When most of us think of a visit to Peru, we think of the stunningly mystical Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Cuzco, the Andes, or the Sacred Valley.
Lima, the republic’s capital, often tends to get overlooked. But with world-class ocean views, history in spades, and the best ceviche of your life, there are so many reasons why visiting Lima, Peru, should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Go Ahead staffer Jamie got to soak up the beauty of the city on her Grand Tour of Peru in September 2019, and needless to say, she fell head over heels in love with it. “I’d go back in a heartbeat—even just for the ceviche alone!” she said. Check out some of Jamie’s favorite things to do in Lima, Peru—before you know it, you’ll be adding the city to your travel bucket list, too.
1. Those ocean views are incredible
At El Parque del Amor in the Miraflores district, you can stroll along a wall of beautiful tiled waves, stunning sculptures, and colorful flowers with the ocean as your backdrop. During your free time in Lima, you can walk along El Malecón, a six-mile boardwalk perched on clifftops, where you’ll see joggers and people stretching in the grass. With the green grass contrasting against the tall buildings, palm trees, and grey cliffsides, the water looks that much more incredible.
“Whenever I think back to my trip to Lima, I still picture one of the prettiest sunsets of my life from El Parque del Amor,” said staffer Jamie. “It’s a memory I’ll never forget.”
2. It’s the best place to eat ceviche
One of the best things to do in Lima, Peru, is eat—especially if you like ceviche. This Peruvian dish is made with cubes of raw fish marinated in lime with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and spices. Lima is right on the ocean, so the ceviche is as fresh (and delicious) as it gets.
When you go on our tours of Peru, you’ll attend a dinner with a ceviche-making demonstration, which means you’ll learn all about how it’s made right before you get to try it.
“Our welcome dinner in Lima was one of my favorite moments from tour,” said staffer Jamie. “The meal was unforgettable, and we even got to watch locals perform traditional Peruvian dances as we dined. Some of my group members even had the opportunity to get up and dance with them!”
Traveler tip: If you want to try ceviche while visiting Peruvian cities that are further inland, go for it! Just be sure it’s trout, which is pulled fresh from the lakes throughout the country. Lima’s one of the only places where you can eat fresh, ocean fish ceviche-style.
^ Staffer Jamie (right) with some of her group members at La Lucha
3. You can eat A+ sandwiches
If ceviche’s not your thing, Lima also has a huge sandwich culture. There are all kinds of restaurants, shops, and bars where you can dig in to this local food.
“La Lucha was a five minute walk from our hotel, and worth every second,” said staffer Jamie. “There was seating and a large selection, including the butifarra (country ham with onion relish) and chicharrón (fried pork with sweet potatoes). Words cannot describe how great those sandwiches were. One of the chefs even came out to greet us.”
Traveler tip: If you get a sandwich (and you should if you’re visiting Lima), get a side of fries. Many places make their fries from Peruvian huayro potatoes, which are also delicious. Peru is known for potatoes, after all!
4. The local Limeños are so welcoming
The people who call Lima home are known as Limeños, and you’ll have opportunities galore to meet them as you explore the city. One great place to strike up a conversation and see local life is in Parque Kennedy, which is just a few minutes walk from La Lucha. This is the central park of the Miraflores district, and it’s bustling with local artists and street food vendors.
“It was fun to walk around and chat with some of the people who were displaying and selling their art,” said staffer Jamie. “I even saw locals playing chess on park benches, and observing daily life during free time was one of my favorite things to do in Lima, Peru.”
Fun fact: Parque Kennedy is also bustling with cats! No one knows how it started, but you’ll find dozens of friendly cats all around the park—you’re even welcome to pet them. The park’s association feeds and cares for the cats, and you can even help locals adopt them.
Traveler tip: Be sure to keep small change on you as you explore the main attractions of Lima, Peru. You’ll want it to buy snacks or souvenirs from street vendors because not everyone can make change and not everyone takes credit cards.
^ Staffer Jamie had the chance to chat with this local artist in Parque Kennedy
5. The art will leave you stunned
Some of the best things to see in Lima, Peru, are the pieces of art you can find around every corner. There’s color absolutely everywhere, with sculptures and street art that will leave you speechless.
“One of the greatest things to do is stroll through the Barranco district,” said staffer Jamie. “It’s one of Lima’s 43 districts, and is considered to be the city’s most romantic. The Barranco district is one of the best things to see in Lima, Peru, because it’s full of bohemian charm. It’s also home to many local artists, designers, photographers, and musicians.”
Check out the highlights from one traveler’s tour takeover to see some photos of the stunning streets in the Barranco district.
6. There’s a ton of unique architecture
Plaza de Armas, also known as Plaza Mayor, is full of colonial architecture. Once considered the heart of the city, it’s one of the main attractions in Lima, Peru. This grand plaza features many important architectural monuments and buildings, including a bronze fountain that dates back to 1650.
“The intricate balconies alone are reason enough to visit Lima, Peru,” said staffer Jamie. “As our expert Tour Director explained, they’re a completely unique mixture of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles that are noteworthy all on their own. I loved admiring them as we strolled along with our local guide.”
7. The weather is great for exploring
If you’re visiting Lima, Peru, in the summer, which takes place from December to March in the Southern Hemisphere, you can expect it to be around 63 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re visiting in the winter, which takes place from June to September, you’ll notice it stays between 63 and 75 degrees. That’s because Lima is known for having a stable climate year-round. It’s warm and mild, and while it’s often cloudy, it rarely rains. In fact, it only rains about 6 inches per year.
“The weather we had while exploring Lima in September was perfect,” said staffer Jamie. “The sun was out, and I was glad I brought layers—even my light jacket was a little too warm during certain parts of the day. It was perfect exploring weather.”
Traveler tip: Don’t drink the water from sinks or fountains, and try to avoid even brushing your teeth with it. Locals might be used to it, but your body probably isn’t. Everywhere you go when you visit Lima, Peru will have options for bottled water. You should also ensure any ice in your drink is made with purified water, too!
8. It’s picture-perfect
Everything in Lima, Peru, is absolutely beautiful—from the vast coastal views outside, to the insides of every restaurant, to the grandest of buildings.
“I feel like I could have spent days just wandering around and taking it all in,” said staffer Jamie. “I’ve never seen a place with such vibrant colors. Every photo I took at all of the attractions in Lima came out great. If you’re ever wondering what to do in Lima, Peru, I’d recommend just walking around with your eyes open and your cameras on.”