Lima is huge. You can be forgiven if you’re trying to plan a trip to this city and have no idea where to begin. The city is divided into several neighbourhoods. Each area has its perks and drawbacks, but in most you’ll find great things to see and do as well as fantastic food to taste. Here are four of Lima’s neighbourhoods that I think you should check out the next time you’re in this cool coastal city:

Lima Centro

Top Reason to Visit: History and architecture

The Details: Lima’s downtown didn’t have the greatest reputation in recent past. But today, it seems to have cleaned itself up and there is greater police presence around so it also seems to be safer. I think that downtown Lima is well worth at least a day of your time. This neighbourhood includes many plazas, a cathedral in which Francisco Pizarro is interred, great architecture, and excellent street food.

What to See and Do:

  • Government Palace: The Changing of the Guards ceremony takes place here, complete with mini concert (do not expect precision, though).
  • The Catedral: Built by the Spanish in the 18th century and also houses the Museum of Religious Art.
  • San Francisco Basilica: A church and monastery that contains a phenomenal library and pretty cool catacombs. Unfortunately, the only way to see this is via a hustled tour. But no photos allowed.
  • Parque de la Reserva: The Guinness Book record holder for the largest fountain complex in the world with 13 fountains spread out in a garden park space. At night there is even a sound and light show.
  • Museum of the Central Reserve Bank: A traditional museum set in an atypical setting – an actual bank! Bonus – entry is free.

Where to Eat:

  • In the late afternoon into the evening, head towards the Rimac River (when facing the Catedral, it’s to your left behind the Palace) and there you’ll find local buskers and street food galore.

Miraflores

Top Reason to Visit: Beautiful coastal views

The Details: Here is where most tourists and expats hang out. You don’t come here for sightseeing per se but more for the food, shopping, and fancy hotels. It is the middle-class commercial heart of Lima.

What to See and Do:

  • Various parks: Parque del Amor is the best one for ocean views and statues. Parque Kennedy is very tiny but has tons of cats!
  • Inka Market: While not as cheap as the markets in Cusco, if you still need to do souvenir shopping, this is the place to do it.
  • Huaca Pucllana: The ruins of a 5th century pyramid in the middle of the city. There is even a fancy restaurant on site.
  • Larcomar: A shopping centre built right into the edge of a cliff. Makes for great views!

Where to Eat:

  • Mango: Located at Larcomar, this place features good food, a trendy atmosphere, and if you get one of the coveted tables, a great view over the ocean.
  • Amaz: For Amazonian food and ambiance, check out this unique restaurant
  • Papachos: A casual eatery by the same chef who runs Astrid y Gastón, one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. So….think good food at more budget friendly prices!
  • La Lucha Sangucheria: Absolutely amazing sandwiches with great fruit juices. Simple yet oh so satisfying!

Pueblo Libre

Top Reason to Visit: Two of Lima’s top museums are located here.

The Details: Most people do not come to this area when visiting Lima, despite it being only  four kilometers from downtown. However, its museums are well worth the side trip. This area was founded in the 16th century as the leisure centre Limeñan nobility. Today, it has a decidedly more working class air.

What to See and Do:

  • Larco Museum: Privately owned, it is largely regarded as one of the best museums in Lima. The grounds are also very pretty, bursting with fragrant flowers. Don’t forget to find the tucked away display of giggle-inducing erotic pottery!
  • The Peruvian National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology, and History: You can spend hours here, in Peru’s oldest state museum, as there is a lot to see. Bonus, it’s in an old colonial mansion so lots of arches to be seen as well as a cloister garden.
  • La Cruz del Viajero: The 17th century “Cross of the Traveller” was erected by Franciscan monks. Travellers on their way to Central America, Spain, or elsewhere across Peru would traditionally stop here to petition for protection on their journey.

Where to Eat:

  • El Bolivariano: This restaurant is in a former 18th century convent and is filled with photos and antiques. The food was delicious and was the service friendly.

Barranco

Top Reason to Visit: Relaxed, hip vibe. The nightlife. My favourite neighbourhood in Lima.

The Details: This place is not yet fully on the tourist radar so visit while you can. Once, this area was the playground of Peru’s rich and famous. By the mid-20th century, it had become the home of Peru’s literary and artsy folks. Today, people call it “bohemian” and with good reason. It is a cool spot with lots of great restaurants, art, and a thriving nightlife.

What to See and Do:

  • Bridge of Sighs: Hold your breath, make a wish, and walk across! A beautiful location, especially at night.
  • Bajada a los Banos: Walk in the path of history along a walkway that leads under the Bridge of Sighs to the Pacific Ocean. Some interesting architecture along here as well.
  • Street Art: This can be found all over Barranco so just pick a street and start wandering!
  • Coastal views: The streets near the coast have great views, parks, and some interesting colonial architecture.
  • Museum of Electricity: If this museum is not of interest, still go check out one of the last electrical trains of Peru, parked out in front.

Where to Eat:

  • Songoro Cosongo: Fantastic Afro-Peruvian home-cooking served in a low-key, comfortable atmosphere. Generally, Afro-Peruvian live music is played in the evenings.
  • La Bodega Verde: It has a charming garden and funky interior. A popular place for local milkshakes.

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