When I went to Lima, Peru for my study abroad most people would tell me to not expect too much from Lima. That the real beauty of the country was to be found in other places – Cusco, Arequipa, Trujillo. That, as a tourist, there wouldn’t be much to do for me and that it was just a big city with loads of people, but not much more than that. However, having lived there for a year, I found some pretty amazing, interesting & exciting stuff that you can do in Lima – so here are my favorites for your stay in this beautiful city.
PARAGLIDING ALONG THE COSTA VERDE
This is definitely one of the more adventurous things I did in Lima. One day, when we didn’t have any particular plans and were just wandering around the Malecon in Miraflores, we stopped by the Paragliding place and as luck would have it the winds were perfect that day! Within half an hour we were all strapped up and off we went down the coast! The views were beautiful and we had so much fun! If you do know you want to paraglide in advance you can reserve a spot beforehand and safe around 10$.
PARQUE DEL AMOR
Parque del Amor is also located along the Malecon in Miraflores and is dedicated to all lovers – as visualized by the huuuge kissing statue in the center of it. It shows two lovers kissing and is surrounded by beautifully with mosaics decorated walls. And the best part? From the park you’ll have an amaaazing view over the bay of Lima!
EAT AT BEMBOS
Whether you’re a fan of Fast Food or not, when visiting Peru, you should definitely give Bembos a try. According to the Peruvians it’s the best fast food in the entiiiire world and even their slogan says “Como Bembos no hay otra” (There’s nothing like Bembos). The company offers hamburgers – most of them with Peruvian-influenced variations and they’re absolutely delicious!
PAT THE CATS IN PARQUE KENNEDY
This was one of my favorite experiences in Lima. Gamarra is the largest clothing and textile market in Latin America. Located in La Victoria, there are over 20 000 textile shops stretched out over 24 square blocks. At Gamarra you’ll find everything: high quality, low quality; socks and underwear, t-shirts, jeans, maternity dresses, suits, bridal dresses, shoes, accessories, sports clothes, hats, replicas of designer brands, and and and. You get the picture. The prices are low and estimates say that there are around 100 000 people visiting per day! And – an overwhelming majority of those visitors are locals. As a tourist (especially as a white, blonde tourist), you will definitely stand out – which becomes glaringly obvious by all the catcalling, a few stares here and there and a little kid pointing at us and asking her dad “Daddy, what are these people?”. Gamarra is a feast for the senses – the colors, the different smells of fresh fruits, fried stuff, trash and flowers, lots and lots of people, everyone yelling out their offers, trying to be louder than the guy in the neighbor stall.
Full disclosure – many people will tell you to avoid Gamarra because it’s too dangerous. However, my experience was quite different. As long as you stay in the heavily populated areas and keep an eye on your things, you should be just fine.
SWIM WITH SEA LIONS IN CALLAO
I only knew about this incredible experience from a friend who had done it years before, but I 100% recommend it to anyone visiting Lima. While swimming with sea lions may sound scary at first, I’ve had the most amazing time doing it! First, a little boat takes you out on the water to explore the islas de callao from afar. You’ll be able to watch penguins, a great variety of birds and if you’re lucky, even some baby sea lions! Then you’ll slowly tucker up to the place where you’ll be going swimming. Some security advice, putting on your neon-suit and off you go into the freezing cold water! You’ll quickly forget about the cold as there’re some seals approaching, playing with you and staying at a safe distance at the same time. To make the most of your experience, try to be as relaxed as possible!
CENTRO DE LIMA & CERRO SAN CRISTOBAL
The Center of Lima is one of its main tourist attractions – the Plaza de Armas (Main Square, a UNESCO world heritage site) hosts events most Sundays; the Convent de San Francisco is beautiful and its catacombs are impressive, containing the bones of about 10,000 people interred here when this was Lima’s first cemetery. You should also stop by the “Barrio Chino” – the Chinatown of Lima, where foods and everything really is a fascinating mashup of Peruvian and Chinese culture. If you’re hungry, go for a “Chifa”, the official name of this combination when it comes to food. It’s delicious and a seriously intriguing combination. My favorite though was always taking a little bus up to Cerro San Cristobal from where you’ll have an amazing view over the city. There’s little combis circling the plaza de armas all day, picking up tourists that’ll take you up there as soon as the bus is filled (make sure to get onto one that’s almost full, otherwise you might be sitting inside waiting for an hour easy).
The Museo Larco is a privately-owned museum in Pueblo Libre. It houses a collection of over 50 000 items: ceramics, gold, jewels, etc. from the Cupisnique, Chimú, Chancay, Nazca and Inca cultures and it’s a great place to learn about Peruvian history. What lures most visitors there (and it’s seriously impressive!) is the collection of erotica illustrating all manner of sexual activity – fantasizing about sex with any kind of animal? It’s there! Any sexual position you’ve been wanting to try? It’s there! Also, there’s an exhibit on STDs, not so sure you’ll want to see that one though.
SALSA DANCING IN BARRANCO
Let yourself be whirled away by the amazing dancers in the Salsa bars of Barranco!! Some of my favorite memories of my year in Lima involve learning how to dance (ish) there – most guys there will be happy to teach you a few steps and before you know it you’ll be whirling around the dancefloor as if you’d done it your whole life! Well, my boyfriend would disagree with that, but you know, for western eyes 😉 There are bars playing salsa and bachata all night every day and I promise you’ll have so much fun!
EL PARQUE DE LAS AGUAS
The Parque de las Aguas in Parque de la Reserva is a magic water tour that was opened in 2007. It holds the record for the largest water fountain complex in the world. There are 13 different fountains that are illuminated in the evening and there’s even a laser and picture show with water jets that are synchronized to music every night.
GET SOME OF THE BEST CHURROS IN THE WORLD
Originally from Spain, Churros are a potato based pastry, squeezed through a large star tip into hot oil and then fried. While most people will tell you that the best ones in Lima are sold in Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, they haven’t tried the real best Churros in town. The best ones you can get in Lima are sold in the Centro de Lima, in the street behind the cathedral where they are filled with vanilla cream or chocolate cream or caramel – they are sooo delicious and I’d rather stop writing now because it’s giving me biiig cravings.
I hope this has given you some insight into the beauty that Lima does offer to its visitors and that it is so much more than a “stopover” or the place where by chance your airplane landed. I really loved my time in Lima – the people are incredibly friendly and helpful despite the occasional catcalling and you’ll never feel alone here.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Lima. If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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