Below is our 2018 detailed guide on Lima, Peru. It covers everything you need to know from how to get there, where to stay, what to do and much much more!
Lima, Peru Brief Summary
- Lima is the largest city and also the capital city of Peru.
- It is the 5th largest city in all of South America with a population of over 10 million people!
- Lima is the second largest desert city in the world after Cairo.
- It is the gastronomic capital of the Americas and also winner of 6 consecutive food tourism awards.
We have created an extensive Lima guide based on our expert local knowledge having helped to transport over 60,000 travellers since our formation here in 2013.
Lima Guide Contents:
1. How to get to Lima – Compare transportation options.
2. Sightseeing, Activities and Tours in Lima– A list of the most popular activities for travellers.
3. Must see in Lima– The sights and things you cannot miss.
4. Arts & Culture in Lima– The best areas with museums and cultural art to see.
5. Cinema/Music/Theather in Lima– Where to see movies, acting and live shows.
6. Nightlife in Lima – The best places and areas to enjoy a drink.
7. Souvenirs & Shopping in Lima – Where you can buy gifts to bring back home.
8. Lima Safety Tips– Safety issues to be aware of.
9. Photo Gallery– Some of the best photos from Lima.
How to get to Lima
How to get to Lima:
- Fly into Jorge Chavez International Airport Lima, which is the main airport in Peru. From there, the best way to get to the touristic districts of Miraflores and Barranco is by using the Airport Express Lima Official Shuttle Bus Service, or by ordering a safe taxi. For more information see these Lima Airport Useful Tips page.
- Taking a public bus which will arrive at company specific bus stations (Lima does not have a central bus terminal), and then getting a taxi
- Peru Hop bus which picks you up and drop you off directly at your hotel/hostel in Miraflores or Barranco
Jorge Chavez International Airport is located in the dangerous district of Callao and is also one of the busiest airports in South America. Adding to the fact that the area is reasonably unsafe and located about 17 km from Barranco and Miraflores, it is crucial to find a safe and secure way to get to your destination in Lima. Travellers usually stay in the Miraflores or Barranco district. If you are staying in either of these districts, it is best to use the Official Airport Express Lima (AEL) bus service. If you decide to stay somewhere else, you can choose to use a taxi or shuttle service but keep in mind that these options are more significantly more expensive and, in the case of a taxi, generally unsafe.
In Peru you can take a public bus from any city to arrive in Lima. Most trips from other areas can take up to or more than 10 hours through old, windy roads without stops. Given the fact that vast improvements have been made thoughout the years, accidents are still frequent. Once arrived in Lima, you will be dropped off in the companies’ bus terminal which could be anywhere in the huge city of Lima, quite often in districts and areas not safe for travellers. Although public buses are usually the cheapest option, you get what you pay for so do be careful.
Peru Hop offers a safe option for making your way to Lima with stops along the way to appreciate the real beauty of Peru. With a variety of passes to choose from, all counting with an onboard bilingual guide to assist you, you will be glad to have discovered so many gems on the road to Lima. Best of all, Peru Hop will drop you off right at your hotel/hostel’s door in Lima.
Sightseeing and Tours in Lima
Sightseeing and Tours in Lima:
- Do a walking tour of the Plaza de Armas (main square) in Lima City Center.
- Walk along the beautiful Costa Verde (green coast) which goes from Miraflores to Barranco.
- Take a day trip to Caral, located just 2 hours from Lima, it is the oldest city in the world and a UNESCO declared world heritage site.
- Eat lomo saltado, ceviche, causa de atun and other delicious Peruvian cuisine.
- Visit Gamarra or Polvos Azules which are the black markets for cheap clothes, DVD´s and much more. (Recommended to go in a group, with a native Peruvian if possible, and always be very careful)
- Go to Mamacona in the Winter on a Sunday for a big suprise. (Trust us, this is not to be missed!)
- Spend the night strolling around Barranco’s Puente de Los Suspiros.
- Go to Las Brisas del Titicaca for a traditional dance night in the City Center. (Wednesday – Saturday)
The Spanish colonial influences can be seen and felt throughout the entire city, but Plaza de Armas is probably the crown jewel and heart of Colonial Lima. A free and simple walking tour is the best way to learn about Lima’s long history.
If impressive views and the ocean breeze are down your alley, Lima has many more walking experiences on offer as well. Go for a walk along the Costa Verde and enjoy the breath-taking views and sunset on the Pacific coast from the cliffs of Lima.
In 2012, Peru was declared the world’s leading culinary destination for the first time, with many world-famous chefs predicting Peruvian cuisine to be the next big thing. It has now won it 6 years in a row so make sure to not miss the chance to taste Peruvian cuisine in Lima, the heart of Peru. Lima has an amazing restaurant scene where you can taste for yourself exactly why Peruvian cuisine has been gaining so much attention in the last few years. We recommend for everyone to try ceviche (the traditional raw fish dish cooked only with the acid in lemon), yucas, causa de atún, lomo saltado and much, much more! Usually, the best tasting ceviche isn’t found in expensive restaurants, but is found in some of the market stalls or street sellers. Our Peruvian guides will show you exactly where are the best and most affordable places to devour these incredible dishes.
Something which usually tends to be quite unknown is the fact that Peru is famous for the quality of its textiles, and many world-famous brands like Lacoste manufacture their clothes here. There are a lot of places to go shopping in Lima, from the beautiful Larcomar by the coast in Miraflores to the gigantic Jockey plaza located in Surco, which has some of the most exclusive shops in Peru. If these shopping centers are not in your budget, there are also huge black markets here in Lima, the 2 most famous being Gamarra and Polvos Azules. Here you can find many knock offs and copies of brand clothes, dvd’s, etc. for rock bottom prices, and you will be very surprised at the quality of these copies. Make sure to haggle for the best prices as most goods can be usually bought for one-half of the original priced quote, so play hard and get yourself a bargain. Be wary in these places as pickpockets tend to loom. Don’t wonder off too far off from the main streets, and try to stick with a friend where possible.
Lima is an ever growing and sprawling city, and apart from the main areas mentioned above, there are many gems 30minutes/1 hour both north and south of Lima. In the south, there is Asia, a 50 km stretch of beaches with modern restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It is normal to see Lima’s top nightclubs deserted during Summer weekends as everybody tends to flock here to party. To the north, there is Caral, a UNESCO world heritage site thought to be the oldest city of the America´s (over 5,000 years old) and only recently open to tourists. Of course, we can´t forget Pachacamac, 30 minutes inland to the South where you can visit the pre-Incan Citadel that attracts thousands of visitors and travellers every year, or Mamacona, known for its cock fighting and bull rings which takes place every Sunday during the Winter and is basically an all-day party. Trust us, get away from the tourist traps as Lima has a lot to offer the adventurous and intrigued person willing to make an effort.
Must see in Lima
Must see and do in Lima:
- Relax By The Pool in Lima’s Only City Oasis – Pool Paradise Lima. What better way to start a fresh day in a fresh city than by relaxing beside an amazing swimming pool in the sunshine. Located in the heart of the Miraflores district, this new hostel is close to many restaurants, bars and other activities found in the area. Pool Paradise Lima is the only hostel in Lima which has a pool, giving you a chance to relax in the sunshine.
- Spend an evening at Circuito Magico del Agua witnessing an amazing light and fountain show. It will make you feel like you’re in a magical movie. A must see for a great night.
- Learn all about Peruvian history and see all the masterpieces and treasures at the Larco Museum.
- Visit the Pachacamac ruins, a pre-Inca Sanctuary 30 minutes south of Lima.
- Get the best view of Lima from the Cristo de Pacifico. This unmissable top-rated viewpoint is an included stop on all Escape From Lima buses leaving from Lima at 7.00am.
Arts & Culture in Lima
Arts & Culture in Lima:
Lima is a culturally rich and vibrant city and you should try to make the most of its generous selection of museums and galleries while visiting. No matter the taste or preferences, Lima truly has something for everybody. We have selected the following places that we love and think you should not miss while passing through this amazing city.
LUM: Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia, y la Inclusión Social (Museum of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion)
Address: Bajada San Martín 151 Miraflores
MALI: Museo de Arte de Lima
MALI is located in the Palace of Exhibitions, one of the most beautiful architectural treasures in the historical centre of Lima. With more than 17 000 pieces, it is the most ample collection of Peruvian art history, hosting art gems from pre-Columbian times up until the present day. The museum also organizes interesting projects, most of them usually for free. On the first Friday of every month, the museum holds the Night at MALI, where the museum is open to to people free of charge.
Address: Paseo Colón 125, Parque de la Exposición, Cercado de Lima
Museo Arqueológico Larco
Museo Arqueológico Larco is in the neighbourhood of Pueblo Libre, in an impressive colonial mansion from the 18th Century, built on the pyramid from the 7th Century. Created in 1926 by Rafael Larco Hoyle, the famous Peruvian artst, who wanted to share his passion for archeology and pre-Columbian civilizations. Overlooking a nice, colourful garden, the museum has recently been renovated and exhibits a remarkable collection of pre-Columbian art, such as crowns, masks, vases and gold jewellery decorated with semiprecious stones. The museum has a dedicated section to an Erotic Gallery in which metal jars and ceramic pots – in a realistic and humorous manner – demonstrate sexual life of pre-Columbian cultures. The Larco museum is one of the only museums that allows tourists enterance to the storage area, which adds to its unique experience. In total, there are 45,000+ pieces to explore, making Museum Larco a special and unforgettable experience.
Address: Avenida Bolívar 1515 Pueblo Libre
MAC: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Found at the start of the bohemian district Barranco, and only a short walk from the coast of Miraflores, MAC is an interactive art museum that focuses on contemporary visual arts. To make the most of and ensure you get the most out of the MAC experience, follow their event program on social media. The museum hosts everything from art and photography exhibitions, to concerts of Peruvian iconic punk music bands and rock climbing competitions.
Address: Avenida Miguel Grau 1511 Barranco
MATE: Museo Mario Testino
In this museum, you can find the permanent exhibition of a famous Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino.
The museum also exhibits and displays work by other Peruvian artists under the supervision of Mario Testino, as well as organizing special events and workshops related to visual arts and photography in general.
Address: Avenida Pedro de Osma 409 Barranco
Museo Pedro de Osma
Museum Pedro de Osma is located close to the museum MATE, and holds a personal collection of works of art, primarily from the colonial era.
Address: Avenida Pedro de Osma 421 Barranco
Museo Textil Precolombino Amano
Amano Museum of Pre-Columbian Textiles is home to one of the most important collections of textiles from the pre-Columbian era in Peru. The museum showcases archeological pieces of great value, such as artefacts from pre-Columbian cultures of Chavín, Paracas, Moche, Wari, Chimú and Chuquibamba. The museum tends to also hold various temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, has a lovely gift shop and a nice coffee shop with a terrace.
Address: Calle Retiro 160 Miraflores
Espacio Fundación Telefónica Lima
Conveniently placed on the bus route between Miraflores and the centre of Lima, this creative space of art, digital culture and technology is ideal if you are interested in learning about contemporary Peruvian innovation. For their unique events, check the program on social media.
Address: Avenida Arequipa 1155 Santa Beatriz
Found in Callao, this urban-renewal project has been created to support local social, cultural and artistic programs, and to promote alternative tourism in the region. The project incorporates gastronomy, urban art and manifold cultural tours to promote community culture in the area. Check out their great social media site to see everything this special project offers.
Address: Jirón Constitución 250 Callao
Street Art in Lima
If you’re into graffiti and alternative art, Lima is the place for you. Make sure to explore the bohemian neighbourhood of Barranco and the street art in the neighbourhood Callao. Every year Lima holds an international graffiti festival called Nosotras Estamos en La Calle, when women from Peru and other parts of Latin America paint mostly marginalized neighbourhoods in the city.
Cinema/Music Theatre in Lima
Cinema/Music Theatre in Limaa:
La Noche de Barranco
An iconic place in Lima where you can enjoy great local atmosphere and live music. La Noche de Barranco offers everything from psychedelic cumbia to the Afro-Peruvian rhythms.
Address: Sanchez Carrion 199 Barranco
For a Peruvian cinematic experience, get into contact with the social media sites of following Lima cultural centres. They offer cinema, music and other events, most of them for free.
- CC PUCP: Centro Cultural de la Universidad de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
- Documental Peruano
- Festival de Cine Al Este de Lima
- Centro Cultural de España en Lima
- Instituto Italiano de la Cultura
- Centro Cultural el Olivar
- ICPNA Cultural
- Goethe Institute
- Centro Cultural Británico
- Alianza Francesa
- Festival de Cine de Lima
- Festival de Cine Lima Independiente
- Gran Teatro Nacional
- Microteatro de Lima Barranco
If you are looking for an ultimate local experience and want to explore the Limeño culture, such as local alternative music or the independent cinema scene, we recommend to check out these places:
- El Paradero: Jr Leon Velarde 982, Lince
- Casa Fela: Jr Camana 323, Distrito de Lima
Nightlife in Lima
Nightlife in Lima
Located in Barranco, this colonial turned-mansion is a must visit. It has an attractive interior with many rooms to get lost in, and a selection of pisco cocktails to choose from.
Address: Avenida San Martin 130 Barranco
Bodega Piselli is home to the arguably best pisco in Barranco. With a great local atmosphere and homemade hearty sandwiches, this is a place which has been around for 100 years.
Address: 28 de Julio 297 Barranco
Famous for its Cathedral (150 ml) size glasses, drink at one of the best pisco-places in Lima, like Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway and Nat King Cole once did.
Address: Jiron de la Union 958 Distrito de Lima
- The Barranco District is home to a lot of different bars and clubs, and is always a guarantee of a good time. Ranging from bars with live bands to traditional bars and clubs with different types of dance music, Barranco is the spot for anyone who loves to have a good night out.
Souvenirs & Shopping in Lima
Souvenirs & Shopping in Lima:
If you want to bring a gift or something special back to your loved ones from your visit to Peru, make sure to stop by these wonderful places that are loved by the locals in Lima.
Located in the center of the colourful Barranco neighbourhood, Dédalo Arte is a place that promotes works of contemporary artesanal work from Peru and other parts of Latin America. It is also the ideal location to buy special and unique gifts from the local artisanal producers. Once a week, the gallery organizes a live jazz concert in the courtyard.
Address: Paseo Sáenz Peña 295 Barranco
Artesanías Las Pallas
If you are interested in great Peruvian craftsmanship, Las Pallas is a gallery with traditional handicraft. The gallery is owned and run by a British anthropologist who has been collecting artesanal gems from Peru for decades.
Address: Calle Cajamarca 212 Barranco
Artesanos Don Bosco
Artesanos Don Bosco is a non-profit organization that supports self-employed artisans in Peru. You can see some of their amazing work in a shop located in Barranco.
Address: Avenida San Martin 135 Barranco
Artesanías Pórtico offers artisanal products with a contemporary touch. Here you can find everything from clothes to fridge magnets.
Address: Calle Jiron Batalla de Junin 358 Barranco
A concept store that is home to various Peruvian designer’s clothing and hats. Perfect if you wish to bring something stylish back from Peru.
Address: Address: Ayacucho 269 Barranco
Feria Ecológica de Barranco & Bioferia Miraflores
If you want to bring traditional Peruvian delicacies back from your trip, visit one of the ecological markets, usually on Sundays. At Feria Ecológica de Barranco and Bioferia Miraflores, you can buy local coffee, tea, honey, quinoa, maca, biological cosmetic goodies and other wonderful Peruvian products, all produced by small family businesses.
Address: Calle San Martín Cuadra 7 Barranco / Parque Reducto No 2 Miraflores
Food Markets In Lima
If you want to taste the infinite variety of Peruvian fruit and try the best ceviche for a fraction of restaurant price, traditional food markets in Lima are the perfect place. We love (and regularly shop at) these mercados.
- Mercado Surquillo: Great place to try traditional Peruvian dishes for very cheap in an authentic environment.
- Mercado Central: Located in downtown Lima, a short walk from Plaza de Armas, the market is a must-see place to experience Lima’s historical centre. It is the best place to try all those wonderful varieties of Peruvian fruits.
- Mercado Magdalena: The most fresh ceviche you can try in Lima. Be sure to come in the mornings or early lunch time, as the ceviche is served only in these hours to ensure the freshness.
Lima safety tips
Lima safety tips:
- Be aware of pickpockets and NEVER take your passport or credit card anywhere unless 100% necessary.
- Lima City Center at night can be dangerous. Be careful, only day trips are recommended and try not to go alone.
- Be careful using ATM machines and avoid using them at night if possible.
- Try to avoid bringing credit cards or other valuables out at night. It is best to just bring what you need and store everything else in lockers at your hostel.
- Be very careful whenever stopping a taxi. Some try to scam travelers or in some cases rob them. Ask for your hotel/hostel reception to call a trusted taxi service if possible.
- Taxis inside the airport are safer but a lot more expensive, those just outside are a lot cheaper and generally safe.
- Currency Exchange – If you want to change cash then there are many people selling dollars and soles on the streets (almost everywhere in Peru accepts dollars and soles), or of course you can go to one of the local banks. If exchanging money on the street make sure you are in a safe district.
- Listen to our Peru Hop Guides…they give you all the tips to ensure your stay in Lima is as fun and safe as possible.
Looking for more stuff to do on your trip? Check out these places!