Lima is the usual starting point for travellers flying into Peru and kicking off their adventures to explore this fascinating country. Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru, and has significantly distinct areas throughout the city. Three of the most popular and busiest neighbourhoods for travellers are the Historical Centre, Miraflores and Barranco. As a city that often has very mixed reviews from travellers, it is important to make the most of your time in this city and explore each of the different main neighbourhoods the city has to offer. Here’s a quick guide to these neighbourhoods and what not to miss during your time in Lima!
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The historical and cultural centre of Lima. The heart of the city is bursting with Spanish colonial architecture and many important buildings, churches and landmarks of Peru. The historic centre is often crowded and considered less safe than the other suburbs around the coastal areas such as Barranco and Miraflores, which are just a ./20 sol | $7AUD taxi ride away.
Not to be missed in the Historic Centre:
- Plaza Mayor: The city’s main square (Plaza de Armas) and heart of the historic centre.
- Monastery of San Francisco: Take a 45 minute guided tour (./7 sol | $3AUD) through the museum, well-preserved antique library and catacombs beneath. The church is featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Cathedral of Lima: A magnificent structure in the main square, and although the cathedral has been damaged, it still retains it’s colonial architecture and detailed façade.
- Government Palace and Archbischop’s Palace: The main government and political buildings in Peru.
- Iglesia de San Pedro (St. Peter’s Church): A historic church in downtown Lima that also features on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Iglesia de Santa Domingo: An intricately decorated church with an incredible golden interior.
- Free Walking Tour: These tours take you to all of these important sites, as well as through the old post office, train station, as well as tastes of Empanadas, Chicha and Pisco, and all for free (+ tip)!
The most commercial and the tourist-friendly neighbourhood of Lima. This affluent coastal district has amazing lookouts from the cliffs over the beaches, many well-kept parks and gardens, and plenty of shopping areas. With many hotels, this area is often the go-to neighbourhood for travellers to stay during their time in Lima.
Not to be missed in Miraflores:
- Larcomar: A shopping centre which is nestled into the cliffs of Miraflores, with the fantastic backdrop view over the misty ocean. Popular shops include – Nike, Converse, North Face and Banana Republic.
- Parque Kennedy and Parque Central: A home to stray cats who are fed, vaccinated and receive veterinary care. A personal favourite of mine, and I’m sure it will be for any cat-lover!
- Parque del Amor: The ‘Park of Love’ is a delightful park along the ocean cliffside. With Spanish style mosaic seats and a large sculpture of a kissing couple in the centre, the park is lovely place to sit by the seaside and watch young love in the making.
- Parque Raimondi, Park el Faro and Parque Itzhak Rabin: If you continue down from Parque del Amor towards the lighthouse, you can wander through various other city parks and watch the paragliders fly over the ocean.
The ‘hip’ neighbourhood of Lima. Barranco has become the fashionable area to stay in Lima, and is the home to many artists and musicians. Right next to the tourist hub, Barranco is a bohemian seaside village that is known for it’s artistic nature. With streets lined with colourful houses, contemporary art museums and flamboyant street art, as well as easy access to the other neighbourhoods, Barranco is the perfect base to explore Lima. The streets are less crowded and generally safer than the Historical Centre, as long as you stick to the tourist streets.
Not to be missed in Barranco:
- Wander the streets and discover the street art – Try Avenida Pedro de Osma! While you’re there, stop by 305 Sur for a delicious burger, gyros and handout sweet potato fries!
- Parque Municipal: The main square in Barranco, there are many local food vendors and it’s close to all local restaurants and top spots (there’s even a Starbucks there!)
- Puente de los Suspiros: The wooden structure, the Bridge of Sighs, is a famous meeting point for lovers.
- Stare out over the Ocean lookouts: There’s no surprise here as to why Barranco is considered Lima’s most romantic district.
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We only spent a few days exploring the neighbourhoods of Lima, so we only just touched the surface. If you have any suggestions for things you think people shouldn’t miss in the neighbourhoods above, or any other neighbourhoods that take your fancy, please share them in the comment section below!