During our recent trip to Peru, there were many towns we couldn’t wait to visit, but Lima wasn’t really on our radar. We knew little about the city other than the fact that we were gonna be spending at least a few days there. The capital of Peru turned out to be a beautiful surprise! We arrived in Lima with no expectations and no set plan on how to fill our days and ended up falling in love with this big coastal city.
With a population of more than 9 million people, Lima is the third largest city in the Americas, behind Sao Paulo and Mexico City (another one of our faves!). Lima is even bigger even than NYC! It stretches many kilometers along the Pacific coast of Peru. Jorge Chavez international airport, which lies about 20 km outside of the main tourist areas of Lima, is one of the biggest hubs in South America.
To get from the airport into the city, we found that the best way was by the Airport Express, a comfortable bus service that takes about 45 mins to 1 hour to reach Miraflores. We found out about the Airport Express through Peru Hop, which we collaborated with during our time in Peru and, as a disclaimer, they did offer us the service for free. However, we enjoyed it so much that the second time we went to Lima, we opted for the service again, this time paying out of our own pockets.
The service costs 8 USD or 25 soles, which you can pay at one of their counters at the airport. We wholeheartedly recommend this service, which we found to be safe, convenient and reasonably priced. Keep in mind if you are a big group it does come out cheaper to get a private transport. They have wifi on board the buses, which surprisingly worked quite well, and there are 7 stops you can choose from in and around Miraflores.
It is really easy to get around by foot in Lima as there are many pedestrian paths that line the coast. Ubers in the city are quite affordable and safe and a good option for longer distances. Do be warned, although the city’s infrastructure is quite modern, traffic in Lima can get INTENSE. We really tried to walk everywhere and took Ubers only when absolutely necessary.
Where to stay
Considering that we wanted to be able to walk most places in the city, we tried to pick accommodation that allowed us to do this. We absolutely loved staying in Miraflores as we were close to the sea as well as many services like cafes, restaurants and shops. We had a lovely experience at this AirBnb that was affordable, clean, quiet and super well located!
Barranco is also a great neighborhood to stay in, with tons of cafes and restaurants and an amazing atmosphere. We found ourselves coming to this bohemian area quite a few times during our stay.
What to eat
- Get some delicious ceviche! Our favorite was found at Cevicheria Bam Bam. Their ceviche mixto and arroz con mariscos is excellent! We also loved Mi Barrunto in the center of Lima.
- Try some insane pastries and the best coffee we had in Peru at El Pan de la Chola in Miraflores. Everything we tried there, without exception, was extremely delicious! Our favorite pastry ever was the fig frangipane. Still salivating! Although it gets really busy for lunch, this is also a great come and work. You’ll find reliable wifi, air conditioning and power outlets.
- Get your fix of asian fusion food at Bao? in Miraflores. This cute little joint is a great place to grab a quick dinner and has a great atmosphere. We recommend the spicy chicken rice bowl.
- Have brunch with friends at La Bodega Verde, a beautiful, peaceful cafe in Barranco with yummy healthy food.
- Eat some fluffy waffles at Mustache Coffee and Waffles in Barranco. They have really good combos of waffles and coffee and their waffles are some of the best we’ve had during our travels! Do be warned of their weird opening hours.
What to do
- Visit Lima’s southern beaches in the Chorillo neighbourhood. We took an Uber to El Salto del Fraile, a restaurant that sits on the cliffs. You can walk down onto the rocks without being a client of the restaurant and enjoy the beautiful views. You’ll find fishermen and if you’re lucky, you might even see one of the locals dive into the agitated sea from the rocks. From there, you can walk down to the beaches that are just south of the restaurant. Many locals surf the waters and we even go super lucky and unexpectedly spotted a large pod of dolphins swimming a few meters off shore.
- Admire the city from one of its many viewpoints. Some of our favorites are Cristo del Pacifico and Cruz del Papa, from where you can really start to grasp how big Lima actually is.
- Walk along the coast and enjoy the local life. Lima’s coastline is lined with parks, bike paths, pedestrian walkways, fountains and sculptures. The city has done a really good job at making the coast accessible to all, with no buildings blocking your view of the sea. We spent a lot of time just enjoying life in one of the many parks that line the coast.
- Get some amazing photos! Our favorite photo spot by the coast is right next to the lighthouse in the Parque Antonio Raimondi. *Disclaimer, to get these shots we did have to step over the wooden fence. You will see once you get there that there is a clear path leading to this spot. The barrier is mostly there to stop kids from getting to close to the edge of the cliffs. Always be careful and don’t get stupidly close to the edge just to “get the shot”.
We never felt unsafe while wandering the streets of Lima. That being said, we did not spend much time outside of the neighbourhoods of Miraflores and Barranco. We did get warned by some locals not to go to a certain area of the beach in Chorillos because there were many reported thefts targeting tourists. As in any foreign city, be aware of your personal belongings and try to blend in as much as you can! We also always try to avoid taxis and rather lean towards taking Ubers because they do feel safer to us.
If you’re coming from other South American countries or South East Asia, you may be surprised at the cost of things in Peru. We found it to be a little bit more expensive than what we expected. Plan on spending 18 to 30 soles for a meal in a casual restaurant. Also do note that many shops will only take cash or VISA (no Mastercard) and you will sometimes be charged credit card fees (up to 5%) when paying with a credit card.
Where to next?
Popular destinations to visit around Lima are Paracas National Reserve and Huacachina. We have vlogs on our YouTube channel on both these destinations, so click here if you’re interested!
Planning a visit to Machu Picchu while you’re in Peru? Click here to read our guide on what you need to know before you go!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them down below in the comments. You can also DM us on Instagram and we’ll be glad to help. Enjoy your time in Peru!