What to do in Lima
Lima is the capital and most populated city in the Republic of Perú. With its 9.5 million inhabitants (11 million if you include Metropolitan Lima), it concentrates practically a third of the population of the entire country (almost 33 million).
The city of Lima was founded on January 18th 1535 by Spanish settler Francisco Pizarro, and it was originally known as “Ciudad de Reyes” (The City of Kings). You’d think that they were using that name to honour the Spanish crown. Actually, it was to honour The Three Kings, or The Three Wise Men, because the day when they found the land that eventually became Lima, coincided with the Epiphany celebration: January 6th.
Besides being a city absolutely full of history (it was the capital of the Viceroyalty of Perú so for quite some time this was the most important city for Spain in the American continent), it’s also the main access point to the country, so it has plenty to offer. Let’s see some of the most interesting activities and landmarks in Lima.
Plaza de Armas
The City Centre in Lima has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO, due to the amount of historic buildings still preserved to this day. You’ll be surrounded by plenty of the most beautiful landmarks you’ll find, like the Government Palace (Presidential residence), the Municipal Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, the Archiepiscopal Palace. Any walking tour of the city that focuses on history will be here at some point.
–Remember that the access to the Cathedral is free, the separate area that you have to pay to see is the Cathedral’s Museum of Religious Art.
–Don’t miss: the changing of the guard, daily at noon. It’s smart to be there about 10-15 min earlier, as it can be a bit crowded.
San Francisco Church and Catacombs
This amazing example of Spanish Baroque was finished in the late 17th century. It has survived quite a few earthquakes and it’s really close to the Plaza de Armas so you can combine both activities into one. The remains of over 20.000 people are waiting for you to take an underground (paid) tour through the Catacombs. The access to the Church is free.
An amazing approach into pre-Hispanic Perú right in the middle of the Miraflores neighbourhood. This staggered pyramid built with adobe and clay worked as a ceremonial centre for an ancient native civilization known as the Lima Culture, located in modern day Lima between 100-700 A.D.
As you arrive, there are guided tours in Spanish and English (larger groups need to pre-book in advance, same as other languages).
A plus? There are night visits available.
Malecón de Miraflores (Miraflores Boardwalk)
The “malecón” or boardwalk is an extent public park that gives you a marvelous view of the coast. It’s the ideal location for paragliding, biking tours, or just having a nice walk. Since the coast line is quite long, there are plenty of boardwalks that you can visit, but the one in Miraflores is the most popular. And if you like to collect sunset pictures, this is the spot for you! For a romantic spot, check out the Parque del Amor (Love Park).
Larcomar Mall Observation Deck
How often do you see a shopping mall built into a cliff and offering you amazing views of the Pacific Ocean?
The building itself is completely integrated into the surrounding nature, generating a beautiful terrace where you’ll definitely want to sit down and have dinner or at least a quick snack as you continue enjoying everything the coast has to offer.
Magic Water Circuit
Inside the Parque de la Reserva, there’s a complex of 13 fountains coordinated with a show of light and music that will definitely take up half the storage space in your phone. Doesn’t matter how old you are, you’ll be amazed. The shows are at night time but it’s also a great place to be during the day or early afternoon, hanging out until the show starts.
For more details, schedules and activities take a look at their official website
This museum has been active for almost a century. Dedicated to Pre-Columbian art, it displays the collection that belonged to Rafael Larco Hoyle, a pioneer in archeology. It’s also one of the few museums in the entire world with storerooms open to the public. Even the garden deserves a quick visit!
The museum is extremely well prepared and organized, and it’s one of the most famous in the city. All the instructions and suggestions for a visit are here.
This area has plenty of colonial villas perfectly preserved, with vibrant colours dominating the environment. It’s definitely the artists favourite area. One typical spot to see is the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sights), if you hold your breath while crossing, your wish will be fulfilled. Don’t worry, is not that long! Very close to it, you have plenty of great street art pieces. The neighbourhood itself has a lot to offer, so several companies do tours exclusively dedicated to this part of the city.
The land where it sits once belonged to Francisco Pizarro, who gave it to Jerónimo de Aliaga y Ramírez. The original construction started in 1535, and it was severely damaged and reconstructed because of the great earthquake of 1746. You can appreciate different construction styles, furniture and ornaments from the early times in Lima. Definitely an interesting visit!
Lima Art Museum (MALI)
Just a 15 minute walk away from the Magic Water Circuit, you have this beautiful museum, right in the middle of the Exhibition Park, which is also worth a walk. This museum has such an extensive collection, that we have a whole separate article for it. Just check out more details here.
–Don’t forget, Lima is also a great starting point for your trip, so if you’re planning to visit Machu Picchu, we have some info for you to start planning your journey between Lima and Machu Picchu.