Lima travel guide, tours & things to do inner banner

Lima travel guide, tours & things to do

Only got a couple of days to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Adam Ford checks in from the perennial Peruvian capital Lima...

Welcome to Lima — where life is lived to the full, family is everything and food is a joy to be savoured.

Having said all that, Peru’s capital city needs a little time to work its charms — so don’t be too quick to judge based on first impressions. The drive in from the airport is fairly uninspiring, but trust me, things will improve.

One thing you won’t need to worry about in Lima is rain on your holiday parade. It virtually never rains here (well, 5mm a year, but that’s generally precipitation from fog rolling in off the Pacific). There are very few holiday wash-outs or problems on wash day for the city’s nine million residents. As a big city, Lima has had its share of social issues over the years, but it’s a lot safer than it used to be. Still, be vigilant, especially at night — and don’t take a taxi alone.

Enjoy this Lima travel guide.

Lima travel guide
Lima travel guide: Explore the old city. Image: Adam Ford

Five Lima tours we love

Lima Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

This Lima hop on hop off sightseeing tour lets you explore the city at your own pace. The circuit takes in ten must-sees, including Larcomar Park, Parque del Amor, Huaca Pucllana, Lima’s colonial centre, and the Santo Domingo church and convent.

Lima City Sightseeing Tour

Get a fabulous overview of the charming Peruvian capital on this comprehensive city tour. You’ll take in the must-see sights, most interesting residential neighborhoods and enjoy the sweeping panoramic ocean views this city is famous for.

Lima travel guide
Explore the historic heart of Lima on a guided tour. Image: Adam Ford

Food, Social and Cultural Tour of Lima

This full-day tour will provide an unforgettable array of experiences, including visits to an authentic local market, a historic cemetery and some of the immigrant neighborhoods that are the reality of life for many in the Peruvian capital. You’ll also spend time with a local family.

Tour of Pachacamac Temple from Lima

Explore one of ancient Peru’s most significant religious sites — Pachacamac. See the towering pyramids that have largely survived the passage of time. You’ll also visit the Sun Temple and the excellent Pachacamac museum.

Lima travel guide
Lima travel guide: Pachacamac museum. Image: Adam Ford

Peruvian Cooking Class, including a Local Market Tour and Fruit Tasting

Take your taste buds on a journey of discovery on this four-hour tour, which includes a visit to a local market and a cooking class. Learn how to recreate traditional Peruvian fare at home.

Top cultural experiences in Lima

To immerse yourself in local culture, head for the historic heart of Lima.

With its magnificent plazas, colonial buildings and wonderful Andalusian and Moor-inspired architecture, the Plaza de Armas has been the centre of life in the city since it was established in 1535. The central fountain dates back to the 1600s.

Lima travel guide
Lima travel guide: Plaza de Armas. Image: Adam Ford

While you’re there, don’t miss the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace at around noon. Everyone seemed fairly nonplussed by this, so you could have the grand ceremony pretty much all to yourself!

Lima travel guide
Lima travel guide: The Plaza de Armas hosts many public festivals. Image: Bigstock

Lima for history lovers

Peru is the spiritual home of lost civilisations and Pachacamac is the ideal introduction to Incan history.

This massive archaeological site is a 40-kilometre drive from the city. It’s a harsh and unrelenting environment, so bring a hat and plenty of water. The site has a number of pyramids and some modern recreations to give you an idea of how things would have looked back in the heyday. There’s a small museum and extremely helpful guides to assist in making sense of it all.

In some ways Pachacamac lives on. There are modern-day housing settlements encroaching on all sides (albeit with a few more mod cons than would have been available to the original inhabitants — town water, electricity, satellite TV etc). However, it feels like this is just the latest chapter in the history of this ancient site.

Lima travel guide
Image: Adam Ford

Great places to eat in Lima

Prepare to eat late in Lima.

Dinner can be served anywhere from 8 until 11pm, but you can enjoy a reviving lonche or snack around 6pm. Chicken and seafood feature prominently on most menus; red meat less so.

For a memorable dinner, try Restaurant Huaca Pucllana. The restaurant is built around an Inca pyramid, which provides an added level of ambience to this dining experience. You can take a guided stroll around the pyramid to walk off your arroz con leche (traditional rice pudding) with ice cream on top. Delicious!

Lima travel guide
Lima travel guide. Image courtesy of Restaurant Huaca Pucllana

Where to shop in Lima

Miraflores is Lima’s most tourist-friendly area, and there’s a plethora of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and handicraft markets on hand to keep shopaholics occupied.

Most of the tourist hotels are also located here. While it can all seem a little overwhelming at first, don’t be afraid to venture out and explore (it took us almost our whole stay to work out that we had a fabulous historic square and shopping strip just behind our hotel!).

If you want to shop in the historic centre of town, a taxi will cost around $4USD. Many of the taxis have seen better days (I saw one with absolutely no tread on the tyres whatsoever) so choose carefully. Also, there are no metres. Negotiate your fare prior to setting off or ask your hotel concierge to do it for you.

Lima travel guide
Lima travel guide: Miraflores. Image: Photodune

Ways to relax in Lima

The aforementioned Plaza de Armas is a great spot to relax and indulge in a spot of Peruvian people watching.

If you are due for a coffee stop, there’s a rooftop café with yellow umbrellas directly opposite the palace on the far side of the square. The door is to the left. Go up three flights of stairs and veer right. The views over the square and surrounding city are fantastic and the coffee is good to boot!

Do you have any tips to add to our Lima travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.


Need a place to stay?

The Big Bus now offers readers access to wholesale hotel rates. Simply email us the details of the hotel you want to book, your travel dates and the lowest rate you have found. We'll try and give you a better deal!

If you book a hotel with us in any of Australia's capital cities, you'll also receive 10% off our amazing range of tours and experiences. Some conditions apply†.

Your name (first and surname):
Your mobile contact number:
Where are you travelling to?
Number of adults travelling:
Number of children travelling:
Hotel name
Your preferred room type:
Check-in date:
Check-out date:
Number of rooms required:
The best price you have found:
The website where you found this price:
Is there anything else we need to know about your stay?
0 /
I also need:

Your details will not be shared with any third party. 

Please submit a separate form for each hotel you want to price beat.

†Applies to tours and experiences available on The Big Bus tour and travel guide website and does not apply to tours offered via affiliate websites, including Viator.

FormCraft - WordPress form builder



Please leave a comment

Please Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Your Cart
Your Cart Is Empty