Yes, Machu Picchu is the big draw of Peru, but the capital city of Lima is a must-see. The cuisine is amazing as everyone says, and new fusions are jumping off of menus ready to be explored (and eaten). Nearly 10 million people call the capital city home — about a quarter of the country’s population — and the metro area is made up of 43 districts. The locals are some of the friendliest you’ll meet, and did we mention the food? Below, find what to see, what to eat, and what to do in Lima, Peru.
Where to Stay:
If you’re staying in Lima proper, you can’t go wrong with a stay at Country Club Lima Hotel. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Lima, the historic hotel was constructed in 1927 and is the choice of many diplomats, presidents, and yes, rockstars — Ed Sheeran recently stayed here. (The 83-room hotel features a Dom Pérignon suite, should you be so keen.)
But whatever you do, make sure you order one of their famous pisco sours at the Bar Inglés. (Pisco is the grape brandy that originated in Peru in the 16th century and is having a moment in the U.S.)
Where to Eat:
If you’re staying at Country Club Lima Hotel, don’t miss out on the awesome breakfast at Perroquet. The restaurant also happens to feature one of the best Lomo Saltado dishes you’ll eat, so make sure to get it here for lunch or dinner. The dish is a traditional Peruvian dish with marinated strips of sirloin, onions, tomatoes, and french fries, served with rice and originating from their influx of Chinese immigrants dating back to the late nineteenth century.
Head to Osaka for amazing Japanese food and cocktails that are true gastro-art and an extra special night-out vibe. For a warm night, head to Cala Restaurante, right on the water, and request a terrace table outside for unbeatable views (to go with great seafood). For cool drinks that can lead to dancing, visit La Destileria, then explore the cool neighborhood of Barranco.
What to Do:
For fascinating history, make your way to the town center and visit Museo Del Convento de Santo Domingo, or the Church and Convent of Santa Domingo. Dating back to the 16th century, the church features the only “real” steeple in Lima, which you can ascend and get a view of the city from the top. The church is gorgeous, and features the famous statue of the Virgen del Rosario and silver urns that contain the relicts of Santa Rosa (the patron saint of Lima) and San Martín de Porres. The Spanish tiles that decorate the courtyard and patios date back to the 17th century and are perfect for an Instagram or two.
Head out and grab a churro (they have ones filled with vanilla cream you do not want to miss) and take a walk around the area to admire cathedrals and the Government Palace, where the executive branch of the government convenes and the official resident of the president of Peru. You can also see Barrio Chino, or the Chinatown of Lima. Lima boasts the largest Chinese community in Latin America, with more than 200,000 Chinese living in the city alone.
To get an understanding of the history and also see some amazing art and architecture, head to the Pedro de Osma Museum in the Barranco neighborhood. The family residence-turned-museum displays Peruvian art and artifacts dating from the fifth to the 18th centuries, and offers a glimpse into the royal trajectory and history of the area.
If you are able to travel for longer than a weekend, a visit to Máncora comes highly recommended. The resort town is about a two-hour flight from Lima (and then a one-hour drive through the desert that resembles another planet), and is perfectly off-the-beaten path while remaining a true respite for local Peruvians and visitors alike.
Stay at Arennas Máncora for amazing rooms, many of which open right onto your own patio that overlooks the ocean. Make time for whale watching, a huge draw for the area, which you can do with well-regarded Pacifico Adventures. Then, just sit back, eat some ceviche, walk along the shore, and enjoy the good life.