Five Musts When Exploring Lima, Peru
As a Peruvian expat living in New York City, friends and family are always telling me that they want to go to Peru and visit many of the popular tourist destinations my country has to offer, such as Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca. They want to land in Lima, Peru’s capital and entry point for most flights, and board the next plane for their final destination. To them I say, “Great! But, what about staying in Lima a few more days and experiencing a totally different, less touristy leg of the trip?” With that in mind, I give you my top 5 musts for when you are in Lima, Peru.
1. Experience the up and coming Barranco.
The district is considered one of the most romantic and bohemian areas of Lima. Many equate it to New York City’s Brooklyn. Filled with bars, restaurants, art galleries, and museums depicting beautiful colonial and pre-colonial art, this area of the city is bursting at the seams with things to explore. You can shop for some artisanal items in Dedalo, explore the beautiful colonial-style churches and plazas, or walk along the historical “Puente de los suspiros.”
2. Rent a bike and ride through El Malecon de Miraflores.
This six-mile stretch of parks is situated along the cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Every time I go to Lima I always end up walking, running, or sometimes biking through the Malecon. Recently, many of the locals have opted for a bike ride through the Malecon as a faster, more enjoyable commute to and from work. I personally think the traffic in Lima is unbearable and the driving is slightly erratic and avoid it at all costs. Even if you are not commuting to or from work, this area is still a must. The views of the city are incredible and the sunsets are like no other. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, there is an area nearby from which you can parasail, which will take you off the cliff directly to the beach below.
3. Food, food, and more food.
Peruvian cuisine has gained significant attention from around the world and part of the reason is, well, because it’s just amazing. Gaston Acurio has several top of the line restaurants. One of my favorites is La Mar, a seafood restaurant, with some of the best ceviche around. Wash your meal down with some Chicha Morada (a popular non-alcoholic drink made from purple corn), Inka Cola (Peru’s favorite soda), or Pisco Sour (our national cocktail). You won’t be disappointed. A newer restaurant is Isolina. I had the pleasure of having lunch there with a few friends the last time I was in Lima. The wait was about an hour, but absolutely worth it. Two of the more popular plates are “Costilla de cerdo a la Chorrillana” and the “Lomo Saltado.”
4. People watch in a plaza called Dasso.
There’s a dinky little plaza in the area of San Isidro called Dasso that is surrounded by a variety of coffee shops. The one thing they all have in common is that during the mornings, noon, and later in the day, you will find the residents of San Isidro sipping their coffee, having business meetings, and people watching. I usually go to Delicass— but that’s just because it's one of the originals. Some other spots worth checking out are Bottega Dasso, Havana Cafe, and El Pan de la Chola, which is incredibly popular among locals.
5. Enjoy the beach.
Lima is situated on the western coast of Peru and is lined with beaches, both public and private. The beach directly below El Malecon de Miraflores (the coastal park I mentioned before) is called Costa Verde de Chorrillos. It’s named that way because back in the day the cliff was covered in green vegetation. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case as Lima has become so arid that the cliff is mainly sand now. The ocean here tends to be on the calmer side, but if you are lucky, you might be able to get some surf. Usually, there’s some people renting out boards and wetsuits for a few bucks.
Born and raised in Peru, Nico Pinto is a Wealth Advisor at Watts Capital in New York City. Nico and his wife live in Brooklyn, where they enjoy discovering new restaurants, and making occasional trips out to the beach to surf.