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8 Best things to see & do in Lima

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

Last updated: 24 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson
  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

Close up of a ceviche dish

Bucket List Experience

Lima’s best food & drink

If there’s one reason to stop over in Lima it’s the food. The city has some of the finest restaurants in the world – with chefs like Virgilio Martínez, Jaime Pesaque and Gastón Acurio ranked in the World’s ‘Fifty Best’ on the exclusive San Pellegrino list.

What makes Lima chefs so exciting is their virtuoso fusion of unique national ingredients with Asian and European techniques. Star chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino has a plate on his degustation comprising only potatoes arranged to look like beach pebbles – all from different Andean locations with astonishing, divergent flavours.

Peruvian-Japanese Micha Tsumura serves fiery tiger milk tuna tiraditos alongside river-fish sushi, and 50-hour-cooked Amazonian beef.

You could spend a week in the gastro-hub suburbs of San Isidro, Miraflores and Barranco and get a mere taste of the exciting scene. But be sure to dine in Astrid y Gaston – the pioneer of Lima gastronomy and Central, by Michelin-starred Virgilio Martínez.

For a sense of the huge variety of ingredients Lima’s top chefs draw on visit Mercado No1 de Surquillo – packed with exotic fruit, vegetables and medicinal plants. It’s also a good spot to sample simple ceviche, but don’t focus on the street food – Lima’s all about fine dining.

Adult price: £35

Good for age: 18+

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

Exterior of the museum building

Experience

Lima Art Museum

If you want to see ancient Peruvian art and artifacts then MALI and LARCO are Lima’s two must-see museums. While LARCO is a 15-minute cab ride from anywhere, MALI is easy to visit on a walk around the colonial centre.  

There’s a lot to see – with more than 7,000 pieces dating from the time of the Paracas desert people in 800BC (ancestors of the Nazca civilisation) to the present day. There’s some fabulous indigenous-painted Cusco art and the collection is housed in a lavish art-nouveau-meets-neoclassical palace sitting in shady, lawned gardens.

Adult price: £2

Good for age: 18+

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

The exterior of the museum, with red-leaved plants and a Peruvian flag

Experience

Larco Museum

Lima has two unmissable museums, the Museum of Art and the Larco; the Larco preserves one of the best collections of pre-Columbian and indigenous objects in Peru.

There are pieces from over 3,000 years of Peruvian history – from brilliantly-painted Moche ceramics to glittering Inca gold and intricately, hand-stitched textiles. This is the only museum anywhere to have an entire room of pre-Columbian erotica. These priceless pieces are kept in the vast, gleaming-white, fortified palace of the colonial viceroy; itself built over an ancient pyramid.

Adult price: £7

Good for age: 18+

Surquillo Market

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

Customers buying vegetables at the market

Experience

Mercado No1 de Surquillo, Lima’s food market, is packed with exotic fruit, vegetables and medicinal plants. It’s also a good spot to sample street food – simple ceviche and Butifarra pulled-pork sandwiches.

Good for age: 18+

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

The exterior of the Roman Catholic style cathedral

Experience

Lima Cathedral

With massive, imposing neoclassical bell towers framing a saint-encrusted baroque facade topped with the Virgin Mary, the capital’s first church, built in the early 16th century, is a joyless statement of religious authority in stone.

It’s appropriate then, that the battered corpse of Francisco Pizarro is entombed inside, in a modest chapel in the crypt. Francisco Pizarro was the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Inca Empire, capturing its capital city Cuzco in 1533 and founding the city of Lima in 1535. Most people come to see him.

The nave is unremarkable – its baroque art was destroyed in an 18th-century earthquake. But look out for the silver-covered altars and Pizarro’s coat of arms (next to those of Lima) in passing.

Adult price: £6

Good for age: 18+

Saint Francis Monastery

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

The pastel yellow exterior of the monastery, with birds gathering in front

Experience

A UNESCO World Heritage listed Spanish-colonial monastery, dating back to 1674, with striking baroque architecture and bone-filled catacombs. The convent’s library possesses over 25,000 antique texts, including the first-ever Spanish dictionary and a Holy Bible edition from 1572.

Adult price: £3

Good for age: 18+

Gold Museum

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

A golden sculpture of a face, with gemstones

Experience

One of the world’s largest collections of pre-Colombian Peruvian gold, more than 7,000 artifacts, includes items from Inca, Sican and Moche culture. The museum also houses an extensive collection of weapons from around the world, dating back to the 13th century. Open daily.

Adult price: £6

Good for age: 8+

Huaca Pucllana

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

A large adobe and clay pyramid made of individual bricks

Experience

Lima’s only pre-Colombian ruin of note is a giant adobe pyramid built in seven sections and sitting in suburban Miraflores. It served as an important ceremonial and administrative centre from 200AD to 700AD. Outside the colonial centre but unmissable.

Adult price: £3

Good for age: 18+