Lima: Capital of Peru
Salkantay Trek Machu
Sustainable Tourism Operator
+51 912 891560


Lima: Capital of Peru

Lima - Capital of Peru

When envisioning South American metropolises, Peru might not be the initial thought that springs to mind. Yet, the Peruvian capital, Lima, offers far more than meets the eye and is frequently underrated.


Certainly, the first impression can be a bit sobering, often due to the international airport being situated in an industrial zone away from the heart of the city. However, Lima's true splendor is unveiled upon closer inspection.


Picture yourself standing at the grand Plaza de Armas, gazing in awe at the stately mansions of yesteryears, engaging in conversations with the amiable locals, or savoring a uniquely fresh ceviche while gazing out at the sea. It's these moments that forever steal your heart and bind you to Lima.


The Cradle of Spanish Colonial Power - The City of Kings

In 1535, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro recognized that the natural harbor, the "Ciudad de los Reyes" or City of Kings, was the perfect hub to dispatch the Inca-stolen gold back to Spain. For over three centuries, Lima reigned as the nucleus of Spanish colonial influence, basking in wealth and prestige.


With Peru's declaration of independence from Spain in 1821, the stage was set at the Plaza de Armas, meticulously designed by Pizarro. As the city walls crumbled in 1870, Lima embarked on an era of expansion, welcoming new districts like the hidden gem of today, Miraflores, and the artistically infused Barranco.


Today, nearly one-third of Peru's 29 million inhabitants call Lima home, with a significant influx occurring during the 1980s and 90s as a response to poverty and political upheaval. Over the past decade, Peru has embraced tranquility, and alongside peace, prosperity has gradually rekindled in Lima. Dilapidated remnants have been lovingly restored, and tourists are increasingly drawn to the resplendent new allure of the capital, Lima.


Explore the wonders of Lima, where history, culture, and renewal converge to create an experience like no other. Embark on a journey to this hidden gem, where every corner reveals a piece of its captivating story.


Peru Capital Landmarks

The designation of Lima's historic center as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well-deserved, offering the assurance of its protected status. Within this district, you'll discover a collection of captivating historic edifices, along with the enchanting Plaza Mayor adorned with a fountain that dates back to 1651. This central square holds the distinction of being the focal point from which all distances within Peru are measured.


Top Lima Attractions & Travel Tips


Plaza de Armas

One of Lima's most significant landmarks is the central Plaza de Armas, also known as Plaza Mayor. The surrounding streets are lined with shops and restaurants, exuding South American charm. This square serves as an excellent starting point for your city exploration.


The "Catedral de Lima" serves as the final resting place of Pizarro, whose mortal remains now repose within the first side chapel. An admission fee of 10 soles grants access to the cathedral beyond its services. In exchange, you'll also have the opportunity to explore the Museum of Religious Art, located adjacent to the main altar, showcasing a plethora of artistic masterpieces.


Peru Capital


Make sure to visit the Archbishop's Palace, notable for its distinctive wooden balcony—a true masterpiece. While similar balconies can be found throughout Lima and Peru, few rival its beauty. At the opposite end of Plaza de Armas stands the Presidential Palace (Palacio de Gobierno). While you can tour the building, registration is required at the nearby office. Tip: Arrive around noon to witness the changing of the guard ceremony!


Church and Convent of San Francisco

A short stroll from Plaza de Armas leads to the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. This ancient monastery dates back to the early Spanish conquest and houses renowned artworks, an ancient library, and more.


Take time to explore the catacombs within. Originally part of Lima's early cemeteries, these catacombs lie beneath churches. It's believed that San Francisco alone contains around 75,000 buried bodies, displayed in circular stone pits. A catacomb tour isn't for the faint-hearted!



Bordering the Pacific's towering cliffs, Miraflores is one of Lima's most stunning districts. It boasts a plethora of exceptional restaurants, bars, and top-notch accommodations. Many travelers seek lodgings in this area, drawn by its charm. A bustling shopping arcade and legendary nightlife further enhance the district's appeal.


Peruvian Capital


Exploring the cliffside parks is a must. Among them, the Parque del Amor is renowned, but there are other gems to discover. At the path's opposite end, a small lighthouse awaits, marking the conclusion of the kilometer-long cliffside walk.


The picturesque cliff promenade offers breathtaking vistas, adorned with numerous parks, cafes, sculptures, and a lighthouse. Stretching approximately 5 kilometers along Miraflores' coastline, enjoy a leisurely stroll down Bajada de Balta, a 19th-century cobblestone boulevard lined with palm trees and benches. Cross the bridge and stairs leading to Playa Costa Verde to witness towering cliffs and paragliders taking flight. Join or observe surfers enjoying the sea—the beach teems with surf schools!


Explore Huaca Pucllana

While Peru is renowned for the iconic Inca city of Machu Picchu, those seeking traces of ancient cultures need not venture deep into the Andes. Lima, too, boasts captivating remnants of its past.


Between 200 and 700 AD, the Lima culture established its political and ceremonial hub here. Huaca Pucllana, a vast mud and clay pyramid nestled within Miraflores, stands as a testament to this history. Its astonishing preservation over more than 2,000 years is particularly remarkable, owing much to Lima's modest rainfall.


Tip: After your tour, savor a meal at the on-site restaurant of the same name, offering inventive twists on classic Peruvian dishes.


Discover Chinatown

Chinatown, or Barrio Chino, ranks among Lima's most vibrant districts. Spanning eight blocks along Calle Capón, this bustling area immerses you in an entirely distinct ambiance. Delight in Chinese-influenced attractions, including a variety of dining options and an unmistakable Far Eastern atmosphere. Don't miss the chance to dine at one of the many Chifa restaurants.


Peru Capital City


Chifa cuisine blends Chinese Cantonese dishes with Peruvian ingredients and traditions. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a significant influx of Chinese immigrants, mostly from Guangzhou in southern China, settled in Peru. While working with the available ingredients, they melded Chinese techniques with Peruvian flavors, leading Limeños (Lima residents) to embrace these fusion dishes characterized by bittersweet notes, soups, and infusions of ginger, soy sauce, and onions. Buen provecho!


Surfing in and Around Lima

Lima's Pacific coastline isn't ideal for swimming due to the lack of inviting beaches, strong winds, and chilly waters—especially during the peak season from May to September.

However, the region offers excellent surfing conditions. If you're a water sports enthusiast, Lima provides numerous opportunities to ride the waves:


Cerro Azul: About an hour and a half from Lima, in the Cañete province, you'll find Peru's powerful lefts.
La Herradura: The best wave near town, situated in Chorrillos district, a 15-20 minute drive from Miraflores.
Pico Alto: The destination for pro surfers tackling Peru's largest wave, hosting notable big wave events.
Caballeros: Home to one of Peru's few quality right-hand waves.


Soar Over Lima with Paragliding

Fearless of heights? Consider paragliding in Lima's Miraflores district. While the cliffs rise only 50 to 100 meters, the consistent headwind along the cliffs is courtesy of the same meteorological forces that create Lima's arid climate.
Despite the absence of towering mountains, paragliding thrives here. Lack of experience isn't an obstacle—enjoy tandem flights with skilled pilots provided by Peru Fly.


Indulge in Delicious Ceviche!

No visit to Lima (or Peru) is complete without savoring ceviche at least once. This iconic Peruvian dish is especially delightful in the capital city. Here are my recommendations for some great cevicherias:


Mercado de Surquillo $ (Lizardo Montero 705): For good and affordable ceviche, explore the bustling fish and meat section of this market.
Sonia $$ (La Rosa Lozano Y Tirado 173): Owned by a fisherman and his chef wife, Sonia offers delectable ceviche and seafood dishes from fresh catches.
Chez Wong $ (Enrique Leon García 114): Javier Wong, from the first floor of his Santa Catalina home, serves some of Lima's finest ceviche.
El Muelle $$ (Jr. Alfonso Ugarte 206): In Barranco, El Muelle offers a relaxed ceviche experience. With outdoor seating and reasonable prices, it's a fantastic spot for a meal in the area.


Discover Lima with a Free Walking Tour

Experience Lima through the eyes of locals on a Free Walking Tour. Departing daily (except Sundays) at 10:15 am from Miraflores Tourist Information, the tour delves into Lima's culture and history, guiding you through famous sites in the capital.


Explore Barranco: Lima's Trendy District

Escape Miraflores for a while and immerse yourself in Barranco, one of Lima's coolest districts. Bursting with historic architecture and a thriving arts scene, Barranco transforms into Lima's nightlife hub at dusk, offering superb restaurants and uniquely themed alternative bars for both Peruvians and foreigners.


Notable among Barranco's attractions is Puente de los Suspiros, a bridge that connects two main streets. Legend has it that crossing the bridge while holding your breath grants you a wish.


Capital City of Peru


Art enthusiasts will relish the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Lima (MAC Lima), established in 2013. Its three halls of 100, 200, and 1000 m2 exhibit collections of modern and contemporary Latin American art, along with temporary displays featuring emerging and established artists.


Don't miss the chance to savor a delightful, freshly brewed Peruvian coffee in one of Barranco's charming cafes. Visit La Bodega Verde, renowned for its beautiful courtyard and exquisite coffee specialties. For lunch, head to El Muelle, where you can enjoy delectable ceviche in a relaxed outdoor setting at reasonable prices.


Uncover the Legacy of Peru's Ancient Cultures

While Peru's most grand and significant pre-Columbian monuments lie beyond the capital, Lima boasts a range of museums that offer insight into the country's ancient civilizations. I present two of the finest:


National Archaeological Museum

The venerable Museo Nacional de Arqueologia, Antropología, e Historia del Perú (Plaza Bolivar, Pueblo Libre 15084), the oldest Peruvian museum, encompasses the entirety of Peruvian cultures.


Discover treasures like the Crossed Hands Stone of Kotosh and the towering Raimondi Stele of Chavín de Huántar.


Larco Museum
Among Lima's many public and private museums, the Larco Museum stands as a unique and captivating gem. Housed in a former villa, built upon the site of a pre-Columbian temple, it offers a diverse collection spanning 3,000 years of ceramics, textiles, and precious metal artifacts. The mummy room is a particularly fascinating display, showcasing the varied methods ancient cultures, including the Incas, employed to honor their deceased.


Capital Do Peru


Panoramic Vista from Cerro San Cristóbal
One of Lima's distinct landmarks, Cerro San Cristóbal hill, rises northeast of downtown Lima. For an encompassing view of the sprawling city of 10 million, this is the place to be. Taking a taxi from Plaza de Armas is advisable (walking isn't safe in this area). From the summit, you can gaze across the city to the Pacific—albeit on the few clear days.


Savor a Delectable Pisco Sour

Though often served as a refreshing aperitif before meals, the pisco sour has earned its place as a standalone cocktail and has garnered popularity well beyond Peru. There's some debate about pisco's origins (avoid mentioning Chile when ordering one), as both Peru and Chile stake a claim to inventing this grape-based liquor. Nevertheless, there's no disputing that Peru's version of the pisco sour reigns supreme.


Crafted from a blend of pisco, lemon juice, bitters, sugar, and egg whites, a trip to Lima is incomplete without sipping on a glass or two. Noteworthy establishments for a splendid pisco sour experience include:


Gran Bolivar (Jirón de la Union 958, Lima District)
Bodega Piselli (28 De Julio 297, Barranco)
Cala (Circuito de Playas, Barranco)
Cafe Museo Larco (Av. Simón Bolivar 1509, Pueblo Libre)
Antigua Taberna Queirolo (Av San Martin 1090, Pueblo Libre)


Dance the Night Away at a Peña

Every country has its own unique way of celebrating, and Peru, especially Lima, is no exception. To immerse yourself in an authentic musical experience, make your way to one of Lima's renowned peñas—intimate bars where live bands play Creole music (Música criolla), igniting spirited traditional dances and abundant pisco consumption. Barranco takes the spotlight for peñas, featuring venues like Peña del Carajo! and Peña De Rompe yraja. In downtown Lima, don't miss the chance to dance at Brisas del Titicaca.


How to Travel to Lima?

Direct flights from Europe to Lima are not currently available. However, you can conveniently reach the Peruvian capital by flying with well-known airlines such as Air France via Paris, KLM via Amsterdam, or Iberia, Air Europa, and LATAM via Madrid.


If you're traveling from North America, there are direct flights available to Lima, providing a convenient option for visitors.


For travelers coming from Central and South America, there are direct flights connecting to Lima, making it easily accessible from various regions of the continent.


How Many Days Should I Plan for Lima?

While Lima sprawls across a significant expanse, many of its key attractions are conveniently clustered together. This allows you to explore the city's highlights comfortably in around two to three days. For optimal accessibility, I recommend staying in Miraflores, a hub from which you can easily reach most destinations.


Lima benefits from a well-established and cost-effective transportation network, facilitating seamless city exploration.


Should you have an interest in excursions beyond Lima, such as the renowned Nazca Lines or the captivating Paracas Nature Reserve, it's advisable to allocate additional time accordingly.


When is the Best Time to Travel to Lima?

Lima welcomes visitors throughout the year, offering diverse experiences based on your preferences and planned activities. Each season presents unique advantages, ensuring a memorable trip tailored to your interests.


Summer (December to March): Lima's summer, from December to March, brings warmth and sunshine, with average temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C. This period is ideal for beach enthusiasts and water sports aficionados, as well as those seeking vibrant cultural festivities like the Holy Rosary of Chorrillos festival in January. However, note that this season may also feature higher humidity and occasional brief rain showers.


Autumn (April to June): Lima's autumn, spanning April to June, boasts pleasant weather with mild temperatures of 18°C to 23°C. This season offers a more tranquil atmosphere compared to the bustling summer months. It's a prime opportunity for budget-conscious travelers, as accommodations tend to be more affordable. The surrounding countryside flourishes with lush greenery, providing a scenic backdrop for outdoor excursions and hikes. Keep in mind, though, that occasional fog and light rain might occur.


Winter (July to September): Lima's winter, occurring from July to September, brings cooler temperatures ranging from 14°C to 18°C. Despite the slight chill, the weather remains enjoyable for city exploration. Additionally, this is an opportune time to venture south to destinations like southern Peru. Lima's winter calendar is marked by cultural celebrations such as the Independence Festival on July 28th. It's also an ideal time to delve into Lima's rich museum offerings and savor its delectable cuisine. While this season may include higher humidity and occasional fog, it's a remarkable time to immerse yourself in Peru's cultural scene.


Spring (October to November): Lima's spring, spanning October to November, presents mild and pleasant weather, with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 23°C. This period offers a balanced climate and fewer crowds compared to the bustling summer months. It's an opportune time to explore the city's blooming parks and historical landmarks without the large influx of tourists. However, occasional rain showers may occur.


Ultimately, your ideal time to visit Lima depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and planned activities. Whether you're drawn to the vibrancy of summer, the tranquility of autumn, the cultural festivities of winter, or the serene beauty of spring, Lima offers a rewarding experience year-round.



Request information

Date of travel:

Number of people:
How did you hear about us:

Most Popular Trips

Peru Destinations

Activities & Travel Styles

Responsible Travel

Before You Go

Travel Blog

Contact us

Why Salkantay Trek Machu?


Write a review

Write a review in Tripadvisor

Salkantay Trek Machu Facebook
Salkantay Trek Machu Twitter