Learn what it feels like to be a local in Lima — surfing, neighborhood restaurants, historic sights with Spanish colonial architecture, museums, and beaches.
- Neighborhoods: Barranco, San Isidro, Historic Center
- Local cultural experiences
- Larco Museum
We arrive back in Lima in the evening and embrace the humidity and heat that greets us as we exit the plane; such a dramatic contrast from the cool, misty days and nights in the high Andes, just a short hour flight away. We are picked up by guide and driver, Carlos and Glenn, and whisked down the Limeña coast, the crashing waves of the mighty Pacific, on our right side, still carrying some eager night surfers.
BARRANCO AND THE MALECON
We arrive in the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco: our base camp for the next five days. After settling in, we decide to explore our surroundings a bit. The streets are lined with tropical trees bearing bright red flowers; the neighborhood is alive with children running down the sidewalks, beautiful couples heading out to any one of the various bars in the area, men and women selling fruits (most of which I don’t recognize) and juices from little carts and busses filled with people heading home from work and ready for the weekend; the ocean is two blocks away, just below the bluff that the Malecón (Lima’s gorgeous and inviting pedestrian path) traces, and it’s salty spray can be felt everywhere.
Excited to check out Lima’s culinary reputation, we turn down two blocks from our rented apartment and get a little table at the local hot spot, La 73. This neighborhood staple restaurant, with brightly tiled floors and walls and small wooden tables, has been around for years and has a changing menu based on what’s fresh. Trout ceviche, grilled octopus and two frosty glasses of Pilsen (the local PBR) and you can’t go wrong !
LOCAL CULTURAL EXPERIENCES
After feeling more than slightly over-full, we follow the flow of the vibrant streets to the plaza in the heart of Barranco. A local band has taken the small stage in the middle of the plaza and is drawing a crowd. Salsa beats mixed with reggae are infectious and people of all ages start to swirl each other around, happily sway and shake their hips. The antique street lamps create the perfect soft light for the scene. We explore further and walk part way down the Barranco stairs past lines out the door for restaurants, artists selling their crafts and happen upon a Brazilian capoeira circle. We watch for a while as the dancers feign combat in rhythm with their musical counterparts. Finally we end our evening back near the plaza at the Barranco Beer Company- a haven for all lovers of great artisanal beer!
SAN ISIDRO AND HISTORIC CENTER
The following afternoon, we are met and set off for a half day tour of Lima’s important historical sites. We start at the famous Huaca (pyramid), from the ancient Lima tribe, located in the middle of the San Isidro neighborhood. The massive adobe brick structure seems quite alien after having visited so many Incan sites in the high Andes.
We continue to the historic center, predominantly Spanish colonial architecture, where we visit the San Francisco church, monastery and its maze of catacombs. The elaborate frescos, tiled walls (tiles brought from Sevilla), lush courtyards and ornately carved cedar ceilings and balconies were an utter surprise based on the more simplistic exterior of the complex.
We head next to the central plaza, which, unfortunately this evening, has been closed off to visitation. The reason for this, we find out, is awesome: the national symphony will be playing for several hours later at night in the middle of the plaza; entrance is free as long as interested viewers bring food and clothing items to donate to those affected by the flooding in the north of the country.
We end our city tour at the famed Larco Museum- my personal favorite museum in Peru. Our guide walks us through the historical periods in Peru and art pieces that have been carefully collected from all over the country from each of these periods. Extraordinary textiles, carvings, ceramics and metal works fill the entire old-mansion-now-museum. Our guide leaves us on our own to visit the well-known erotic wing regarding all forms of sexuality as portrayed by Peru’s early ancestors. We exit through a gorgeous garden lined with soft, candle-lit lanterns and fiery rouge and peach colored flowers in full bloom.
Our final day in Lima starts early on the water- surfs up! During the day, the little beach below Barranco, Los Yuyos, is filled with families sitting under large umbrellas, playing in the water and building sandcastles, while men and women weave their way through selling ceviche, roasted corn with cheese (a local favorite snack), cold beers, sodas and ice cream; in the morning, the beach is almost empty except for surfers eager to catch the morning swell before the sun becomes too strong. After several hours we have to retreat and head back to collect our bags and take off to the airport.
Peru is such a phenomenal and unsuspecting melange of adventure, history, culture, food, people, language, climates and architecture. While we are excited to be heading to Chile, it seems that after two and a half weeks in Peru, we’ve only scratched the surface! Numerous return trips are order- Peru, you’ve managed simultaneously awe us, captivate our adventurous spirits and pique our curiosity!
Want to add Lima to your next Peru adventure? Check out some of these exciting excursion options:
– 1-Day Lima City Tour with Museum Visit (half day)
– 1-Day Lima Culinary Tour (Full Day)
– 1-Day Nazca Lines Day Tour / Budget from Lima (full day)
– 1-Day Caral Archaeological Site near Lima (full day)
Your friendly South America expert,