Many people visiting Peru choose to spend little time in the capital of Lima, often just staying one night on their way to Iquitos in the north, Lake Titicaca in the south, or Cusco and Machu Picchu in the heart of the Andes. However, Lima is worth a deeper look.
Where to Stay in Lima – Miraflores
The best place to stay in Lima the city is the upscale area of Miraflores. This flower-filled area is lined with parks and offers ocean views that are especially fantastic at sunset. There are many nice guest houses set within the quiet and safe neighborhoods of Miraflores, such as the very friendly Backpackers Family House.
Several places can be visited by foot or bike, such as the many well-manicured parks lining the ocean-front cliffs of Miraflores. People stroll through the parks, watching para-gliders sail off into the distance or surfers seeking the perfect wave in the ocean below. Lover’s Park, marked by a large statue of embracing lovers, is a favorite, and many tour groups stop here.
The pre-Incan Pachacamac ruins are another popular site in Lima. This is a good site to visit before heading to the more impressive ruins in Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Lima’s city center can be easily explored in a day. Crowds gather daily at noon in the Plaza de Armas to witness the changing of the guards’ ceremony. The Franciscan monastery, perhaps the most interesting of Lima’s sights, is located just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas. A visit to this monastery includes a guided tour, revealing a library filled with ancient one-of-a-kind texts, hidden wall paintings, and the bone-filled catacombs.
Parque de la Reserva, a large fountain park, is a fun outing for all ages. Colored lights and streams of water dance to the sounds of music each night. There are a variety of fountains to see throughout the park, and it’s possible to walk under or through some of them.
Shopping in and Around Miraflores
Many tourists are impressed with up-scale Larcomar in Miraflores, a beautiful open-air mall offering superb ocean views. Those wishing to shop for more traditional Peruvian items (and at better prices), may want to visit Mercado Indio or the local handicrafts markets near the Ovalo. Loaded with art, various forms of weaving, Peruvian hats, alpaca scarves, jewelry, pan flutes, and gourds, these are great places to shop for gifts and souvenirs.
Dining in Miraflores
Miraflores has something for all dining desires and budgets. For those on a tighter budget, there are a variety of smaller restaurants that open for cheap lunches, called menu del dia. For only one or two US dollars, the meals come with a drink, starter, and entree. The best place to find these large cheap meals are along the side streets branching off of Avienda Larco.
The area near the Ovalo is filled with a variety of restaurants for more mid-range budgets, many of which also offer a lunch special. Fast food restaurants and Starbucks can also be found in this area of town.
For finer dining with views of the ocean, the best choices are the restaurants at Larcomar or La Rosa Nautica, a formal restaurant located on a pier on the water. Another favorite in Miraflores is La Red, serving superb ceviche, although they are only open until 5 pm.
Nightlife in Miraflores
Popular drinking spots in Miraflores include Calle de las Pizzas (Pizza Street), full of pizza joints as well as several bars and clubs. The more popular scene for live music and dancing is in the nearby area of Barranco.