Lima is the Peru’s capital city, the largest in the country, and the second-largest in South America. Experience the history of Peru at one of Lima’s many museums, or gaze at the raw beauty of its coastline, and more. Take a look to some of the visits and activities you can enjoy during your trip to Lima:
The Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas, or also called Plaza Mayor, is a historical square in the center of Lima and the most logical starting point for your visit. Most of the buildings from the original city were lost in the earthquake of 1746. So, buildings reconstructed following the quake. Plaza de Armas is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with the cathedral, the square is surrounded by the Archbishop's Palace; the Casa del Oidor; and the Palacio del Gobierno, official residence of the president that was built on the spot where Jose San Martín declared the Independence of Peru on July 28, 1821. You can see the changing of the guard there on weekdays at noon, always a popular attraction for tourists.
Leading from Plaza de Armas to Plaza San Martin, pedestrian-only Jiron de la Union is a mix of old and new buildings housing restaurants and shops. Here, you'll find La Merced church, which was completed in the late 1700s and has an ornate Baroque colonial façade.
Casa de Aliaga is one of the oldest and best preserved colonial mansions in South America, dating back to the early days of the city. It has been occupied by the Aliaga family since 1535, handed down through 17 generations, making it the oldest home in South America owned and occupied by a single family.
The museum is located in an 18th-century building and has a large archaeological collection, including a lot of Peru’s pre-Colombian art, but it is most famous for its collection of erotic pottery. There are also changing temporary exhibitions.
The Larco Museum contains a huge collection of more than 40,000 pieces of Peruvian ceramics, a large portion of which is from the Moche and Chimú cultures. These are not all on display at once. Also making it one of the most popular places to visit in Lima is its excellent collection of gold work, along with some textiles, stone carvings, and metalwork.
Convent of San Francisco
San Francisco church and its monastery are most famous for their catacombs containing the bones of about 10,000 people interred here when this was Lima's first cemetery. Below the church is a maze of narrow hallways, each lined on both sides with bones.
Magic Water Tour in the Park of the Reserve
The Magic Water Tour was opened in the Park of the Reserve in 2007, and within a year counted two million visitors. It holds the record for the largest fountain complex in the world, with 13 separate fountains. The largest, the Fuente Mágica, shoots a jet of water more than 80 meters high, while the Fuente Túnel de las Sorpresas (Tunnel of Surprises) is a 35-meter tunnel of water to walk through. At the Fuente de la Fantasia, you can see a laser and picture show with jets synchronized to music.
Love Park (Parque del Amor)
The Parque del Amor (Love park), is located in Miraflores. It´s a Mosaic design created from tiny tiles line the undulating walls, often compared to those designed by Antoni Gaudí for Parc Güell in Barcelona, Spain. Lines from Peruvian poets - Abelardo Sánchez León and Augusto Tamayo Vargas among them - are worked into the mosaics. Paths meander along the clifftops, lined by flowers and leading to the park's centerpiece, El Beso (The Kiss), a large sculpture of an embracing couple created by Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfín.
Enjoy the paragliding
If you chance to look up on your trip to Lima, it’s more than likely that you’ll spot a paraglider or two catching the thermals in the air. The hotspot for paragliding in Lima is Parque Raimondi, along the Miraflores stretch of El Malecón, where highly skilled paragliding instructors can take you for a 10-minute tandem glide. Whatever way you end up hitting the skies, pick a day that’s not too overcast, and you can expect views of the coast southwards towards Barranco, as well as far out to sea.
Visit a traditional Peña
Every country has its unique way of partying, and Peru is no different. For a truly authentic experience, head to one of Lima’s most famous peñas, a small bar where Creole music played by live bands gives forth to vigorous traditional dancing and plenty of pisco drinking.
Unfortunately, many of these peñas operate behind the closed doors of people’s houses and a vast majority are only to be found if you know where to look. Don Porfirio in Barranco is one of the most famous but is just open on Fridays, while La Candelaria in the same neighborhood is a more up-market option that’s open Saturdays too. Make sure to book a table, as both are hugely popular with the locals
Miraflores is a neighborhood of modern glass-and-steel commercial buildings mixed with some fine old colonial homes and lots of green space. Here is where you'll find smart shops and restaurants serving the "New Peruvian" cuisine that's drawing worldwide attention in culinary circles. Beautiful parks and green spaces stretch along the cliff tops overlooking the water, and it's common to see hang gliders drifting from the cliffs, above surfers in the waves below. Expect slightly higher prices in this more affluent neighborhood. You'll find plenty of things to do here besides browsing in the shops and sampling the New Peruvian cuisine. Those interested in pre-Columbian cultures should book a tour of the Museo Amano to see a private collection of Peruvian ceramics and textiles
Santo Domingo Monastery
Built in 1540 on land given to the Dominican Friar Vicente Valverde by Francisco Pizarro, the church and monastery of Santo Domingo is one of the oldest and most historic in Lima. Here, you will find the relics of Saint Rose of Lima; San Juan Masias; and Saint Martin de Porres, the first black saint in the Americas.
Enjoy the Beaches
Circuito de Playas is the general name that refers to the beach circuit along Costa Verde (Green Coast). It is a long road that has numerous beaches along the way and which connects the distanced district of Callao to Chorrillos. This route can only be done with a bike or a car, if you want to go from one point to the other, but if you want to walk the entire circuit, so as to see each of the beaches, it is a total of 25 kms.
This circuit is the closest you can get to the Pacific Ocean and try out the water. My thermostat has always said that the water is freezing (16°C / 60°F), therefore I only dived in when I was younger than 10! But you might sense it is warm, as compared to other beaches in the world, and you might end up loving it! I see surfers in the water pretty much everyday, so there is no doubt that, if you like the feel of seawater, you will enjoy the idea of going for a swim.