The Peruvian capital is a sprawling metropolis encompassing ruins from pre-Inca times, a colonial center, and ultramodern shopping malls. If, like many visitors, you’re spending only one day here—possibly on your way to Machu Picchu—and want to see as much as possible in a short time, here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Lima.
Morning: The Colonial City
The historic center of Lima—UNESCO World Heritage–listed and seat of the Peruvian government—is filled with interesting architecture and cultural history. Private and group city sightseeing tours by bus or by foot typically spend a good deal of time here, visiting sights such as Exposition Park (Parque de la Exposición), the Palace of Justice (Palacio de Justicia), the Plaza de Armas, and the Monastery of San Francisco. Alternatively, travel around the city on a hop-on hop-on sightseeing tour, which allows you to create your own itinerary by disembarking at sights along the route and spending as much time as you like at each.
Afternoon: Vibrant Neighborhoods
Get a more contemporary taste of Lima life by venturing into its buzzing neighborhoods. Walking and bicycle tours through the bohemian Barranco neighborhood introduce visitors to the neighborhood’s colorful street art, galleries, and restaurants—some tours include dishes at a handful of local restaurants. Don’t miss the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros), a wooden structure spanning the Bajada de los Baños, a stone walkway that runs down to the Pacific. On a visit to Chorillos, you can soak up the energy of the local fish market; tours here typically include local snacks, which you can enjoy on the nearby cliffs.
Night: Food Scene
The food scene in Lima is buzzing—in fact, many people consider it among the world’s best. Find out for yourself by joining a food-focused tour. Your options vary from downtown bar crawls and cooking classes (some of which include a local market tour and pisco sour–making lesson), to gourmet tours that include stops at internationally renowned restaurants. If you are looking for some lively entertainment to accompany your dinner, you have the option of taking a tour that includes a visit to a restaurant that hosts a typical Peruvian folklore show.