It’s Valentines Day this coming Friday, but I’m not going to be baking some heart-shape biscuits, or heart-shape pancakes, or heart-shape anything for that matter. What I will do, however, is to show you what I love about Lima. Lima is not a place you fall in love with at first sight, or second sight even, it takes a little longer. But the love is there, you just have to find it! It plays a little hard to get, but keep at it. Give it a couple of weeks of your time.
……and seeing as you will now be spending a few weeks here, let me give you something to do!
I am going to share with you my Top 10 places to visit in Lima (in no particular order). These are by no means the only 10, and they are fairly general (mainly because I have lots of favourites so I’m grouping them!). There may even be better places that I have not visited yet, but for now this is what I would recommend to get you started.
I am going to share 2-ish per day so that I can go into detail if necessary without drowning you in information!
I also want to point out that these are mainly for people visiting Lima and not for people who already live here! I wouldn’t see many residents checking out a lot of the tourist spots, but who knows, maybe you will all be inspired!
An incredible museum showcasing and explaining the different cultures in Peru during the Inca reign, and the eras before and after. The museum itself is beautiful and well laid out, full of artefacts from different periods of Peruvian history. The grounds are themselves are beautiful and if you have the time, take a break in the restaurant which looks out onto the flowering gardens. Read more about Museo Larco in my post here.
The Historical Centre is located in the Cercado de Lima (city centre) area. There is a lot to see here, and it is home to many colonial style buildings, including the Cathedral of Lima and the Government Palace.
On their website, UNESCO states that until the mid 18th century “Lima was the political, administrative, religious and economic capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America”.
As you can tell, this area has a lot of interesting history to explore and discover as well as some other highlights. Here are my top 4 must sees.
NOTE : The last of these is in the Cercado de Lima district, but even though it is just south of the Centro Histórico area, it is not actually within this area’s boundaries. I have chosen to include it, however, due to its proximity. I would NOT recommend walking between the Centro Histórico and this location.
PLAZA MAYOR // As its name suggests, it is the main plaza in this area. It is home to the Government Palace, where the President lives, the Cathedral of Lima, the Archbishops’ Palace (pictured) and a number of other colonial style buildings. The plaza itself is very nice with small grassy areas, floral beds, and a large fountain in the centre.
HOTEL BOLÍVAR & PLAZA SAN MARTÍN // To the south west of Plaza Mayor, directly down the roads of either Jiron Carabaya or Jiron Union, stands Plaza San Martín. This plaza was constructed in the 1920s and inaugurated in 1921 to mark ‘the first centenary of Peruvian independence’ (Lima Easy) , so the buildings we see here are of a much later and different era than the ones in the Plaza Mayor. On one side of the square, to the north-west, stands the Hotel Bolívar. This was where Hollywood stars in the 40s and 50s would come to drink Pisco Sours (The Telegraph) and so can you. Head inside the hotel and into the cocktail lounge for a Pisco Sour ‘Catedral’, a very large pisco sour!
CHURCH AND MONASTERY OF SAN FRANCISCO // This is such an interesting place to visit, but you must take a tour to see it. I believe English tours are available, but they go more often in Spanish. The tour takes you around the convent, to parts of the basilica, and then you head down into the catacombs. My highlights of the tour were the incredible library, home to some ancient texts and choral songbooks; the courtyard in the middle of the convent; and the catacombs themselves, home to the remains of around 70,000 individuals (Peru this Week) in skeleton form. In the latter, you will walk through stone passageways and see large pits filled with bones and skulls, some in circular patterns. The catacombs are essentially a cemetery under the church. It is very musty down there, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you are claustrophobic. Tours ran between 9.30 and 5.30 when I went and cost around S/.7 (about £1.75), but do check as times and prices are definitely subject to change.
PARQUE DE LA RESERVA: Circuito Mágico del Agua // Just next door to the National Stadium is the Parque de la Reserva, home to the Magic Water Circuit. This is a circuit of 13 large fountains of different designs and purposes. There are some to interact with (head through the ‘Tunnel of Surprises or get wet in the ‘Dream Maze’ fountain), some that are just to watch (the beautiful lights of the Rainbow Fountain), and one that has its very own light and projection show (The Fantasy Fountain). The latter projects images of different Peruvian dancers, the condor, and even lasers onto a large wall of water accompanied by music. The Magic Water Circuit is open from 3pm but I would recommend going when it is dark to see the fountains illuminated, and the projections on the Fantasy Fountain only happen in the evening. For more information on days and times of opening click here (the Magic Water Circuit is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).
Check back on Tuesday for the next 2!