Lima is the Capital and largest city in Peru, yet it is often misunderstood and almost entirely skipped over while traveler’s make their way to Cusco. I fell victim to the “don’t spend too much time in Lima” hearsay, and wish I had given this awesome city more of a chance. That being said, with the short two days I did have in Lima, I made the best of it and came up with a perfect how to spend 2 days in Lima guide for you!
Head off to Callao Marina to swim with sea lions on the Palomino Island tour with Mar Adentro:
When I heard that there was a company that would bring you out to the Palomino Islands to swim with and observe sea lions in their natural habitat, I borderline happy-screamed. Mar Adentro Excursiones offers a 2.5 hour trip out to the Palomino Islands which includes 15 minutes of face-time swimming around with the curious and playful sea lions, as well as a guide that will point out the many different species of birds along the way. These islands are home to massive colonies of seabirds, including penguins, blue-footed boobies, Peruvian pelicans, and more.
Jumping into the freezing cold Pacific and slowly swimming toward these hilarious creatures was nothing short of exhilarating, and was one of the best “nature” experiences I have ever had. For more photos and to read more about this incredible experience check out my recent post, Mar Adentro Excursiones: Swim With Sea Lions in Lima.
Treat yourself to exquisite ceviche for lunch at La Mar:
After a busy morning boating around the islands, you’ll be ready for some lunch! Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the best in the world, and if you’re looking to have some of the best and freshest gourmet ceviche in the world, I’d recommend you head on over to Lar Mar for lunch. We sat down just after 12pm, and by 12:30pm, the place was absolutely packed. My advice, get there early! It’s no wonder why this place is so popular, as the food knocked our socks off and the artisanal cocktails had us feeling oh so fine.
Famed for its ceviche, we opted for the ceviche sampler, which gives eager seafood lovers like myself the opportunity to try three different types of this tangy speciality. In short, it was amazing. Pricier than most other cevicherias on the block, I find their high quality catch very worth the money.
Stroll down the Miraflores Boardwalk to Larcomar:
After a good feed at La Mar, you’ll want to stretch those legs and walk off those cocktails. For drop-dead gorgeous coastline views reminiscent of Southern California, make sure to take a leisurely stroll down the Miraflores Boardwalk. Start at the very green and palm tree-laden Parque Yitzhak (just 15 minutes walk from La Mar) and make your way towards Larcomar (a modern, seaside shopping center).
The walk will take about 45 minutes, and will be full of uninterrupted views of the ocean, luscious green parks, and many of the active locals going for a run or a bike ride.
Watch the sunset at one of Larcomar’s cliffside bars:
After your lovely stroll along the coast, you’ll end up at the many shops and dining options of Larcomar. For perfect views of the impending sunset over the Pacific, I recommend grabbing a window seat at Restaurante Popular or a comfy spot on the patio at Mangos. We ordered a few drinks and took our time as the scenery changed from a sky full of pink, to twinkling city lights along the coast.
Head to Barranco for dinner at Songoro Cosongo:
Post drinks, make your way to the bohemian district of Barranco for some traditional homemade Peruvian food at Songoro Cosongo. From the table settings and decor, to the service and the food, I felt like I was welcomed into someone’s home. They are very proud of their heritage and are proud to have a family run restaurant that has been in the family 90 years. It was like going to someone’s home for a home-cooked meal! They also had a very talented blind pianist playing, who we learned from the server, comes every single night to play his music. It created such a lovely ambiance and made our visit even that much warmer!
Take in the Bohemian vibes of Barranco & grab a post-dinner drink at Ayahuasca:
After a delicious “home-cooked” meal, take some time to wander the streets and alleys of Barranco. Along the way you’ll see a plethora of painters, musicians, crystal & gemstone dealers, and all kinds of other artists. You’re bound to run into a street performance of some kind in this grungy, yet extremely charming neighborhood, so make sure to have some small coins to tip with!
There are countless restaurants, bars, cafes and shops to check out, but I recommend Ayahuasca, a cocktail bar located in an 18th century mansion nearby the main square. This multi-room cocktail bar is decorated with old-world velvet upholstered furniture, and quirky modern design elements like framed traditional Peruvian clothing hanging from the ceiling. It’s definitely worth a visit!
Meander around Parque Kennedy in Miraflores:
Parque Kennedy is the beating heart of Miraflores, as the main place of gathering in this up-scale, affluent part of Lima. This green park is surrounded by an abundance of restaurants, cafes, bookstores, and other shops, and is always bustling with people. It’s where the majority of traveler’s stay when they visit Lima, as it’s known as a very safe and beautiful part of the city.
It’s a great place to take a morning walk, grab a coffee, and people watch. Make sure to check out the art market on the north side of the park, and the Anfiteatro Chabuca Granda in the center to see if there’s a performance going on!
Enjoy an incredible Peruvian style sandwich at La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla:
After a nice morning of people watching and resting, it’s time for some fuel to take on the rest of your busy day in Lima! I know you probably don’t think of sandwiches when you think of Peru, but you need to try a sandwich at Lucha Sangucheria Criolla! Try the “La Lucha” which is like a Peruvian take on the Philly cheesesteak along with one of their amazing fresh juices, and you will not be sorry. These are hand-crafted masterpieces using artisanal bread and homemade sauces.
I didn’t know which sauce to get, so they just gave me all 7 of them to try! My favorite was the kalamata olive dipping sauce (heart eyes). You can snag a sandwich for about 10-16 Soles ($3-5USD) and around 7-12 Soles for fresh squeezed juice ($2-4).
Grab some after-lunch treats at Sra. Buendía Tejas y Chocotejas:
What’s a better way to polish off your fantastic lunch at La Lucha than by sampling some traditional Peruvian desserts? (There isn’t one) so head to nearby Sra. Buendia for some customary homemade tejas. Tejas are a small oval-shaped confections that contain a majar filling which is similar to dulce de leche. The outer layer is either a sugary fondant shell or if you’re in a more chocolatey mood, a chocolate shell (which is called a chocotejas). These goodies will only set you back a few Peruvian Soles, and you’ll wish you would have bought more!
Take a tour & learn about the REAL Lima with The Urban Legend:
Now that you’ve eaten half of Miraflores, it’s time to see Lima! As I said earlier, Lima is often misunderstood and is quite a bit chaotic, and it can be a little difficult to figure her out at first. I had the unique privilege of spending the entire day with The Urban Legend, also known as Nilo Revilla Peltroche, who is in the process of creating his own tour company and is an actual legend. He’s a tried and true Limeño with multiple years of tourism experience, who has a goal of showing his clients just how beautiful and amazing Lima can be, even in the middle of all her chaos.
Nilo started our tour by showing me the area of Chorrillos, a fishing village south of Barranco that not too many tourists ever make it to. He took me through the fish market and surprised me with a boat ride along the coast in a small wooden fishing boat. I found the locals here to be so friendly, and one even wanted to take a picture with me holding a fish!
Next we made our way up the nearby hills in a tuk-tuk so he could explain the complex past of this district, and to also show me some beautiful views of the city he loves so much.
By then we had worked up quite an appetite, and stopped off at Restaurant Sonia for some authentic and mouthwatering Peruvian seafood. This neighborhood favorite and family run joint has been wowing locals and foreigners alike with secret recipes of fishermen for 40 years, and there’s no signs of them slowing down! Family portraits and fishing nets cover the walls of the establishment as tribute to the long history of fishermen that keep this neighborhood alive and thriving.
With a great inside look at Chorrillos we headed to the city center to get a better idea of Lima’s downtown area. Here we stopped at Plaza Mayor and Monestary of San Francisco where Nilo explained more about Lima’s colorful history. Just a few minutes into being at Plaza Mayor, a group of students approached me and asked if I would practice English with them. I of course smiled and agreed, as this is not the first, but maybe 20th time I’ve been asked in a foreign country to practice English with locals.
From here, we hopped on a bus up to San Cristobal Cross up on Hill San Cristobal, another place where foreigners rarely frequent. This was one of the most fascinating parts of the tour, as he explained the very complicated history of this cross and what it represents to the people of Lima, especially to the descendants of the Incas. From here, we watched the sun go down over the massive, twinkling city below, as a great ending to a fantastic day.
If you’re interested in learning more and getting to know the REAL Lima from a local insider, then I highly recommend linking up with Nilo for an unforgettable tour. He is such a wonderful and passionate person, and is happy to craft a customized tour that you are sure to love. For pricing and to set up your tour in Lima with Nilo (aka The Urban Legend), contact him via Whatsapp +51994868609 or send him a message on Facebook here.
WHERE TO STAY:
For a cozy, comfortable and quiet B&B: Pier 242 Miraflores
I was so impressed by all of the little details at Pier 242 Miraflores, like the folded towels tied with ribbon and soap on our bed, to the dish filled with local candy, as well as a mini fridge stocked with water and a few cervezas (these were available for purchase). Our room also had a balcony, a very powerful fan that acted more like an air conditioner, and plenty of space to sprawl out, hang clothes etc. Overall it was one of the most comfortable room we stayed in out of our entire trip in Peru.
What also stood out to me about our stay here, was the hospitality we received from our host, Jhesu. He is such a cool guy and you can tell how much he cares about his guests having not only a nice stay at his B&B, but a nice time in Lima.
He offers Pisco sour making classes for his guests and also has a bike you can rent out for a inexpensive price. He offers a really nice breakfast that includes fresh fruit, local bread, eggs made to your liking, and of course, freshly made fruit juice. It was such a great way to start the day!
The property is in a great location, just a 10 min walk to Parque Kennedy, an even shorter walk to the beach, and is also right near a bus stop that will take you to Barranco. This B&B is so quaint and is decorated with colorful, traditional Peruvian artwork but in a very modern way. It feels like home from the moment you walk in and was a perfect place to stay during my trip to Lima.
Disclaimer: I received some complimentary stays & tours during my time in Lima in exchange for my opinions, but all opinions are my own. I only recommend places I would stay myself and tours that I love!