24 of Our Favorite Things to Do in Lima, Peru
Eat Ceviche at Canta Ranita.
Canta Ranita has a sister restaurant called Canta Rana, which is across the street and a bit fancier, so make sure you head to the more casual one. This indoor-outdoor back-of-a-market eatery always has a wait, but it’s worth it! You can watch the chefs prepare the food, FAST, and everything on the menu is great. We went three times.
We had the ceviche apaltado, the arroz de mariscos and some other types of ceviches. The fish is incredible. You also get unlimited little silver bowls of crunch corn that are addicting.
Go to Parque de la Reserva to see the rainbow fountains at night.
Parque de la Reserva is a park (that costs less than 1 USD for entry) in central Lima where you’ll find fountains and lots of families hanging out. At night, the fountains are lit up in rainbow colors. This is pretty wild! The park has two sides, and to access one from the other, there’s a tunnel that goes under a road. Parque de la Reserva is also where you can see the heart-shaped tunnel of flowers that has become a popular photo spot.
The fountains attraction itself is called “Circuito Mágico del Agua - Parque de la Reserva,” so if you want to ask locals about it, you can use this name for it.
Explore Barrio Chino and walk down Calle Capón.
We like Chinatown (Barrio Chino) in Lima because it’s a bit off the beaten tourist path. After touring museums and eating ceviche, isn’t it time to try ‘tallarines’ (noodles) and some ‘chaufa’ (fried rice)?
You might be surprised at the size of East Asian communities in Peru, but the truth is that they have a long history, starting with waves of immigration a century ago. While Lima’s Barrio Chino may remind you a bit of Chinatowns in North America or elsewhere, there are some quirky Peruvian flavors scattered throughout.
For example, have you seen Chinese restaurant menus in Spanish before? We tried some local dishes and enjoyed the cultural fusion.
Check out the lighthouse and watch the paragliders at Faro de la Marina.
Faro de la Marina, the way to say the lighthouse of the marina in Spanish, is quite a scene on weekends and on nice days. From this point on the cliffside Malecon, you can get a full view of the paragliders in the sky.
Meet the cats in Kennedy Park.
At Kennedy Park, you can find some feline friends. The park has a bunch of inhabitants, and they are all cats. Somehow, they stay there and don’t leave. It’s hard to believe, so we had to see it for ourselves.
Try some craft beer at Lúpulo Draft Bar and BarBarian in Miraflores.
We were introduced to Lupulo Draft Bar and BarBarian Bar by some friends of Becca’s family who are Lima natives! At both these bars, you’ll find yourself among the craft beer-loving Lima local (and traveler) crowds.
Lupulo has really cool neon art on the walls, and BarBarian has beer bottles from all over the world on its walls. Both are great ideas for a night out!
Take a bike tour through Miraflores and Barranco.
We recommend Lima Bike Rental & Tours, with which we did a bike tour of the city during our first week there in 2018. We had English-speaking guides, proper equipment like helmets and stopped at all kinds of great sights. It was a great way to get introduced to Lima!
We enjoyed making use of the bike paths in the parks along the Malecon. We stopped in Parque de Amor, Barranco and Larcomar.
Grab some coffee at KULcafé
A trip to Lima is not complete without exploring the developing cafe culture, so have a seat at KULcafe and order one of their americanos or fruit smoothies.
KULcafé is a great place to get some work done if you need a place to sit with your laptop. They have comfortable couches, chairs and a few tables. You’ll find plenty of outlets around the cafe!
Grab brunch at El Pan de la Chola in San Isidro.
If you have time to explore the San Isidro area, we recommend El Pan de la Chola, which we happened to stumble upon, but it turns out to be one of the most popular and well-known cafes for croissants, avocado toast and brunch as well.
Plan your two-day trip to Huacachina.
Most people plan trips to Peru with plans to fly into Lima and explore from there. The truth is that Peru is so giant, that getting to other major places of interest (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Huaraz, Arequipa and Puno) are going to require a flight or a very, very long bus ride.
For a fun two-day trip that will present a drastic difference to the cityscape of Lima, consider a desert experience in Huacachina and Ica. This destination is known for two things: dune-buggying and sandboarding. Why not try both?
Go for a jog or a walk on the Malecon.
The Malecon is the cliffside boardwalk and walking path of Lima. It is lined with gardens, parks and playgrounds. It’s a favorite among locals, expats and travelers for running, biking and dog-walking. Go at sunset to see the sky turn colors against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and some outlying islands!
Eat with the locals at Pardos Chicken.
This is not a joke - Pardos Chicken is something everyone should experience in Lima. This is an absolute Peruvian favorite, and it’s where Peruvians have birthday parties, meetings and gatherings. Nearly everything on the menu is delicious, and you can get a pretty big portion for a great price.
If you visit the small Pardos Chicken in Larcomar, you can catch a great sunset as well while you sit in the food court.
Explore nightlife at Larcomar.
Larcomar is a trendy spot on the Malecon that was developed as a shopping mall with fashion, entertainment and “gastronomy,” according to its website. Here, you can find around 100 stores on a shopping trip.
At night, Larcomar is home to Lima Bar, an upscale bar and club, where Lima’s party crowds go for big nights out. Expect higher prices and a dress code.
Wander in the Centro Historico (Historic Center)and check out the famous iglesias.
Lima is surprisingly big, and depending on whether you stay in Miraflores, Barranco or the Historic Center, you’ll have to travel a big in Uber or taxi to see other regions of the city. If you’re not staying in accommodation in the Centro Historico, plan to spend an afternoon or morning with a small trip to Lima’s Historic Center. This is the real original Lima, and you’ll feel transported in time.
Start with the Main Square of Lima, also called Plaza de Armas, and check out the Municipal Palace, Archbishop’s Palace and Catedral de Lima.
Next, head over to the brightly yellow-colored Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, where people gather in the small square, and see the Government Palace of Peru (Palacio de Gobierno del Perú), where there is a daily changing of the guard ceremony.
Continue to the Iglesia de La Merced with its big stone facade and finish by resting for a few minutes at Plaza San Martin, surrounded by eateries and hotels.
See the art in Barranco.
Barranco is a neighborhood that is next to Miraflores, but quite a bit different. Buildings are lower and older, and here, you can find the city’s street art. Walk around until you’ve had your fill, because there is so much, and by a variety of different artists. We visited the studio of Jade Rivera, where you can see a lot of his work and learn about the meanings of his murals around the world.
Enjoy ice cream in the flavor of Peruvian fruits at Bosco Magico.
Aside from being cutely decorated, this gelato boutique is where you can try flavors like chirimoya-flavored sorbet. Only in Peru!
See an acrobatics performance in the butterfly sanctuary of Barra Verde.
This was probably one of the surprises in Lima that we loved more than others - where else can you go to a beautiful garden-themed bar and then see a free acrobatics show in a butterfly sanctuary? The experience was like an escape from the city.
Try a set Lima-style set lunch at Smutis.
Sometimes the best lunches are no frills. Dan’s favorite lunch place is Smutis, a place known mostly to locals in Miraflores, where you can get a two-course lunch special, with a drink, for between USD 4-5.
The service is fast, the crowd is mostly local business people on lunch break and it’s not touristy at all. For a place with fast service and good prices, the menu is huge - choose from some of our favorite Peruvian food like fried eggs, quinoa, avocado, macaroni, grilled chicken, mixed salad and Venezuelan pabellon.
Taste the delicious and exotic Peruvian fruits like chirimoya, granadilla and aguaymanto.
You might know that we absolutely love fruit, and we liked getting fruits like these from our local fruit guy on the corner, the big city produce markets and the supermarkets like Tottus and Wong.
At any chance we get, we buy local fruit, and we especially like to try new things. A few favorites of ours are chirimoya (but don’t eat the skin nor the seeds, as they’re kind of poisonous!), granadilla (related to the passionfruit with such a fresh flavor!) and aguaymanto (kind of like sweet and tart tomato-like fruits, which are called ‘uchuva’ in Colombia - it’s the same thing!).
Watch the sunset near the Park of Love (Parque de Amor).
Parque de Amor is for lovers! It also has a cool mosaic wall that reminds us of Parque Guell in Barcelona. This is a stop for every Lima itinerary, and if you can’t find it, ask any local for Parque de Amor, and they’ll point you in the correct direction.
Once you see the big statue of two lovers embracing (you’ll see what we mean), it’s clear you’re in the right place.
Buy your produce at Surquillo Mercado #1 and test your bargaining skills.
On the surface, it’s overwhelming to find an authentic big local market in Lima. Thankfully, Dan knew about Surquillo Mercado #1 and we had a chance to go there to pick up super fresh fruits and vegetables during our first week living in Lima.
This market is an authentic Peruvian experience, where you can haggle, see all the types of produce and eat in the market food stalls that line the exterior of the market. This is a place for sights, sounds and smells!
Explore food from all over Peru with the vendors at Mercado 28.
Mercado 28 is a great trendy food market in Miraflores, and young people go here to start their nights on the weekends. The place is indoor-outdoor, so in the Peruvian winter (June to September), they provide blankets and heat lamps so that you can warm up.
What we like about Mercado 28 is that you can ‘try the flavors of Peru.’ Basically, you can try lots of types of Peruvian cuisines, and there are many! There’s Peruvian poke at Oli Oli, Amazonian cuisine at La Patarashkita, Peruvian tapas at Aima and ceviche at Agallas. The variation is incredible. There’s a central wine and beer bar as well. The most fun part is buying several things from different vendors, getting some friends together and trying each other’s foods.
Spend the evening at the wacky bar DaDA and see some live music.
DaDA is instantly a favorite among travelers, expats and locals, and that’s because it’s hard to not like. DaDA is set in an old mansion in the cool Barranco neighborhood, and we got lucky to see some chill live music there.
The bar sells drinks and pizza, and there’s outdoor space. The place is also decorated really eclectically, with bicycles hanging from the ceiling and some unique art. DaDA seems to be a place you can go most times of day or night.
End your trip with a delicious pisco sour.
The pisco sour is Peru’s national cocktail, and if you are into drinks of the world, we suggest having one during your stay! Pisco is Peru’s famous alcohol and it’s like brandy. Careful, though - Chile also claims this as its national alcohol, so keep that in mind!
The pisco sour itself is made from pisco, lime juice, sugar syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Add it over ice and put a drop of Angostura bitters on top of the foam, and ta-da, you have Peru’s most famous cocktail.
We also suggest having a pisco sour within the borders of Peru, as they truly do it best. Becca tried one in Colombia and it was not the same!
We hope you enjoy Lima as much as we did, because while the city is huge, there’s lots of diversity and things to see at all times of year.