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24 Hours in Lima, Peru: What to See in Lima in One Day

Only have one day to explore Lima? No problem! Follow this ambitious guide to visit Miraflores, the Larco Museum, the Historic Center, and Barranco with just 24 hours in Lima.
by Britt Fracolli

Sample the scenic, historic, and culinary delights of Peru’s capital with just 24 hours in Lima. It’s an ambitious agenda catered to anyone with a “go big or go home” travel spirit and limited time in the city. Alternatively, handpick from the recommended things to do in Lima below to match your desired level of exploration.

Last updated by Melissa Dreffs in July 2020. 

Morning | Miraflores

8:00 AM | Breakfast

Wake up in one of our top pick Lima hotels in the best place to stay in Lima, the Miraflores neighborhood. Miraflores has a privileged location along the coast which no doubt fuels its popularity among locals and foreigners alike. This modern district is the ideal starting point to begin city exploration with just one day in Lima

Breakfast in Peru is typically a simple spread of eggs, bread, and fruit served with coffee or juice. For lighter fare, stick with the complimentary breakfast at your hotel or visit a local coffee shop. Arabica Espresso Bar and Pan Atelier are great spots near Kennedy Park. Serious morning eaters with a craving for blueberry waffles or eggs benedict will be drawn to the menu at Homemade. Another restaurant in Lima, El Pan de la Chola, offers fresh artisan bread for your sandwich, a strong cup of coffee, and healthy juices like a spinach, apple, and ginger blend.

9:00 AM | Kennedy Park and the Malecón

After breakfast, take a leisurely stroll from Kennedy Park to the malecón, or promenade, that stretches along the city’s high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Parque Kennedy, or Kennedy Park, is the social heart of Miraflores. Home to many stray cats wandering in the grass, you are sure to spot some friendly felines during your visit. Many artists and vendors also set up shop in the park to sell their artwork, trinkets, and street food. 

Parque del Amor, or Love Park, sits along the malecón about a half mile (1 km) walk from Parque Kennedy. The famous sculpture El Beso, The Kiss, sits in the nook of a small amphitheater tiled in beautiful mosaic murals. The malecón is also the main launching point for paragliding in Lima. You can see paragliders taking off from an open grassy area near the park when wind conditions are right.

Larcomar is a contemporary shopping, dining, and entertainment center built into the cliffs with a phenomenal ocean view. Even for those not interested in shopping in Lima, Larcomar has an incredible architectural design that alone is worth a quick stop. 

Around 10:00 AM, catch a 10-15 minute ride to one of the top places to visit in Lima, Peru: Huaca Pucllana. Use a ride-sharing app like Uber or Beat over hailing a taxi from the street for safety and convenience. In using an app, the fare is predetermined and negotiation in Spanish is not necessary. Alternatively, you can walk from Larcomar to Huaca Pucllana in about 35 minutes.

Alternative Option: Surfing in the Pacific

Try surfing or bodyboarding off the pebbly beaches of the Costa Verde, or Green Coast. While Lima’s coastline isn’t sandy like other beaches in Peru, it often has the right water conditions for surfing. Head down the stairs near Love Park to reach the ocean. Surfboard rentals and lessons are available for around 70 – 100 soles ($20-$30 USD).

10:15 AM | Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana is one of the most interesting places to visit in Lima. While there are many impressive ruins across Peru, including Machu Picchu, Huaca Pucllana holds its own right in the middle of Miraflores. This pyramid made from adobe and clay was built by the indigenous Lima civilization around 1500 years ago. This ancient ruin also houses a top restaurant in Lima with views of the pre-Incan site right from the terrace. 

Huaca Pucllana is open daily from Wednesdays to Mondays. The entrance fee is 15 soles ($4.50 USD) per person. Children under 12, students, and teachers have a reduced rate of 7.50 soles ($2.25 USD). The entrance fee also includes a 45-75 minute group tour of the site in either English or Spanish. The tour does not begin at set times, but rather as visitors arrive and guides are available. 

Following your tour of Huaca Pucllana, head to the Larco Museum in the Pueblo Libre district for the next stop in this 24 hours in Lima guide. We recommend catching a ride by 11:30 with a ride-sharing app for this 25-30 minute drive.

Intricately stacked adobe and clay bricks at Huaca Pucllana in Lima. Blue sky and clouds in background.

Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores. Photo by Michael Wieck of Peru for Less.

 Midday | Larco Museum & Lunch

12:00 PM | Larco Museum 

One of the most unique things to do in Lima, Peru is visit the Larco Museum. With tens of thousands of Pre-Colombian pieces dating up to 5,000 years old, the Larco Museum takes you on a fascinating journey through ancient Peru. 

The permanent exhibition, erotic gallery, visible storage, and gardens are all open to the public. To enter, tickets cost 35 soles ($10.50 USD) per person, with varying reduced rates for adults over 60, students, and children under 18. 

If arriving by 12, join in on the one hour guided tour, “Masterpieces of Ancient Peru.” The tour is available in English every hour on the hour for 10 soles ($3.33 USD) per person, with a reduced rate of 5 soles ($1.67 USD) for adults over 60, students, and children under 18. 

Photos courtesy of the Larco Museum

1:00 PM | Lunch

In the Larco Museum’s garden sits one of the best restaurants in Lima. Cafe Larco is a quaint, cozy place to grab a bite to eat. With an expansive menu of both international and Peruvian dishes, Cafe Larco has something for everyone. 

For an appetizer, try ceviche, Lima’s most popular seafood dish, or causa limeña, a layered potato salad. For main dishes, we recommend lomo saltado, a beef and vegetable stir-fry, or aji de gallina, a spicy chicken stew. Vegetarians will love the ravioles de zapallo loche, raviolis with a Peruvian pumpkin filling. Order a classic pisco sour or refreshing strawberry lemonade to drink. 

Around 2:00 PM, head to the Historic Center of Lima. Using a ride-sharing app, order a car from the Larco Museum to the Plaza de Armas for a 25-30 minute drive. Note that the government often closes the roads in the plaza for a variety of reasons, such as processions or events taking place in the plaza. In this case, the driver will drop you off one block away.

Photos courtesy of the Larco Museum

 Afternoon | Historic Center

2:30 PM | Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas, also known as the Plaza Mayor, is the perfect starting point to explore historic Lima. The plaza was established in 1535, the same time the city of Lima was established. The plaza is surrounded by some of the city’s grandest buildings built with a mix of colonial, renaissance, and baroque architectural styles, among others. Many of the surrounding buildings near the Lima city center are painted a distinct yellow, which symbolized wealth in colonial times. 

The Palacio del Gobierno, or Government Palace, is found on the north side of the plaza. Another one of Lima’s top attractions, it serves as both the seat of the government and home of the President. While the building is not open for visitors, it is worth checking out the intricate architecture and the ornate dress of the military guards. 

On the east side of the plaza, the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima and the Cathedral of Lima are found. The Archbishop’s Palace is the home of Lima’s Archbishop and the main office space for the Roman Catholic Church in Lima. The Palace also has two elaborately carved wood balconies facing the plaza. These balconies played an important role in earning the historic city center the label of a UNESCO Heritage site in 1988. 

Head inside the Cathedral for a glance at the varying architectural styles Lima has to offer. The interior is home to many chapels, including one with Venetian mosaic tiles sheltering the tomb of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. There is also an extensive collection of religious art. Entry is permitted for 10 soles ($3.33 USD) per person. 

3:30 PM | Monastery of San Francisco 

The Monastery of San Francisco sits one block northeast from the Plaza de Armas and is just one of the unique things to do in Lima. Inside are several cloisters, an impressive library, and intricately carved ceilings and walls. The monastery also has underground catacombs that hold the bones of up to 25,000 of Lima’s residents from colonial times. Tickets are available at the entrance for 15 soles ($4.50 USD) per person, including a guided tour. 

If you are looking for a quick snack during your 24 hours in Lima, head to Churros San Francisco for arguably the best churros in Lima. Less than a block from the monastery, this hole-in-the-wall serves freshly made churros filled with manjar blanco, a sweetened cream. 

After you explore the Historic Center on your own, make sure you leave a comfortable cushion of time, at least 1 hour, to drive to Puente de los Suspiros in Barranco. Traffic in Lima is unpredictable and can get really busy during peak commute hours. 

Yellow church with a large wooden door in Lima's Historic Center. Pigeons on the ground and flying in front.

Monastery of San Francisco in Lima’s Historic Center. Photo by Peru for Less.

Alternative Option: Plaza San Martin 

For alternative things to do in downtown Lima, skip the Cathedral and Monastery to check out other tourist-friendly Lima attractions nearby. The Gran Hotel Bolivar and Plaza San Martin are just five blocks south of the Plaza de Armas. In the center of the Plaza San Martin, you can find an impressive statue of Jose de San Martin, the liberator of Peru. 

Head into the Gran Hotel Bolivar in the northwest corner of the plaza to try the iconic Pisco Sour Catedral at their Cocktail Lounge. One of the first modern hotels in Lima, the Gran Hotel Bolivar also is home to the largest pisco sour in the city. You can’t spend just 24 hours in Lima without trying a pisco sour! Learn more about pisco sours and how to make them here.

Evening | Barranco

5:30 PM | Puente de los Suspiros, Sunset, and Municipal Park of Barranco

Spending time in Barranco is one of the most fun things to do in Lima. Arriving near Puente de los Suspiros, the Bridge of Sighs, puts you at an interesting position to take in the impressive murals covering the walls and bridges while wandering down to the malecón. Following a long day exploring, Barranco is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunset over the Pacific. 

From the Puente de los Suspiros, head down the Bajada de Baños towards a lookout point over the ocean. Depending on the time of year, sunset in Lima ranges from 5:49 in the shortest days of Winter (May and June) to 6:40 in the longest days of Summer (January and February). Keep in mind winter in Lima is often cloudy and overcast. 

After sunset, head back up the Bajada de Baños until you reach Av. San Martin. Take a right to head to the Parque Municipal de Barranco, Municipal Park of Barranco. The park is full of things to do, whether it be people watching, checking out various vendors, or taking in the unique surrounding architecture.

7:00 PM | Dinner 

Whether you consider yourself a foodie or not, eating is a must do in Lima, Peru. Did you know that the city is the gastronomic capital of South America? Nowhere else in Peru can you have your pickings among so many savory traditional and fusion dishes at such a wide variety of world-class and family-run restaurants.

Barranco has a wide range of dinner options including the sixth best restaurant in the world, Central and accompanying Kjolle and Mayo. Since you need a reservation well in advance to eat at Central, a more accessible top restaurant in Lima is Isolina, ranked the twelfth best restaurant in Latin America.

Pan Sal Aire and Sibaris are delicious, casual Peru dining options also found in Barranco. If you prefer to make your own plans, download our Lima Restaurant Guide for a wide range of options, from traditional and fusion to vegetarian and seafood.

Three small dishes holding unique ingredients at Central restaurant in Barranco, Lima.

One course from the tasting menu at Central. Photo by Bex Walton on Flickr.

8:30 PM | Desserts and Drinks

Following dinner, treat yourself to some delicious dessert at Blu or Creme de la Creme. Both have a wide range of ice cream flavors that vary with the season. Creme de la Creme also offers eclairs and other pastries right in the Municipal Park of Barranco. 

For anyone looking for drinks or nightlife, Barranco is arguably the best spot in the city of Lima. After a long day visiting many of the key sites and attractions in Lima, it’s time to kick back and relax. Home to some of the best bars in Lima, Barranco is the best place to experience Peruvian nightlife with just 24 hours in Lima

Beer lovers should head to Barbarian or Barranco Beer Company, two breweries with a range of Peruvian craft beers available. Cocktail lovers should head to Ayahuasca Restobar, a colonial mansion with many different rooms and outdoor spaces to explore. Try their signature chilcanos, Peru’s second most popular cocktail.

Variety of ice cream flavors in metal bowls with metal spoons and labels for each flavor.

Ice cream options at Creme de la Creme in Barranco. Photo by Monique Loayza of Peru for Less.

Recommended Restaurants in Lima

Eat, drink, and be merry exploring Lima’s vibrant culinary scene in 24 hours. Find the websites and addresses for each food and drink recommendation above. 

Breakfast in Miraflores

Lunch at the Larco Museum

Churros and Pisco Sour in the Historic Center

Dinner in Barranco

Dessert in Barranco

  • Blu | Jirón 28 de julio 202, Barranco
  • Creme de la Creme | Parque Municipal de Barranco 109, Barranco

Drinks in Barranco

This itinerary is ambitious, but allows you to get a taste of Lima in 24 hours. However, if you have more than one day in Lima, the city is full of many more exciting things to see and do

Whether heading home or onward to Arequipa, Cusco, the Amazon, or any other destination, we hope you make the most of your 24 hours in Lima. And remember, you can always contact us for a customized itinerary to Peru