Is Lima Worth Seeing?
Lima has a reputation for being a dusty, gray, polluted city with little to offer tourists. In fact, many tours omit anything more than a brief stopover in Lima on the way to somewhere else.
I think Lima has gotten a bad rap, though. There are definitely some cool things to see and do in Lima.
Here are some ideas:
1) Visit the historic center of Lima, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1988. I am always fascinated by the tales of colonial ladies spying on activities below from the screened, second-story balconies. Stop at Tanta for a snack. Famous Peruvian chef Gaston Acurió owns this quaint café.
2) Speaking of food, if you are a ceviche lover, Lima is your town! Ceviche is the lunch course de rigueur in seaside Lima. We take our guests to a popular neighborhood restaurant to watch a ceviche-making demonstration and enjoy the resulting dish for lunch.
3) Stroll or jog along the path that meanders on the cliffs of the Costa Verde. If you feel more daring, paraglide for a different view of Lima’s beautiful green coast.
4) Visit Love Park (Parque del Amor) along the Costa Verde path. I’ve heard that the woman represented in the statue is not the artist’s wife. Scandalous!
5) Drink a pisco sour, Peru’s national drink, at the hotel where it was invented—Gran Hotel Bolivar.
6) Explore pre-Inca archeological sites, such as Pachacamac about an hour and a half outside Lima. Archeologists believe that Pachacamac was as important as Machu Picchu. If you don’t want to travel outside the city, visit Huaca Pucllana. There is even a restaurant at the base of the ruins of this ancient temple.
7) Take advantage of Lima’s many excellent museums. One of my favorites is the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú. Its exhibits reveal how the Inca culture fits in the long line of ancient cultures that inhabited Peru. Other museums of interest include: Museo Larco, Museo de la Nación, and Museo Oro del Perú.
8) Admire the elegance of the Peruvian Paso horse. Hacienda Mamacona offers dinner and a show, in which the horse partners a female dancer in Peru’s Marinera dance.
9) Dine at Sonia’s. Local housewife Sonia started cooking and serving the fish her husband had caught each morning 32 years ago. Sonia is credited with popularizing two national styles of cooking fish: macho, smothered in a spicy sauce of mixed seafood; and Chorrillana, with a tomato, onion, and chili sauce. Note: This restaurant can be hard to find. It is located in a residential neighborhood, and there are no signs to indicate its presence.
10) Check out the nightlife in Barranco. This bohemian neighborhood has many small restaurants and bars. Wander to the Bridge of Sighs for a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
Looking for more ideas? See our Spanish Learning Vacation. Led by Lima native Carlos Bazan, we spend two days in Lima before embarking on our journey to Machu Picchu.