Peru

Lima, Peru Travel Guide

Peru is a beautiful and amazing country, and its capital city of Lima is no exception.  This stunning coastal capital is the fifth largest city in South America and one of the continent’s most beautiful capitals.  Even though Lima is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, most people aren’t aware that the city is located in a desert.  In fact, Lima is the second-largest desert city in the world after Cairo, Egypt in Africa.  One-third of Peru’s population lives in Lima, which also makes it one of the busiest cities in South America.

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In this guide, I am going to give you all of the information you need to plan a successful trip to Lima.  I cover the best times to visit and the best ways to get there so that you can maximize what you are able to see and do on your trip.  In addition, I outline the top things to see and do while you are there and where the best places to stay and eat are.  With these Lima, Peru travel tips in hand, you can be confident that your trip to Lima will be one that you remember for the rest of your life.

At A Glance
Top Things to See
How to Get There
Best Time to Visit
Where to Stay
Where to Eat
Recommended Tours and Excursions
Photo Gallery

At a Glance

Before you start making any travel plans, you will want to make sure you have all of the passport, VISA, and immunization tasks for your trip are taken care of.  In addition, you will want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what language they speak in Peru and what currency they use so that you can plan any translation needs you might have for your trip and exchange currency before your trip if necessary.  I have included some of this key information below for you to review as you start to make your travel plans.

Passport requirements exist. See below for details.
Immunization recommendations are listed below.
The official language in Peru is Spanish.
The official currency in Peru is the Sol.

Passport Requirements

In order to enter Peru, you must have a passport that is valid for 6 months after the date in which you enter the country.  If you plan on staying in Peru for 90 days or less, you will not need a VISA to enter the country.  However, you must be able to show proof of return or onward travel in order to be admitted.  For additional information, please refer to the website for the US Embassy in Peru.

Travel Immunizations

Before you leave for your trip to Peru, you need to make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations.  Not only to protect yourself but to protect others.  If you have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them, below are some general guidelines I can pass on to you from experience.

  • Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
  • Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
  • Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you.  This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultant will be covered by your insurance up-front.
  • Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them.  Walgreens is able to give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.

In case you are unsure of what travel vaccinations you might need, I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend.

  • Typhoid (either a shot, which is good for 2 years or live virus pill, which is good for 4 years).
  • Yellow Fever (The Yellow Fever vaccination is not required to enter Peru, and it is not recommended if you are staying within the area around Lima.  However, if you are also traveling within the regions of Amazonas, Loreto, Madre de Dios, San Martin and Ucayali, Puno, Cusco, Junín, Pasco, and Huánuco it is recommended that you get the Yellow Fever vaccination.  Please see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) map of the areas where a Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended for more detail).
  • Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
  • Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
  • Dukoral (gives you 3-month protection against travel diarrhea).
  • Flu Shot

Top Things to See and Do

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One of the most important aspects to planning any trip is planning out what you would like to see and do while you are traveling.  After all, that is the reason that most of us travel in the first place, to see and experience new things at new locations.  Whether you are looking to try some of the delicious local cuisines, admire the beautiful architecture in the city’s old town, or try your hand at some adventure activities, there is something for everyone in Lima.  In order to assist you in filling out the itinerary for your trip, I have listed my top 10 things to see and do in Lima for you to review below.

Lima Attractions Map

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Plaza de Armas de Lima
Basilica Convento de San Francisco de Lima
The Government Palace of Peru
The Park of Love
Cathedral of Lima
Park of the Reserve – Magic Water Circuit
Tandem Paragliding Lima
Huaca Pucllana
Surfing at Costa Verde

Plaza de Armas de Lima

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One of the most beautiful plazas in Lima, if not all of Peru, the Plaza de Armas de Lima is widely considered to be the core of the city of Lima.  As the birthplace of Lima, the plaza is home to some of the most prominent buildings in the city.  Here you will find the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union.  With so many buildings of historical importance located in one plaza, it is easy to see why the Plaza de Armas de Lima is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.

Basilica Convento de San Francisco de Lima

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A keystone piece of the historic old town section of Lima, the Saint Francis Monastery is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Lima.  Blessed in 1673 and then completed in 1674, the church and monastery have stood the test of time rather remarkably.  They did suffer some damage in the large earthquake of 1970, but the repairs were done so well that it is difficult to notice.

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The beautiful interior of the Saint Francis Monastery

The church’s notable Spanish Baroque design is a mixture of Moorish and Spanish design and was a big influence on other churches in the area that were constructed afterward.  Jude the Apostle is venerated in the church and the feast of Saint Jude Tadeus is celebrated annually on October 28th.  I would definitely recommend touring the inside of the church when you visit as it is absolutely stunning.

The Government Palace of Peru

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Located on the north end of the Plaza de Mayor, the Government Palace, which is also known locally as the House of Pizarro, is the official residence of the President of Peru and the seat of the executive branch of the Peruvian Government. Seeing this beautifully ornate building first-hand is one of the highlights of any walking tour of Lima and is a must-see for all visitors to the capital.

The Park of Love

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Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful public parks in Peru, the Park of Love is an elaborate park that is located on the coastline within the city.  This stunning park has an abundance of walking paths that wind in between a beautiful array of flowers, tiled mosaic walls, and a big statue of two lovers kissing in the middle of the park.  Whether you are visiting with a loved one or are just interested in seeing the beautiful landscape, the Park of Love is a great addition to any Lima travel itinerary.

Cathedral of Lima

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Also known as the Basilica Cathedral of Lima, the Cathedral of Lima is another one of the beautiful buildings that reside in Plaza Mayor in the historical section of Lima.  Started in 1535, construction of the cathedral was completed in 1649 and the church was dedicated to St John the Apostle.  Many sections of the church have needed to be rebuilt over the years because of damage from earthquakes, the most recent of which was completed in the 1940s.

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The inside of the Cathedral of Lima

The Peruvian Seal and Lima’s coat-of-arms are beautifully displayed above the main gateway of the cathedral.  This gateway is famously known as Portada del Perdón, which translates to mean “door of forgiveness”.  If you decide to visit, make sure you tour the inside of the cathedral, which is equally as beautiful.  There are fourteen side chapels that you can visit and a sign at the front entrance that commemorates Pope John Paul II’s two visits in 1985 and 1988.

Park of the Reserve – Magic Water Circuit

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One of the more popular and talked about attractions in the city of Lima is undoubtedly the Magic Water Circuit, known locally as the “Circuito Magico Del Agua”.  Located in the Park of the Reserve, this water circuit holds the Guinness World Record for the largest fountain complex in the world.  At night the fountains are lit up in changing colors and synchronized to music, which is absolutely magical to see in person.

If you have ever seen the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, this is a lot like that, but with more color and flare.  If you are in Lima and interested in seeing the Magic Water Circuit, the show takes place three times a night, beginning at 7:15 pm, 8:15 pm, and 9:30 pm.

Go Tandem Paragliding above Lima

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For those of you who are looking for a little adventure while in Lima, I can think of no better way to get that adventure than to take a tandem paragliding ride along the coastline of the city.  This was my absolute favorite thing that I did while in Lima and it is something that I strongly recommend that every visitor that isn’t afraid of heights try out.

In addition to being fun and exciting, you get an amazing view of the city and the coastline.  If you are interested in a ride, a professional will take you up for 260 Sol, which is the equivalent of $80 US dollars.  If you would like to see what the experience is like, I included a video of my Lima Paragliding Adventure below for you to check out.

Try Ceviche – Peru’s National Dish

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Widely regarded as Peru’s national dish, ceviche is something that every visitor to Lima must try.  If you aren’t familiar with ceviche, it is a style of cooking by which food is cooked with citric acid instead of the flame of a fire or with heat.  While many different proteins can be used in ceviche, the most common dishes involve fish.  If you are a fan of fish, then you will absolutely love the ceviche in Lima.

Tour the Huaca Pucllana

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Located in the Miraflores District in central Lima, the Huaca Pucllana is an adobe and clay pyramid that was built sometime in the period between 200 AD and 700 AD.  It was built with the intention of being used by the elite clergymen who governed the valleys of the area and is considered an important cultural landmark.  If you are into history, then you will definitely want to check this out.

Learn to Surf Along the Costa Verde

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If you are looking to get in the water when in Lima and are up for some adventure, then trying your hand at surfing along the Costa Verde is a great option.  The waters off of Costa Verde Beach are perfect for beginners and the waters are typically full of surfers trying to catch a wave.  If you have the time, getting some surfing lessons from the local pros can be a fun way to really get the most of out the experience.

How to Get There

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Depending on where you are coming from, there may be several different options available to get you to Lima.  Obviously, some options are going to be much quicker and convenient, while others will be much cheaper.  I have taken the time to outline a number of different ways in which you can travel to Lima below for you to review as you start to make plans for your trip.

By Plane

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The most popular way to get to Lima is to fly into the city.  This is an especially attractive option if you are traveling from outside of Peru and even more so if you are traveling from outside of South America.  If you would like to fly directly into Lima, you will want to fly into the Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM).

If you are planning on seeing other areas of Peru and would like to fly in between destinations, I have included a map of the airports in Peru below.  Otherwise, you can also take other modes of transportation, such as renting a car or riding a bus, between the locations you are visiting in Peru.

Getting to Lima - Airport Map

Map of Airports in Peru.

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By Car

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If you have the time and would like to save some money, another way that you can get to Lima is to rent a car and drive.  This can be an especially attractive option if you are planning on visiting other locations within Peru or neighboring countries.  The Pam American Highway runs all the way from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in the United States down to Ushuaia, Argentina at the southern tip of South America.

If you are traveling from outside South America, then driving to Lima is a less attractive option because it will be much more time consuming than flying and probably not a whole lot cheaper.  However, it really depends on how much time you have, what else you would like to see on your trip, and how comfortable you driving thru multiple countries.

Getting to Lima - Driving Map

Map of the Pan American Highway.

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By Bus

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For those who are looking to save a considerable amount of money on their travel, the best way to get to Lima cheap would be to take a bus.  A bus ticket is typically much cheaper than renting a car or flying, even if you are taking a long trip thru multiple countries.  In fact, if you are planning on visiting multiple locations within Peru or within neighboring countries, the cost of taking the bus over flying or driving between locations is even greater.

However, while much cheaper, the tradeoff is that you are obviously going to need to set aside more time to travel because bus trips are typically significantly longer than flights or driving yourself in a rental car.  If you have extra time, buses can be a worthwhile alternative to more expensive travel methods.  They make even more sense if you are using bus rides in combination with other modes of transportation to get around.  They can help offset the cost of some of your more expensive travel legs.

By Train

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Unfortunately, trains are the one mode of transportation that isn’t readily accessible when getting to Lima.  If you are looking to travel between Cusco and Lima, the only train that runs between Lima and the Cusco area only makes the trip once a month and takes a considerable amount of time (roughly 14 hours).  For that reason, I strongly recommend looking at either air travel, renting a car, or taking a bus to get to Lima instead.

Best Time to Visit

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Average Temperature (°F)

One of the great things about traveling to Lima is that the temperatures are fairly moderate throughout the year.  Even during the warmest months of the year, the temperature doesn’t typically get warmer than the lower-80s.  During the winter months, you can rely on the low temperatures not dropping much below the mid-50s.

It is important to remember that Lima is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the winter months are between June and August and the summer months are between December and February.  This has a tendency of confusing some travelers who are traveling from the Northern Hemisphere to Lima.

Average Precipitation (Inches)

Because the city of Lima is situated in a desert, the city doesn’t see much rainfall throughout the year.  In fact, it barely registers much rainfall at all outside of a brief window in the autumn month of March and the spring month of September.  Instead, the city gets a light mist of moisture coming off the ocean throughout the year, which is what sustains the vegetation that you see growing throughout the city.

Where to Stay

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The lobby of the JW Marriott, Lima

One of the biggest decisions you will have to make when planning your trip to Lima is where to stay.  After all, the accommodations for a trip typically consume a healthy portion of your travel budget.  Being that it is a large and diverse city, there are a number of different lodging options for you to choose from.  These accommodations range from value booking hostels to luxury hotels.  To assist you in choosing the accommodations that are the most appropriate for your budget and your trip, I have included some recommended lodging options at different price points for you to review below.

Lima Hotels Map

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Pariwana Hostel Lima ($)
Orchid Hostels ($)
Hotel Carrera ($$)
Hotel Lexus ($$)
Lima San Isidro by Pullman ($$$)
El Pardo DoubleTree by Hilton ($$$)
Hilton Lima MiraFlores ($$$$)
Hotel Holiday Inn Express Lima ($$$$)
Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Center ($$$$$)
JW Marriott Hotel Lima ($$$$$)

Where to Eat

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In addition to its vibrant landscape and wonderful culture, the other thing that Lima is well known for is its spectacular food.  Each year, hundreds of thousands of travelers flock to Lima to explore the local food scene.  If you are looking for some great restaurant recommendations for your trip to Lima, I have included some of my recommendations for you to review below.

Franz Josef Restaurant Recommendations
Restaurant Cuisine Price
Embarcadero 41 Peruvian, Latin, Seafood $$-$$$
Restaurante Statera Peruvian, Contemporary, Gluten Free $$$$
La Locanda Peruvian, Latin, Seafood $$$$
Mar y Selva Cocina Amazonica Fusion Peruvian, Fusion, South American $$-$$$
Museo Larco Cafe Restaurant Peruvian, Veggie $$-$$$
Nanka Peruvian, Fusion, Healthy $$$$

 

TIP:  Try the Pisco Sour

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In addition to the great food in Lima, I would also strongly suggest you try a Pisco Sour during your trip.  Officially regarded as Peru’s official drink, the Pisco Sour is both an interesting and delicious adult beverage.  The drink mixes Pisco, which is the alcoholic beverage, with a sour citrus juice (most often lemon juice) and an egg white.  If you are looking for unique and authentic travel experiences, the Pisco Sour is really tasty and completely authentic to the area.

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In addition to all of the amazing, old architecture and delicious food you can find throughout Lima, there are also a number of really great tours and excursions that you can book during your visit.  Whether you are looking for a cultural tour, a food and beverage sampling tour, or even a little bit of an adventure, there is a tour to suit most everyone’s needs.  I have included links to some of the most popular tour categories below so that you can review the available tours on Viator.com.

Lima is a beautiful city that is almost impossible not to capture in great photographs.  If you are interested in seeing some of the wonderful photos that I was able to capture during my visit, I have included a gallery for you to review below.

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5 replies »

    • Yes, I did visit Machu Picchu. After seeing Lima, we flew to Cusco, then visited from there. That’s another amazing city I need to write about 😀

  1. Another fantastic guide Josh, Lima looks wonderful. I’ve yet to visit South America but it’s high on my list to visit 🙂

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