Travelers coming to Peru usually have one of the major attractions such as Cuzco and Machu Picchu or a jungle lodge as their final destination. They often see Lima as just one stop on the way. But there are so many interesting things to see in and near Lima that it’s worth taking an extra few days to explore.
The best known attraction in Lima is the Historic City Center. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city center is known for its unique architecture and balconies, and its large number of historic monuments which were built during the Spanish colonial regime. The Plaza Mayor is surrounded by fascinating buildings and monuments, such as the Archbishop’s Palace. The Archbishop’s Palace is connected to the Lima Cathedral, where you’ll find the tomb of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The changing of the guards, which takes place at 1:00pm every day in front of the Government Palace, is a site not to be missed, as are the catacombs and beautiful artwork in the San Franciscan Monastery.
The Miraflores district is well known for shopping, dining and nightlife. In Parque Kennedy (Kennedy Park), artists and craftsmen alike display their wares on weekends, and there’s dancing on Saturday nights. Leaving the park, travel down Av. Larco towards the coast until you reach LarcoMar – an upscale entertainment complex with high end stores, fine dining, bookstores and cafes. If you prefer something a bit more traditional, visit the Inca Market (Mercado Indio), where you’ll find woven alpaca textiles, silver jewelry and other handcrafted items are for sale at great prices. Don’t be afraid to barter! Miraflores is also home to the Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Colombian archeological site. There is a museum on site that offers guided tours.
South of Lima is the archeological site of Pachacamac, near the town of Lurin. The onsite museum offers tours of the ancient pyramid and Temple of the Sun. In an effort to preserve the local flora and fauna, the museum also has exhibits of plants and animals native to the area. After finishing the tour, you may want to take a bus or taxi to nearby Lurin to sample some of their delicious chicharron, a specialty of the area.
No visit to Lima would be complete without a visit to at least one of its many museums. Perhaps the most popular is the Museo Larco located in Pueblo Libre. Founded in 1926, the museum displays an impressive collection of pre-Columbian artwork in a chronological fashion, covering 3000 years of Peru’s history. The museum also houses a striking display of silver and gold items from ancient Peru, as well as a gallery of erotic ceramic ware considered to be one of South America’s must see attractions. The museum Café is found in the award winning gardens, and features traditional Peruvian fare in an elegant but relaxed setting.
If you have a few extra days to spend in the Lima, you may want to take a short trek out of town to visit some of the surrounding areas. A popular trek is the three hour bus ride to Canta, an enchanting little town on top of a hill looking down on the Chillón River. Its scenery, fresh air and sun draw many weekend visitors from Lima. There’s trout fishing in the Laguna Chuchún, and camping and horseback riding in nearby Obrajillo. The Cantamarca ruins are about 10km away. Halfway between Lima and Canta is the town of Santa Rosa de Quives, known for it’s accumulation of rocks with engraved images all sorts of flora and fauna, estimated to be approximately 1500 years old.
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