Lima Peru: Our 2018 detailed guide from how to get there, where to stay, what to do and much much more!
Lima, Peru Brief Summary
- Capital city of Peru.
- It is the second largest desert city after Cairo.
- Fifth largest city in South America, with a population of 9 million people.
- Gastronomic capital of the Americas.
Below we have created our extensive guide to Lima based on our expert local knowledge having helped to transport over 30,000 tourists here since our formation in 2013.
Lima Guide Contents:
1. How to get to Lima – Compare transportation options.
2. Sightseeing and Tours in Lima– A list of the most popular activities for travellers.
3. Must see in Lima– The sights you cannot miss.
4. Arts & Culture in Lima– The best museums and areas with cultural art to see.
5. Cinema/Music/Theather in Lima– Where to see live shows, acting and movies.
6. Nightlife in Lima – Good places to go for a drink.
7. Souvenirs & Shopping in Lima – Places to get your gifts for back home.
8. Lima Safety Tips– Safety issues to be aware of.
9. Photo Gallery– A few of the best photos of Lima.
How to get to Lima
How to get to Lima:
- Flights to Jorge Chavez International Airport. From the airport to the touristic districts of Miraflores and Barranco use the Airport Express Lima Service, or order a safe taxi. For more information see our Lima Airport Useful Tips page.
- Public buses arriving at company specific bus stations (Lima does not have a central bus terminal)
- Peru Hop bus with drop offs directly at your hotel/hostel in Miraflores or Barranco
Located in the dangerous district of Callao, Jorge Chavez International Airport is one of the busiest airports in South America. Add to the fact that the area is reasonably unsafe and at about 17 km from Miraflores and Barranco, it is important to find a safe and secure way to get to your destination in Lima. Usually travellers stay in the Miraflores or Barranco district. If you’re staying in one of these districts, it is best to use the service of Airport Express Lima (AEL). If you’re staying in another district you can opt for a taxi or shuttle service but keep in mind that these options are more expensive and, in the case of a taxis, often unsafe.
From essentially any city in Peru you can take a public bus to arrive in Lima. The majority of the trips from other departments could take more than 10 hours through windy, old roads with no stops. Although there have been vast improvements through the years, accidents are still frequent. On arrival, you will be dropped off in the companies’ terminal which could be located anywhere in Lima, often in districts unsafe for travelers. Although these public buses are often the cheapest option, you get what you pay for.
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:
- Walking tour of the Plaza de Armas in Lima City Center.
- Walk along the beautiful Costa Verde (green coast) from Miraflores to Barranco.
- Take a day trip to Caral, just 2hrs from Lima, it is the oldest city in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Eat ceviche, causa de atun, lomo saltado, and other Peruvian cuisine.
- Visit the black markets of Gamarra or Polvos Azules for cheap clothes and DVD´s. (Recommended to go in groups, if possible with native Peruvians, and always be very careful)
- Hop to Mamacona in Winter on Sundays for a big suprise. (Trust us, this is not to be missed!)
- Spend a night walking 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 felt throughout the whole city, but Plaza de Armas is probably the crown jewel and heart of Colonial Lima. A simple walking tour is a great way to learn about Lima’s history.
If impressive views and an ocean breeze are down your alley, Lima offers other walking experiences as well. Take a walk along the Costa Verde and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific coast from the cliffs of Lima.
Peru was declared the world’s leading culinary destination in 2012, with many world-famous chefs predicting Peruvian cuisine to be the next big thing, so don’t miss the chance to taste it in Lima, the heart of Peru. Lima has a thriving restaurant scene where you can taste for yourself why Peruvian cuisine has been attracting so much attention in recent years. We recommend hopsters try ceviche (the traditional raw fish dish cooked only with lemon), causa de atún, yucas, lomo saltado…we could go on and on! Quite often the best ceviche isn’t found in the most expensive restaurants, and can be found in some market stalls or street sellers, so our Peruvian guides will show you exactly where are the best and most affordable places to devour these incredible dishes.
Another often unknown fact about Peru is that it is famous for the quality of its textiles, and many world-famous brands like Lacoste manufacture their clothes here. Shopping in Lima is in abundance, from the beautiful Larcomar on the Costa Verde close to Miraflores to the monstrous Jockey plaza in Surco, which contains some of the most exclusive shops in Peru. If these malls are out of your hopster budget, there is a huge black market here in Lima, the 2 most famous markets being Gamarra and Polvos Azules. Here you can find many copies of brand name t-shirts, dvd’s, etc. for rock bottom prices, and we think you will be very surprised at the quality of these copies. Make sure all hopsters haggle for the best prices and usually most goods can be bought for one-half of the original price quotes, so play hard and get yourself a bargain. Be careful in these areas as pickpockets loom. Don’t venture too far off the main streets, and try to go along with a friend where possible.
Lima is a sprawling city, and away from the main tourist areas above, there are many gems 30minutes/1 hour north and south of Lima. In the south, there is a place called Asia, a stretch of about 50kms of beaches with modern restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and it is normal to see Lima’s top nightclubs deserted during Summer weekends as everybody flocks here to party. To the north there is a place called Caral, a UNESCO world heritage site thought to be the America´s oldest city (over 5,000 years old) and only recently made open to tourists. We can´t forget Pachacamac, 30 minutes inland to the South where we can visit the famous pre-Inca Citadel which attracts thousands of visitors every year, or Mamacona, famous for its bull ring and cock fighting that takes place every Sunday during the Winter and basically involves an all-day party. Trust us, move away from the tourist traps and Lima has a lot to offer the adventurous and intrigued hopster.
Must see in Lima
Must see in Lima:
- Spend an evening witnessing an amazing light and fountain show at Circuito Magico del Agua. It’ll make you feel like you’re in the magical movie. A must witness for a great night.
- See all the masterpieces and treasures full of Peruvian history at the Larco Museum.
- See the ruins at Pachacamac, a pre-Inca Sanctuary located 30 minutes to the south of Lima.
- Get the best view of lima from Cristo de Pacifico. This top-rated viewpoint is an included stop on all Peru Hop buses leaving from Lima at 7.00am.
Arts & Culture in Lima
Arts & Culture in Lima:
Lima is a vibrant and culturally rich city and you should make the most of its generous selections of museums and galleries while visiting. No matter the taste or preferences, Lima truly has something for everybody. At Peru Hop we have selected the following places that we love and that we think you should not miss while passing through this exciting 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 area of the Palace of Exhibitions, one of the most beautiful eclectic architectural treasures in the historical centre of Lima. With more than 17 000 pieces, it is the most ample collection of the Peruvian art history, hosting art gems from pre-Columbian times to the present day. Moreover, the museum organizes interesting projects, most of them for free. On the first Friday of each month, the museum holds the Night at MALI, when the museum is open to the visitors for free of charge.
Address: Paseo Colón 125, Parque de la Exposición, Cercado de Lima
Museo Arqueológico Larco
Archeological museum Larco is located in the traditional neighbourhood of Pueblo Libre, in an impressive colonial mansion from the 18th Century, built on the pyramid from the 7th Century. It was created in 1926 by the famous Peruvian archeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle who wanted to share his passion for archeology and pre-Columbian civilizations. The museum overlooks a nice, colourful garden. It 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 section dedicated to the 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 few museums that allow tourists to enter the storage area, which adds to the unique experience. In total, there are over 45, 000 pieces to explore, making the Museum Larco an unforgettable and special experience.
Address: Avenida Bolívar 1515 Pueblo Libre
MAC: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Located at the beginning of bohemian district Barranco and a short walk from the coast of Miraflores, MAC is an interactive art space that focuses on contemporary visual arts. To make sure you get the most out of MAC experience, follow their event program on social media. The museum organizes everything from art and photography exhibitions, to the concerts of Peruvian iconic punk music bands.
Address: Avenida Miguel Grau 1511 Barranco
MATE: Museo Mario Testino
MATE contains a permanent exhibition of a famous Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino.
The museum also exhibits works by other Peruvian artists under the supervision of Mario Testino, and organizes several workshops and special events related to photography and visual arts in general.
Address: Avenida Pedro de Osma 409 Barranco
Museo Pedro de Osma
Museum Pedro de Osma is situated close to the museum MATE and holds a personal collection of works of art, primary from the colonial era.
Address: Avenida Pedro de Osma 421 Barranco
Museo Textil Precolombino Amano
Amano Museum of Pre-Columbian Textiles holds one of the most important collections of textiles from pre-Columbian era in Peru. The museum also exhibits archeological pieces of great value, such as artefacts from pre-Columbian cultures of Chavín, Paracas, Moche, Wari, Chimú and Chuquibamba. The museum also holds various temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, a lovely gift shop and a nice coffee shop with a terrace.
Address: Calle Retiro 160 Miraflores
Espacio Fundación Telefónica Lima
Situated conveniently on the bus route between Miraflores and the centre of Lima, this great creative space of art, digital culture and technology is ideal if you are interested in discovering contemporary Peruvian innovation. For their unique events, check the program on social media.
Address: Avenida Arequipa 1155 Santa Beatriz
This urban-renewal project in Lima´s neighbourhood Callao has been created to support local social, cultural and artistic programs and to promote alternative tourism in the area. The project incorporates urban art, gastronomy and manifold cultural tours that were designed to promote community culture in the neighbourhood. Check out their great social media site to see everything this special project has to offer.
Address: Jirón Constitución 250 Callao
Street Art in Lima
If graffiti and alternative art is your thing, Lima is the right place for you. Make sure to explore bohemian neighbourhood Barranco and street art of the neighbourhood Callao. Every year Lima holds international graffiti festival 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
La Noche de Barranco is an iconic place in Lima to enjoy live music and a great local atmosphere. The place offers everything from psychedelic cumbia to the Afro-Peruvian rhythms.
Address: Sanchez Carrion 199 Barranco
For Peruvian cinematic experience consult the social media sites of following cultural centres in Lima. They offer music, cinema and other events, most of them for free.
- CC PUCP: Centro Cultural de la Universidad de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
- ICPNA Cultural
- Goethe Institute
- Centro Cultural Británico
- Alianza Francesa
- Centro Cultural de España en Lima
- Instituto Italiano de la Cultura
- Centro Cultural el Olivar
- Gran Teatro Nacional
- Microteatro de Lima Barranco
- Festival de Cine de Lima
- Festival de Cine Lima Independiente
- Documental Peruano
- Festival de Cine Al Este de Lima
If you are looking for an ultimately local experience and want to explore Limeño culture, such as local alternative music or the independent cinema scene, we recommend you check out these places:
- Casa Fela: Jr Camana 323, Distrito de Lima
- El Paradero: Jr Leon Velarde 982, Lince
Nightlife in Lima
Nightlife in Lima
The colonial turned-mansion in Barranco is a must visit. It has a wonderful attractive interior with many rooms to get lost in and a selection of pisco cocktails.
Address: Avenida San Martin 130 Barranco
Arguably the best pisco in Barranco with a great local atmosphere and homemade hearty sandwiches. The place has been around for 100 years.
Address: 28 de Julio 297 Barranco
Drink Pisco Sours in its Cathedral (150 ml) size at one of the best pisco-places in Lima, like Ernest Hemingway, Walt Disney, Orson Welles or Nat King Cole once did.
Address: Jiron de la Union 958 Distrito de Lima
- The Barranco District has a lot of different clubs and bars, and always guarantees a good time. Ranging from traditional bars to bars with live bands 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 something special to your loved ones from your visit to Peru, make sure you stop by at these wonderful places in Lima that are loved by the locals.
Located in the heart of the colourful and arty Barranco neighbourhood, Dédalo Arte is a space that promotes works of contemporary artesanal work from Peru and other parts of Latin America. It is also an ideal place to buy special and unique presents from the local artisanal producers. Once in a week, the gallery organizes a live jazz concerts in their lovely courtyard.
Address: Paseo Sáenz Peña 295 Barranco
Artesanías Las Pallas
If you are looking for a great Peruvian craftsmanship, Las Pallas is a gallery with traditional handicraft. The gallery is owned by 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 supporting self-employed artisans in Peru. You can look at some of their beautiful works in a shop located in Barranco.
Address: Avenida San Martin 135 Barranco
This place offers artisanal products with a contemporary touch. You can find here everything, from clothes to fridge magnets.
Address: Calle Jiron Batalla de Junin 358 Barranco
This concept store that houses various Peruvian designer clothing and hats is perfect for if you wish to bring something stylish back from Peru.
Address: Address: Ayacucho 269 Barranco
Feria Ecológica de Barranco & Bioferia Miraflores
If you would like to bring traditional Peruvian delicacies back from your trip, we recommend you visit one of the ecological markets usually organized on Sundays. At Feria Ecológica de Barranco and Bioferia Miraflores, you can purchase local coffee, tea, honey, quinoa, maca, or 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 explore the endless variety of Peruvian fruit and eat the best ceviche for a fraction of the restaurant price, traditional food markets in Lima are the perfect place. We love (and regularly shop) at these mercados.
- 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 Surquillo: Great place to try traditional Peruvian dishes for very cheap in an authentic environment.
- 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 careful using ATM machines and avoid using them at night if possible.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.