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All those who went to Peru before me said, “Lima’s a bore, the only good thing there is food.” But unless you’re entering Peru from another South American country, you’ll most likely need to first fly into Lima. So since you’ll be there anyways, here’s an itinerary for you to see and eat the best of the city if you’ve only got 1 day in Lima. We found it a good way to relax at the beginning of our vacation and to get some cultural context.
Breakfast in Peru
I never thought I’d say this, especially since I rarely even stay in hotels when traveling for pleasure, but the best breakfast we had in Peru was definitely our last one, at the Dazzler Lima hotel in Miraflores. (Highly recommend this hotel if you’re staying in Miraflores as most visitors do.)
Why? In large part due to the large selection as well as the quality. We could have the typical fried plantains or chicharrones, specialty breads from various regions in Peru with fresh quesos or butter and jam, local fruits and sweets, and more; or, if you’re like me, you have a little of everything. There are tons of amazing spots in Miraflores as well, but you’ll be hard pressed to get so much variety in one sitting. And when you’ve only got 1 day in Lima, I say go for maximal exposure.
See the guards, skulls, and colonial architecture
Head for the historical district by taking the Metropolitano buses. There are multiple stops in Miraflores and it’s a quick ride up to the historical district. While Machu Picchu is the most famous draw in Peru, you can’t ignore the colonial influence on the country either.
- The Basilica and Monastery of San Francisco. Of particular note are the monastery’s library and catacombs.
- Across the plaza is the Presidential Palace, where the changing of the guard occurs each day at noon.
- The gorgeous Church of Santo Domingo is a good spot if you have time and are interested in more of the religious past of Lima.
And make sure to walk around the neighborhood. We were in Lima on a Sunday when the locals were out and about and had such a wonderful time trying all sorts of sweets from street vendors while watching people sing and dance in the squares. And if you’re lucky, you may even encounter local festivities. The highlight of our time in Lima’s historical district was absolutely the International Day of Folklore parades.
Eat so much food for lunch
Unbeknownst to us, lunch is actually the most important meal for most Peruvians, and lucky for you, there are so many incredible options. We ended up going to a sangucheria (sandwich shop) as it was almost 3 p.m. by the time we got around to eating, but if I had another day, I’d absolutely go to either a cevicheria (many are only open for lunch) or a chifa spot. Lima, being a coastal city, has some of the best ceviche (La Mar, La Red, and Chez Wong are some of the most well-known). Lima is also known to have some of the best chifa.
Savor the salty air at the coastline
As you leave the historical district, take a detour to the beaches and savor the salty air. It was unfortunately a little too cold for us to do this standing on the beach, but it was still refreshing to drive by the coastline.
Alternatively, go more inland and check out Lima’s many parks or Huaca Pucllana, the 5th-century Lima culture ruins that still stands right smack dab in the middle of Miraflores.
Don’t miss the Larco Museum
Unless you absolutely abhor museums, the Larco Museum is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two to see a fantastic collection of pre-Columbian Peruvian art and learn about pre-Columbian Peruvian history and culture. For us, this visit was invaluable in adding context to all the Inca ruins we visited during our time in Peru, and we learned quite a bit about pre-Inca societies as well.
My absolute favorite part of this private museum? Their entire backroom inventory is open for the public to walk around and view, which was absolutely incredible and something I’ve never seen before. Other bonuses: vibrant flowers throughout the entire premise, late hours (open until 10 p.m.), and a separate gallery of pre-Columbian Peruvian erotic art 😉
Have dinner at Punto Azul
We had an amazing meal at Punto Azul our first night in Peru. Incredibly fresh ceviche, nicely grilled octopus, and scrumptious Peruvian prawn soups and fish dishes, plus perfectly crafted Pisco sours for approximately $25 per person.
Or check out one of the many other delicious cevicherias and restaurants in Miraflores. My friends weren’t wrong, the food in Lima is amazing!
What are your favorite things to do or places to eat in Lima?
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