Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru. It is located in a valley, surrounded by an arid desert, and is nestled between the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Andes mountain range on the other. The city mixes modern, colonial and Pre-Hispanic architecture. The city was founded by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. The legacy of that colonial rule can still be seen in the city today in the various beautiful churches and monasteries.
The city’s numerous museums paint an interesting picture of the ancient civilizations that once lived here, such as the Moche, Chavin, and the Incas. Lima also offers its visitors the country’s best selection of national cuisine, comprising ingredients and dishes from all corners of Peru. Because it is located on the seashore, Lima abounds in great fish and seafood restaurants. In fact, its cuisine is considered one of the best and most diverse in the world.
Lima has a mild climate, despite its location in the tropic region and on the outskirts of the desert. There are really only two seasons: Summers are warm and see temperatures between 25º and 28º C. Winters are grey with overcast skies and humid weather, even though rainfall is extremely rare. Overall, temperatures do not change drastically throughout the year.
January average temperature 23 deg Celsius 0 mm rainfall February average temperature 23 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall March average temperature 23 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall April average temperature 21 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall May average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall June average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 30 mm rainfall July average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 50 mm rainfall August average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 30 mm rainfall September average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 30 mm rainfall October average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 30 mm rainfall November average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall December average temperature 21 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall
Lima is served by the Jorge Chavez International Airport, located in Callao, a town in the metropolitan zone of Lima.
Taxi: hire the reputable taxis by using the booths located in the customs area to order. avoid unofficial taxis located outside the arrivals hall. a drive to san isidro or miraflores takes from 20 to 40 minutes.
Bus: the express bus connects to centro and miraflores directly from the arrivals hall.
Car: There are several car rental agencies available at the airport. However, driving in Lima is not for the inexperienced.
There are a several areas of interest for tourists, such as the Centro, Pueblo Libre, Miraflores, and Barranco Quarters. To navigate between them, use taxis or public transport. Within a quarter, however, it is quite easy to get around on foot.
Most taxis do not have a meter so the fare should be negotiated before either sitting in the car, if hailed on the street, or while ordering on the phone. A ride from one quarter to another close by should cost around 6 soles. It is not recommended to use the shared taxis.
Driving in Lima is not for the inexperienced and not recommended. Traffic is heavy and drivers are aggressive.
There are numerous and frequent buses available. Destinations are signposted on the vehicles. It is worth knowing that they are not very comfortable.
Combis are small white vans that pack in up to 20 people. They will usually stop anywhere. Recently the government has tried to regulate them, so in some upscale quarters they only stop at bus stops. A ride costs from 0.50 to 1.80 soles. Destinations are written on the sides of the vans, or simply ask the conductor.
Lima is situated on the Pacific Ocean, has 250 km of surf beaches and lies between different sea currents, and so it is a paradise for surfers. There is some surfing spots in the city of Lima, but the best places are further south. The best waves are from May to August. Water temperatures range from 16 C in the winter to 21 C in the summer. The best beaches for beginners are Waikiki and Makaha beaches in Miraflores where several surf schools are also located. Those with more experience can head to the beach of La Herradura located a little further south in the district of Chorrillos. It is known to have a strong left break. For the serious surfers, Punta Hermosa lies a little further south, and offers some of Peru’s best surfing opportunities.
Lima’s historical center was founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and was called ‘La Ciudad de los Reyes’, or The City of Kings. It is home to beautiful colonial architecture and its old Spanish buildings rank among the city’s most beautiful attraction. The entire Centro Histórico was listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Among the must-see buildings are La Merced, Palacio Arzobispal, Catedral de Lima (the Cathedral of Lima), the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza de Mayor (Main Square), the Plaza San Martín, Palacio de Gobierno, and The Church of San Francisco.
The striking 17th century Convent of Saint Francis is the most spectacular colonial style church in Lima. The beautifully restored baroque complex features cloisters and interiors lined with beautiful azulejos (glazed ceramic tiles) from Seville and ornately carved mudéjar (Moorish-style) ceilings. The complex also features a fine religious art museum that also houses an excellent library. The most fascinating part is the underground catacombs, which were dug in the 16th century. It is the final resting place of as many as 75,000 bodies of the priests and parishioners.
Plaza Mayor and Plaza San Martin
Address: Jr. Junin and Jr. Carabaya
These are Lima’s two main plazas, connected via a long pedestrian street, lined with vendors. The striking Plaza Mayor marks the heart of the Historic Lima, surrounded by several notable colonial buildings, including the Spanish Baroque Cathedral, the Government Palace where the changing of the guard can be observed, the Town Hall, and the Archbishop’s Palace. The square, featuring a beautiful bronze fountain and old street lamps, served as the main marketplace, where bullfights were held during the Spanish rule. Plaza San Martin is a grand, open square with majestic architecture and fountains at its center. It is also where most of Lima's political rallies and riots were held.
Lima is home to numerous world-class museums, which offer a glimpse into Peru’s rich and mysterious past. Most important are those listed below.
Museo de la Nación (National Museum)
Address: Avenida Javier Prado Este 2465 Phone: +51 1 476 9875 Open: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
This is the city’s largest museum and at the same time Peru’s most important. It houses a rich archeological collection, tracing the ancient civilizations and cultures of Peru and their achievements. There are replicas of the pre-colonial life and archeological finds from various cultures, as well as reproductions of numerous archeological sites from around the country.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Arqueologia e Historia
The museum holds over 100,000 pieces from pre-Hispanic Peruvian cultures, and is the country’s most extensive collection of its kind. The collection includes ceramics, metals, weavings, funeral offerings and stone-carved figurines and tools. Some of the notable items include the 8,000 year old stone-carved tools, granite obelisks from the Chavín culture, weavings of Paraca tribes, Moche, Chimú, and Inca weavings, and fascinating 2,500 year-old Nazca mummies.
The museum was founded in 1926 by the Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle. It is housed in a stunning 18th century mansion surrounded by gardens. The collection provides an overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. The exhibition features the finest gold and silver items from Ancient Peru. It also includes the famous Erotic gallery, which is among the most visited attractions in Peru. The museum also offers visitors a unique chance to enter the storage area where 45,000 classified archaeological objects are kept.
Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold)
Address: Avenida Alonso de Molina 1100, Monterrico Web: http://www.museoroperu.com.pe Phone: (0)1 345 1271, 345 1292 or 345 1787 Open: daily 11:30 am – 7:00 pm
The museum is housed in a fortress, where Inca civilization treasures, as well as relics from previous civilizations, are on display. The massive gold collection features ceremonial objects and jewelry, as well as the famous Tumi, the symbol of Peru. The museum also houses other items such as Paracas textiles, ceramics, masks, and mummies. There is also a large collection of antique weapons and uniforms, which bear witness to Peru's turbulent past. The overwhelming wealth exhibited in the museum shows just how much precious metal and stones the indigenous people had, as well as showcasing the craftsmanship and technological development of the Pre-Incan civilizations.
Miraflores is one of the most modern and rich areas of the city. The upscale, tourist friendly neighborhood features many restaurants, hotels, clubs and bars. It lies on a beautiful stretch of Pacific coastline, and also features green parks, and high rise buildings. Surrounded by all this modernity is the ancient site of Huaca Pucllana. It dates back to 200 - 700 AD, and was constructed by indigenous people. The 22 meter-high construction was made of small sun-dried bricks, and is divided into two sections: ceremonial and administrative. There is also a museum onsite.
The Barranco district, located south of the well known Miraflores district, boasts great vistas of the Pacific Ocean, a bohemian beach-side scene, and lively nightlife. The area is dotted with bars, cafés, restaurants, summer resorts, art galleries, luxury villas and old architecture. A walk around the district is not complete without a visit to the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), or shopping at Las Pallas. Amongst the Andean folk art stores, the studio of Nicario Jimenez, a famous retablista can be found. Retablos are a typical Andean art form where portable boxes depict religious, historical, or everyday events.
Lima is famous for its superb cuisine and is mainly based on fish and seafood. It is known as one of the best and most diverse in the world. In recent years the city’s gastronomy scene has been given a boost by a greater understanding and appreciation of the local cuisine. Today the city offers a wide range of cuisines, both regional and international. Among the dishes that are a must is the ceviche, a very popular seafood dish and it can be found in restaurants all over the city.
Japanese and Chinese restaurants are also very good, and have a distinctive Peruvian flavor. Visitors can find most of the city’s best restaurants in the district of Miraflores. Some are also located in San Isidro, Surco, and Barranco. A reservation is suggested for the weekends. Dinner time in Lima is between 9 and 10 pm.
The bustling metropolis is home to a busy nightlife that blends all the local colors with international trends. The best neighborhoods to search for clubs are Barranco and Miraflores. Barranco is a traditional neighborhood and is home to Lima’s bohemians. Some venues in Miraflores have splendid ocean views
Usually bars are open from 8 pm, clubs and discos open at around 10 pm or later and operate until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Stand close: Peruvians usually have a much smaller personal space than, for example the North Americans or Europeans.
Be late: if going out for dinner or drink, or when invited to a party, be at least 30 minutes to an hour late.
Bring gifts: when invited to someone’s home bring small gifts such as chocolates, sweets, flowers or a bottle of wine.
Dress well: People tend to dress more formally.
Tip a bit: tips are much appreciated, although locals rarely tip themselves. Tip taxi drivers, bagboys, hotel porters, etc.
Greet warmly: Meeting someone new is usually accompanied by a handshake. Women usually kiss on the cheeks. It is polite to say ‘buenos dias’ and ‘hasta luego’ (hi and bye) even if you don’t know the person well.
Risk of street crime in residential and hotel areas in downtown Lima are small. Although carjacking assaults, armed robberies and attacks at ATMs do occur. It is thus advisable to use ATMs only during the daytime, and with other people present. Theft and pick pocketing mostly occurs on public transport, in street markets, on beaches and in parks, mostly at night. Leave your valuables and passport in a hotel safe and use a money belt or a hard to reach pocket.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Police: 105 Fire: 116 Traveler hotline (for emergencies): 01/574-8000 Tourist police / POLTUR: 01/460-1060 NDECOPI (24-hour hot line assistance to report a crime): 01/224-7888
Address: Av. La Encalada, block 17, Monterrico Phone: 01/434-3000)
Lima is a year-round destination as temperatures do not fluctuate much throughout the year. Average temperatures range from 20 to 22 ºC, and in the winter (June to October) they are slightly cooler. There is virtually no rain, but the air is humid and sometimes seems heavy, especially during the winter months.