After a grueling eighteen hours of travel, we arrive in Lima at 2am in the pitch black of night. We stumble out of the airport, eyes half open, and hop in a taxi to take us to our Airbnb in Miraflores, about thirty minutes away. Our host Susana is up and waiting for us (for this and other reasons, she will prove to be one of the bests hosts we’ve had), and, within minutes of arriving, we’re passed out in bed.
The Airbnb is a penthouse loft in the the touristic district of Miraflores, right by the Pacific ocean. We are renting just one room, but have access to the wrap-around balconies and large kitchen, which was the main selling point for us. A full seven nights here only costs a total of $181. There’s no beating that.
The home is located within walking distance of the ocean and all the comforts of the city—the best restaurants and bars, shopping malls, small convenience stores and large supermarkets. A terrace extends on both sides of the home, allowing both an ocean view and a city view, perfect for enjoying the long and warm summer nights.
For the next seven days, we spend most of our time walking. Walking to the parks, walking to the organic cafes, walking to the farmer’s market, and, really, walking for the sake of, well, going on a walk. Lima is expansive and varied, and this is the best way we’ve found to get a feel of what this city has to offer.
Here are the top ten things to do in Lima Peru that we discovered (and recommend you experience).
1. Walk El Malecón, a six-mile stretch trail along the coast.
This is the first place we visited the morning after the aforementioned late night flight. Our heads were cloudy and bodies stiff after a long day of travel, and a healthy dose of movement with fresh ocean air was just what we needed.
The walk winds along Lima’s scenic cliff top walkway and offers views of the city, along with ample places to sit in the park, read, rest, or simply watch the surfers down below. There is free workout equipment all along the path, so wear your running shoes and hop on the makeshift elliptical or ab machine for an extra energy boost.
Tip: Grab an early morning cup of coffee and go for sunrise. Here are a fews pots recommended by our host, Susana:
- True Artisan Cafe. Calle Bolívar 153, Miraflores. Opens 7:00AM – 10:00PM.
- Kulca Cafe. The coffee is not great, but the juices, food and drinks are tasty. Calle Bellavista 370, Miraflore. Opens 8:30AM–10PM.
- La Nevera Fit Cafe. Breakfast and lunch/ vegetarian options. Calle General Recavarren 435 | Miraflores. Opens 8AM- 8:30PM.
- Cafe de Lima. Highly recommend: Excellent menu, breakfast, pizzas, drinks and a beautiful environment. Opens 7AM–11PM.
- Arabica Espresso Bar. Calle Gral Recavarren 269, Miraflores. Opens 10AM–11PM.
- Cafe Verde. Av. Sta. Cruz 1305, Miraflores. Opens saturday 9:00AM – 9:00PM.
- El Pan de la Chola. La Mar 918, Miraflores. Fresh baked bread, juices and veggie food. Opens 8AM- 9PM.
- Almazen. Calle Gral Recavarren 298, Miraflores. Homemade vegetarian and organic dishes. Opens Saturday 6:30PM – 9:30PM.
2. Take a rest in Parque Kennedy.
Located in the heart of Miraflores, Parque Kennedy is an oasis in the middle of a bustling city. We took a mid-day stroll through here, but it would be perfect for an evening picnic or simply as a place to rest your weary legs after a day of walking.
The park is actually named after American president John F. Kennedy, and is the somewhat unofficial main square of Lima. There are street vendors, artists, fellow travelers, stray (but very cute!) cats, and access to shopping on either side of the park.
If you stop by in the evening, there are night markets offering all the Peruvian goods you can dream of to bring back home for yourself or as gifts.
The park, at a glance (courtesy of Peruforless.com):
- Location: Miraflores, approximately 10 miles from the airport
- Busiest Times: 7:00 – 9:00 a.m., 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., and weekends
- Shops: Saga Falabella, Ripley, La Quinta, and small street vendors
- Banks, ATMs, and Money Exchange: Available around the park: GlobalNet, BCP, Scotiabank
- Favorite Restaurants: Haití, La Lucha, La Tiendecita Blanca
- Cafes and Bars: Dédalo, La Emolientería
3. Snap a photo at Amor Park.
During your walk along El Malecón (see #1) you can’t help but notice a huge statue of two lovers in an intimate embrace. That is Amor Park.
The statue was revealed on Valentine’s Day in 1993, and whether you are traveling with your significant other or not, it offers a picture worthy scene at sunset with a stunning backdrop. It is said that newlyweds visit the statue to bless their marriage with a kiss.
4. Go shopping and dine on the water at Larcomar.
If you’re looking for a fancy new outfit to hit the town in, or simply craving some of the familiar comforts of home, Larcomar offers over 70 shops (!) and 17 restaurants (!!), all guaranteed to deliver whatever it is you are looking for.
I packed a little too light and stopped by Gap for a pair of jeans and a classic black teeshirt, and afterwards, we enjoyed dinner overlooking the ocean.
Also there: Guess, Converse, Calvin Klein, Quiksilver, Banana Republic, Columbia, Steve Madden, MAC …and lots and lots more.
5. Visit the Saturday morning farmer’s market.
The Bioferia farmer’s market takes place every Saturday from 8am – 2pm at Parque Reducto 2 Park in Miraflores. There is a healthy mix of locals and travelers, and the market offers everything from organic fruits and vegetables to grains, granola and prepared food to toys, hand-woven textiles and local superfoods.
Tip: Make sure you walk all the way to the end where you can purchase the most delicious tamales for 3 soles ($1 USD) each.
6. Dine at Maido, the eighth best restaurant in the world.
As you step into the square office-shaped restaurant space on the 2nd floor of Maido, you’ll be greeted with a booming “Maido!” (meaning ‘Welcome’ in Japanese) from the staff. You won’t be able to miss the burlap rope installation dangling from the ceiling, a throw-back to Incan art and communication from the 1400s.
Depending on where you are standing, the installation can appear as either the Japanese flag or the Peruvian one. But the rope ceiling isn’t the only piece of art in this restaurant. You will soon see that every food item served is a specimen of craftsmanship. Welcome to Maido, rated the world’s eighth best restaurant of 2017.
Maido was opened in 2009, and has been on the top 50 list for three years running. It’s a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in the Miraflores district of Lima, an area so prominent that it has its own police force. Tucked away down a residential side street, the building itself mirrors many modern buildings in the neighborhood. It rises three stories in a square structure, surrounded by a high fence with a single plaque outside referencing the Top 50 List.
7. Enjoy a Pisco Sour at Ayahuasca Restobar.
Located in the Bohemian neighborhood of Barranco, Ayahuasca is located inside a massive mansion built between 1875 to 1895. Upon arrival, you will walk up an elegant staircase that leads you into the art-adorned restaurant and bar. Before taking a seat, take a few moments to walk through each room to admire the art and attention-to-detail that is infused throughout.
They are only open in the evenings from 8pm – 3am so, if you are an early bird like me, stop by for a post-dinner drink before heading home. The Pisco Sour is the most popular cocktail in Peru, made with pisco (a Peruvian spirit similar to brandy), egg white, sugar, lime, and bitters. When shaken, the egg white creates a foam on top that makes it that much more enjoyable.
8. Get coffee and breakfast at El Pan de la Chola.
Opened in July 2011, this is THE place to find organic sourdough breads, coffee, salads, sandwiches, tea, fresh juices, and afternoon treats. It offers a modern and open atmosphere not far from the coast.
Think: Avocado toast, Peruvian olive oil with freshly baked sourdough bread for dipping, hot almond croissants, and green smoothies.
9. Experience the Circuito Magico del Agua (The Magic Water Circuit) at Parque de la Reserva in the evening.
Picture this: Over a dozen fountains, choreographed to lights and music, lighting up the Lima night sky as your leisurely walk through the park on the outskirts of town.
Circuito Magico del Agua received the Guinness Book record for being the largest fountain complex in the world. With an entry fee of only $1.50 USD, there is no better way to spend an evening in this Peruvian city.
- Location: Jr. Madre de Dios S/N, Distrito de Lima, Peru
- Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 3pm – 10:30pm
Just around the corner from our Airbnb is Lima Yoga. All of the classes are taught in Spanish, but I was able to make my way through by watching the students around me and gestures of the teacher. They have a unlimited one-week pass for 100 soles (about $33 USD), and, after five classes, I was able to make out about fifty percent of what the teacher was saying. (A great way to learn Spanish, no?)
The studio offers a variety of classes, including power, hatha, restorative, Iyengar, prenatal, and hot yoga. Truly something for everyone. Having this studio closeby was a saving grace for me in an unfamiliar city, and my hope is that it serves as a sanctuary for you, too.
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