JW Marriott Lima
Avenida Malecon de la Reserva 615, Miraflores, Lima
For travelers who give it time, Lima offers travelers a chance to experience a vibrant, dynamic city that is full of history, culture, museums, boutiques, and amazing Pacific sunsets. The cherry on top – Lima is one of the food capitals of the world, with mouthwatering cuisine that will delight your taste buds.
As the international gateway to Peru, Lima is an unavoidable stop for travelers planning a trip to Machu Picchu. But there are reasons to stick around. Spend a day or two here to experience the electrifying mix of old and new; meet Peruvians from every corner of the country and with ancestry from all over the world; and work your way through a long list of must-eats including ceviche, lomo saltado, causa rellena and more.
In Lima, you can choose to relax in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the capital city or pack your itinerary full of visits to historic plazas and churches, 1,000-year-old adobe ruins, world-class restaurants, buzzing nightlife spots, ocean-view parks, and renowned museums and galleries. The capital city is a melting pot, with a long history of migration from other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and Africa. Add to that recent internal migration from the Andes, Amazon and coastal regions, and the result is a fantastic mix of vibrant backgrounds and cultures.
Lima has two clearly-marked seasons, summer and winter, with transitional periods in between. Being in the southern hemisphere, Lima has warmer, sunnier weather in the northern hemisphere’s winter months (December to March), and cooler, greyer weather in the northern hemisphere’s summer months (June to September).
There are quite a few factors that influence Lima’s weather. Peru is close to the equator, but the cold water Humboldt Current flows up from Antarctica and interacts with air temperatures to keep things cool.
The Andes Mountains are a second factor affecting the climate. The tall peaks, which begin to rise not too far from the coast, create a rain shadow effect that prevents rain clouds from forming. This geography explains why much of Peru’s coast is desert. In Lima, the result is a temperate climate with high humidity around the year.
During the winter months, a constant gray fog called garúa covers the city of Lima. Travel some miles north or south of the city or up into the foothills and you’ll experience the sunny skies that typify the rest of coastal Peru.
It is best to visit Lima during its summer season, between December and April. Lima in the summer is sunny, and with temperatures in the 70s and 80s (roughly 21°C to 30°C), you can visit the parks, beaches, and historic districts with ease - and fully enjoy a refreshing, citrusy ceviche lunch. This is a great time to experience summer from the southern hemisphere, and perhaps even escape the cold weather of your home city in the northern hemisphere.
The transitional months between summer and winter, May and November, can also be a nice time to visit, as the weather can be more moderate with a mix of cooler, cloudy days and warmer, clear days.
Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima in 1535, but indigenous populations settled the area around it for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish conquerors. Peru’s earliest human settlements found hospitable ground in the fertile soils of the river valleys within the present-day department of Lima. Along the Río Chillón, not far from Lima city, archaeologists have excavated stone tools dating from approximately 7500 BC.
Around 1535, Spanish settlement began in Lima. After the fall of Cusco, conquistador Francisco Pizarro established a new city with a central plaza and church. In 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was created, but not officially recognized until Viceroy Francisco de Toledo arrived in 1572. South America’s struggle for independence from the Spanish Crown began in the early 1800s. In July 1821, Argentina’s General Jose San Martin sailed into the capital and declared the independence of Peru on July 28th, 1821.
The 1890s-1920s were a period of great urban renewal and expansion for Lima, from which point the population continued to grow exponentially. The 1990s marked a time of notable instability in Peru. Alberto Fujimori was elected president, partly in response to a rise of violent guerrilla movements and economic turbulence. Fujimori maintained power for ten years until he was forced to resign in a bribery scandal in 2000.
In the 21st century, Lima is enjoying a prolonged period of political and economic stability. In 2017, Lima’s metropolitan population was estimated at 10 million residents, representing about one-fourth of Peru’s total population. Today, the main tourist districts are Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro, all of which hug the coast and are bursting with parks, historic sites, boutiques, world-class restaurants and premier hotels.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on Lima’s many excellent museums. Among the best: the Larco Museum, the Lima Museum of Art (MALI), and the National Museum. Scattered throughout Lima’s different districts, you can museum-hop while seeing the many faces of the fascinating city-scape.
In South America, parks and plazas are social spaces where people gather to rest, chat, read, snack, and spend time with family and friends. Whatever Lima district you find yourself in, make time to see the main park or plaza and get a glimpse of local life. One must-see park is Parque Kennedy in the heart of Miraflores, and a must-see Plaza is the Plaza de Armas of Lima in the historic center.
If you travel for the food, you’ll be delighted with Lima’s exceptional dining scene. Peru is in the midst of a gastronomic boom and the capital city is its epicenter, filled with an endless variety of delectable cuisine. Some key dishes to try include ceviche, lomo saltado and causa a la limena. Don’t forget to pair with the national drink, the pisco sour, and sweeten the deal with picarones (Peruvian drip doughnuts) or suspiro de la limena (caramel custard with a port meringue).
The Circuito Magico del Agua, Magic Water Circuit in English, is an impressive spectacle in downtown Lima’s Parque de la Reserva. One of the largest water fountain complexes in the world, the attraction features 13 cybernetic fountains that glow and “dance” along to music ranging from Peruvian traditional to pop contemporary. An excellent evening activity for families and couples.
Located just a block from the Plaza de Armas, you find the Saint Francis Monastery. The Baroque-style convent was built in the late 1600s and beholds a world-renowned library with 25,000 texts. Perhaps the biggest draw to the church and convent is its underground catacombs, where 25,000 bodies are laid.
The Port of Callao is Peru’s principal port for commerce. A visit to this coastal attraction is made complete with stops to nearby Monumental Callao, an impressive community art project featuring art studios, restaurants and rooftop dance parties; the Palomino Islands, which you can reach via a half-day tour by boat to see an abundance of sea lions and sea birds; and last but not least the Real Felipe fortress, built to defend against the entry of pirate ships in the mid-1700s.
Peru’s most modern and dynamic city is also home to some of South America’s most ancient relics. Witness this contrast with a visit to Huaca Pucllana, the 4th-century adobe temple surrounded by Miraflores’ high-rises. Yet more temple ruins are scattered through Pueblo Libre and San Miguel districts. Eighteen miles outside of Lima, Pachacamac temple has been an important complex for millennia.
El Malecon provides one of Lima’s most scenic landscapes. Stretching about 6 miles along the cliff tops that separates the Pacific Ocean from the city, this park-filled promenade is the place to go for sunsets, to get some exercise, or to try your hand at paragliding.
Along the coastal malecon you find the immaculate outdoor mall that is Larcomar. The open air shopping experience with Pacific views is an excellent way to spend part of your afternoon. With 16 restaurants and cafes, and a variety of boutiques, this is a must-see while in Miraflores.
The best souvenirs from a trip to Peru include exquisite handwoven textiles, soft alpaca wool sweaters, artful ceramics, colorful chullos (Andean hats) and knitted scarves. Stock up in Lima’s artisan markets at the end of your trip. But if Lima is your first stop, you can just browse the shops and get an idea of what you’ll see later on; you’ll be better prepared to spot a unique item during your travels.
Historic Center of Lima
Alongside Arequipa and Cusco, the historic Lima center presents the best preserved example of Peruvian colonial architecture and urban planning. Officially founded in 1535, Lima quickly grew to become the wealthiest city in the Americas. Today, the historic core forms just a small section of a sprawling city, but remains the best place to trace the evolution of Peru’s biggest city back to its beginnings. A visit to the historic center is highlighted by gorgeous colonial churches, government palaces, museums, historic houses and the scenic Plaza de Armas.
If the Lima historic center represents the city’s past, Miraflores embodies its vibrant present and ever-evolving future. Home to the must-sees Parque Kennedy and the coastal Malecon, as well as an endless number and variety of cafes, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels for all budgets, it’s no surprise that Miraflores is a favorite destination for visitors to Lima.
Lima takes a bohemian turn in the seaside community of Barranco, a longtime hub for Peru’s artists and intellectuals. With its tree-shaded streets, colorful wall murals, graceful colonial homes and a few galleries, Barranco presents yet another side of Lima you won’t want to miss. Spend a relaxing afternoon at a cafe or restaurant by the Puente de los Suspiros, walk down the Bajada de Baños to check out the beach, or dance the night away with Lima locals at a live music bar.
Financial district, upscale residential neighborhood, and home to a surprising array of bars and restaurants, San Isidro presents Lima’s most refined and elegant side. Spend a few nights in pampered comfort at the Westin (and check out their incredibly tranquil Heavenly Spa) or take some breaths of fresh air at the enchanting Parque El Olivar, a vast olive grove with more than 1,700 trees.
The majority of travelers to Lima stay in one of three main areas: airport, coastal districts or historic center. The coastal districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro are popular for travelers who wish to explore the modern and trendy side of Peru’s capital city. The following are our preferred hotels in Lima.
Avenida Malecon de la Reserva 615, Miraflores, Lima
Avenida Elmer Faucett (no number), Callao
Avenida La Paz 463, Miraflores, Lima
Av. Larco 1251-1253, Miraflores, Lima
Av. Tomas Valle (no number), Commercial Center Callao, Lima
From establishments owned by award-winning chefs, top plates from around Peru, and luxurious to casual ambiances, there are a lot of excellent restaurant choices in Lima. The selection of delicious dining options are truly endless and ever-changing. Browse a handful of highly-recommended restaurants below. You might want to make a reservation in advance as these are popular spots:
Amazonian cuisine is the focus of this popular restaurant. Specialties are a mix of typical Peruvian food and Amazonian dishes.
Av. La Paz 1079, Miraflores | website
Consistently voted among the best restaurants in South America, Acurio’s flagship restaurant provides an emblematic dining experience in Lima. Enjoy Peruvian dishes with a modern flare.
Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro | website
The award-winning Central is chef Virgilio Martinez’s flagship restaurant. Beautiful dishes pay homage to the cuisine of Peru with curious touches and the seasonal menu changes.
Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco | website
Japanese flavors merge with Peruvian ones in dishes that are more creative than gimmicky. DonDoh focuses on cooking inspired by Japanese robatayaki.
Av. Los Conquistadores 999, San Isidro | website
La Mar Cevichería is chef Gaston Acurio’s proposal for internationalizing Peruvian cuisine via its primary spokes-food: ceviche. Here, get a taste of Peu’s seafood specialties.
Av. La Mar 770, Miraflores | website
Maido is an acclaimed Nikkei restaurant featuring a menu that traverses the landscape of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. The “Nikkei experience” tasting menu lets you fully appreciate chef Maido Mitsuhari’s vision of this cuisine, refined after years of culinary training and on-the-ground experience in Japan.
Calle San Martín 399, Miraflores | website
Anniversary of Lima
When: January 18 (each year)
Lima celebrates its birthday on January 18, the day that Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535. The city is honored with a variety of cultural and artistic festivals and performances, most notably the Gran Serenata de Lima (grand serenade of Lima) in the Plaza de Armas of the historic center.
Dia Nacional de Pisco Sour (Pisco Sour Day)
When: 1st Saturday in February
Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru, beloved by locals and visitors alike. For this reason, they’ve dedicated a day to celebrating this famous drink, made with pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg whites. The day is celebrated with a variety of parties, festivals, gastronomic fairs, and tastings in restaurants and hotels.
When: The week leading to Easter
In Peru Semana Santa (Holy Week), the week leading up to Easter, is a big deal. Extravagant celebrations are widespread and hotels and restaurants will have limited availability, as it's the top travel week for locals. For this reason, flights and hotels can also be more pricey during Semana Santa. The holy week is celebrated with processions, festivals and feasts. Most residents have Thursday and Friday off from work to celebrate through the long weekend.
Dia del Ceviche
When: June 28 (each year)
The cultural importance of ceviche is undeniable. This celebrated national dish has ingrained in the cultural identity of Peruvians for more than 500 years. Ceviche traditionally consists of raw white fish, onion, chili peppers, lime juice and salt. This day is celebrated with food fairs, ceviche making competitions, and special menus with creative interpretations of the dish in restaurants and hotels.
When: July 28-29 (each year)
Fiestas Patrias is Peruvian Independence Day. It celebrates the nation's independence from Spanish rule, thanks to defeat by Argentinian/Spanish libertador Jose de San Martin in 1821. The two-day national holiday is celebrated with festivals, parades, performances, food and music in just about every park and square. Though a fun and festive time to be in Peru, it is also a very crowded time and hotels and flights can have limited availability and higher rates.
Dia de Santa Rosa de Lima
When: August 23 (each year)
Santa Rosa is the patron saint of Lima and of the indigenous people of Latin America. She had a Spanish father and indigenous mother. Santa Rosa had a strong devotion to God from an early age, and to the people of Lima. She expressed her devotion through charity work, caring for and feeding people in need (even though she herself was poor), and eating only bread and water. To honor her there are processions and visits to Church and Convent of Santo Domingo (where her remains are kept), as well as to Church and Sanctuary of Saint Rose of Lima.
Mistura Food Festival
When: Early september
This impressive food festival is one of the biggest in Latin America. It takes place in various venues throughout the capital city of Lima. Lima is one of the food capitals of the world, and if you’re wondering why, you’ll find out quickly with a visit to this magnificent festival. More than 300 farmers and vendors across the nation gather to display their produce, products and prepared foods. Demonstrations by local and renowned chefs also make it an event to remember.
Festival of the Señor de Los Milagros
When: October 18 (each year)
This is one of the largest religious processions in the world, and has taken place in Lima for more than 300 years. The origin of the event is back in colonial times, when an African slave from Angola drew a black christ on the wall of a hut in a plantation south of Lima. When the earthquake of 1746 hit, this depiction was the only standing structure in an otherwise leveled village (hence the milagro, or miracle). Today, the procession is held for many days, one procession of which is an entire 24 hours long with devotees flooding the streets wearing purple following a large painting of the Christ.
Dia de la Canción Criolla
When: October 31 (each year)
This distinctly Peruvian music genre blends traditional Peruvian, European and African instruments to create dynamic, percussive music that makes you move. This day is dedicated to the one-of-a-kind music and parties spring up throughout Lima to honor the tradition with music, beer and dancing. So while your friends in the United States are celebrating Halloween, you can grab a cajon (Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument) and find your rhythm at Dia de la Cancion Criolla.
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Lima Airport (Jorge Chavez International Airport)
Even if you’re not spending a lot of time in the city, you’ll probably transit through Peru’s principal gateway, the Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport. To arrive in the city’s popular Miraflores and Barranco districts, you must take a 30-60 minute transfer, depending on traffic. The airport is located in the Callao district, about 6 mi (20 km) from Miraflores. For travelers with an early morning or late night flight out of Lima, the Wyndham Costa del Sol Airport Hotel provides maximum comfort while in transit.
The Lima airport is fairly easy to navigate. The first step after landing is to go through immigration. To enter Peru, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of your arrival. At airport immigrations you will get your tourist visa (a stamp in your passport). Tourists are given 90 days, although you can ask for up to 183. It is not possible to extend your tourist visa once you have entered Peru.
Pick up any luggage at baggage claim and continue through a final luggage check at customs. If you are traveling with Peru for Less, one of our representatives will be waiting for you here. Look for the person holding a sign with your name on it.
Read more in our blog: Everything You Need to Know About Lima Airport.
Some important safety tips include:
If you’re heading to Lima, there are some things you are going to make sure you have:
Guided tours of Lima usually include transportation between sites. For sightseeing without a guide, the Mirabus and Turibus offer convenient tour bus service to the city’s top attractions. If you prefer to explore on your own, the Lima Metropolitano provides the easiest and fastest way to move around the city while avoiding getting stuck in traffic.
If you prefer taxis, your hotel can call you a secure taxi. Please keep in mind the taxis are not metered, so it is best to negotiate your fare before hopping in. If you don’t speak Spanish, your hotel concierge can help do this for you. Another option that helps you skip the negotiating part, is simply requesting an Uber, which is quite common throughout the city.
Carry local currency (called Soles) in small denominations to pay for taxis, tips for guides, small purchases, and meals at cafes and restaurants. Vendors rarely have change for larger bills, so it’s best to have small change. Larger balances at shops, restaurants, hotels, and some tour agencies can be paid with a credit card. As of April 2020, $10 USD is roughly 33 Soles.
There are money exchange locations all over the tourist districts, called Casa de Cambio (House of Change). In Miraflores, you can find them all along Avenida Larco, which is the main avenue connecting the popular Parque de Kennedy to the coastal outdoor malls and parks. As of May 2020, $1 USD equals s/. 3.37 soles. You can also withdraw money at any ATM, though there is typically a withdrawal fee of $4-5. You can withdraw in either dollars or soles.
Peruvians can be exceptionally polite and make it a point to acknowledge people when joining or leaving a group. Learning some simple phrases can help you show respect for the culture.
If you like world cuisine and beautiful ocean views, Lima is a great spot to visit. A night or two in Lima allows you to try some award-winning gastronomy, browse some of the best museums in the country, catch a glimpse of the bohemian art scene, and savor a Pacific sunset from one of the lush parks on the seaside cliffs. Our 24 Hours in Lima blog gives you a good idea how much you can fit into a short stay.
If you are visiting Peru solely to see ancient ruins, you can probably bypass Lima and continue onto the Cusco/Machu Picchu area (although there are some amazing ruins within city limits, such as Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores). You will need to stop in Lima regardless, as all international flights enter through Lima airport, but you can stay at a nearby airport hotel instead of venturing into the city.
Lima is known for its award-winning Peruvian gastronomy, two miles of parks along the Pacific coast, museums and gorgeous colonial Plaza de Armas. Being the capital, it is the home to the government buildings and palaces as well.
The capital of Peru is full of exciting attractions for all ages and interests. Here are some ideas of things to do in Lima:
Lima is a year round destination. Summer (December to March) is the best time to enjoy the outdoors or one of Lima’s famous sunsets. It’s also an ideal season if you wish to travel further down the coast to Ica and Paracas. Winter (June to September) is overcast and humid, but this doesn’t interfere with visits to the city’s top historical and cultural attractions.
Like in any big city, you should take standard precautions to stay safe while exploring Lima. Some areas of Lima city are safer than others, but the main tourist areas are fairly safe, especially in daylight hours. In the evening hours, stick to well-lit major streets for extra safety.
Lima, the capital city of Peru, is located on the Pacific coast of South America. Lima lies 832 miles south of the equator, and is in the desert foothills of the Andes. The Lima region is bordered by the Ancash region to the north, Ica to the South, and Huanuco, Pasco, Junin and Huancavelica regions to the east. Peru at large is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Chile to the south, and Bolivia and Brazil to the east.
The Lima metropolitan area is approximately 300 square miles and the entire region 1,032 square miles.
According to UNData, the population of Lima in 2007 was 8.473 million, almost 30% of the total population of Peru. The INEI (Peru’s National Statistics Institute) the population of Lima in 2015 is estimated to be 9.752 million.
The Lima airport is located in the province of Callao.
*Drive times vary depending on traffic conditions.
Lima is on the Pacific coast, and Machu Picchu is deep in the Andes Mountains. To get to Machu Picchu from Lima, you first need to take a 1 hour 30 minute flight from Lima to Cusco. From Cusco, you need to take a 3 hour and 15 minute scenic train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes. This is the village at the foot of Machu Picchu, from where you take a 20-minute bus up to the citadel.
So, the total time in hours from Lima to Machu Picchu is around 5 hours and 5 minutes, with a combination of plane, train and bus. This would be the quickest route. Typically, however, travelers spend a night or two in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before continuing to Machu Picchu.
To get to Lima from Cusco, you need to make your way to Jorge Chavez International Airport of Lima, and board a 1 hour 30 minute flight to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport of Cusco. Some travelers prefer to travel to Cusco by bus – a bus ride to Cusco takes approximately 22 hours and the route through the mountains consists of very high and windy roads.
Get through Lima’s airport worry-free with these insider tips and information.