Exploring Lima, Peru
Peru’s capital and coastal city often gets overshadowed by the popular tourist destinations of Cusco and Machu Picchu. However, as an interesting, modern, and sustainable city, Lima should absolutely be included on every Peru itinerary.
The small rooftop studio we’ve rented is in the Miraflores district, a swanky neighborhood full of modern buildings, trendy coffee shops, organic grocery stores and chain restaurants. Our taxi from the bus terminal takes nearly an hour to navigate through the city at rush hour; the modern highways and gridlocked traffic feeling foreign after traveling through Peru’s small towns and villages.
The next morning, we wake to (Lima’s signature) fog, low clouds and mild temps. Antsy to explore the famous coastline, we throw on our Nikes and run toward the ocean. With art exhibits, tennis courts, skate parks, amazing ocean views and plenty of springtime flowers, El Malecón is a beautiful coastal park that sits on top of Lima’s cliffs and stretches nearly 10 km. It’s Saturday and everyone is out. We pass runners, dog walkers and children playing in the grass. Gutsy para gliders hurl themselves off the cliff toward the ocean below. It’s a spectacularly beautiful setting, overlooking the ocean in a pristinely maintained public space. For a moment we forget that we’re in a developing South American country, and not perched along the coastline somewhere in Europe or the U.S.
A couple of days later, we walk from our fancy Miraflores district to Barranco, a hip, eclectic, bohemian neighborhood. After a quick coffee, we explore the graffitied streets, eat a falafel wrap and wind through colorful tunnels and down stone pathways. The long cliffside walk home is beautiful and varied. Seemingly new apartment buildings and townhouses front the coast, just a few blocks away from casinos and pollerias (chicken restaurants). It’s an eclectic mix of traditional businesses frequented by locals and trendy cafes and coffee shops run by young Peruvian entrepreneurs appealing to tourists and expats. We stop at a vegan coffee shop with a modern design and walls covered with plants, where they serve chai lattes and vegan baked goods. Later, we decide to stop again for two cold pisco sours, a delicious, frothy cocktail that’s nearly as necessary to try as ceviche when visiting Peru.
As we pack up for our flight to Cusco, we decide that Lima’s biggest appeal is its incredible variations, offering a bit of everything for everyone. Each neighborhood has a different personality; some with all the comforts of Europe or the U.S., others which are a bit more colorful and eclectic, and even more that offer a harder, grittier reality to everyday life. Yet, what every neighborhood in Lima has in common is a distinctly Peruvian feel. An incredible attribute that is impossible to replicate.
- Many small shops and vendors in Peru use plastic bags and styrofoam. Reduce waste by bringing your own bags.
- Eat and drink products and produce from Peru! Look for delicious ceviche, pisco, cacao tea, cremoladas, and homemade chicha.
- Be considerate of the plumbing system. Like many other South American countries, Peruvians don’t flush toilet paper...get used to throwing it in the trash can.
- Don’t leave Lima without a stroll along the coastline in El Malecón park. The scenery is breathtaking and you may see paragliders jumping off the cliffs to the ocean below.
- Unfortunately, the water in Lima is not safe to drink. Instead, bring a water filtration device, boil water, or purchase large jugs of filtered water to limit small bottle consumption.