The City of Lima is a large sprawling metropolis, made up of 32 diverse districts, and is home to approximately 9 million residents. Lima was once one of South America’s largest and most powerful trading posts, and today only small reminders remain of the important past. Although attractions in Lima are somewhat overshadowed by what is on offer in the rest of the country, Lima still boasts some of Americas´ finest Baroque and Renaissance buildings, Mansions, Churches and Palaces.
Most of Lima’s tourist attractions are clustered around Plaza Mayor in the historic centre. Plaza Mayor declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to several points of interest, including Lima Cathedral, the Inquisition Museum and the Catacombs below the San Francisco Monastery.
Most hotels in Lima are located in the upmarket districts of Miraflores and San Isidro; 30 minutes away from Lima’s tourist attractions and historic centre. These districts have little touristic value but are safe, modern and offer many great places to relax, dine and go shopping.
Over the last few years Lima has been noted as one of South America’s culinary hot-spots. Lima has grown to become more internationally recognized, and the new style of fusion cooking that incorporates Peruvian ingredients with other international dishes, has Lima brimming with some of the continents most fantastically mouthwatering restaurants. Nowadays, tourists from all over the world attending special touristic cooking courses, where they can learn about Peru’s diverse ingredients and traditional dishes.
You may have to look a little harder for Lima’s tourist attractions, but they are certainly there. Many tourists skip Lima in search of lost Inca cities, but a few days in Peru’s capital could be the highlight of your trip.
The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Plaza Mayor of downtown Lima. First built in 1535, the Cathedral started life as a rustic and basic building constructed mainly of adobe (hair and mud). Today the interior of Lima cathedral is attractive, with a delicate vaulted ceiling and a checkerboard floor. It is embellished with some impressive baroque furnishings, the most notable of which are the intricately carved choir stalls.But perhaps the highlight of a visit to the cathedral is the colorfully mosaiced chapel containing the tomb of Francisco Pizarro (1475-1541), Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Inca Empire and founder of the city of Lima. There is also a small museum of religious art and artifacts.
Opening Hours: Tue – Sun, 10.00am – 6.00pm
Price: S/.6.00 inc entrance to the Religious Art Museum inside.
Address: Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor), District of Lima.
Phone: +51 1 427 9647
The Plaza Mayor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Lima’s historic centre. It’s a good place to start exploring the city’s colonial architecture from the beautiful wooden balconies to landmarks buildings like the cathedral and presidential palace. Created by Francisco Pizarro, Lima’s founding father in 1535, many of the square’s buildings are 18th-century reconstructions, but the fountain at its centre dates back to 1650. The north side of the plaza is dominated by the Government Palace (rebuilt in 1937), home of Peru’s president. You can watch the changing of the guard here at 11:45 each morning. On the east side of the Plaza you’ll find Lima Cathedral.
Museum of the Convent of San Francisco
Lima’s cemetery until 1810, the Convent of San Francisco’s catacombs in the centre are now open to the public. Visitors can see the neatly arranged bones and skulls from up to 25,000 bodies, together with the monastery’s religious art collection.The underground tunnels also include a number of wells where bodies were stacked to decompose until the bones could be placed elsewhere.
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am – 5.30pm
Price: S/.5; concessions S/.2.50
Address: Plaza San Francisco, Jirón Ancash y Lampa 01
Phone: +51 1 426 7377
Museo de la Nacion (National Museum)
Located in the district of San Borja, 15 minutes from Miraflores, the Museo de la Nacion (National Musuem) hosts nemours exhibits including ancient pre-Conquest cultures, artifacts from the time of the Spanish invasion and even modern day Peruvian history. The exhibits are housed in vast salons spread over 3 floors and are ordered chronologically which is helpful for getting to grips with the many cultures dispersed across Peru. Displays are labelled in both Spanish and English and include scale models of many of the Inca sights from around Cusco as well as from the north of Peru such as the tomb of the Senor de Sipan. If you are considering visiting a museum in Lima, then this should be the first choice.
Opening Hours: Tues – Fri 09:00 – 18:00. Sat – Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Price: Entrance is free
Address: Av. Javier Prado Este 2465, San Borja.
Phone: +51 1 476-9878
Museo Larco (Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera)
This museum which mainly concentrates on items from the Moche Dynasty (A.D. 200 – 700), is the largest private collection of pre-Colombian ceramics in the world. The museum was founded in 1926 and is housed in an 18th century mansion, which is divided into three sections, the main museum, the warehouse museum and the slightly amusing Erotic Art museum. The main museum houses a “Gold and Silver of Ancient Peru exhibition“, a magnificent textile collection, as well and many thousands of examples of pottery. Visit their website to see information on the latest exhibitions and special events. Read more about Museo Larco in Lima
Opening Hours: Open daily 09:00 – 18:00, (including public holidays)
Price: Entrance fee S/. 30.00, Senor Citizens S/.25.00, Children under 15 years S/.15.00
Address: Avenida Bolivar 1515, Pueblo Libre.
Phone: +51 1 – 4611312 / 4611835
Lima by Night and Magic Water Show
This is a bus tour departing from Parque Kennedy in the evening, and visits the Parque de la Reserva (Magic Water Show – Circuito Mágico del Agua), Parque de la Exposición, Plaza San Martín, Plaza de Armas de Lima with Cathedral, Palacio de Gobierno and Palacio Municipal, Catacumbas de San Francisco, Parque de la Muralla, La Plaza del Congreso, Parque Universitario. The duration of the tour is 3 1/2 hours, and terminates in Parque Kennedy after.
Circuito Mágico del Agua is a large park full of decorative and colourful water fountains that dance to music. If you are travelling alone or with children, this this is an excellent entertaining activity to fill an evening.
Price: S/. 55.00, includes entrance to Circuito Mágico del Agua, and a refreshment drink in a hotel.
Departs: Parque Kennedy, Miraflores District, Wednesday – Sunday 06.00 pm and 07.00 pm
Phone: +51 1 – 4764213 / 2426699
The temple of Pachacamac is an archaeological site located 40 km southeast of Lima, in the Valley of the Lurín River. Pachacámac was founded by early settlers and subsequently grew during the Huari empire. After the collapse of the Huari civilisation, it became primarily a religious site, used to worship the Pacha Kamaq creator deity, common in South American mythology. Pachacamac is noted for its great pyramidal temples, and for the remains of frescoes adorning its adobe walls. At the time of the Spanish conquest it was a major Inca shrine.
Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 9am – 5pm
Price: S/.6; concessions S/.2; children S/.1
Address: Antigua Panamericana Sur, Lurín 16
Phone: +51 1 430 0168
Tourist Buses: Tue – Sun departures with Mirabus from Parque Kennedy – Miraflores, S/.55.00