Our Sales Supervisor, Mari, is a Peru native, born and bred in Lima. She returned recently for a holiday and was pleasantly surprised by how the city has changed.
Returning to Lima after 3 and a half years and seeing how much it has improved and grown was mind blowing. To many people Lima is just another city but to me it is a place that holds many great memories with family and friends. Some people think there isn´t much to do there, but Lima has well preserved archaeological sites and museums, not to mention a great gastronomic offering with many Michelin Star restaurants. In fact, Lima’s Central restaurant was voted 4th in the World’s 50 Top Restaurants in 2016.
On my latest trip to Peru, I decided to explore downtown Lima and visit the sites that a local like me normally overlooks because you’re trapped in your daily routine. I discovered amazing places like the San Francisco Church and Monastery in Lima. This baroque-style church holds the oldest cemetery in Lima, where human remains can still be seen stacked in piles in a series of underground tunnels – a morbid yet fascinating sight.
After a few hours in downtown, I headed to the bohemian district of Lima called Barranco, home to many famous Peruvian artists. We wandered around the cobbled stone streets of La Alameda Chabuca Granda and stopped for a couple of Pisco Sours, a traditional Peruvian cocktail. At the end of the most famous street in Barranco, Alameda de los Descalzos, I spotted the same old wooden bridge I used to cross with my mom and dad to go to Barranco beach, back in the days when we had sandy beaches in Lima.
Barranco hasn’t changed much despite the passing of time. The old colonial houses remain standing, many of them now restored to their original grandeur. Another nice thing to do if you love art and have time, is to visit MATE, the art gallery of a prominent British Peruvian photographer, Mario Testino, or stop by The Contemporary Art Museum. The Pedro de Osma Museum holds a nice collection of paintings from the 16th century – also a good choice.
From Barranco, I headed to Miraflores district via a lovely road that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, my favourite route to head back home when I used to live and work in Lima. This route can be done by foot, car or bike and makes for a lovely stroll around sunrise or sunset, to watch the Pacific Ocean glittering with reflected light.
A tourist attraction I did not go to on my latest trip to Peru but I have been to previously, is the Lima Magic Water Circuit Park, located 30 minutes by taxi from Miraflores district. It is only open in the afternoon and evening, because part of its spectacle relies on the coloured lights. The park consists of more than a dozen fountains sending water shooting into the air in different patterns, choreographed to music and light. My favourite water fountain is called "The Maze", if you time the streams right you can walk to the middle of the fountain without getting wet, if not you may get a splash.
There are plenty of great things to do in Lima, but one of my favourites is definitely visiting the Larco Herrera Museum, housed in an old colonial building surrounded by beautiful gardens. It comprises the finest collection of pottery, gold and silver pieces of ancient Peru, as well as the largest collection of erotic pre-Hispanic art in Peru.
If you have a couple of free days in Lima, you can venture outside Lima and visit the archaeological site of Pachacamac. This site is located about one hour outside Lima and it was mainly used for ceremonial purposes where human sacrifices took place back in the late 1300s. Closer to the centre, in Miraflores to be precise, you can visit Huaca Pucllana a pyramid dating back to around 200AD, which was once an important ceremonial and administrative centre.
Despite having grown up in Lima, I found new and exciting aspects of the city to explore and wasn’t bored for a second. If you are visiting for the first time, you will no doubt find it a fascinating and entertaining place, well worth a few days of your time.
All of our Incas & Conquistadors holidays visit Lima. You can check out our Peru holiday options here, and do some reading about our Lima excursions here (Peru on a Plate & Colonial Lima).