At first glance, Lima appears to be a gigantic metropolis that never ends, extending from the ocean into the hills. This city is nothing like the tourist photos of colorfully attired Andean locals posing with their llamas in front of towering mountain peaks. But a closer look reveals that this massive city, which is home to almost a third of Peru’s population, has its own sights and activities that are equally fascinating and vibrant as the inland scenes you’ve imagined.
Spend some time exploring this dynamic city and visiting its top-notch museums to get a sense of Peru’s history and culture before traveling further. Admire the colonial architecture of its stunning structures, which are adorned with ornately carved wooden balconies and Baroque details.
Best Places to Visit in Lima Peru
Follow our list of the top attractions in Lima to discover all the greatest locations to visit in this wonderful city.
1. The San Francisco Convent
The catacombs beneath the Convento de San Francisco (the San Francisco church and its monastery) are where around 10,000 people’s remains rest who were buried when it served as Lima’s first cemetery. A network of confined passageways with bone walls on either side can be found below the church.
In one location, a sizable spherical hole is filled with skulls and bones that have been placed in a geometric form to resemble a work of art. In the event that Mass is taking place upstairs, the sound echoes ominously through the tunnels.
There is a lot more here to view. The monastery’s magnificent collection of sacred art is housed in the monastery’s library, which is on the upper floor. The painting depicting the Last Supper with a demon standing next to Judas and the apostles eating guinea pig is its most famous feature.
The cathedral of Lima dominates the Plaza de Armas’ eastern side. The initial cathedral was built starting in 1535, and it was expanded in 1564 after being modeled after the cathedral in Seville, Spain.
It was damaged in the 1687 earthquake and nearly demolished in the 1746 great quake, but it was swiftly reconstructed to its current state. Look for the magnificently carved choir, a representation of Jesus in the chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and the elaborate churrigueresque altars.
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The tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the creator of Lima, is housed in a church with mosaic decorations. The back of the cathedral has a modest Museum of Religious Art, and the courtyard has a very nice tea room.
3. Magic Water Tour Circuito Magico del Agua at the Reserve Park
When the Magic Water Tour first debuted in the Park of the Reserve in 2007, two million people had taken it. With 13 different fountains, it is the largest fountain complex in the world.
The Fuente Tnel de las Sorpresas (Tunnel of Surprises) is a 35-meter water tunnel that you may walk through, while the Fuente Mágica, the largest, blasts a jet of water more than 80 meters high. A laser and visual spectacle at the Fuente de la Fantasia features jets that are timed to music.
4. Take a stroll in Love Park, Parque del Amor
The Parque del Amor (Park of Love) on the Malecón in Miraflores is the most romantic place to see the sunset. The sloping walls are lined with mosaic patterns made from tiny tiles that are frequently likened to those created by Antoni Gaud for Parc Güell in Barcelona, Spain.
The mosaics incorporate poetry by Peruvian poets, including Abelardo Sánchez León and Augusto Tamayo Vargas. The park’s focal point, El Beso (The Kiss), a sizable sculpture of an embracing couple created by Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin, is reached through meandering paths that are surrounded by flowers and go along the clifftops.
5. Visit Miraflores to shop, in Peru
Just south of the city’s center, on cliffs overlooking the ocean, is the Miraflores district, which combines some lovely old colonial residences with modern glass-and-steel office buildings and a lot of open space.
Hang gliders frequently drift from the cliffs above surfers in the waves below, and lovely parks and natural spaces extend along the cliff tops overlooking the water. In this wealthier area, costs should be a little bit more.
Despite having a strong representation of pre-Columbian cultures like Chimu and Nazca, Museo Amano is best recognized for its extraordinary collection of textiles from the lesser-known Chancay culture of the northern coast. You must reserve a tour in advance.
6. Explore history at the National Museum, the Museo de la Nacion
The Museo de la Nacion, Lima’s biggest museum, is the ideal starting point for learning about ancient Peruvian history and culture. The entire archeological history of Peru is covered in the museum, from the first inhabitants through the Inca Empire.
To demonstrate the transition from one culture to the next, ceramics and textile exhibits are placed chronologically alongside scale models of ancient sites like Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines. The Lord Sipan’s burial copy, the first of the Moche mummies discovered at Huaca Rajada in Sipán, Peru, is the most spectacular. Most displays have both Spanish and English labels and descriptions.
7. Museum Larco
The Rafael Larco Herrera Museum also referred to as the Larco Museum, is located in Pueblo Libre, south of central Lima. It is housed in a viceroy residence from the 18th century that was constructed above a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid.
More than 40,000 pieces of Peruvian ceramics, most of which are from the Moche and Chim civilizations, are housed in the Larco Museum. Although not all of the ceramics are on display in the permanent exhibition, you can view a large portion of the collection in the Visible Storage section, which has over 30,000 pieces, in a relaxed setting.
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The outstanding pre-Columbian art collection of the museum also contains metalwork, textiles, stone carvings, and goldwork. There are several spots to sit in the grounds’ wonderful garden as you admire its unspoiled beauty.
8. Santiago de Cuba
The church and monastery of Santo Domingo is one of the oldest and most historic in Lima. It was constructed in 1540 on property that Francisco Pizarro had donated to the Dominican Friar Vicente Valverde. The remains of Saint Martin de Porres, the first black saint in the Americas, Saint Rose of Lima, and Saint Juan Masias are all located here.
This monastery is primarily known for its tile mosaics depicting the life of St. Dominic, Santo Domingo de Guzman, who founded the Dominican order. Pope Clement X presented the statue of Saint Rose to Santo Domingo. A tranquil green garden can be found inside the cloister’s brightly painted walls. The central Lima church is just a short stroll from Plaza de Armas.
9. The Huaca Pucllana
Huaca Pucllana, a pyramid-shaped temple, is now oddly encircled by houses and is located in the center of Miraflores. This pyramid is made of seven staggered platforms and was constructed of adobe and clay bricks, materials that would not have lasted more than 1,000 years in any other environment.
Between 200 and 700 CE, the Lima Culture, which erected the pyramid, flourished on Peru’s central coast. It has been established from items found here that this location was significant as a ceremonial and administrative hub.
10. National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History
The National Archaeology, Anthropology, and History Museum does a fantastic job of examining Peruvian history from prehistoric times to the colonial era despite being smaller than the Museo de la Nacion. You won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information because the displays are well-organized, which makes it simpler to comprehend.
With exquisite specimens of ceramics, figural stone sculptures, obelisks, wrapped mummies, burial tombs, jewelry, tapestries, and gold and metal work, many of which are displayed with scale models of the archeological sites, the variety is also outstanding.
The granite Tello Obelisk and the well-known Estela Raimondi are two prominent carved obelisks in the pottery collection, which includes artifacts from 2800 BCE. Parents need to be aware that not all of the clay figurines are appropriate for kids.
Lima, a city that was home to ancient cultures long before the Spanish colonized its beaches, successfully combines the past and modern.
The largest and capital city of Peru is where you can find out more about pre-Columbian culture when people were sacrificed to the gods. The city is teeming with museums, some on colonial structures and others in more contemporary ones.