Between bohemian Barranco, glitzy Miraflores, and the coastal streets of Chorillos, the Santiago de Surco district is a part of Lima that few visitors see. Located well off of the tourist trail—though physically not far away—Surco is stocked with universities and hundreds of manicured gardens. It’s a place that was heavily looted and destroyed in the War of the Pacific with Chile, and a place where locals gather in droves in the green oasis of the parks. Take a stroll through the Santiago de Surco district’s very own Plaza Mayor, which is punctuated by the baroque Iglesia Santo Apostol rising up from the square. While there aren’t a lot of formal sights, Surco becomes a sight unto itself whenever it hosts a festival. The Vendimia festival in the second week of March is an ode to the district’s wine harvest, when downtown Surco becomes festively punchdrunk on music, drinking, and song. Other than the plaza, churches, and festivals, the museums in Surco—while small in scale—are refreshingly free of crowds. For a look at centuries of riches and warfare, stop at the privately owned Gold and Weapon Museum and its 20,000 pre-Columbian artifacts. You can also find weapons from the days of the conquistadores, and even look at a gleaming sword that was used by Francisco Pizarro.
Surco is located about 15 minutes from Miraflores and Barranco. Taxis are the easiest mode of transport, and it’s easy and safe to walk on foot between the various sights.