Lima travel guide. Get tips and ideas for your visit to the capital of Peru and even other parts of the country. Let’s plan your trip!
This is an interesting city that blends ancient and modern life, and the chances are you will enjoy your trip.
It has an ancient heritage that is a pre-Columbian era, colonial architecture like the UNESCO-listed Historical Centre, and scenic neighborhoods like Miraflores.
From its “la brassa” (grilled chicken) to “lomo saltado” (sirloin with onions), the food is also delicious.
Plus, the weather is temperamental thanks to its location in the mountains, and the waters are gorgeous.
With millions of travelers arriving each year, tourism is an important part of the Peruvian economy.
So, before your iconic Machu Picchu adventure, visiting Lima on your way is worthwhile.
Keep reading to plan your trip…
Table of Contents
Lima Travel Basics
Like any other destination, you will want to pay attention to travel specifics before booking your trip.
First of all, to enter Peru, a valid passport is required, and depending on your nationality, a visa may be needed.
Americans, citizens of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, do not require a visa.
Therefore, as long as your trip is less than 90 days, and you are visiting for tourism purposes, you will easily gain entry.
Check the Peruvian embassy’s website for visa requirements.
Peru is in the PET (Peru Time) zone, which is exactly the same as Eastern Standard Time or New York City time zone.
Meanwhile, the main airport is Jorge Chávez International Airport on the outskirts of Lima, and its airport code is LIM.
A taxi to the city center costs around 60-80 PEN (Peruvian Nuevo Sol), which is about $20 to $25 US dollars, and it takes approximately 30-45 minutes.
Also, there are ridesharing companies available, including Uber.
If you need cash, there are a ton of ATMs at the airport, in the city, and maybe even at your hotel.
Ensure your card works internationally and notify your bank about your travel dates to avoid any issues.
That said, Peru is not on a huge financial security list (unlike nearby Colombia and Brazil), so you won’t have many issues.
Finally, please make sure to get travel insurance since this is a city with frequent earthquakes.
Best Time to Visit
First of all, the best time for your Lima travel depends on your personal needs. Get your travel essentials for your choices, though.
Of course, keep in mind that Lima is in the Southern Hemisphere. Basically, when New York City is in its summer, Lima is in its winter!
Therefore, the best time to visit Lima (and also Machu Picchu) is during the dry season, from May to October.
In my opinion, this period has pleasant weather with less rainfall, making it ideal for exploring this beautiful city.
May and September are particularly favorable, as they are in the shoulder seasons, combining good weather and fewer crowds.
Keep in mind, though, that Machu Picchu’s peak season is from June to August, so plan accordingly for crowd levels and accommodation availability.
Meanwhile, if you wish to experience Lima’s cultural events and festivals, consider visiting during January or February.
In January, Lima celebrates the “Festival de la Marinera,” which presents traditional Peruvian dance.
This is a great time to visit the city since you will have a ton of nice cultural pictures and videos from your trip.
February is when the lively “Carnaval de Lima” is put on, with its colorful parades, music, and dancing.
Like Brazil, Peru’s diverse cultural heritage is on display during the carnival.
I do think these festivals give you an immersive experience of the colorful traditions and lively spirit of Lima.
Where to Stay
For a well-rounded tourist experience in Lima, consider staying in Miraflores, a safe and upscale district that has stunning ocean views.
Miraflores also has a lively nightlife, diverse dining options, and a growing number of expats, meaning it may make you feel “less” lost.
Barranco, on the other hand, is Lima’s bohemian neighborhood, and it has a unique artistic atmosphere with charming streets, art galleries, and lively bars.
This is a great neighborhood to stay in if you want that youthful, hip vibe.
San Isidro is another upscale area with beautiful parks and gardens, which gives you a quieter environment while still offering upscale dining and shopping.
If you plan to stay in the city long-term, this is probably one of the best to stay.
Personally, I really enjoyed San Miguel, which is a residential district with a coastal location and parks.
The above picture is from an affordable short-term rental right on Avenida Costanera, overlooking the Pacific Ocean!
San Miguel has a quieter atmosphere, a coastal park for nice walks, and a vibe that makes it suitable for a relaxed stay.
Plus, this neighborhood has a great shopping mall called Plaza San Miguel, which is, in fact, the best in the city.
Finally, the Historic Centre is a great place to stay to experience colonial architecture, museums, and historical landmarks.
The only thing I would warn you about the Historic Center is that a lot of its buildings tend to be on the older side, so make sure to check on that.
So, each neighborhood has a distinct flavor, but they definitely cater to various interests, ensuring a memorable Lima travel.
Food in Lima
Peruvian cuisine is actually pretty amazing, and you should definitely make an effort to try as much of it as possible.
Start with “ceviche,” a refreshing dish of raw fish cured in citrus juices, onions, and peppers.
Don’t miss “Lomo Saltado,” a stir-fry combining beef, vegetables, and Peruvian spices, giving you the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian flavors.
Also, try “Aji de Gallina,” shredded chicken in a spicy, creamy sauce, and “Anticuchos,” grilled skewers and often with marinated beef hearts.
Of course, your trip would truly be incomplete without trying “la brassa.” This is a popular term referring to the traditional Peruvian method of roasting meats over an open flame.
In certain parts of the city, an “anticuchería” is a place where you can eat and watch them roast the meat.
For a traditional dessert, you should definitely try “Picarones,” which are sweet potato and pumpkin fritters drizzled with syrup.
Speaking of potatoes, try the variety of Peruvian potatoes in “Papa a la Huancaina,” which are topped with a spicy cheese sauce.
Wash it down with “Chicha Morada,” a refreshing drink made from purple corn.
So, as you can see, your Lima travel can be a great culinary escape through Peru’s rich flavors.
In my opinion, you can divide Lima’s attractions into ancient, colonial, and modern. For the ancient part, I would say start with Huaca Pucllana.
Huaca Pucllana is an archaeological site that features an ancient adobe pyramid. It gives you a glimpse into pre-Inca history with its well-preserved structures and artifacts.
Also, other archaeological sites in Lima include Pachacamac and Maranga, which have ancient ruins that give us insights into the region’s pre-Columbian history.
For colonial history, visit the historic Plaza Mayor, which has historic buildings like the Government Palace and Cathedral.
Likewise, the San Francisco de Jesús (San Francisco Church and Convent), with its catacombs is another exquisite colonial architecture.
Of course, you should stroll through the streets of Barranco to admire well-preserved colonial-era houses.
For some nature, visit the beautiful Parque de las Leyendas (Legends Park), which has a zoo and archaeological site.
I love this place because it has a unique blend of wildlife exhibits, ancient ruins, and cultural experiences.
Also, the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) in Barranco is an iconic wooden bridge. This place has a romantic atmosphere and panoramic views of the surrounding area.
For art lovers, the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) is a prominent art museum with an extensive collection of Peruvian art spanning from pre-Columbian times to contemporary pieces.
Similarly, the Larco Museum (Museo Larco) is housed in an 18th-century mansion and features exhibits of ancient ceramics, textiles, gold, and erotic art.
Both of these museums are great to get a glimpse into another time and place.
Finally, try to find the statues across the city. For instance, in the picture for this section is Saint Michael, who’s the patron saint of the coast.
So, yeah, you have a lot of attractions for your Lima travel. You just have to decide what you want to explore more.
Day Trips from Lima
Lima is increasingly becoming congested with traffic and noise. So, if you’re here long, then I suggest escaping the city on day trips to nearby wonders.
Head to Pachacamac to visit the archaeological site with impressive ruins and a museum.
This is about an hour’s trip, and honestly, it’s so worth it!
Likewise, experience nature at Lomas de Lachay, a coastal mist oasis perfect for hiking and birdwatching.
So, Lomas de Lachay is about 2 hours north of Lima, and, once again, this is a day trip that I think you should go on!
If you have more time, visit the historic city of Caral, home to the oldest civilization in the Americas.
This should be on the top of your list, although it’s a little more up north with a 3-hour drive.
Meanwhile, the nearby Huarochirí Province is characterized by its picturesque Andean landscapes, traditional villages, and ancient archaeological sites.
In my opinion, the region gives you a glimpse into Peruvian rural life. You should definitely not miss towns like Antioquia.
This town is famous for its annual Cruces de Mayo (Crosses of May) celebration with its colorful processions, traditional dances, and a lively display of local folklore.
Cruces de Mayo celebrations usually take place on May 3rd.
So, that about does it for day trips.
7-Day Lima Itinerary
On the first day, arrive in Lima and kick off your trip in the Historic Center.
Begin at Plaza Mayor, surrounded by architectural wonders like the Government Palace and Cathedral.
Dive into history at the San Francisco Church and Convent, including its intriguing catacombs.
On day two, head to the coastal district of Miraflores. Take a leisurely stroll along the Malecón.
Enjoy the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, and explore the shops and restaurants at Larcomar.
In the evening, immerse yourself in the artistic atmosphere of Barranco.
For your third day, go on a day trip to Pachacamac. Explore the archaeological site and marvel at the Temple of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.
On the fourth day, connect with nature at Lomas de Lachay. Experience the unique coastal mist oasis, hike the trails, and observe the diverse flora and fauna.
Day five can take you on a trip to Caral, the oldest civilization in the Americas. Explore the archaeological site, marvel at ancient ruins, and soak in the historical significance.
On day six, head to Huarochirí Province. Immerse yourself in the Crosses of May celebration in Antioquia, experiencing the colorful processions and cultural festivities.
For the final day, leisurely explore any missed attractions in Lima and get some rest.
What to Avoid
During your Lima travel, exercise caution in certain aspects. First of all, like any other capital in the world, be aware of your surroundings.
For example, in the Historic Center, beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded places like Plaza Mayor.
Also, be cautious around the Rimac district and avoid isolated areas near the Bridge of Sighs in Barranco during the night.
Likewise, take care in crowded markets like Mercado Central to prevent theft.
Meanwhile, when using transportation, choose authorized taxis or rideshare services to and from places like Miraflores.
Of course, you should stay alert near the outskirts of the city, such as in Callao, to ensure personal safety.
Additionally, use well-traveled routes when exploring out-of-town day trips like the Huarochirí Province.
So, yeah, by staying aware of your surroundings in these places, you can have a great trip in this beautiful city.
Like any other popular destination, travelers ask numerous questions about Lima. Part of it is to gather essential information for a smooth and enjoyable trip.
Sometimes, though, travelers seek insights into attractions, safety tips, cultural nuances, and local recommendations.
It’s all about making sure to have a well-informed and enriching experience in the capital city of Peru.
So, I’m answering questions that are floating around the web.
What Country is Lima In?
What country is Lima in? Lima is in Peru. This is the capital city of Peru, on the coast. While a lot of travelers make their way to the city for tourism, many tourists stop in Lima on their way to Machu Picchu.
What is Lima Known for?
What is Lima known for? Lima is known for its ancient history, colonial architecture in the Historic Center, colorful districts like Miraflores, and its diverse food scene. Plus, the city is on the coast, so you will be able to go to the beaches.
Is Lima Worth It?
Is Lima worth it? Absolutely! Lima is one of those cities that blend rich ancient culture, unique history, and amazing modern life. You will be able to visit its attractions like Plaza de Armas, the Larco Museum, and Miraflores for parks and ocean views. The food is also yummy.
How to Get to Machu Picchu from Lima?
How to get to Machu Picchu from Lima? The best route from Lima to Machu Picchu is by flying into Cusco and then taking a local train near the site. From there, you will be able to take a bus or hike.
How Far is Lima from Machu Picchu?
How far is Lima from Machu Picchu? Lima and Machu Picchu are approximately 576 miles (927 kilometers) apart. The most common way to travel between them is by taking a flight from Lima to Cusco, followed by a train or bus to reach Machu Picchu.
To Machu Picchu
If you are departing Lima for Machu Picchu, the trip is best with a flight to Cusco. Basically, this is about a 90-minute flight.
You might feel a little off in Cusco since it’s way up in the mountains.
If you can, take a few days to dive into Cusco’s rich Incan and colonial history before going on a scenic train ride through the Andes to Aguas Calientes.
From there, you have the option of going on a bus, which ascends winding mountain roads to the majestic Machu Picchu.
Alternatively, you can choose to hike with fellow travelers.
Either way, your overall trip gets you through diverse landscapes, from coastal Lima to the high-altitude beauty of the Andean region.
You will get to marvel at Incan ruins, picturesque valleys, and the iconic citadel.
In my opinion, one of the best things about Lima travel is the chance to do this!
You explored this Lima travel guide for valuable tips and ideas for your upcoming visit to Peru’s capital and other regions of the country.
For instance, you found out how to immerse yourself in its pre-Columbian heritage, marvel at colonial architecture, and wander through picturesque neighborhoods.
Also, you indulged in the delicious food, benefited from its unique climate, courtesy of its mountainous location, and enjoyed the stunning coastal waters.
So, go ahead and meticulously plan your trip and make the most of your time in this colorful destination.
AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.
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