed-types roaming its halls.
     
    4. Parque de Las Leyendas Zoo. For those who aren't going to be able to explore the topography of Peru, this well-kept zoo makes travel unnecessary by gathering animals from the jungle, coast, and desert and bringing them all together in one central spot. A good pick for those with young children.
     
    5. Parque de la Cultura. In case the bustle of city life is starting to wear the family out, this large green space is a perfect break from the concrete jungle that surrounds it. During the warmer months, the small amphitheater hosts everything from live music to theater, while the Japanese gardens are nice for a stroll. There's also plenty of room for the kids to run around and blow off a bit of steam.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to see and do in Lima?

    From the colonial architecture of Lima's historic city center to the thriving art galleries and nearby beaches, there is more than enough to keep travelers occupied. Here are five of Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite things to see and do while exploring Peru's capital city.
     
    1. The local cuisine. It might not be your reason for heading to Lima, but once you start to explore the city’s food culture, you'll understand immediately why so many people are raving about the culinary creations coming out of Peruvian kitchens. Because of the city’s diverse cultures, Lima is one of those rare South American cities where you'll find everything from Japanese cooking to Creole delicacies. Don't miss out on the chance to sample the goods all over town.
     
    2. The beaches along the Pan-American Highway. Sure, beaches near a highway might not initially sound like the most idyllic place to spend an afternoon, but they truly are. There are beautiful stretches of sand less than 25 miles south of downtown Lima. Hit up Villa and San Pedro for great views and waves recommended only for experts. El Silencio and Caballeros are ideal for excellent surfing conditions and plenty of chances to meet younger travelers (and locals). For a more laid-back fishing village vibe and calmer waters, Pucasana is your locale.
     
    3. Miraflores. This is the neighborhood where foodies, night owls, and sophisticates will feel most at home, considering its high concentration of edgy restaurants, well-stocked pisco bars, and cafés ladling out organic Peruvian roast to keep well-dressed locals and travelers caffeinated.
     
    4. The Historic City Centre. The site’s historic monuments date back to the 17th century and are typical examples of Hispano-American Baroque, and see more than their fair share of tourists. Nonetheless, for photo ops and a picnic lunch packed with people-watching, hitting up the old-world Lima in the city’s center is recommended.
     
    5. Convento de San Francisco. For a peek into Lima's past, a tour of this monastery and church is a must. Here, you'll find catacombs, a gigantic library of over 25, 000 antique texts, and a beautiful cupola dating back to the 1600s. For architecture fans, those who value history, and anyone who wants a look at yesteryear, this is a must-see spot.