Coming to Lima you’ll hear a million different things, good and bad, about the city. The food is amazing, go! The sky is always grey, don’t go! It goes on forever. But we are particularly fond of this city, and think too many people pass it up to head straight to Cusco, while Lima has a personality all of it’s own that is worth getting to know. With everywhere, we’ve found that instead of listening to rumors or hype, you just need to see for yourself.

While we’re always searching for new and undiscovered places, and love finding the spots off the typical tourist path, this capital has plenty off the beaten path and is worth adding to your list. We added some places that are outside of the tourist bubble of Miraflores to help you fully experience the charm and diversity of the city so you can understand why we so highly recommend it. Bring your adventurous spirit, leave your preconceptions behind, enjoy, have fun, get lost and explore like a true backpacker!

 

Read more: Sandboarding in the Desert Oasis Town of Huacachina, Peru

 

Centro del Callao

Undervalued and hardly visited by foreigners, Callao is a gem of the area. It has the ghost of being a “dangerous place” in Lima, but the main tourist areas have cleaned up their act and it has a lot to offer. Many famililes live here, and it’s a wonderful place to visit a see a different piece of the city, sans other tourists. You can find the best seafood here, do a walk through downtown and enjoy the many museums it boasts. Walk along the Real Felipe and visit the colorful district of Chucito, full of extremely kind and friendly people.

 

Malecon de la Punta

 

 La Punta Beach Callao Peru

 

This is one of the places that we love most in Lima (okay technically it’s part of Callao, but it’s right next to Lima). It’s a charming resort of a town with colorful little beach houses and a beautiful plaza. It feels like the beach getaway it is, and everything has a laidback summertime seaside vibe. It’s wonderful to walk along the beachfront and sit on the benches along the sea, or join the locals who don’t mind that it’s a rock beach and lay out. If you’re into sailing, you’ll find your people here. This is one of the places you won’t find in guidebooks, thankfully, and something that makes it a much better experience.

P.S.: If you love ceviche, you’ll find the freshest of the freshest here, usually at cheaper prices than Lima! Every single place we’ve tried has been incredible, as with any ceviche it’s best to go for lunch or earlier for the freshest fish.

 

Read more: Mancora, Peru: Surf, Ceviche & Party Hostels

 

Cementerio Presbitero Maestro

When first told of the cemetery tours, it definitely seemed like a strange (and terrifying) idea. It’s one of the biggest cemetary-museums in South America and one to experience. The best part of visiting is that most of the tours are at night, and whether it’s real or your friends tricking you, you’re going to see and hear things that are going to make you feel like a tiny kid watching their first scary movie. The tour is 20 soles and runs every weekend.

 

Cerro San Cristobal

 

Cerro San Cristobal Hill Lima Peru

 

This area will show you a different side of Lima, not many tourists go up and it can be a bit sketchy, but if you go it’s very worth it to see the city from this perspective. It’s one of the most picturesque hills of the city and if you’re up for an adventure, you should go and chec it out. And now you can do paragliding from the top, which is definitely a memorable way to see the city of Lima.

 

Catedral de Lima (Plaza Mayor)

When you get to the main square in Lima (Plaza Mayor), this building will pull your eye immediately. Full of beauty, grandeur and a mysterious feel, it’s arguably one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Lima. If you’re interested in seeing the vault of religious art that exists inside, this stop can take a while. If that’s not so much your thing, coming here will bring you to one of the most beautiful plazas in Lima, where Lima’s colonial architecture is perfectly showcased and the downtown buzz of people and activity is everywhere. If you go on a weekend and you’re lucky, you may even see one of the many weddings that take place here!

 

 Plaza Mayor Cathedral Lima Peru

 

Read more: A Begginer’s Guide To Travel To Machu Picchu 

 

Iglesia San Francisco / Catacumbas 

If you go a bit deeper while exploring central Lima you’ll find this classic church, with pigeons welcoming you to the Baroque style building. Inside you can visit one of the oldest libraries of Peru (and one of the most beautiful spots in the city) and our favorite: The Catacombs. As the name says, you’ll get a short tour of tunnels fulls of skeletons, piles of skulls, designs made in human bones, everything. It’s definitely creepy, but very cool to see. Whether you’re superstitious or not, you’re going to feel the bizarre energy in this place for sure, and the open mass graves definitely separate from being like any other church tour. The rest of the tour guides you through the above-ground rooms with giant paintings, a beautiful courtyard, the choir section of the church and the breathtaking library. Mass is held everyday if you want to get the full experience.

 

Museo Larco

One of the most historic museums in South America full of culture and tradition, you’ll find samples of pre-Inca cultures, fabrics, ceramics and a ton of color. While this stop is some people’s favorites, those not interested in history may find it extremely boring (we’ve heard mixed reviews). If you want to learn and see a lot, head here. If you’re more into city sights and wandering, it may not be worth it for you. We appreciated that it has an extraordinary collection of artifacts, and we were particularly interested in the Incan erotic sculptures and the fact that that’s what some Peruvians were dedicating their time to in those days.

 

Parque de la Exposicion

 

 Relaxing at Parque de la Exposicion Lima Peru

 

One of the most picturesque parks of the city, it’s the perfect place to relax and spend a sunny afternoon. It will also get you out of the Miraflores bubble to see a different area of Lima that’s just as beautiful. Inside the park is the MALI (Museo de Arte de Lima), with some great exhibits hosted in a beautiful building. If you come here for an afternoon, you can grab lunch or snacks from one of the many food carts and enjoy the liveliness of the area.

 

Parque de las Aguas (Water Park)

 

The Borderless Project at Water Park Lima Peru

This is not just a park: this is a full-scale, world-class production of incredible fountains and lights. This is definitely one of our favorite places in the city, and the best time to see it is at night when every fountain is lit up in a variety of bright, beautiful colors. Some of the fountains are even interactive, meaning in the summer you’ll see children and families in bathing suits running through the jumping water. For only 4 soles you can enter, and in the evenings they offer an hourly show that rivals the water projection shows at Disneyland. With giant light projections on a backdrop of water, and music to match, it’s a must-see. Best 4 soles you’ll spend, and there’s no other park like it.

 

Read more: The Best Bars of Lima: For Locals and Travelers Alike

 

 

Malecón Cisneros / Miraflores

Whenever there is sun, this is the first place you need to get out and walk around. It’s the stretch that runs along the cliffs, so sweeping ocean views and a beautiful breeze are part of the package. Sights to see include the Lighthouse, Parque del Amor (Love Park; full of love quotes in mosaic and some very love-y sculptures right on the cliff), Larcomar (giant mall on the hillside with food and drinks) and if you want a long walk you can go all the way to Barranco. We recommend walking from Park Kennedy in Miraflores and straight down towards the Malecon- at this point you can also choose to walk below the bridge down to the ocean, or stay at the top and continue your walk

 

 Malecon Miraflores Lima Peru

 

Malecón de Barranco

The charming neighborhood of Barranco, with its traditional houses and a colorful, bohemian spirit, is only a 10 minute walk from Miraflores and more than worth it. Start walking along the cliffs so you can see the colorful homes and museums in renovated colonial houses, and end at El Punte de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), a captivating place to watch sunset and end the day. Barranco is one area of Lima you absolutely can’t miss, and offers great restaurants, bars, museums and a beautiful outdoor areas and plazas to hang out in.

 

Explore Lima Markets

 

Fruit Stand at Surquillo Market Lima Peru

 

Something you can’t miss are the famous Lima mercados (markets), places that display and worship the gastronomic culture of Peru and it’s dedication to fresh ingredients and perfectly-crafted dishes. You can seee exotic ingredients and spices, and a large part of daily life for locals. With markets in literally every neighborhood in Lima, it may be hard to pick so we’ve laid out our favorites here, where you can see, touch, taste and experience the most: Experiencing Lima’s Markets: 8 You Can’t Miss

 

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