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Things to do in Lima

Things to do in  Lima

Welcome to Lima

Lima, Peru has emerged from its reputation as a layover on the way to Machu Picchu to be a destination of its own accord, offering world-class art museums, preserved colonial plazas, and a trendy, destination-worthy culinary scene featuring a signature cocktail: the Pisco sour. Discover the city’s charms on a guided tour, visiting the collection of pre-Columbian artifacts at the Larco Museum, the Spanish-influenced Plaza de Armas, the dazzling fountains of the Magic Water Circuit, and the tomb of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in Lima’s City Centre, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cultural tours of the city bring travelers in contact with local communities, artisans, and chefs through food, drink, and market tours for a taste (literally) of the daily life in the city. Contemporary charms abound in the bohemian Barranco District, while ancient Peru’s history is on display at the Pachacamac archaeological site, located 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside of the city. Those looking for outdoor adventure can indulge in a day of swimming and sun bathing on a day trip to the nearby Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve or sand board at the Oasis of Huacachina, while those seeking to learn more about ancient Peru can fly above the famous Nazca lines or visit a number of nearby archaeological sites and still make it back in time to enjoy a drink on the veranda.

Top 10 attractions in Lima

#1

Miraflores

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The swanky beachfront suburb of Miraflores is one of Lima’s most sought-after zip codes. Miraflores is where you’ll find Lima’s best restaurants, shops and hotels, plus the waterfront mansions and high-rise towers of the city’s movers and shakers. It’s also home to lovely parks and gardens, beaches and promenades. Some ancient history remains in Miraflores, including the Huaca Pucllana, the remains of a pre-Inca mud-brick temple. Paragliders come to Miraflores to leap off the area’s rocky cliffs over the sea. The beaches are popular, but the coast tends to be rocky rather than sandy and the better beaches lie further south.More
#2

Ballestas Islands (Islas Ballestas)

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Often called “the Peruvian Galapagos,” the Ballestas Islands are where savvy travelers can experience wildlife on a budget. Here, on these rocky islets about 90 minutes off the coast of Paracas, hundreds of sea lions lounge on rocks that are covered in thousands of birds, and the cost of visiting is a fraction of the cost of visiting the Galapagos in Ecuador. When approaching the eroded islands by sea, there are so many boobies, cormorants, and penguins resting on the rocky cliffs, the entire island seems to vibrate with the collective fidgeting of feathers. Humboldt penguins are another draw for visiting the Ballestas Islands, and these tuxedo-clad birds can only be found off the coast of Chile and Peru. While motoring out to the guano covered islands, keep an eye out for the Candelabra Geoglyph that’s etched into the hillside. At 595 feet in height, the mysterious, ancient, unexplained symbol can be seen 12 miles out to sea.More
#3

Nazca Lines

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The arid plains surrounding the small town of Nazca are detailed with South America’s most enigmatic sight, the extraordinary Nazca Lines. Etched into more than 80km (50 miles) of rocky desert, and only properly appreciated from the air, the Nazca Lines are made up of more than 800 lines, 300 figures and 70 animal and plant outlines. Creatures drawn here include monkeys measuring 90m (300 feet), lizards, spiders representing fertility, and an astronaut lookalike. Birds like the hummingbird, condor and flamingo represent summer and winter, and point exactly to where the sun rises and sets. The largest drawings measure 200m (660 feet) across. There are a number of theories behind the lines and their construction - who made them, why and how? - but no one knows for sure, and they were only rediscovered in 1939. One theory dates them to between 400 and 600 AD, believing that they were mapped as an astronomical calendar by early mathematicians.More
#4

Magic Water Circuit

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The Magic Water Circuit, located within the Parque de la Reserva, provides a fun and family-friendly option for those looking for something inexpensive to do in Lima. The municipal project—a series of 12 fountains choreographed to music and lights—was inaugurated in 2007 and has since become a favorite attraction in the capital city among locals and visitors alike. While the fountains are open Wednesday through Sunday, beginning in the late afternoon, they’re undeniably most impressive at night, when the lights and laser effects are most visible. Each of the fountains has a different theme, and some are interactive (you’ll get wet), making them a huge hit with kids. The Maze of the Dream (Laberinto del Ensueño) is a major highlight of the Magic Water Circuit and challenges visitors to find their way to an inner circle through a maze made from vertical walls of water. After dark, the Fantasia Fountain (Fuente de la Fantasía) entertains with a choreographed show.More
#5

Lima Plaza Mayor

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Lima’s Plaza Mayor (main square) is central Plaza de Armas, the city’s historic heart and birthplace. Landscaped with palm trees, elaborate lampposts, flower beds and greenery, the square’s focus is the 1650 tiered bronze fountain in the center and the statue of Francisco Pizarro on horseback nearby. Visit at 11:45am to watch the changing of the guard, or visit any time to find an empty seat and watch the world wander by. There’s plenty to look at, with the cathedral on one side and the beautiful balconies of the Palacio Arzobispal next door. Several other attractive buildings with balconies and arched porticoes line the square, including the City Hall and Government Palace.More
#6

Barranco

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Lima’s most bohemian district, the lively coastal neighborhood of Barranco first became popular towards the end of the 19th Century, drawing an influx of poets, writers and artists to the seaside resorts of Las Sombrillas and Barranquito. Although it was integrated into the capital territory in 1860, Barranco retains its village-like feel, with its striking colonial architecture and brightly painted buildings standing in stark contrast to the modern high-rises of neighboring Miraflores. Best explored on foot, the elegant Plaza San Francisco is the starting point for a walking tour, home to the 19th century Iglesia San Francisco, and encircled by boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Nearby, the Bajada de los Baños ravine is the most popular hangout during the daytime, where the flower-lined Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) makes a romantic spot for watching the sunset.More
#7

Historic Centre of Lima (Centro Historico de Lima)

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Stretching between the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin, and bisected by the principal boulevard of Jirón de la Unión, the historic center of Lima is still the focal point of the modern-day city. Today, the UNESCO-listed area forms the basis of most tourist itineraries, with the majority of attractions within easy walking distance and a wealth of elegant buildings, churches and monumental statues dating back to the colonial era. The Plaza de Armas makes a popular starting point for walking tours, home to a cluster of landmarks including the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Palace (City Hall) and the Palace of the Union, as well as a bronze fountain bearing the coats-of-arms of Lima. Famously the site of the foundation of the ‘City of the Kings’ in 1535, the Plaza de Armas became the city’s first public square and was later the site of the declaration of the Republic of Peru in 1821.More
#8

Sacred City of Caral-Supe

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As the oldest known city in the Americas, the archeological site of Caral is among Peru’s most impressive ruins and makes a popular day trip from nearby Lima. The UNESCO World Heritage listed site covers an area of around 60 hectares in the arid Supe Valley and was first inhabited between 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE. Although initially discovered back in 1948, recent excavations of Caral revealed an elaborate complex of temples, sunken plazas and some of the largest terraced pyramids in the world, leading archeologists to ponder the possibility of Caral being the fabled ‘Mother City’ of ancient civilizations. Now open to the public, the site has garnered acclaim for its beautifully preserved ruins and intriguing collection of artifacts, which include a quipu (a unique knot system used by ancient Andean civilizations) and a number of musical instruments fashioned from animal bones, but significantly, no trace of warfare or weaponry.More
#9

Larco Museum (Museo Larco)

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To help you get your head around Peru’s centuries of history and culture, visit the well-regarded Museo Larco Herrera in Lima. The chronological overview of 3,000 years of history takes you through pre-Inca cultures and pre-Colombian art, to present-day interpretations of pre-Hispanic ceramics. The museum is structured in a series of galleries, and its highlight is the fine collection of Inca gold and silver jewelry and artifacts, studded with prized lapis lazuli, turquoise and amethyst. Painted pottery vases and tools are also displayed, along with elaborately fashioned metal ware, cotton and feather textiles. A unique feature of the museum is that visitors are granted access to the storage area, where 45,000 objects are arranged and cataloged. The museum is housed in an 18th-century vice-royal mansion, built over a 7th-century pyramid and surrounded by leafy gardens.More
#10

Huaca Pucllana

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The modern city of Lima is dotted with historic ruins and sacred sites, known as huacas, and the imposing archeological site of Huaca Pucllana is one of the city’s largest and most important ancient monuments, located in the coastal Miraflores district. Built around 500 A.D, the complex was once an administrative and ceremonial center of the indigenous Lima Culture civilization, constructed from hand-made adobe bricks and dominated by a 22-meter tall central pyramid. The impressive pre-Incan ruins are now a popular tourist attraction, affording unique views from the top of the central mound and dramatically floodlit in the evening hours. There’s also an on-site museum displaying artifacts like tools, ceramics and textiles unearthed during excavations, a workshop area displaying ancient textile and ceramic making techniques, a small park growing key plants used by the Lima Culture people and a spectacularly sited restaurant that looks out over the ruins.More

Trip ideas

Must-See Museums in Lima

Must-See Museums in Lima

How to Spend 3 Days in Lima

How to Spend 3 Days in Lima

Food Lover's Guide to Lima

Food Lover's Guide to Lima

Top activities in Lima

Half-Day Lima City Sightseeing

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Half-Day Lima City Sightseeing

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Recent reviews from experiences in Lima

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Amazing cooking class
Angelica_J, Dec 2020
Peruvian Cooking Class Including Local Market Tour and Exotic Fruit Tasting
It was nice to feel welcomed and talk about things to do in Lima.
star-5
A great 4 hour tour of historic Lima
Lima, Mar 2020
Lima City Walking Tour with Pick-up & Drop Off Small Group
We would highly recommend this to anyone with half a day to see Lima.
star-5
Excellent Tour of Central Lima and Pachacamac
David, Mar 2020
Lima Cultural City Tour – Lunch & Pachacamac Archaeological Site (Small Group)
Spoke excellent English and provided good commentary on life in Lima.
star-5
Amazing day
Stephanie, Feb 2020
Lima Full-Day Experience: Pachacamac, Historic Downtown and Magic Water Circuit
It was very informative and we got to see so much in one day.
star-5
Must do
mikerojas0329, Feb 2020
Private Lima Walking Tour
It covers just about everything you need to see in Central Lima.
star-5
Highlights of Lima
acusselle, Jan 2020
Lima Private Walking Tour
We asked if it was possible to see changing of the guard which was then included in our tour.
star-4
Pretty good
alexandersO8298LO, Jan 2020
Visit the attractions of Historic Center Lima, Miraflores and San Isidro
It’s not too much to see I’m Lima but I am glad we arranged for this tour
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Great option to visit Pachacama
Joseatoro, Jan 2020
Private Guided ''Pachacamac'' Tour in Peru
It is a very good way to visit Pachacamac archeological site south of Lima.
star-5
Great Tour of Lima
Newish-to-Brum, Dec 2019
Half-Day Lima City Sightseeing
We had a lovely tour of Lima - starting at the coast (Gaudi-esque garden) then went into central Lima to visit the Church and a Monastery and had a general wander through the streets.
star-5
Best way to start off Lima
winstonthenderson, Nov 2019
Lima City Walking Tour with Pick-up & Drop Off Small Group
It was great way to see Lima and Philippe our tour guide was the best!
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Perfect short city tour
Synthia D, Nov 2019
Half-Day Private Lima City Tour
Nora the guide was delightful, very knowledgeable about Lima’s history, economy, politics and culture and spoke excellent English.
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Very Informative and interesting
seandobbyn, Oct 2019
Lima Full-Day Experience: Pachacamac, Historic Downtown and Magic Water Circuit
With the time I had in lima I wouldn't have been able to see all these sites on my own.
star-5
Excellent tour!
GrandTour33514462398, Oct 2019
Food & Art: Lima Colors and Flavors Walking Tour
You get to visit the fish market, and try amazing local food.
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No english speaking tour
lissi902019, Oct 2019
PARACAS and HUACACHINA SANDBOARD - Day Trip Lima
We booked this daytrip from lima to the islas ballestas and huacachina with a english guide.
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Highly recommend
kef32019, Sep 2019
From Lima: Pachacamac, Barranco & Chorrillos Private Tour
Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke excellent English.
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Sooo Fun!!!
Peter H, Sep 2019
Sandboarding and Off Road in Lima
I'm not a snowboarder so I wasn't sure I would have fun on this tour, however it turned out to be one my favorite things to do in Lima.
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Sea lions
Gail M, Aug 2019
From Lima: Palomino Islands Cruise & Swimming with Sea Lions with Transfers
Unfortunately it was a cloudy and cold winter day in Lima.
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Fun Night
WorldTvl90, Jul 2019
Larco Museum and Magic Water Circuit Evening Tour
This tour was a perfect way to see them both.
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Great start to the vacation
JungleJt, Jun 2019
Lima Airport Arrival Transfer
What a pleasure to see our name on a sign and an easy transfer to our hotel in Miraflores!
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Excellent!
OnAir39218756458, Jun 2019
Bohemian & Colorful Lima: Barranco and Callao City tour
The tour allowed me to see parts of the city that I would not ordinarily have, and get a better understanding of its history whilst appreciating the amazing street art.

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