Lima gives off an air of nonchalance. It’s incredible, but not showy. What a great skill to master, and Peru has done it well. From the well manicured parks to the more historical catacombs and ruins, the culture is evident around every corner. I wanted to cover some of the top sights that are a great place to start for a first visit to Lima. One could easily cover the following in a matter of a couple days for a pretty thorough dive into what Lima has to extend to those naive to the city.
1. Larcomar: This is an outdoor shopping mall built into the cliffside overlooking the ocean. There are fantastic views of the coast. It was rather overcast in the morning when we arrived. A visit to admire the views may be better served in the afternoon. Although Lima receives minimal rain every year (less than 1 inch!), it can oftentimes be overcast. The mall at Larcomar has your standard stores, and we did not spend much time shopping. There are some restaurants at this mall with great views of the coastline.
2. Park of Love: We walked to the Park of Love from Larcomar. The sidewalk along the cliff proved to be the perfect pathway up through another park and finally to our destination. I read about the Park of Love ahead of time and wanted to visit. It was beautiful and also situated with gorgeous views of the ocean. There were a number of people paragliding just north of the park for those interested in an adventure.
3. Kennedy Park: Another short walk from the Park of Love was Kennedy Park. This was where I started to realize there are beautiful parks everywhere in Lima. One difference, to be sure, with Kennedy park is there are cats everywhere. I read online ahead of time about the “cats of Kennedy Park” and this was the absolute truth. They are running the show here. We completed these first three stops at a leisurely pace in about two hours.
4. San Isidro Area: Astrid y Gaston is in the San Isidro area of Lima. After a 2.5 hour leisurely lunch, we walked along Calle La Republica and went into a couple of shops. I found a cute boutique called Nim where I purchased a couple of tops. This area seemed the perfect place to wonder around and window shop. From here, we walked through Parque el Olivar de San Isidro.
5. Huaca Pucllana: These are clay and adobe pyramids, which is an archeological site in the middle of the Miraflores region of Lima. They were just around the corner from our hotel. In order to explore the ruins, there is a small entry fee. You are not able to walk around on your own and must take a guided tour. They have tours in English and Spanish. In addition, there is a restaurant here that I kept coming across in my searches prior to arrival in Lima. It offers great views of the ruins.
6. Tour the Catacombs of Lima at the Monastery of San Francisco: We arrived here early on Sunday morning. They were having Sunday mass in the church, but we were still able to go in and tour the perimeter of the church. Just outside the door, there is the entrance to the catacombs. They also have English and Spanish tours departing regularly for a small fee. There is no photography allowed in the catacombs, but you were allowed photos inside the church.
7. Plaza de Armas: A short walk from the Catacombs is the main plaza of Lima. It is beautiful. Take your time walking around and exploring the immediate area. We went into the Cathedral of Lima and toured the inside. Also, we walked down some of the immediate streets just off the main square for some great photos. While in the main square, we did stop in the museo del pisco for a drink. I enjoyed my pisco sour here, but in retrospect, I think there are many better places for drinks. It is directly next to the Choco Museo. We previously explored the Choco Museo in Cusco, so we did not make a stop at this location.
8. Barranco District: We took an Uber here following our morning in the Catacombs and Main Square. They dropped us off at Hotel B where we planned to have a cocktail in their lobby bar. Hotel B was definitely high on our list of possible places to stay, so we wanted to check it out as well. We had a fantastic “tiki style” cocktail. The hotel is gorgeous and decor was impeccable. See my post on Hotel B for the full review. From here, we wandered along the adjacent sidewalk down to the bridge of sighs. There are some great photos to capture in this area. Be sure and also visit the main square, a colorful area of buildings and fountains. Two places in the immediate area that looked great, we were not able to try. One was the restaurant Isolina Taberna Peruana. The other was the bar Ayuahuasca. Neither of them were open on Sunday afternoon when we tried to go. Be sure and pay attention to opening hours, especially on Sunday.
9. MAC Lima (Museum of Contemporary Art): The museum is within walking distance of the Barranco neighborhood. It is not large in size, but I really enjoyed this stop. The outside is beautiful with flowers and murals. The first building is the entry point and has a great gift shop. Adjacent to this, there are three separate buildings housing all of the art. If you have interest in modern art, it is worth a visit.
10. Park of the Reserve: We ended the day with a trip to the Park of the Reserve. Ahead of time, my research said that the best time to arrive was around sunset. This is a park full of fountains that puts on a light show at night. The light show started right around sunset and we captured some incredible shots! I thought it was perfect to get there before sunset to wander around and see the layout. When we were there, it appeared that they were celebrating their 11 year anniversary. The place was absolutely packed on this particular Sunday night. I do not know if this is the norm; however, the line to get in was quite long and when we were exiting the park it was even longer.