24 Hours in Lima - What to See and Do in Peru’s Capital City

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Lima is a city we enjoyed a lot more than we thought we would. After hearing horror stories of travellers getting mugged, robbed and pickpocketed we decided that it wasn’t somewhere we’d like to be for a long time. This wasn’t really a fair representation of the city though as we didn’t have any problems concerning safety at all during our time here - it honestly felt no more dangerous than any other big city. Instead we found Lima to be a modern, busy and exciting place to be, with endless possibilities of how spend your time. Having already booked onward transport overnight for the following day, we found ourself having to pack in as much as we could into a short space of time and in doing so seem to have come up with a good 24 hour itinerary. So, if cities aren’t really your thing or if you’re just stopping here for a night before flying off somewhere else, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our best pics of the city than can be squeezed into just a day or two.

For tourists there are 3 main districts of Lima you need to be aware of. These are Miraflores, Barranco and Downtown.


This is probably the best place to stay as there are many cafes, parks and shops to occupy you in the day and lots of bars, pubs and restaurants for the evenings. It is the most touristy place in Lima by far which makes it a lot safer than other areas of town but naturally means that everything is a little bit more expensive. 


There are ample opportunities to shop in Miraflores from cheap market stall shops around Parque Kennedy to the more expensive malls and department stalls such as Falabella and Larcomar, which overlooks the ocean. If you’ve been missing Western shops, restaurants and cafes you’ll find them all in and around these areas but expect to pay Western prices.

Parque Kennedy 

This park makes a good starting point for exploring the area. There are many hostels around here as it is a good central location to museums in Miraflores and not too long a walk from the coast. Here you’ll also find well cared for cats wondering all over the park which makes it a little more interesting! Make sure to try one of the Peruvian donuts from stalls in the park - they’re totally worth the calories!

Walk along the coast

One of our favourite things about Lima is that it sits right on top of the Pacific Ocean and so walking for over an hour along the coastline was one of our favourite activities. Follow the path named the Malecón for as long as you feel like - the road goes on for miles!


This was by far our favourite district of Lima and it reminded us of Bellavista in Santiago at the start of our trip. The walls are covered in street art and the streets are full of trendy bars, cafes and restaurants. Here’s a list of our ‘must-do’s’ in the area...

La Feria Flea Market

Open all day Friday to Sunday, this place was probably our top pick of the whole city. Selling everything from vintage clothes to coffee to craft beer, La Feria Barranco has a really chilled out vibe that’ll make you stay all evening and spend more money than you really should. There’s also record stalls, touristy shops, food stalls and live music in the evenings.

Blu Gelateria

This ice cream place was possibly the best we’ve been to all trip (and we’ve had a lot of ice-cream!). We couldn’t get enough of this place and went out of our way to go back a second time. Our top pick - try the Maracuyeah!

Art Galleries 

If you decide to walk to Barranco from Miraflores as we did, you’ll be amazed by how many different art galleries you pass as you come into the district. We ran out of time to visit these as we were having too much fun at the Flea market but from the research we did and recommendations, it seemed both the ‘Museo de Arte Contemporáneo’ and ‘MATE’ were of a really high quality and were free or cheap to enter.


We found the best way to explore downtown was to do a free walking tour which left in the morning and lasted about two hours. Most hostels advertise these and you can normally get picked up from your accommodation. Whether you do a tour or not, here are a few of our highlights of Lima’s downtown area that we’d recommend you checking out:

Plaza de Armas

One of the biggest main squares we’ve come across in our time in South America, this is a natural starting point for exploring the area. If you time it right you’ll catch the changing of the guards at the presidential palace which normally starts around 11am and finishes at noon.

Post Office Alley

A former post office, now a small tourist market place, head here to enjoy one of the city’s few differently coloured buildings and maybe pick up a fridge magnet whilst you’re at it!


If you’re into churches, Lima won’t disappoint. The cathedral and San Francisco church are probably the best two and full of golden decorations and some interesting paintings.

In summary, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys city breaks and can put up with busy streets, noise and a little pollution, then you’re going to like Lima. There really is a lot to do here and the city offers a completely different perspective on Peru compared to the more traditional Southern cities of Cusco and Arequipa. 

Santiago is probably the closest city to Lima in size and in terms of how economically developed they are and to be honest we’d choose Chile’s capital over Lima. At times Lima felt a little over-crowded and lacked the charm of Santiago’s quieter backstreets and colourful buildings. That said, it’s likely that you’ll be heading to Lima at some point during your South American itinerary due to its central location and it being one of the cheapest places to fly to. If this is the case then we’d recommend spending a couple of days here but not much more, as there is so much on offer outside of the capital which deserves your time more so than Lima.

We hope this post is useful!

Once again, thanks for reading,

Will & Melissa

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