THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO LIMA & BEST THINGS TO DO

Peru’s capital set on high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a vibrant city filled with world-class cuisine, lively nightlife, and fascinating cultural history. Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, surf lover or a foodie - travellers are spoiled for choice here.

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN LIMA

Lima is split up into two main areas you will want to consider exploring. Miraflores and Barranco, situated next to each other along the coast, are the preferred places to stay and have the most things to do.

1. Explore Miraflores & Wander Along The Boardwalk

Miraflores is the preferred area for tourists and travellers with an abundance of trendy cafes and great restaurants all situated among seafront parks and boardwalks.

 

For a nice walk, you can start at the park of love and make your way down south along the Malecon (boardwalk).

You can stop off at the Larcomar, an open-air seafront shopping centre or sit in one of the many green spaces along the way and watch skateboarders and locals mingle.

 

If you want to combine sightseeing with a bit of exercise, then rent a bike and cycle along the Circuito de Playas, the road that straddles the coastline, from Miraflores to Barranco. Mirabici rent bikes and also offer tours.

 

Just make sure to be by the waterfront for sunset, grab a spot near the edge of the cliffs and watch the sun go down as paragliders circle above and surfers catch the last waves of the day.

2. Explore The Bohemian District, Barranco

Barranco is one of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods, with colourful street art, mural-covered buildings and hidden coffee shops all set within an old colonial-era mansion-style district.

 

If you want to get a good rundown of the area then try the free walking tour or if you fancy heading there by yourself, a good starting point is famous landmark Puente de Los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs, and from here you can wander around snapping photos of all the vibrant murals.

3. Try The Freshest Ceviche

La Canta Ranita is one of the best places to try ceviche in Lima, and that will become obvious from the queue that’s constant outside this quaint little cantina. It’s located down in the Barranco district, in a small market alleyway off the main road.

 

It’s hard to find, but if you’re lost ask a local, they’ll know where it is. Grab a beer from the bar as you wait to be seated before trying some of the freshest ceviche you will have ever tasted.

4. Try A Pisco Sour

After ceviche, why not head to one of the Barranco mansions turned restobars for Peru’s most popular cocktail – the pisco sour.

 

The bar with the most aesthetically pleasing style, set in one of the 19th century style mansions is Ayahuasca. They are well known for their cocktail making skills and is arguably one of Lima’s most popular bars.

 

We’ve covered all the best cocktail bars, craft breweries and restaurants to try (in both Miraflores and Barranco) in our guide. 

5. Visit Plaza Mayor & The Historical Centre

If culture and history are more of your things, then a walking tour of the historical centre is a must. The Spanish colonial architecture and bright yellow buildings of Plaza Mayor are an incredible sight.

 

The free walking tour will take you around the highlights of the historical centre such as San Martin square and the Santo Domingo Church, and like any excellent walking tour that know what they are doing, also take you to the Chocomuseo for a taste of Peruvian chocolate.

6. Experience The Nightlife

While travelling through Peru, you won’t struggle to find a good night out. However, a night out in the capital is a must for travellers looking to tear it up with locals and other backpackers alike.

 

The Selina Hostel bar becomes a popular haunt at the start of the night, with Loki and Pariwana also good options if you’re looking to mix in with fellow travellers.

 

For a huge selection of bars, head to Kennedy Park and from there you have a choice of three streets: Manuel Bonilla, Pizza and Berlin Street.

 

Try La Destileria for good cocktails and if you’re looking for a club and dancing then either Bizarro and Lima Bar for later on in the night. 

We have an entire guide on food and drink in Lima here if you want more tips.

7. Learn To Surf

It’s hard not to be a little jealous watching all the surfers from up on the cliffs in Miraflores. The long waves in Lima make it a great place to practise your craft.

 

If you fancy jumping in or taking lessons, then Eternal Wave is a great place to start.  The lessons last 1.5 hours and include a soft board (for beginners), a wetsuit, leash and wax. Each lesson (as part of a group) is US$30.

 

Or try Pukana Surf for board and wetsuit rentals from $10.

8. Learn Some Spanish

If you’re just starting out in South America and want to learn a bit of Spanish to get by or simply want to brush up on your skills, there’s a fantastic language school in Miraflores – Peruwayna.  

 

They also organise surf lessons, cooking classes and weekend excursions. It’s a great way to make some friends and learn more about Peruvian culture if you have some extended time in Lima.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN LIMA

There are two main areas for backpackers to stay in Lima: Miraflores and Barranco. Both are safe areas for travellers.

 

Make sure you avoid staying in the historic centre as it can be dangerous at night and there isn’t much else going on.

 

Where you stay is a matter of preference. Miraflores is more of a big city vibe and has most of the hostels, bars and clubs. Stay here if you want to be in the mix, surrounded by backpackers, locals and nightlife.

 

Barranco is the more laid-back area with some great local cuisine options perfect for travellers who don’t want to be smack in the centre of the city. Both are along the coastline with easy access to the beaches and the sea.

Best Hostels In Miraflores

  • Pariwana – a lively hostel with breakfast included. Pariwana is a common place where many people start their nights out, and there are games and events to get people going. The rooms are separate from the party so don’t let this put you off if you’re looking to get some rest.
  • Selina – the Selina hostels are always an excellent place for digital nomads or people looking for a more comfortable stay. The downstairs bar becomes packed with locals at the weekend.
  • Kokopelli – similar to Pariwana this is a great hostel to meet people and have fun while also having comfort. You’ll find Kokopelli’s in Lima, Paracas and Cusco. Once you stay in one, you’ll probably stay in all three.

Best Hostels In Barranco

HOW TO GET TO LIMA

Arriving To Lima By Air

The Jorge Chavez airport in Lima is around a half an hour drive from Miraflores. If you are flying internationally or grabbing an internal flight down to Cusco, the easiest and cheapest way to get to the airport is using the airport express bus.

 

One way costs $8 or round trip $16, and the bus stops at multiple points in Miraflores so there should be one close to your hostel. You can purchase tickets online or in the airport as you’re leaving baggage claim. Uber is running in Lima if you prefer a taxi service. 

 

There isn’t a single main bus terminal in Lima, and the different bus companies have separate terminals. So, to get to Cruz Del Sur bus terminal, we found it on google (Av. Javier Prado Este 41, San Isidro, 15034) and hopped in a uber which cost around $5.

Arriving To Lima By Bus

If you are leaving from/heading south along the coast to Paracas or Huacachina then bus is your best option. Bus companies have their own individual stations in Lima. 

 

The bus journey takes around three to four hours to Paracas, and there are several public bus companies to pick from.

 

We went with Cruz Del Sur due to the better reviews and weren’t disappointed. The process is the same for any bus company you choose so we’ll outline what we did here.

 

You can book your bus online or turn up on the day.

 

  • Red Bus – is specifically for Peru – the app works well, and there’s no need for physical tickets.
  • Bus Bud – an international company that we used a lot travelling around South America.

There isn’t a single main bus terminal in Lima, and the different bus companies have separate terminals. So, to get to Cruz Del Sur bus terminal, we found it on google (Av. Javier Prado Este 41, San Isidro, 15034) and hopped in a uber which cost around $5.

For more on backpacking in Peru, check out our itineraries and travel routes: