My trip to South America was stressful to plan, mostly because there was just too much to do in what seemed like not enough time! My travel buddy for this adventure is a teacher, so we only had one week (her school’s spring break) to make this trip a reality. For this reason, we only had about 2 days in one of Peru’s most beautiful and bustling cities – Lima! If you find yourself in a similar situation and pressed for time, follow this guide for how to make the most of your time in the large and incredible capital of Peru!
We stayed in the Barranco/Miraflores area, and it turned out to be perfect for us. There is a lot to do in those neighborhoods, and there are generally a larger number of tourists so things like restaurants and cafes abound. It is also along the coast so there are beaches and ocean views all around!
We took our first morning to walk along the coast to a beautiful sculpture park called Parque del Amor (or for those who are not Spanish savvy – Park of Love). This incredible park features weaving benches covered in mosaic murals – very Parque Guell-esque. The focal point of the area is a giant sculpture of a man and woman in a strong embrace, kissing, centered among the steps and surrounding benches. It is quite a sight to behold!
For lunch, take a short walk from the park to a popular outdoor shopping center – el Larcomar. This structure is right on the coast, and abuzz with high end stores and endless foodie options. Sip a latte under the shade of a large overhanging roof, or enjoy the scattering of outdoor restaurants along the water. We stopped for a much needed coffee and water break (it’s so easy to get dehydrating while travelling!) and perused the shops.
In the afternoon, head into the city to see some of the historic sites. The good news is a lot of the main points of interest are within walking distance of one another – all in the Central District. We were able to see Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Martin, and the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco all in a couple of hours. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon a religious ceremony taking place in the main square, because it happened to be the start of Holy Week, or Semana Santa. Whether or not you are there for a special occasion, you are sure to be blown away by the incredible architecture of the buildings. If you have the time, I would suggest booking a walking tour of the area. We wandered around the squares ourselves, but I think I would have appreciated learning about the history of the area from a local tour guide.
End the evening of your first day enjoying some delicious Peruvian cuisine in one of the many restaurants surrounding the Plaza Mayor. For tips on what to try while in the city, see my post: Foods you MUST try in Lima.
We began our morning with another walk along the coast to enjoy the beautiful weather we were having in Lima that day. In an average year, Lima only gets less than 2 inches of rainfall, so it is often dry and sunny there (pretty ideal if you ask me!). We then headed to some Inca ruins called Huaca Pucllana. It is a minimal fee for entry, and you get a one hour guided tour of the entire site! It was quite remarkable, and a great way to learn about some Incan history.
We ate lunch at the restaurant inside the Huaca Pucllana grounds – it is known as one of the best restaurants in all of Lima and even Peru. The food was absolutely amazing, and well worth the heftier price. However, the best part of this restaurant was the view. You can enjoy outdoor seating and dine with a view of the ruins. Not many places can offer the same unique experience!
In the afternoon we headed to Museo Larco, which offered a great mix of informative galleries and photo opportunities. The entire museum is covered in flowers and vines, and there are several gardens surrounding the premises, all immaculately cared for. Inside the museum are various halls and grand rooms filled with artifacts and other pieces of ancient Inca history. Tickets are half off if you can present a student ID, and is free for children under 8 years old!
We stopped for dinner in a local restaurant recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and tried a few different Peruvian dishes. If you can, get a local to suggest restaurants close to where you are staying – it’s always nice to get a little extra local flavor in your travels!
Planning a trip to Peru soon? Comment below!