The great thing about backpacking long-therm is that you hardly have to do any research about places on your own if you don’t want to. You’ll always meet people headed the opposite way that will be happy to tell you about their favorite places, experiences, and advice for your next destination. This was of course also the case as I traveled my way down in Peru. I met a lot of people telling me about fantastic places. But when it came to things to do in Lima most people didn’t have much to say. Everyone kept on telling me how I just needed 2-3 days in the Peruvian capital.
As always, I followed their advice. But as a long time backpacker kept my travel plans and mind open for surprises. It turned out to be a good decision, cause I ended up Couchsurfing in Lima for 10 days, and meet some amazing people, After that, I got a volunteering job and ended up staying for about 2 months. Here are some ideas on what to do in Lima.
Things to do in Lima
Get to know the historic center of Lima.
The historic center of Lima is on UNESCO’s world heritage site list, and not without reason. The streets are filled with buildings in different styles. What really stands out is the “balconies” that a majority of the houses have. There is also a series of churches and one of them, The Monastery of San Francisco, is famous for having a bunch of bones in the cellar. Also known as a catacomb, that served as a graveyeard back in the days.
Check out China town
When you’re already in the historical center, why don’t take a short detour to Chinatown located super close by? Here you should try the famous Chifa, a mix of Peruvian and Asian food. Sit down and have a proper meal, or get some delicious street food.
Have at least one day to stroll around in the streets of Barranco
Barranco is something special, it has this bohemian, artistic, relaxed vibe that you can only understand if you visit the district. Stroll along the streets, check out the narrow streets with graffiti, the old majestic mansions. Some of the mansions are bars now, so why not sit down and have a beer in some for this historic buildings? Barranco used to and still is home to many great artists. If you’re lucky enough to be accompanied by a local, I’m sure they can point out some houses where artists lived/live. One of my friends grew up in Lima and pointed out so many houses and told my a lot of stories about the area.
If you happen to be in Lima on a Monday, don’t miss out on the jazz night in the bar La Noche in Barranco. The entrance is free and beverages and food is reasonable priced. This club is a bit of a historic one in Barranco, and Mondays are the only day with free entrance.
Walk along the “Malecon”, and see the beautiful parks all along the cliffside
The Malecon of Lima are the parks located on the cliffs above the beaches. These parks are well maintained and always filled with people, doing sports, practicing slackline, paragliding, having a picnic, or you know what. They stretch across several districts and you can for an example walk from Miraflores to Barraco along the Malecon. It’ll take you about 45 minutes. The most popular park for tourist is “Parque del Amor” with tiled constructions and benches, think Gaudi style. The parks are also the perfect place to catch the sunset.
Treat yourself to a proper meal, and don’t miss out on the famous ceviche
Peru is one of the food capitals of the world and you can not leave Lima without eating Ceviche. If you don’t know what it is, it is basically fish cut into small pieces and out in a lime juice bath. It’s not exposed to heat but the acid from the lime juice cooks the fish.
For affordable food and ceviche in Lima head to the market in Miraflores. It’s next to Ricardo Palma station. The places in the area have affordable and really good ceviche, as well as menus for under 10 soles. The menus include a drink, a soup, and the main dish and are guaranteed to fill you up. Go early for the freshest ceviche, and they do tend to run out around 2 pm as they only use fresh fish caught the same morning.
If markets aren’t your thing and you’re up for something a bit more pricey checkout some of the proper Seafood restaurants in Lima. I can highly recommend Kuichy, also in Miraflores. I had a great tuna filet in passion fruit sauce there when I went with my Couchsurfing host(read my Couchsurfing guide!). Punto Azul is another good place close by where they have great plates of ceviche and other Peruvian dishes.
Check out some museums
There is a bunch of museums in Lima, both free and paid entrance. Larco in Pueblo Libre is supposed to be amazing and has an entrance fee of 20 soles, but remember to bring your student id for a discount!
Take a surf lesson
Lima has great waves just a short walk from the busy streets. Take a break from the city life and learn a new skill. There are affordable lessons, rentals of wetsuits and boards, due to the competition between the surf shops in the capital. If you’re already an experienced surfer, jump right in!
Paragliding is one of the really cool things to do in Lima, and you can go paragliding from the Malecon, close to “Parque del Amore”. Don’t think you can get a beautiful view of the city and the coast than that. But I still have to check this activity off my list next time I go to Lima.
Visit the Huaca Pucllana ruins
In the middle of Limas district Miraflores, you can check out Huaca Pucllana ruins. The ruins are a pyramid formation and were used for religious purposes. Entrance included a tour in English or Spanish for just 12 soles, or 6 soles if you’re a student.
Check out the weekend market/fair in Barranco, “La féria de Union”.
I never got the chance to check it out myself, might have something to do with the bartender lifestyle I had while in town. Live by night, sleep during the day… But my local friends still claim that the ecological weekend market in Barranco is worth checking out.
Check out the view from the hill in Churrios.
Finally, I’m ending this article with a view from the little hill in Churrios, the winter weather in Lima is known for being cloudy and you’ll be lucky to catch a glimpse of the blue sky. Never the less, the views from the hill in Churrios is worth a visit. If you happen to be in Lima in the spring or summer, even better, expect an amazing view of the coast on Lima from this viewpoint!
Things to do in Lima at night
Check out the clubs in Miraflores and Barranco
After volunteering in a bar in Lima for over 1,5 month its safe to say I did my fair share of clubbing in this Lima. Thursdays at “Help! retro bar” is definitely one not to miss out on, as well as Bizzaro in Miraflores. If you want free entrance to a club, I recommend starting the night at Loki Hostel(where I used to work haha) and head to the club with everyone from the hostel.
The clickable links are however affiliate with hostelworld, doesn’t cost you any more to book through them! So if you are planning on booking a hostel, book it through the link and help a fellow traveler out:)
Check out the Magic circuit fountain show
In Parque de la Reserva, located in Lima Downtown, there is a variation of fountains. The park is open every day from 15-22.30, but they have fountain shows every night. The first show starts is at 19.15. I’ve seen other fountain shows, but this is really something special as there are holograms projected in the water, as well as a storyline about Peru. The entrance is 4 soles(about 5 dollars).
Hope this post about “13 things to do in Lima” inspires you to visit! Like you see there are tons of things to do in Lima.
PS. Are you planning your Peru getaway? Want more tips about things to so and places to go? Check out my post about Trujillo HERE!