Lima has been deemed the gastronomic capital of the Americas.
And that’s for good reason — the Peruvian capital city has three of the world’s 50 best restaurants.
But Lima has so much more to offer than great eats: stunning ocean views, opportunities for unforgettable adventures, and an immersive history seen nowhere else.
The city’s colonial and pre-Columbian history date back thousands of years. The city was founded in 1535, just three years after Pizarro defeated the Incan ruler Atahualpa.
Much of the city’s colonial architecture still stands for you to admire.
And, although Peru’s most famous monumental archaeological sites lie further inland, Lima is the home of Peru’s National Museum of Archaeology, and the city serves as a great starting point for those hoping to explore the rest of the country.
Here, you’ll find no shortage of things to do, eat, and see.
To help you narrow down your options, I’ve consulted a bunch of bloggers about their favorite activities and places in Lima.
From the a cliff walk around Miraflores to paragliding, local food tours, archaeological wonders and more, here’s what they said:
1. Paragliding in Miraflores
Recommended by Ale from Universo Viajero
When we think about things to do in Lima, eating and walking through the city historical streets are the first everybody thinks about.
But, there is something that would give you a whole different perspective of the city and some adrenaline for the ones that like it:
In Miraflores, on the park boarding the coast and near the “Plaza del Amor” we find a green field made specially for the take-off and landing of paragliders.
Here you can buy a 10 minutes’ flight with optional photography and video recording; the pilots are certified and all the necessary security measures are taken.
Why is this a must?
The price is very accessible and will give you a completely different perspective of the coast of Lima.
You will get to see the popular cliffs of the city from the heights, observe the district of Miraflores calmly and, of course, enjoy some adrenaline in the meanwhile.
If you have never done paragliding before and would like to give it a try, this a chance you should not miss.
Thank you Parapuerto Miraflores for the great flight. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed seeing Lima from above!
2. Swimming with Sea Lions in Lima
Recommended by Arestis and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys – Gay Travel Blog
One of our favourite activities from our trip in Lima was swimming with sea lions.
Just off the coast from the mainland is a series of islands, which you can easily reach by boat from Lima. These are the Palomino islands, where you can come to experience a variety of wildlife, in particular sea lions.
There is a colony of penguins as well as sea lions who reside here. The sea lion pups are really curious and will come and play/ interact with you in the water.
We took a boat trip with Mar Adentro Excursiones who gave us wet suits and a detailed explanation of the best way to interact with the sea lions – you lie back in the water with your feet out in front of you, and the sea lion pups will come over to check you out.
There is nothing more adorable than watching playful sea lion pups interacting with you.
However, these are really cold waters, and whilst the wet suits are amazing at keeping you warm, after around 15-20 minutes, you really start to feel it. Therefore at this stage, the guides start to call people back to the boats.
3. Magic Water Circuit Park Lima
Recommended by Suzanne from PhilaTravelGirl
It’s funny how quickly you can turn into a child – full of wonder and awe – when seeing water fountains that dance.
At the Magic Water Circuit in Lima, the municipal project in Reserve Park, all of our inner children are free to have fun. The thirteen water fountains on the grounds dazzle with color, lights, sounds and artistry.
At first when the hotel concierge suggested I go visit the fountains as a way to kill time before my night flight home to the U.S., I was confused – water fountains in a park? What’s special about that?
When I entered the grounds (minimal entry fee of 4 SOL which is about $1.22 USD) as the sun was setting, I was instantly enamored. I walked under and through a water tunnel without getting wet.
I watched the fountains put on a show not unlike the spectacular Las Vegas or Walt Disney water shows, just much smaller in scope. And I saw the happiness on the faces of pretty much everyone.
This was truly a happy place in Lima and exactly what I needed to boost my mood before my vacation ended and I boarded the plane home.
4. Eating at Maido
Recommended by Nicole from Travelgal Nicole
One of my favourite things to do in Lima is to eat!
Lima has some of the best restaurants and even one that is ranked in the top 50 restaurants in the world – Maido. Maido means welcome in Japanese and the restaurant has a Peruvian-Japanese menu.
Maido is listed as the number 8 restaurant in the world and their tasting menus are a colourful journey through Peruvian cuisine with a Japanese twist. I started with an amuse bouche presented on a flower.
My main course was the star of the show with the grilled octopus and grilled vegetables. For dessert I had the bird’s nest mousse which is white chocolate on candy floss and beautifully presented.
Everything at this restaurant is delicious and they are known for their slow braised ribs. I was really lucky as I was staying at the Tierra Viva Hotels in Miraflores and Maido was just around the corner.
5. Huaca Pucllana
Recommended by Thais from World Trip Diaries
We tend to only think about Machu Picchu when we think about ruins, the Incas, and Peru. But the truth is that Lima has many, many ruins and ancient, historical sites.
One of them is Huaca Pucllana. It’s a big site (though not as big as Machu Picchu) in the middle of Lima (more accurately, in Miraflores).
It’s dated from 200 AD to 700 AD, and it was used mostly by the Lima Culture, Even before the Incas.
The pyramid, although in ruins, is awesome and you can climb to the top and see the tombs!
Visits are guided, you need to be in one of the groups – there is no roaming around freely. They happen fairly frequently and you can just show up and wait for the next tour. There’s a restaurant/bar there, so you can wait for your tour comfortably. If you’d rather, you can stroll around the museum and the shop.
It’s an awesome and unique experience!
6. Walking around Miraflores
Recommended by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
One of the nicest things to do in Lima is walking around Miraflores, and then all the way to the cliff top walk, to admire the sunset.
On a hot summer day, while people in the rest of the city are bothered by the terrible heat and the strong sun, Miraflores is very hazy, and almost cool because of the cold air coming from the Pacific Ocean.
But right before sunset, when the temperature goes down, the haze disappears to reveal the most beautiful view one could hope for.
Looking down at the Ocean, it is possible to see people riding the waves with their surf boards; others paragliding; some running or playing football at the beach; and many simply enjoying a walk with their better half.
It’s a great show, and it’s 100% free.
More reasons to visit Lima:
7. Food Tour with a local
I can’t think of a better way to get to know a destination than through its food, flavours and gastronomic traditions. We learned about Lima by taking a food tour with a local.
Our guide, a Limeño called David, has spent his whole life in Peru’s vibrant capital. He introduced us to the city during an immersive gastro-cultural tour with Da Taste of Peru.
We learned about Peru’s sandwich culture, tried corn drink chicha morada and superfood Lúcuma smoothie. David gave us all the inside info on Lima’s best restaurants and we had a seafood fest at one of Lima’s best.
We explored street art in the Barranco, three types of coffee and three different methods to make it in a neighbourhood coffee shop. We discovered the food market, the historical centre of Lima and saw dancing in the streets.
Our gastro food fest was interspersed with forays into Lima’s architecture, history and culture to make for an excellent and memorable day getting to know Peru’s capital city.
8. Visit the Historic Center of Lima
Recommended by Kaila from Nylon Pink
This is arguably the most important part of your Lima, Peru visit. There is so much to see here, so make sure your camera is ready. There are 1600 beautiful balconies to see on all the historical structures.
You must also see the breathtaking houses of worship in the Centre. Basilica Cathedral is a stunning monument, especially when it is lit up in the evening. If it is art that you crave, consider checking out the Museum of Italian Art. It is the only European art museum in the nation and holds an impressive collection.
If you are traveling with an architecture buff, check out the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. It took fifty years to build due to delays. The church is composed of three naves and features fixtures made of cedar wood and beautiful masonry work. The interior features depictions of the first years of the city, making it an educational and beautiful sight to behold.
9. Speciality Coffee Tour of Lima Best Cafes
Recommended by Steven & Jenny from Tales From the Lens
Lima may be known as the culinary capital of South America, but the city also has a thriving speciality coffee scene.
So if you only have a short time in Lima and want to see all of the tourist spots in Miraflores and Barranco, grabbing a good cup of coffee is the best way to get your day of sightseeing started.
In Miraflores, the cafes are perfectly placed to explore Parque Kennedy and the Malecon. Look for Café Aromia and Espresso Café.
While in Barranco, Tostadora Bisetti is a must. The coffee shop is one of the oldest in Peru and serves the best coffee the country has to offer.
One of the best parts is that these cafes serve only the highest quality coffee beans from Peru, which before visiting, we had never tried before.
Recommended by Elisa from World in Paris
One of my favorite places in Lima is the artsy neighborhood of Barranco, located by the Pacific Ocean right after Miraflores neighborhood. Barranco has a colorful, sometimes grand architecture, and a bohemian atmosphere.
The neighborhood is full of nice cafes with good cakes, eateries and art galleries and although there are no tourist sites, it is a great place to spend some hours around, especially if the weather is nice.
The main sight in Barranco is El Puente de los Suspiros, (the Bridge of Sights), a wooden bridge very popular with lovers (hence its name) which leads to the beach. Also, the main square is beautiful, full of colorful flowers, sculptures, and nice colonial buildings.
Finally, Barranco is a good place to taste dishes, more or less sophisticated, with plenty of restaurants to choose from.
Amoramar and La Canta Rana restaurants, for example, are great for Peruvian ceviche and seafood.
11. Eat Delicious Peruvian Dishes
Recommended by Claire Sturzaker from Tales of a Backpacker
Peru is renowned for its cuisine, which is some of the most exciting and delicious food in the world. In Lima, you’ll find everything from incredible street food to Michelin starred restaurants, so it is the perfect place to enjoy Peruvian food at its best.
Classic Peruvian dishes you have to try include ‘ceviche’, made with raw fish marinated in lime juice and chilli, ‘lomo saltado’, which is stir-fried steak served with fries and rice, and ‘aji de gallina’, a chicken dish smothered in a yellow creamy, spicy sauce.
At street stalls, you’ll find grilled corn on the cob, meat skewers of chicken, and if you’re brave enough, beef heart, known as ‘anticuchos’. For some people, eating guinea pig, or ‘cuy’, may seem barbaric, but the animals are easily reared, environmentally friendly, and they taste like chicken.
The only hurdle you have to overcome is looking at their little faces before you tuck in! If that sounds like a little too much, try ‘arroz chaufa’, a Chinese-style rice stir fry, or ‘rocotto relleno’ stuffed peppers in batter which are just as tasty.
Vegetarians can also breathe a sigh of relief as avocados are popular and delicious in Peru, as ‘palta’ as they’re known are plentiful here! Once you’ve tried all the delicious food, don’t forget to try a pisco sour to wash it all down.
12. Lima Food Tour
Though the city isn’t widely known as a culinary hot spot, Lima has won renown among foodies worldwide as a great place to experience some delicious cuisine.
The city even holds two of the world’s top ten restaurants!
One great way to experience both the quality and variety of foods Lima has to offer is through a food tour. Food tours, which typically let you taste a dozen or more dishes from several restaurants, offer an opportunity to learn about and explore Lima’s geography and history alongside its food.
One tour company we recommend, The Lima Gourmet Company, offers an awesome tour that covers three of the city’s best food districts.
In just five hours, they’ll take you to taste over 20 dishes. You’ll enjoy cocktails made with fruit from the Amazon, dinner among Pre-Incan ruins, and even get the opportunity to make your own Amazonian ceviche!
Their tours cover all food and drink, and both evening and midday tours are available. Hotel pick-up and drop-off are complementary.
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Disclaimer: I was invited by Parapuerto Miraflores and The Lima Gourmet Company. My opinions, as always, are solely my own.