Lima is a big city and a bit chaotic, but it has its charms. The reason sometimes travelers miss this dynamic cities charm is because they don’t know where to look. In my opinion, the key to enjoying Lima is through the culture and of course the food.Here, I help you get the most out of your visit to Lima.
To see all the photos go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andresnp/sets/72157632795075863/
First let me introduce you, some simple facts about Lima:
- Lima is the 16th most populous city in the world (more than 8 million people).
- The city is the 2nd largest capital located in a desert (after Cairo).
- Weather wise it never rains, only drizzles. However, humidity is over 90% all year long.
- Lima has the largest Chinese community in all of Latin America and thus a fairly impressive China town.
- The best way out of the airport is by taxi. No doubt about that, as public transport can be a bit unreliable and dodgy.
- There are 43 separate districts, each with its own mayor and municipality (making joint decisions very difficult).
- For many years Lima has been recognized as the capital of gastronomy in Latin America.
- Recently there has been a huge increase of expats living in Lima, mostly Spaniards and Latinos.
Where to stay:
- Barranco, the bohemian styled gem of Lima. Young Limenian’s choose to go out here most weekends as it has a pulsing nightlife.
- Miraflores, more modern than Barranco this barrio has the best views of the ocean and is conveniently located near all major areas. If you like shopping this is the district for you. Also a great choice for foodies, as Miraflores has the majority of Lima’s swanky restaurants.
What to do:
Most people head directly to the Centro Historico, where you can see the main square, the cathedral and Plaza San Martin. From my point of view (a Peruvian) this is not the best of Lima. Unless you are really into architecture and history the best of Lima lies in the common things. For example, if you come in summer you should go surfing in Makaha, at the bottom of Miraflores. It’s not quite Hawai but it is fun, there are lots of people, dogs, and sometimes even llamas. You can also surf in winter but I wouldn’t recommend it!
Other things to do:
- Drink a couple of Pisco Sours at Bolivar Hotel in Plaza San Martin.
- Ride the combis (local transport vans). This is a good way to see the daily things in Lima. You can use them to connect all parts of the city, but they are especially helpful for backpackers traveling from Miraflores to the city center.
- Walk the whole Miraflores Malecon. It has the best views of the coast of Lima, and while you’re at it why not take in the views while parasailing over the Pacific ocean.
- Get lost in Barranco. You can find some pretty weird places, I’ll leave that adventure up to you!
- Go shopping in Polvos Azules. It’s kind of a flea market but it has a good variety of well known brands for clothing. Plus, it is cheaper than any other place that I’ve found.
- Walk around Miraflores Kennedy Park on a Friday or Saturday. You will find Peruvian artists and students selling their paintings and handicrafts.
- Parque de la Reserva – Circuito Mágico del Agua. This is really fun to do in summer time. There is a big fountain where you can cool off on hot days and enjoy the light show.
Where to eat:
That depends on your budget. Prices of food in Lima are increasing, and right now I would call it pricey but affordable.
- La Lucha Sangucheria. One of the best places for sandwiches. El Preferido is a must try!
- La Bisteca. Expensive but extremely good. It’s an all you can eat restaurant, with a wide variety of cuisines, but luckily everything has a Peruvian touch.
- Burrito Bar. It’s one of those small hole in the wall finds that Barranco is famous for. It has the best burritos in Lima.
- Any common chifa (Chinese food done Latin America style). This is good for the pocket, arroz chaufa, fried rice with chicken, is the cheapest dish.
- Edo Sushi Bar. For the sushi lovers, this has been called the best fusion dining location in the whole country.
- Punta Azul. The best place to try the national dish of Peru: Ceviche (and you can’t leave Peru without sampling this one)!
You choice is between Barranco and Miraflores. For me Barranco tends to win most nights because it is a bit cheaper and also where young Limenians tend to go out.
- El Dragon
- Sargento Pimienta
- Toro Retro Bar
- Peña del Carajo (Criolla Music)
- And many Little no-name bars that you will undoubtedly find
- Tayta Bar
- The Irish pub
- Habana Bar