For years, Lima, Peru has been considered the culinary capital of South America. With its unique combination of Spanish, native Andean, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines, the Peruvian capital city has captivated foodies around the world with everything from fresh fish ceviche to its fusion-inspired lomo salteado.
But Lima is more than just a flavorful stopover. The city is the only seaside capital on the continent, and hosts a whole array of outdoors activities from surfing to paragliding just minutes from downtown. In addition, the city’s colonial and Incan history adds a cultural edge steeped in museums and art districts. For anyone thinking of spending 48 hours in the Peruvian hub, here is how to spend your weekend living la vida Limeña.
Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport is among the continent’s busiest, receiving direct flights from many major U.S. cities. Fly a redeye on Friday night and arrive early on Saturday. The airport is pretty far away from city center, and official taxis run at about 60 soles ($20) each way.
Taxis is the name of the game here. Car rentals are available at the airport, but Lima’s legendary traffic is not worth the trouble. Take taxis and walk when you can. Lima has a variety of public buses, but the routes are hard to understand and don’t often relate from bus company to bus company.
Where to Stay
Set right in the park-filled Miraflores neighborhood, Hotel Tierra Viva Miraflores Larco is a chic spot to rest your head in between activities, providing complimentary breakfasts and unbeatable location starting at $103 for a double room.
Now that we’re settled, let’s get to the good stuff.
8-10:30 a.m. After a nice complimentary breakfast, go check the waves from the Malecón. Wander down to Playa Waikiki and rent a board and wetsuit from the Surf Pukana tent on the beach. An all day rental of board and wetsuit will run about $15 and private lessons are available for about $15 more. There are peaks for every ability level and sweeping views of the city skyline, just be careful surfing after a big rain storm as pollution can become an issue.
11-11:45 a.m. On the way home, stop off at the Park of Love along Lima’s Malecon (the promenade along the cliffs). Yes, this is an entire park based on good old L-O-V-E, but the thing you’ll fall for most is the ocean view. Check out the whole city coastline amid Gaudi-inspired designs and the famous “El Beso” sculpture.
12:30-2 p.m. Don’t worry, we know you’re in Lima to eat, which is why the city’s top-rated cevicheria is just a short walk from the hotel. Punto Azul offers up a wide variety of seafood dishes, including the citrus-infused fish and seafood ceviche you’ve been dreaming of. Try the mixed plate (called ceviche clásico) and wash it down with one of Punto Azul’s many pisco drinks for about $20 (or less) per person.
2:30-5:30 p.m. Catch a taxi to Barranco, Lima’s arts and entertainment district. Once an old fishing village, Barranco has maintained some of its historic charm with a twist, mixing old storefronts with colorful graffiti murals and hip restaurants and bars. Stroll across the Bridge of Sighs (known locally as the Puente de los Suspiros), where lovers used to congregate at night, then sample the wide selection of galleries and artisan shops like Dédalo, where you can find locally made crafts and goods.
6-8 p.m. Before things fill up, grab an early dinner at Isolina, a Peru-inspired tavern serving typical fare with a tasty and sophisticated twist. Try the fried chicken, but stay for the osso bucco and pork ribs. Make sure to indulge in side dishes like brain tortilla (an egg frittata with cow brain) and octopus chicharron as well.
9 p.m.-12 a.m. Head to El Dragón de Barranco, grab yourself a Pisco Sour and lace up your dancing shoes. This bar is the spot to catch live music in Barranco, hosting a variety of shows every weekend. For those that are looking for a unique music experience, this bar emphasizes Latin funk and local bands.
1 a.m. Hit the hay, we’ve got another one tomorrow.
9 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Hop a taxi after breakfast to Lima’s Plaza de Armas, the main square of Spanish colonial Lima. Complete with a park, old hotels and the city’s first main cathedral, this is Lima’s historical center and the birthplace of the modern city. For those that have the nerve, check out the catacombs of San Francisco, where thousands of skulls and bones are organized in geometric patterns.
12:30-1:30 p.m. Museo Larco Herrera is Lima’s largest collection of pre-Columbian art and artifacts, but before diving back into history, grab a bite to eat at the museum’s garden cafe. Lunch on a healthy selection of seafood and carne at incredibly fair prices.
1:45-4 p.m. With a full belly, now it’s time to check out Museo Larco Herrera’s impressive collection. As if the art itself wasn’t impressive enough, the building itself is a marvel worth the price of admission (about $10, by the way). An 18th Century mansion covering a 7th-century pyramid, the museum is truly a clash and collection of cultures.
4:45-6:30 p.m. Stroll the Malecón near the hotel, connecting the seaside cliff’s many parks into one afternoon walk. Check out Lima’s very own city-front lighthouse and cross over Miraflores’ Villena Rey Bridge in between snagging sweets from parkside kiosks.
6:45-7:45 p.m. Paragliding is big in Lima, and maybe the best way to get a new perspective of the city. Head to the Malecón’s own paraport in Salazar Park, where you can contract a tandem paragliding flight with a paragliding instructor. With views all the way up and down the Limeñan coast, this is one view you’re sure to remember. Flights usually last 10 to 15 minutes, but plan on close to an hour from start to finish.
8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Your Lima adventure is almost over, but not before you close it out with one last unforgettable meal. Gastón is one of the most famous restaurateurs in Lima and maybe the world, and his restaurant Panchita is tucked right into Miraflores. Featuring a full menu of Peruvian classics, Panchita serves delicious meals in absurdly large portions, so don’t be afraid to split a couple of dishes. The causa, a traditional layered potato dish is a must, as are the meat skewers and Peruvian rice dishes known as tacu tacus.
This restaurant can get packed, so try and make a reservation beforehand. Oh, and pack an extra stomach.
11:00 p.m. Time to head to the airport and back to reality—or not.
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