Best Things To Do in Lima
Lima's long, rich history and vibrant culture provides a breadth of attractions for visitors. The city is filled with squares like Plaza de Armas that feature colonial architecture as well as pedestrian hangouts like Malecón de Miraflores. History buffs can wander unique attractions like the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco and distinct museums, such as Museo Larco and Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Peru. Experiencing Lima's culinary scene is an attraction in itself, so make sure you carve out time to sit down, relax and enjoy some Peruvian cuisine.
Updated May 19, 2017
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Known as the birthplace of Lima, the Plaza de Armas (also known as Plaza Mayor) functioned as the heart of the Spanish colony dating back to 1535. Travelers say it's a must-see for every first-time visitor to Lima.
Located in the historic center of Lima, this main square is full of photo ops. Although none of the original structures stand, the current architecture is still photo-worthy. You won't be able to miss the bright yellow Municipal Palace, as well as the bronze fountain that dates back to the early 1650s.
- #2View all Photos#2 in LimaMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Named after the collector and father of Peruvian archaeology, Rafael Larco Hoyle, the Museo Larco boasts the world's largest private collection of pre-Columbian art. Housed in an 18th-century mansion, the museum fascinates visitors, who say the historic treasures housed within provide insight into the many indigenous cultures that once thrived in Peru. The collection includes more than 50,000 ceramic pots, as well as an extensive collection of gold and jewelry, including ceremonial headdresses.
The museum also features a well-known collection of erotic pottery that dates back thousands of year. (For families bringing little ones, this exhibit is secluded from the rest of the museum and is located across the garden.)
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This active archaeological site sits in the middle of the Miraflores neighborhood. The clay and adobe structure, which once functioned as a ceremonial site during the pre-Columbian era, dates back to 400 B.C. Since the beginning of the excavation in 1981, multiple pyramids, ceramics, textiles and tools have been discovered. Most recently in 2010, four intact mummies were found undisturbed.
You can see many of the artifacts in the small on-site museum. The price of admission also includes a guided tour of the site (given in both English and Spanish). Huaca Pucllana is also home to a popular, award-winning restaurant that travelers highly recommend for its traditional Peruvian cuisine.
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The Spanish word malecón directly translates to "pier," but that word doesn't quite describe (or do justice to) the malecón in the Miraflores district of Lima. These cliffside pedestrian boardwalks offer breathtaking ocean views, and as such are usually filled with locals and tourists.
The 6-mile stretch of parks and boardwalks are lined with shops and restaurants, providing the perfect place for a photo op as well as activities, such as jogging and cycling. You can find bike rentals at places like Lima Bike Rentals and Bike Tours of Lima. Recent visitors said you'll also see daredevils cliff jumping and parasailing.
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Lima's art museum – also known as MALI – is home to more than 1,200 pieces of Peruvian art spanning 3,000 years, from the pre-Columbian times to the contemporary. You'll find pieces from multiple indigenous cultures, including textiles and ceremonial items as well as modern, abstract pieces from Peruvian artists.
Recent visitors to the museum said you can spend an entire afternoon exploring the collection, and most major pieces of art have English signage. Guided, bilingual tours are available Tuesday through Saturday; check with the information desk upon arrival to learn more about times. If you'd rather tour the museum on your own, ask about the free audio guides. Reviewers also noted that the museum is poorly ventilated, warning that it can get quite warm on hot summer days.
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Inaugurated in 1672, this baroque-style church named in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi is best known for the network of catacombs located underneath the chapel. The catacombs contain an estimated 70,000 remains dating back to the 17th century. The church and convent are also home to a library with approximately 25,000 antique texts dating back to the 15th century.
Thanks to the intricate web of catacombs, this is one of the most-visited tourist sites in the city. But even with the crowds, recent travelers said exploring the underground graves is worth the wait. Tours of the church and catacombs last about 40 minutes and are offered in English. If you aren't interested in a tour, reviewers point out that the functioning church is free to enter, so you can take a peek at the magnificent architecture inside the church nave without having to fork over an admission fee.
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The Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú (the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru, or MNAAHP) is the largest and most extensive in Peru, boasting about 300,000 artifacts.
The sprawling museum features collections of ceramics, textiles, metal and wood, as well as a large collection of coins. Additionally, the physical anthropology collection showcases mummies, skulls and partial skeletons dating back to 13,000 B.C. Recent travelers said while the museum is interesting, it has more limited English signage than the nearby Museo Larco.
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For a break from the many history museums in the city, make a visit to the MATE – Museo Mario Testino. This small museum in the Barranco district is named after the famous Peruvian fashion photographer, Mario Testino. Displays include photographs of fashion legends, such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, as well as collections of contemporary images from cultures around the world. Because of Testino's widespread portfolio, the permanent collection regularly rotates. A favorite among visitors is the room dedicated to Testino's photographs of the late Princess Diana. You'll also find special exhibits from other modern artists.
Recent visitors said the museum is beautifully curated, but small, so it can be seen in just an hour. Reviewers also noted that a trip to the museum offers a good excuse to sightsee in the Barranco district.
- #9View all Photos#9 in LimaParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located within the Parque de la Reserva (Park of the Reserve) south of the Museo de Arte de Lima and next to the Estación Estadio Nacional, this water light show is fun for families and kids of all ages.
Rivalling the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Circuito Magico del Agua combines 13 automated lasers with music to create a spectacular light show. The show chronicles the history of Peru with 3-D movies projected into the water fountains and laser displays.
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