Off to the Peruvian capital? Here's a hit list of what not to miss in Lima.
Do a walking tour of Barranco
Beautiful bohemian Barranco began life in the 19th century as a seaside resort. Artists, poets and musicians moved in and today it’s Lima’s artiest neighbourhood. Although only about 10 blocks in size, this district boasts some of Lima’s best bars, shops and cafés. Among its many art galleries are the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo and Lucia de la Puente. Stroll the Bajada de Baños walkway to the sea and admire the 1876-inaugurated Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) that crosses the barranco (ravine), after which the district was named. Dally by day, party by night. For free walking tours, go to Free Walking Tour Peru.
Browse the Artisan Market
Peru has rich and ancient handicraft traditions, along with a vibrant contemporary design scene. The shops of the Artisan Market – also known as Mercado Indio (Indian Market) sell traditional fabrics, ponchos, pottery, musical instruments, decorated gourds, Catholic devotional art, souvenir T-shirts and much more. If you prefer more art in your crafts, visit Dédalo Arte, a charming maze of galleries in an old mansion at Avenida Sáenz Peña 295, Barranco. For upscale shopping, visit the cliff-side shopping mall of Larcomar in Miraflores, which also boasts of some of the best views in Lima.
Avenida Petit Thouars 5321, Miraflores
Contemplate Museo Larco
You could spend days exploring Lima’s many excellent museums but if time is short, head straight to the privately owned Larco Musuem. Housed in a grand 18th-century mansion built on the site of a seventh-century pyramid, Larco holds an unparalleled collection of pre-Columbian ceramics (including erotic-themed works), rare textiles and other artefacts illuminating 3000 years of history. Unusually for museums anywhere, the Larco allows visitors to view the part of the collection that’s in storage, too. It’s open daily until 10pm and features an elegant garden restaurant and gift shop.
Make chocolate at Choco Museo
Historians believe the first cacao trees grew in the foothills of the Andes where the Amazon flows, and Peru produces some of the rarest and most-prized varieties of the bean from which all things chocolate come. The Choco Museo in Miraflores offers hands-on workshops for adults and kids to not only learn all about chocolate but also to make your own truffles; children’s birthday parties are a specialty. Choco Museo has another branch in Barranco – see the website for details.
Calle Berlin 375, Miraflores
Plaza de Armas de Lima
An 18th-century Spanish Jesuit described Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor) –established as Lima’s city centre by conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 – as the “finest and most well-formed” plaza he’d ever seen, including in Spain. It once hosted bullfights, markets and, during The Inquisition, saw the public burning of heretics. The grand public buildings and monuments tell the history of Lima and represent the acme of the art and architecture of colonial Peru.
Jirón de la Unión Cuadra 3, Lima