Best Things To Do in Lima, Peru
If you’re planning a trip to Peru, you’ll most likely fly in and out of the capital city of Lima. You may be wondering how many days to spend in Lima and what all there is do do there.
If this is your first time in Lima, here’s our guide to the best things to see and do in Lima, so you don’t miss any of the highlights.
Two days is enough to see the main highlights in Lima. But if you have a third day, I have a fun day trip recommendation for you at the end of this post. You’ll visit an actual, real-life oasis in the middle of the desert, take a high-speed dune-buggy ride, sand board down the dunes, and even get to see penguins and sea lions.
Park of Love
The Park of Love (Parque del Amor) is a small park dedicated to lovers that offers a panoramic view over the Pacific Ocean and the cliffs of Lima.
The curved, mosaic benches overlooking the ocean were seriously giving me some Barcelona vibes!
Larcomar is an outdoor, high-end shopping mall built into the sea cliffs. There are many outdoor restaurants with views overlooking the ocean, and even a movie theatre and a bowling alley. It’s worth visiting even if just for the view! It’s where I took the first picture in the post. From here it’s about a 15 minute walk to the Park of Love, overlooking the ocean the entire way.
Black Sand Beach
Near the Park of Love, there’s a path down to the beach. The sand is black! I had to see it for myself.
From the Park of Love, you can continue walking through the Antonio Raimondi Park to the Miraflores Lighthouse. It’s a very nice walk. Along the way there’s a striking overlook of the cliffs and the lighthouse.
You can continue walking along the cliff’s edge to reach the lighthouse.
From here, I took a cab to to the historic district of Lima. With traffic, it took about 30 minutes and the price was 20 soles. Always be sure to ask the price before getting in a taxi and always negotiate! My taxi back to this area was also 20 soles, but I had to negotiate a lot harder for the price on the way back. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the first taxi if they don’t want to accept your price — you’ll find another taxi in less than 2 seconds. I seriously think every car I saw in Lima was a cab!
Historic District of Lima
The historic district of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I had my cab drop me at Plaza San Martín, a park with a large monument of José de San Martín in the middle. From here you can walk down the Jirón de la Unión (Union Street) to the main square of Lima.
Jirón de la Unión (Union Street)
Union Street is a pedestrian walking street in the Historic Center. It was once one of the most important, aristocratic boulevards of the city and the meeting-point for the most affluent citizens. Now it’s filled with souvenir shops and fast food restaurants, but the old architecture is still there. This building reminded me of the Antoni Gaudí style we saw all over Barcelona.
Plaza Mayor de Lima (Main Square)
Plaza Mayor is the heart of the historical district, and is known as the birthplace of Lima. There’s a large fountain in the center and the plaza is surrounded by palaces on all sides — the Archbishop’s Palace, the Government Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Cathedral of Lima.
Basílica de San Francisco
Just two blocks away from the main square is this Baroque-style Roman Catholic church & monastery.
Park La Muralla
Right behind the church is a park with an overlook of the colorful houses of San Cristobal.
Paracas & Huacachina Day Trip from Lima
How amazing is this real-life oasis in the middle of the desert in Peru??
I’m the kind of person who likes to get up early and spend all day outside exploring. So after two days in Lima, I had seen most of the hotspots. I was ready for a day trip!
I booked a day trip from Lima to Paracas and Huacachina. I originally wanted to go with Peru Hop, but their tour didn’t get back until 11:45 PM. Normally this would be fine, but I had a 1 AM flight back to the United States. I wouldn’t be able to get to the airport in time. In hindsight, I should’ve gone the previous day, but I didn’t realize I would be “done” with Lima after only 2 days. This day trip was a total last minute decision, but I’m so, so, SO glad I went!!
I ended up booking with Quality Vacations. I just stopped by their office the morning before I wanted to go. They were in the same building as the Peru Hop tour office and offered the exact same tour, but their tour got back at 10:30 PM. That would give me just enough time to make my flight if I brought my luggage with me and went straight to the airport after the tour. Plus their tour was only $80 USD, and the exact same Peru Hop tour was $120 USD.
Even though I booked with Quality Vacations, the actual tour company that I went with was called Travel Picaflor Peru. They also have an office in Miraflores, and you may could book directly with them. But I didn’t have any problems with Quality Vacations, and I would recommend them. But I don’t know if it would be cheaper if you booked directly with Travel Picaflor Peru?
After reaching the oasis, we took a high-speed adventure dune buggy ride through the steep dunes of the desert. SO much fun!!
After what was practically a rollercoaster ride through the desert, we arrived to the top of one of the steepest, highest dunes… Watch the video for what we got to do next!!!
WEAR SUNGLASSES. I wasn’t wearing any and I got SO much sand in my eyes as it was flying everywhere on the high-speed dune buggy ride!
Our day trip also included a visit to the seaside town of Paracas. Here we took a boat tour around the Ballestas Islands where we saw sea lions and penguins.
TIP: Sit on the LEFT side of the boat!!! The best views are on the left side, and while they sometimes turned the boat so the people on the right side could see, they didn’t always. Best to just be on the left side to start!
On the way to the islands you’ll see a prehistoric geoglyph of a candelabra carved into the side of a cliff.
This was such a fun day trip from Lima, and I’m so glad I went. It’s a lot of time on the bus, but the bus was very comfortable, and I slept almost the entire time on the bus.
Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and something to eat for breakfast.
Where to Stay in Lima
Most people who visit Peru fly into Lima, but then immediately go to Cusco. Flights from the United States generally arrive to Lima late in the evening, and the next flight to Cusco isn’t until the morning. It’s very common to see people sleeping on the floor at the Jorge Chavez International Airport.
But there’s a much better option. The Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport is directly connected to the airport. There’s a covered walkway connecting the airport and the hotel, so you don’t even have to go outside. Our room (above) literally overlooked the check-in counters at the airport. It’s so close to the airport you’ll be able to check in and get to your room as soon as possible and sleep in as late as possible!
The the rooms and bathrooms are very nice and clean and the bed was super comfy! Highly recommend the Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport if you have an overnight layover at the Lima airport.
Best Place to Stay in Lima
The best place to stay in Lima is definitely the Miraflores area. I booked an Airbnb on Av 28 de Julio. It was within walking distance to everything in the Miraflores district, and right across the street from a market where I could buy water and snacks. I stayed in an entire apartment with a private doorman, huge bedroom, bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen for half the price of a hotel.
Join Airbnb using this link to get $40 off your first booking.
A taxi from the airport to Miraflores should cost 40 soles. The official price inside the airport is 60 soles, but if you negotiate with one of the taxis outside you can get it for less.
Did I miss your favorite thing to do in Lima? Let me know in the comments!