Everything you Need to Know
Planning a trip to Peru? We’ve put together a comprehensive Lima travel guide, the capital of Peru and the second largest city in South America! First and foremost, this city is an incredibly diverse place to visit. Once known as the City of Kings, Lima is now a massive metropolis that is home to over 9 million people.
The gorgeous landscape of the city is flanked by massive hills and valleys, as well as pristine beaches that outline the Pacific Ocean. This fascinating city offers rich cultural heritage, colonial architecture, lively nightlife, ruins, coastal views, surfing, nature, and so much more. It is also renowned as the unofficial gastronomical capital of South America, boasting world-class eateries and authentic local gems that offer a heady mix of flavors. Our Lima travel guide has everything you need to know about Lima before you go – let’s dive in!
The official currency of Peru is the Sol (S/). The conversion rate is a little over 4x the USD.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Peru is during the dry season between May and October.
Peru is in Standard Time Zone (GMT-5) or one hour behind New York City.
Being such a large city, finding direct and affordable flights to Lima is fairly easy. Upon arriving at the Jorge Chavez International airport, the easiest and fastest way to get to Lima’s center is to take a taxi. There are numerous taxi companies with desks located just before exiting the terminal, where you can book and pay for a taxi on site. We landed around 12am and had no problem finding a taxi for $18 total for a 45 minute ride.
What To Expect
WHAT IS THE LOCAL LANGUAGE?
While Peru has three official languages, Spanish is the most commonly spoken. One of the best recommendations we can make prior to visiting Peru is to know a decent amount of Spanish, as very few locals speak English.
IS IT SAFE TO VISIT?
Today, it’s a relatively safe country to travel around. However, petty theft is still common, so always keep an eye on your belongings. Additionally, we do not recommend taking taxis after dark.
WILL I NEED SUNBLOCK?
Always – skin health is important! Lima boasts a stable, favorable climate year-round, with warm temperatures ranging from the mid 50’s to upper 80’s throughout the year.
SHOULD I TAKE CASH OUT?
Definitely! We always recommend having cash, in the form of the local currency, any time you are in a foreign country to avoid conversion fees. Additionally, most taxi services do not accept credit cards, so keeping cash on hand is essential.
HEELS OR NO HEELS?
If you have the room, go for it! For clothing we recommend casual, cute clothing during the day with comfortable walking shoes. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and clothing items that draw too much attention, as it is best not to stand out as a tourist. At night, feel free to dress up a bit! But be prepared for a significant temperature drop once the sun goes down.
WHAT IS THE TIPPING CULTURE?
Tipping is not customary in Peru, but rather a kind gesture for outstanding service. In more recent years, up-scale restaurants have started adding an automatic 10-15% service charge. If this is present, there is no need to add an additional tip. If a service charge is not included, a 10% tip for the server is appropriate. Taxis, on the other hand, do not expect to be tipped.
Known as the SoHo of Lima, Barranco is one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods! You can expect colorful street art, a variety of bars and coffee shops, vibrant mansions and summer houses, beautiful museums, delicious food, and plenty of bohemian vibes.
The Historic Centre of Lima is bursting with history and a variety of famous tourist attractions. One of the most prominent is the Plaza Mayor (or Plaza de Armas), which is considered the core and the birthplace of Lima.
This exclusive residential and upscale shopping district is one of the most popular places for tourists and visitors to stay. Between the shopping, restaurant scene, nightlife, and accommodations, it has a lot to offer. We highly recommend booking your accommodations here.
Where We Stayed
Located in the heart of Miraflores, we were immediately impressed with this adorable hostel, reflecting the area’s retro charm and modern-day Lima. We plan to stay here every visit!
Selina Miraflores has been ranked the best hostel in Peru year after year! The gorgeous 4-star hostel is extremely affordable, running around $27-$40 per night. Between the onsite Yoga, gorgeous amenities, cheap private rooms and bathrooms, impeccable service, fully stocked café, and lively bar and restaurant, we cannot recommend this spot enough.
Things to Do
Plaza de aramas
First and foremost, get out and explore the historic center for a morning or afternoon! The area includes an array of famous historical monuments and colonial architecture that are rich in history and absolutely gorgeous. Start by taking a taxi from Miraflores up to Plaza De Armas. The Plaza, which once served as a marketplace, is home to the Municipal Palace of Lima, Club of the Union, Cathedral of Lima, Arch bishop’s Palace of Lima, and the continuously guarded Government Palace.
Plaza San Martin
After exploring Plaza De Armas, wander down Jiron de la Union towards Plaza San Martin. Here you will find another gorgeous plaza featuring the Jose de San Martin statue. After snapping some pictures, check out one of the many restaurants surrounding the Plaza.
Take a Day Trip
Lima also serves as a hub for a wide variety of adventurous day trips! Some of which include visiting wineries, going Pisco tasting, visiting the sad dunes in Huacachina, heading out to the Ballestas islands, exploring the national parks, and more! Head over to GetYourGuide.com to check out numerous options.
PARK OF LOVE
Lima is well known for its gorgeous sunsets over the ocean. While there are numerous places to watch the breathtaking sunsets, our favorite spot is the Park of Love! This lively spot on the Miraflores Boardwalk is almost always swarming with local and tourists alike, making for a fun and lively atmosphere! However, be sure to keep an eye on your belongings!
STREET ART IN BARRANCO
This young, trendy neighborhood is one of the hippest places to be in Lima. One reason why: all the murals! Street art in Barranco is everywhere. In fact, nearly every available wall has been taken over by vibrant expressions of artists’ imaginations. This is a must-not-miss!
SHOP SHOP SHOP
If you are anything like us, you will understand why shopping had to be included in our Lima travel guide! Our best advice is to ensure you have some extra space in your suitcase, as the shopping is incredible! Here’s a list of a few of our favorite shops to check out:
Larcomar Shopping Center
Lima’s upscale outdoor shopping center provides incredible views, as it is located on the Miraflores cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Make a trip here to eat dinner, do some shopping, and even watch the paragliders fly over your head.
If you are looking to bring home some incredible souvenirs, look no further than the Inca Market! Here you will find dozens of locals selling hand-made products at extremely affordable prices.
This insanely affordable jewelry & accessory store stole our hearts (and most of the space in our suitcases)! It is a must-not-miss for all of our shoppers out there!
Visiting the archaeological site Huaca Pucllana is another must-not-miss activity that we had to include in our Lima travel guide. This clay pyramid is located in the heart of Miraflores and served as an important ceremonial site many years ago. If you want a tour inside, be sure to book tickets in advance.
Our favorite lunch spot in the city and easily Lima’s trendiest cevichería. This popular lunch spot is stylish, swanky and serves up some of the best ceviche you will ever eat!
A must-not-miss on your trip to Lima! Central Restaurante is the flagship restaurant of Peruvian chef, Virgilio Martínez Véliz and one of the 50 world’s best restaurants.
This lunchtime-only cevicheria and Peruvian seafood restaurant is run by top chef Rafael Osterling and is a favorite in Lima. The restaurant offers flavorful fine dining at reasonable prices, with a casual-cool atmosphere.
Located in Barranco, El Dragon is a dark, often packed bar. The vibe is a mix between night club and dive bar, with a rugged feel. There’s always live music, so be prepared for a late night filled with lots of dancing and great drinks.
Ayahuasca Resto Bar
Located in a stunning 19th-century mansion in Barranco, Ayahuasca offers a vibrant cocktail list and lively atmosphere! Each room in Mansión Berninzon is decorated within the original wooden floorboards and marble stairways of the mansion. This is one of our favorite spots!
El veridico Del Fidel
This simple restaurants is located on the outskirts of Miraflores and offers mouthwatering ceviche! While the place itself is very simplistic, the food is beyond fresh and the portions are perfect.
Cafe Bar Habana
Café Bar Habana is a great place to go dancing! Head there on Friday or Saturday around 10pm to enjoy an evening of live Cuban, jazz, and rock music. They serve an excellent range of rum & cocktails.
Astrid Y Gaston
Located in a 300 year old house in the center of the San Isidro district, this first-generation modern Peruvian cuisine is to die for! Chef Acurio is considered to be one of the world’s best cooks, bringing together a variety of Peruvian flavors in the five part tasting menu.
While there are bars all over the city, most of them are concentrated in Miraflores, Barranco, and the historic center. If you head to Pizza Street in Miraflores or La Plaza in Barranco, you’ll find plenty of music and dancing all night long. Be aware that Peruvians usually don’t head out until about 11pm, so plan on staying out late. The city also has boutique bars such as Ayahuasca, which is an old colonial-style mansion turned into a three-story, carnival-fun-house bar. Remember to keep your belongings secured and avoid taking taxis after dark.
Overall, Lima was a delightful city with endless things to do, a vibrant culture, and some of the best, most affordable shopping! We hope you have enjoyed our Lima travel guide and we can’t wait to hear your questions and comments! Don’t miss our Cusco travel guide and Machu Picchu travel guide while planning your Peru itinerary! And head over to our Destinations page to access many more worldwide comprehensive travel guides!