Lima, Peru

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima in Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Armas, Peru

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima mostly built in 1625 in Plaza Mayor/Plaza de Armas, El Centro (Downtown). Photo by Martin St Amant.

Visiting Lima

Lima is at the centre of Peru’s main attractions so most tourists will  spend a day or two here among some splendid colonial architecture, on the way to the wondrous destinations elsewhere.
Lima was founded in 1535 by Spanish Conquistador Francis Pizzaro – who was not short of a few quid having robbed the Incas blind. Actually blind is the operative word as Pizzaro was blinded by  gold, Inca gold, killing remorselessly and melting down spectacular gold artefacts in order to send heavyweight ingots back to Spain.

Lima’s centre is a World Heritage Site and 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.

Lima’s business district and financial centre, San Isidro, displays less-than-magnificent modern styling but is spacious and well-endowed with greenery and fine shops.

p. s. don’t bother with the pricey, 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 jewellery, well labelled in English.

Plaza de Armas building, Lima, Peru

Colonial balconies on the Municipal Government City Hall, Plaza Mayor/de Armas. Other Peruvian cities displaying extraordinary old colonial Spanish buildings are Arequipa and Cusco. Photo by Avodrocc.

Lima  Sights

Changing of the Guard at the Palacio de Gobierno (Presidential Palace) in Plaza de Armas, Lima, Peru

Changing of the Guard at the Palacio de Gobierno (Presidential Palace) in Plaza de Armas at midday daily, but get there earlier to establish a good sightline! A lively show with marching band and goose-stepping soldiers. Photo by Dozenist.

Popular Jiron de la Union street off Plaza Mayor, Lima, Peru

Popular Jiron de la Union street off Plaza Mayor. Photo by McKay Savage.

Miraflores and Beaches

Lima's Miraflores district, Peru

Miraflores coastal strip with pier and beaches visible on the right.

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 swimming in Pacific diluted sh**. Sunsets can be lush if there’s no fog but don’t hang around, the beach after dark is not a safe place.

Miraflores' Love Park featuring El Beso (the kiss) sculpture, Lima, Peru

Miraflores’ Love Park featuring El Beso (the kiss) sculpture. Photo by Penglish.

The road dividing Miraflores barrio with Barranco, Lima, Peru

The road dividing Miraflores barrio on the left with Barranco on the right. Photo by Marie Therese Hebert.


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.

Some of the extensive Barranco barrio street art, Lima, Peru

Some of the extensive Barranco barrio street art. Photo by McKay Savage.

Kaleidoscopic slum housing in the suburbs of Lima on Cerro San Cristobal, Peru

Kaleidoscopic slum housing in the suburbs of Lima on Cerro San Cristobal, mainly housing new arrivals from rural districts. Photo by McKay Savage.

Lima Weather

This is a strange location, with desert on one side, Pacific Ocean on another and both at a tropical latitude. This adds up to a climate that never gets cold or hot, with average temperatures ranging from 15C/59F to 26C/79F, but quite high levels of humidity year-round of about 82% in spite of very low rainfall.

The best season to visit Lima is summertime, December to April which sees the most sunshine, the least humidity and very comfortable air temperatures.
However, note that the best season for hiking the Inca Trail or visiting Machu Picchu is May-October, preferably May, June, September or October to avoid the massed herds of bleating sheeple.


• 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.