Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Lima is the third largest city in the America’s with 10 million people. Despite having an underwhelming reputation, I found Lima to be an enjoyable place to explore for 3 or 4 days.
The city experienced rapid growth in the 1940s as the rural population in Peru started to urbanize. Starting at 0.6 million in 1940, the population climbed to 1.9 million in 1960 and 4.8 million in 1980.
Nowadays, the city is spread out, consisting of 30 different districts. I’ll look at a few of the neighbourhoods most popular among tourists.
This area of the city is an upscale district containing restaurants, parks, a variety of hostels and luxury hotels. One can even find people dancing in the park on a regular Thursday night!
The main avenue in Miraflores stretches down to the Ocean, and one is able to walk along the massive rock-wall overlooking the Pacific!
While not the nicest in the world, the beach is adequate and stretches a long way down the coastline. It’s a popular destination for surfers and there are a number of spots along the beach where you can rent a board and a wetsuit.
Parque Kennedy lies in the centre of Miraflores, surrounded by nightclubs, shopping centres and a multitude of restaurants. A sit down meal in an average restaurant will cost around $10-12 cad.
However, like in any city, you can find cheaper options in the streets… Like a Llama burger or sheep head soup!
Bordering Miraflores to the south, Barranco is the bohemian district of Lima. While not as posh as Miraflores, Barranco is still home to upscale restaurants for those with expensive taste.
Like Miraflores, Barranco is a popular spot for foreigners to experience nightlife in Lima. This area is worth exploring for an afternoon, simply to see the awesome street art adorning the buildings and walls.
El Centro (downtown):
Home to the presidential palace and other government buildings, El Centro contains architecture from the Colonial period. It is an area where precautions need to be taken after dark, but it is worth checking out.
This area of Lima is as hectic as you’d imagine a city containing 10-million inhabitants would be. However, amidst the hustle and bustle, there are a few nice parks scattered around!
Since El Centro is located directly north of Miraflores, it is easy to catch a bus to this area. Just be cognizant of the time you’re returning, as rush hour in Lima is not a fun thing to be a part of…
Located on the edge of Miraflores, this adobe and clay archeological site is still in the process of being excavated. However, you can take a guided tour (in Spanish and English) for about $5 cad which shows you around the compound.
This society developed between 200-700 AD and remains of the great pyramid still exist today. The whole tour takes about an hour. While the ruins don’t stack up to many of the other incredible sites throughout Peru, they are worth your time if you have an afternoon to spare!
I spent 3 days in Lima and I think this was the perfect amount of time. If you’re a city person, like me, Lima is actually quite nice and has a lot to offer travellers. However, if you’re not too keen on the chaos and pollution, maybe skip on by the capital of Peru.
Ultimately, Lima exceeded my expectations and I would even consider returning one day… If only to crush another Inca Kola…
… or to buy a llama souvenir!