Lima Cathedral mostly built in 1625, Plaza de Armas, in El Centro (Downtown).
Lima is certainly not one of Peru's primary attractions but most tourists will have to spend a day or two here on the way to the wondrous destinations elsewhere, so tough it out.
Actually it's not at all bad, with some splendid colonial architecture as the city was founded in 1535 by Spanish Conquistador Francis Pizzaro - who was not short of a few quid having robbed the Incas blind.
Lima's centre is a World Heritage Site and is home to an outstanding collection of 16th century religious institutions including the cathedral above, the Monastery of San Fransisco and the Sanctuary of Las Nazarenas.
A handful of excellent museums celebrating Peruvian culture (notably the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Antropología e Historia del Perú), some big, lush parks, a pier and a few beaches well-serviced by bars and cafés will soak up daylight hours with no trouble, while lively clubs, bars and restaurants will kill the night.
p.s. don't bother with the pricey, shabby, confusing Museo de Oro (Gold Museum), head for the Larco Museum in the Pueblo Libre district instead. It displays an amazing collection of Inca gold and jewelry, well labelled in English.
Lima's business district and financial centre, San Isidro, shows less-than-magnificent modern styling but is spacious and well-endowed with greenery and fine shops.
Photo by Christian911
Colonial balconies on the Municipal Government City Hall, Plaza Mayor Armas. Other Peruvian cities displaying extraordinary old Spanish buildings are Arequipa and Cusco.
Kaleidoscopic slum housing in the suburbs of Lima, mainly housing new arrivals from rural districts.
Miraflores coastal strip with pier and beaches just visible.
Miraflores is one of Lima's most up-market areas, a little dull in its endless high-end shops, hotels and restaurants but nevertheless a green and glittering land, and safer for strolling than most Lima barrios. Barranco, below, is the most interesting district in the city.
Lima's beaches are composed mostly of rocks and the sea is definitely a must-not-do unless you like eating sh**. Sunsets can be lush if there's no fog but don't hang around, the beach after dark is not a safe place.
The Barranco barrio (district) south of Miraflores.
Barranco is a colourful, artistic-bohemian barrio with some traffic-free streets, picturesque architecture, occasional markets, odd shops, bars, clubs and a pretty little street - Bajada de los Baños - of restaurants leading down to the sea, and the romantic, wooden Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs). Barranco is especially lively at night and weekends but beware rateros lurking in the shadows.
Plaza de Armas money-changing, rateros (thieves) ahoy!
A little advice
• Paying your hotel bill: Hotels may try to gyp tourists on exchange rates so always double check and if in doubt head for an ATM and pay in cash.
• Taxis: No meters, ever, so fix a price before you get in and be sure there is no one hidden in the back seat ready to jump out at the last minute and rob you, suuurprise!
Get cabs at major roads or hotels and be alert, if a cab seems shady, wait for another one.
• Pachamac pre-hispanic site 31 kms away is not worth the crack.
• Travelling by bus? The two companies universally recommended by locals and tourists are Cruz del Sur and Ormeno.
Traveller news late 2012. Jim's trip:
• Jim did Chile, Bolivia and Peru over 7 weeks and the highlights for him were Easter Island and the Amazon Jungle via Peru's Iquitos where he did 3 nights jungle lodge + speedboat to get there + 2 jungle walks/canoe trips daily $450 pp. Flight Cusco-Lima-Iquitos-Lima $800 pp.
• Machu Picchu walk is excellent but really expensive at $600 per person and generally a booking 3 months in advance is needed so consider the 'new' ancient site of Choquequirao instead.
• In fact all the Andean countries are expensive now. Machu Picchu day pass $60 pp. Colca Canyon 4 day hiking with tents $200 pp. Puno-Cusco train $150 (but superb luxury bus was only $30 pp, Cruz del Sur).
• Money. Cost of using a credit card to buy stuff was usually charged at 5.6%. But getting cash from a 'Global' (the usual) ATM cost $10 each time! And maximum $300 per day. So, if you feel lucky bring a substantial amount of cash with you but look after it carefully, keeping most in the hotel safe and your carry-around money in a sock! Or try a pre-paid cash card, tho' we're not sure of the charges attached to that.
• mid October-November-early December got NO RAIN at all. Yay!
Peru Travel Guide | Peru
Peru Pictures: Arequipa | Altiplano | Amazon River
Titicaca | Cuzco | Inca
Trail | Machu Picchu
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