You only have one day in Lima / Peru and still don’t want to miss the best things to do and highlights? No problem at all with the travel tips and BIG5 checklists from JOURNICATION! Peru’s capital is seen by many only as a hub for onward travel to the country’s world-famous treasures such as Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley, but is itself absolutely worth a trip. Lima impresses with historical sights of the Plaza Mayor, hip artist districts like Barranco and relaxed maritime flair on the beaches of Miraflores. Immerse yourself in an exciting metropolis between evidence of the colonial era and a modern business center. Get inspiration for a perfect day in Lima during your Peru vacation.
What do you learn in this article?
BIG5 Things to do in LIMA
You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to LIMA here:
BIG5 LIMA – Speed Date
The food! Lima is the world’s foodie capital. For eight consecutive times since 2012 Peru has been named the top world’s culinary destination by the World Travel Awards.
The traffic. It’s one of the worst I have experienced in any South American city, especially during rush hour.
Lima Culinary Tour by the Lima Gourmet Company (morning tour).
You will learn about how Lima became the top culinary destination in the world and get to have a go at making Peru’s national dish and drink – Ceviche and Pisco Sour!
Get into an unlicensed taxi drunk at 2am in the morning. Take an Uber or call a licensed taxi.
Don’t tell your mother:
Lima offers the most incredible nightlife in Peru. Don’t tell your mum about that after party you came home from at 7am in the morning.
BIG5 LIMA – Rapid Fire Q&A
- Which neighbourhood should I stay in?– Barranco! It’s Lima’s chilled out bohemian neighbourhood with amazing art galleries, live music, great coffee shops, bars and top restaurants.
- Is Lima safe? – Lima is one of the safer cities in South America. But just as in all Latin American metropolitans you need to look after your belongings when walking around and be aware of pickpocketing. Violent crime against tourists is rare.
- What do I need to book in advance? – If you want to check out some of the world’s best restaurants such as Central and Maido, you sometimes need to book months in advance. But it’s so worth it, that’s a culinary experience you won’t forget!
- If I have time to visit only one museum, which one should it choose? – Definitely Larco Museum! Set within beautiful gardens Museo Larco holds the largest and most important archaeological collection of Ancient Peru in the world and features some of the most incredible golden artefacts and jewellery from Incan and pre-Columbian times.
- Lima lies on the Pacific Ocean, are there any activities by the water you recommend? – Yes! Lima is known for its surf! To get a lesson, rent a board or explore some of the best surf spots outside of Lima, check out some of the surfing schools such as Tubos Surf School.
BIG5 LIMA – Orga
Best travel time for LIMA
The best time to visit Lima is between December and April, which are Peru’s summer months. Lima’s geography is considered a coastal desert and as such relatively dry throughout the year. However, between May and November you’re likely to find what locals call la garua: overcast skies and a thick misty fog hanging over the city.
Arrival & Departure
Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for Peru with your passport
- Flight: Once you arrive at Lima International Airport best is to take a licensed taxi or an uber into the city. Depending on traffic the drive takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half. If you’re really tight on budget you can also take a bus to Plaza Norte and then a metropolitan bus to your destination.
- Bus: Peru’s long distance coach system is well developed. There is no main coach station but each coach company has their own station such as Plaza Norte or Cruz del Sur from where coaches leave to destinations throughout Peru and beyond.
- Car: I do not recommend renting a car in Lima, the traffic is mad and it feels like limeños have their own traffic rules.
Next it goes to … Depending on your planned route, you can either travel south towards Paracas, Ica and Huacachina, or take a flight to Cuzco, Peru’s ancient Inca capital and gateway to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
Accommodation / Hotels in LIMA
Recommended location: : Miraflores or Barranco
- Budget: Kaclla The Healing Dog Hostel – Great location, welcoming hosts, excellent breakfast (and a lovely pooch!) Prices for a dorm start at 12 USD a night and 30 USD for a private room including breakfast.
- Medium:Selina Miraflores – Brings backpacking in style and comfort to a new level. Great for digital nomads. At Selina I’d go for a private room, which start at 40 USD a night.
- Noble: Casa Republica – My favourite hotel in Lima. Excellent location in the heart of Barranco. You can get a private room from 100 USD a night including an amazing breakfast.
- Find out more about best flashpacker hostels in Lima in Antonia’s article.
Price Level in LIMA
In Peru you pay with Nuevo Sol (S/)
Withdraw money: You can find ATMs throughout the city.
Beer indicator: Depending on the bar, pub or club between 1-4 USD
Cost of a taxi: Cheap– about 3-4 USD for a 10-min ride
Public Transport: Lima has the metropolitan bus system running between the different neighbor hoods which works reasonably well. Other than that there are thousands of privately owned often chaotic “micros”, small vans and buses seemingly without a clear route that stop and go randomly
Restaurants, Bars & Cafés in LIMA
- Maido – One of the world’s top ten restaurants – Make sure you pre-book long in advance. Also pack a big wallet.
- Amoramar – Lovely courtyard and great food on a warm summer night.
- Ayahuasca Bar – Fantastic place with great cocktails and appetizers in Barranco.
- Cafe Bisetti – Best cafe in Baranco.
- Isolina – Down to earth Tavern with hearty home cooked food.
- Edo Sushi Bar(They have a handful of restaurants around Lima) – Fresh Japanese/Peruvian fusion and sushi – best sushi in town.
BIG5 LIMA – Activities
- Enjoy a daytime culinary tour with the Lima Gourmet Company.
- Go on a walking tour to visit Plaza Mayor and the catacombs in the monastery of San Francicso and Lima’s Cathedral in the Old Town
- Go for a stroll or rent a bike from Lima Bike to explore the Malecón or Miraflores Boardwalk, a spectacular 8km ocean walk around Miraflores.
- Check out Larcomar shopping mall and grab some ceviche and a pisco sour enjoying the view over the Pacific Ocean.
- Be amazed by the street art in Barranco and enjoy some live music in one of the local bars
BIG5 LIMA – Photo spots
- The colourful street art and murals in Barranco
- The Huaca Pucllana Pyramid in Miraflores
- View over the Pacific Ocean from the Miraflores Boardwalk
- Plaza Major in the Old Town
- The magnificent arcades of the old post office near the Plaza de Armas
BIG5 LIMA – Things to do off the beaten track
- Paragliding: See Lima’s coastline from above – definitively off the beaten track!
- Circuito de Playas: Go on a bike tour on the 25km beach circuit along the coast to explore nearby beaches
- Callao District: Visit the often overlooked Callao that went from a crime-ridden area a decade ago to a colourful artistic neighborhood undoubtedly featuring Lima’s best street art with about 600 murals of national and international graffiti artists.
- Fishing Culture Tour: The tour offered by sustainable tour company Alternative Peru brings you to a local off the beaten oath fish market, go a boat tour with a local fisherman, visit an artisanal boatmaker’s workshop and have the best ceviche at a local family’s house.
- Caral Ruins: The Caral Ruins located about 3 hours from Lima in the desert are the oldest ruins of the oldest civilization in South America dating back about 5000 years. In fact they are the second oldest surviving city and pyramid structures in the world. So I’d almost say it’s a must-do day trip when in Lima.
BIG5 LIMA – Culinary Journey
- Ceviche – The best in the world – a variety of fresh raw fish cured in the citrus juice. The acidity of the citrus will “cook” the fish, which you can see while the Ceviche is being prepared. It’s often served with choclo, a large type of delicious Peruvian corn
- Lomo Saltado– One of the most popular Peruvian dishes consisting of marinated strips of sirloin stir fried in tomatoes, onions and served with rice and fries. The best!
- Pisco Sour – Pisco is a type of brandy and Peru’s national drink (although Chile tries to claim it for themselves).
- Pollo a la brasa – Grilled chicken, rice and salad – sounds too generic? Wait until you’ve tried the best one you’ve ever had!
- Chilcano de Pisco– Pisco based cocktail mixed with Ginger Ale and lime
BIG5 LIMA – Communication
In LIMA you speak Spanish
- thank you – Gracias
- yes – Si
- no – No
- hello – Buenos días
- goodbye – Hasta luego
BIG5 LIMA – Helpful Websites / Links
BIG5 LIMA – Overview map for your city trip
A perfect day in LIMA 🇵🇪 – here is your overview
Best suited for screenshots 📷📝
Your morning in LIMA
- The artists’ district of Barranco
- Food Tour at the local markets
- Taste Ceviche & Pisco Sour
- Huaca Pucllana pyramid
Your afternoon in LIMA
- Plaza Mayor / Plaza de Armas
- Government Palace
- Palacio Municipal de Lima
- Archbishop’s Palace
- Lima Cathedral
- Basilica of San Francisco & Catacombs
- Casa de Correos y Telegrafos
- Malecón / Miraflores Ocean Boardwalk
Your evening in LIMA
- Restaurants in Miraflores
- Ayahuasca Bar
In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in LIMA and the circular route for you in an overview map:
Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!
Things to do in LIMA in the morning
Wake up early to the smell of freshly brewed Peruvian coffee at your accommodation in Lima. How could a day start better?
Lima is known worldwide for its culinary delights. Therefore, a food tour is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the local culture and learn more about the country and its people. At around 10am you will be picked up for the Lima Gourmet Company culinary tour and walk through Barranco, Lima’s bohemian arts district.
Visit a local market, taste fruits you’ve never seen or heard of, and learn how Peru became the world’s leading culinary destination. One of the highlights of this morning is the ceviche and pisco sour workshop you’ll participate in. Too early for pisco? Definitely not 🙂
Ceviche is one of the national dishes of Peru. Here, small pieces of raw fish of different varieties, mostly white fish fillet, are marinated in citrus juice, salt and chilies. The broth is also called “Leche de Tigre”. The citric acid naturally “cooks” the fish. It is often served with sweet potatoes, roasted corn and yuca.
Pisco Sour is Peru’s national alcoholic beverage. Pisco is a grape brandy traditionally mixed and shaken with lime juice, sugar and egg whites. Nowadays it comes in countless flavors, depending on the ingredients used. Today, there are entire pisco bars that offer their guests countless delicious pisco cocktails.
For lunch, visit one of the best restaurants in Lima, located right on the grounds of the incredible Huaca Pucllana pyramid, offering a selection of delicacies.
Things to do in LIMA in the afternoon
Sated and satisfied, take a cab to the old town of Lima, the “Centro historico“, about 20 minutes away.
Walk around the impressive Plaza de Armas and enjoy the great atmosphere amidst the magnificent buildings from the colonial era. At the Plaza de Armas you will find the Government Palace, the Palacio Municipal de Lima, the Lima Cathedral next to the Archbishop’s Palace and the Casa del Oidor.
Visit the monastery and basilica of San Francisco and its mystical catacombs.
Stroll even further through the historic center, there is so much to discover! From the Piedra del Rio Rimac bridge, you have a great view of more of Lima’s neighborhoods beyond the historic center!
Worth seeing is the old post office of Lima (Casa de Correos y Telegrafos) with a long arcade walkway – one of the best photo spots in the center. There are old colonial houses everywhere, like the Casa de Aliaga.
If you have some time, you can walk a large arc through the streets and alleys of Lima to Plaza San Martin.
Take a cab back to Miraflores. It is now late afternoon and time for a walk along the Malecón, the Miraflores Ocean Boardwalk.
From here you will enjoy a spectacular view over the coast of Lima, perfect for the sunset over the Pacific Ocean!
Things to do in LIMA in the evening
After some rest and relaxation in your accommodations, you’ll head out for dinner later that evening. With any luck, you could reserve a seat at Maido in Miraflores, one of the best restaurants in the world.
Otherwise, there are many other options. Wherever you have dinner in Lima, it will definitely be a feast! If you didn’t go on a food tour in the morning or chose other delicacies, now is the time for ceviche and pisco sour!
The day ends with a few cocktails at Ayahuasca Bar, located in a stunning colonial Barranco mansion (don’t worry, just drinks, no ayahuasca). And who knows, maybe you’re ready for a dance? Barranco has the most amazing live music venues in Lima!
You have more than one day in Lima?
Great, there are so many more things to do in and around Lima!
- Head to the archaeological site of Pachacamac and the ruins of dozens of temples, 45min outside of Lima.
- Go on a day-or even overnight trip to the Cañete River and nearby Lunahuaná for some fun white water rafting and a hike (approx. 3 hours from Lima)
- For science nerds: Vist the Jucamarca Ionospheric Radio Observatory in the desert, the premier scientific facility in the world for studying the equatorial ionosphere.
- Mercado de Brujas: Known as the witches market, you will find all sorts of weird and interesting items for ceremonies and rituals as well as traditional medicinal plant medicine. Don’t get freaked out!
This article was written by JOURNICATION reader Antonia Hiesgen from Flashpack Journal. On her blog, Antonia focuses on sustainable and transformative travel experiences for solo travellers and digital nomads around the world looking for the best accommodation, deep cultural immersion and unique experiences benefitting both traveller and local communities. Follow Antonia on Instagram (@flashpackjournal)
Now you know the best sights & things to do in LIMA for one day and see what a great destination the capital of Peru is – not only because of the terrific delicious food. Is Lima now also on your bucket list? 🇵🇪
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