April 4, 2009 5:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Lima, Peru for three whole weeks. Where do you suggest are the best places to go in the day and night for young (under 30) travellers and sightseers? I've looked in a few travel guides, and done the mandatory research online (yes, here too) but don't want to miss out on any local secrets whilst in Lima.

I'm looking for things to do in the following:
Sight seeing attractions
Museums/Historical Interest
Cheap good restaurants and markets
Good places to relax, stroll, explore
Places to go at night

I'm currently staying in Barrancos which seems very far from the centre, should I move to a more central hostel? And what are the easiest routes of travel to get outside of Lima (which i've been often told to do) to places like Arequipa, Paracas, Nazca, (add some more here) etc?

Many Thanks!
posted by ashaw to Travel & Transportation around Lima, Peru (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely get out of Lima and go travel the country! You can take a bus to Arequipa, or you can go north to Huaraz. If you have the money, book a flight to Cusco and take some trips through Inca country. Barrancos isn't bad for Lima, but be careful at night. When I was there a couple years ago, it was known as a place for backpackers and so at night there were people looking to mug rich foreigners. Don't know if that's still a problem or not. Ultimately, Lima is an interesting city but the real Peru is out in the country, so get moving (if you can) and head out.
posted by billysumday at 6:29 AM on April 4, 2009

While you're in Lima, absolutely go to the Monasterio San Francisco. It's got the coolest library I've ever seen, and there are catacombs underneath. I also enjoyed the Museo Larco--lots of pretty stuff, and a crazy porno pottery collection--and you can see the tomb of Pizarro at the Cathedral of Lima in the Plaza des Armas. We weren't in Lima that much, so I don't have much else to offer.

While we were there, we flew to Cusco. It's not that expensive to do so, and if you're going to be in the country for three weeks and can afford it you really ought to go to Machu Picchu--and Cusco's the place where you set out for Machu Picchu (by train), and Cusco's a neat place to visit all by itself. I'm sure you can find lots of information about all that online, but do feel free to message me if you have questions. We were there last August, so the trip is still pretty fresh for me.
posted by hought20 at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2009

Oh, and when we were in Lima we stayed in Miraflores. It felt perfectly safe to us--we were really close to the water, and walked to have dinner every night we were there. We stayed at Hotel El Ducado, and I'd recommend it if you're not into fancy hotels.
posted by hought20 at 8:11 AM on April 4, 2009

I definitely recommend Lunahuana, a short bus ride South from Lima. A small, slightly of-the-grid wine village where you can aso do rafting. It's a little paradise. You can walk to wineries, go by the river, it is a very relaxing place. I don't remember the name of our hotel but it was a little past the village, by the river, each room has a huge balcony and they served breakfast to your room.
Flying to Cusco or Arequipa is also a must! If you go to Arequipa, don't miss the El Coca canyon, second deepest in the world. You can rent a guide and walk down the canyon, and then walk up during night and observe the most beautiful sunrise! But if you want to stay around Lima, you can go up to Huaraz to get some altitude and do awesome hiking.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:15 AM on April 4, 2009

In Lima, The Monasterio San Francisco is definitely cool. The Gold Museum is interesting if you want to see Spanish plunder. If you like ruins, Huaca Pucllana is in Miraflores, or you could take a cab out to Pachacamcac, just outside of town. The Indian Market is a cool place to spend an afternoon shopping and haggling. (Definitely get some choclo while you're there - delicious!)

As for where to stay: I've stayed in Miraflores and Barranco - Miraflores is upscale and relatively safe, but not much nightlife. There's a big American-style mall (Larcomar) down by the beach if you find yourself craving Tony Roma's. It does have a nice view at sunset, though. Barranco has a lot more in terms of restaurants and clubs. No matter what, exercise caution; there are folks looking to prey on tourists. I wouldn't stay in the center; I found it really smoggy and loud.

Definitely try to get out of Lima for a bit - in addition to Cusco and Arequipa (which I'd agree are both great) you could check out the Nazca lines. You can either take a bus down to Ica and see them from a platform or, if you're on a bigger budget, take a helicopter ride from Lima. If you go up to Cusco, definitely take a day or two to get out into Sacred Valley. Cusco itself is beautiful, but a little touristy; the towns in the valley are awesome. And once you're there, you may as well see Machu Picchu - a little expensive but well worth it.

As far as how to travel, your choices are probably bus or air - bus is slow and crowded, but cheap. Air is more expensive, but much quicker. I'd recommend LAN as an airline - there's also some Peru-only airlines, but they seem to come and go without much warning.
posted by chbrooks at 12:55 PM on April 4, 2009

Don't stay in the center of town. It can get kind of sketchy and not much to do. Barrancos or Miraflores is where you want to be. Barrancos is considered more bohemian/younger crowd while Miraflores is a bit more expensive, quieter. Use common sense, but both places are very safe.

Within Lima, in addition to the Monestario, I'd recommend the following:
1. Castillo de Real Felipe. It's in callao, not the greatest neighborhood, but if you go during the day and keep aware, it's safe. It's an old fort that used to protect the harbor back in the colonial period.
2. You gotta have ceviche while you're there. If you want trendy go to La Mar. It's Cuadra 7 de avenida la mar in miraflores (there are several avenidas la mar--make sure you go to the one in Miraflores). More expensive than other places, but hipper. More traditional and also good is Segundo Muelle...we usually go to the one in San Isidro, Av. Conquistadores, it's like cuadra 10, but if you get there you can just ask or see it from there.
3. A couple blocks from Segundo Muelle in San Isidro is Parque El Olivar, nice for a stroll. Also, the whole system of Parks around the Pacific in Miraflores are nice. You can start at Larcomar (big shopping center, everybody knows it) and walk south. once you cross the bridge, the parks get nicer and nicer. All the parks are safe.
4. For nighlife, check out the penhas. Del Carajo is good. Traditional music/floor show, pitchers of beer, dancing. Plenty of discotecas also in and around Barrancos. There's also calle de las pizzas en miraflores, but huge tourist trap.
5. best place for coffee is Cafe Haiti by Parque Kennedy in Miraflores. Great people watching, old school service. Food's ok, but cafe con leche's the best you'll have..also try the jugo de tuna (cactus fruit, not the fish).
6. Shopping, Polvos Azules. Be careful, don't take a lot of money and don't take cameras or anything. But it's something to see.
7. Cheap good restaurants abound in Lima. Basically, if you see a place offering "menu" it's a fixed price lunch, traditional Peruvian food. Almost all are good. There's one right by City Hall in Miraflores. Calle Diez Canseco cuadra 1. Blanking on the name right now, but really good food for like 9 soles. You can also check out Pasquales Hermanos. It's a fast food sandwich shop by the most famous Peruvian Chef. Address is Av. Commandte Espinar con Angamos in Miraflores, although there are a couple.
8. If you speak Spanish, it's better to call for a cab than get one on the street. It's more expensive but much safer. We usually use Taxi Real, but Taxi Seguro's ok as well. Number for Real is 470 6263.

Outside of Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu are the number one tourist attractions. If you want something slightly off-the-beaten path, then you can check out Iquitos and Pucallpa in the Amazon region--slightly expensive to stay at the resorts there, but you'll see amazing flora and fauna. For beaches, there's Mancora up north. And if you really want to get out, you can go to Oxapampa in the interior jungle region. No particular sites to see, but just getting there is an adventure and you'll see the real Peru. If you don't speak Spanish, though, I wouldn't recommend it.

Have a great trip. It's an amazing country.
posted by limagringo at 2:18 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

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