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Lima Travel Guide

About Lima

It might not live up to the splendour of the past, but Lima is much more than a stopping point on the way to the Inca Trail and the Amazon. Formerly one of the most important cities in the Spanish empire, today it’s a jumble of modern architecture and urban sprawl beneath near-perpetual grey skies. But with nearly 10 million inhabitants (around a third of the whole country), this 500-year-old city is the undisputed heart of Peru.

Halfway along Peru's dusty coastline, the cliff-top capital is poised between the Pacific Ocean and the foothills of the Andes. It also lies near a tectonic plate, and has been subject to a succession of earthquakes that have wiped out a considerable amount of ancient architecture.

But not all of it, as Lima’s UNESCO World Heritage historic centre attests with the looming baroque majesty of Monastery of San Francisco, amongst other treasures.

Next to the seafront are a couple of affluent, trendy districts that equal almost any in Latin America for character and nightlife. The bohemian yet extremely elegant Barranco harbours a creative population of artists, photographers and musicians amidst handsome mansions, cool bars, pretty cafés and some phenomenal restaurants.

Indeed, the Peruvian food revolution that began here a couple of decades ago, and proceeded to spread across the Atlantic, can be traced back to gourmet spots in Lima. Lovers of ceviche in London and New York will find Peruvian cuisine all the more sublime back at the source.

Near to Barranco, the fashionable neighbourhood of Miraflores offers luxury hotels, world-class shopping and more than a few decadent clubs. Surfers will find easy access to Lima’s beaches, while paragliding from the cliffs is very popular. Miraflores is also home to Huaca Pucllana, a 3rd-century clay pyramid that pre-dates the Incas.

Although tourists tend to stick to the coast, it’s essential to take a bus downtown for the real centre of Lima life. The area is poorer than Barranco and Miraflores, but you’ll find traditional bars, impressive colonial buildings and the grand central square with its enormous 16th-century cathedral.

Key facts

Population:
8700000
Latitude:
-12.043158
Longitude:
-77.035825

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City Highlight: Lima

Sunny beaches, lively heritage, ornate cathedrals, and otherworldly pre-Columbian ruins make Lima an exceptionally exotic getaway

Featured Hotels

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JW Marriott Hotel Lima

The Lima offering from this reliable international hotel chain is a comfortable concoction of well-dressed rooms with sea views. Eat in at the second floor restaurant La Vista, offering Peruvian and international flavours, or try the Sushi and Cerviche Lounge for fusion fish dishes. The hotel also has fitness facilities, a spa and pool.

Miraflores Park Hotel

This highly regarded hotel benefits from a stylish location overlooking the seafront and public gardens in Miraflores. Views don't come much better than from the rooftop pool and breakfast is also served sky high in the poolside Observatory Restaurant. An additional restaurant, swanky bar, an on-site gym and spa add further appeal to the luxurious experience. 

Hotel B

One of the newest additions to the luxury hotel scene, art-boutique Hotel B in Barranco has quickly earned a sparking reputation for its elegant suites and seamless service. Set in a stunning white mansion enlivened by well-curated artwork, rooms are individually decorated and come with plush linens. The intimate dining room is served by celebrated Peruvian chef Oscar Velarde.

Inka Frog

Young and old enjoy this funky bed and breakfast where rooms are kitted out with TVs, hairdryers and walk-in wardrobes. Books and DVDs are offered in the lounge area, internet is free and a travel desk that can help arrange transport and tours. Clean and welcoming, its location in Miraflores means restaurants, shops and amenities are all close at hand. 

Lima Wari Suites

This little-known gem of a budget stay feels like a real home-from-home. The attractive colonial house is kitted out with mosaic-tiled floors and Andean-patterned upholstery and there's plenty of opportunity to relax in the various tucked-away seating areas, draped in pot plants. Venture out and you're a short walk from the picturesque main square of Barranco.

Mami Panchita

This friendly lodging is run by Peruvian-Dutch owners and offers simple and serene rooms in a peaceful suburb between Miraflores and the city centre. Guests have the use of a comfy lounge, an attractive patio and a garden with bougainvillea cascading over the walls. The owners are generous with their local knowledge and can help with tours.