Lima, which was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the Spanish arrived, is a vibrant metropolis where the past and present harmoniously coexist.
The largest and most populous city in Peru is the best spot to learn about the pre-Columbian culture and how humans were sacrificed to placate the gods. Museums can be found all across town, some housed in restored colonial structures and others in more up-to-date structures.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Lima
If you need a break from exploring ancient ruins, take a stroll along the beach or eat some traditional Peruvian fare at a local case. Once the sun goes down, guests can party at the disco or watch the magical fountains perform.
1. Torre Tagle Palace
Located in the heart of Lima lies the magnificent Torre Tagle Palace, a fusion of many architectural styles. The structure incorporates Moorish, Andalusian, Asiatic, and Criollo styles, as well as some Spanish-origin components.
This Spanish Baroque structure includes lofty ceilings and Sevillian tiles inside in addition to two dark wood balconies on the exterior.
In the early 1700s, the palace was constructed as a residence for the nobleman who acted as treasurer for the Royal Spanish navy. It is currently the headquarters of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is therefore closed to the public.
2. Lima Cathedral
The Lima Cathedral was first laid out in 1535 and has had various expansions since then. Several earthquakes caused its destruction, and several centuries later, a new cathedral was constructed in its place.
Currently standing cathedral was inspired by its predecessor built in 1746. The cathedral has been expanded over the years, thus it features elements of both baroque and neoclassical architecture.
The beautiful church in Lima’s historic district contains 13 chapels and a gold-plated main altar. The choir stalls feature carvings of saints, virgins, and apostles. This is the final resting place of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conqueror of Peru. When illuminated at night, the cathedral takes on a whole new level of majesty.
3. Barranco District
Barranco was a quiet fishing town for centuries. Formerly the playground of the well-to-do Limans, the area is now a seaside district. But, throughout the 20th century, the neighbourhood took on a more bohemian vibe as it attracted writers and artists.
Brightly coloured Art Deco homes and flowering trees make up this gorgeous neighbourhood. Barranco is more relaxed than Lima during the day, but at night, the neighbourhood comes alive. Visitors enjoy the Parque Municipal, eat at local eateries, and party the night away in discos and nightclubs.
4. Casa Aliaga
The Villa Aliaga museum is one of Lima’s hidden gems, located down a quiet side street. The mansion, which is as old as Lima itself, was built on land that was originally granted to Jerónimo de Aliaga, a disciple of Pizarro, in 1535 and has since been lived in by 18 generations of Aliagas.
Although the exterior of House Aliaga is unremarkable, the space inside is beautifully decorated with antiques and tile. The present generation of Jerónimo’s family lives in a brand new wing of the house, while the rest of the historic structure is open to the public for tours.
5. Huaca Pucllana
Huaca Pucllana is one of Lima’s most significant archaeological sites, and a must-see for history buffs. This adobe pyramid in Miraflores dates back to the year 500, although it wasn’t uncovered again until the middle of the 20th century.
Archaeologists have concluded from their excavations that Huaca Pucllana served as the early Lima culture’s administrative and ceremonial centre. The abundance of textiles, ceramics, and skeletal remains uncovered in this area lend credence to this hypothesis.
Humans were sacrificed on these grounds. The pyramid is part of a compound that also features a modest museum housing ancient relics.
6. Convento de San Francisco
Dedicated in 1673, the Monastery of San Francisco is a prime example of Spanish Baroque design. The elegant and dignified structure has become an icon of Lima’s past. On the feast day of Saint Jude the Apostle, roughly 40 people move a silver stand weighing about 1.5 tonnes.
The monastery’s library is renowned for its collection of antiquarian books, which numbers in the tens of thousands and includes a Bible from 1571. The catacombs beneath the monastery are just as well-known as the monastery itself. They contain the remains of between 25,000 and 70,000 people. Their skeletons are now arranged artistically.
7. Museo Larco
Visitors interested in pre-Columbian art should not miss the Museo Larco. The private museum, established by Rafael Larco Herrera, is housed in a structure from the 18th century that was constructed atop a pyramid from the 7th century. The museum’s displays cover a time span of five thousand years, from ancient Peru to modern times.
There are hundreds of objects in the museum’s collection. Most noteworthy is its pre-Columbian erotic pottery collection, which depicts humans engaging in sexual behaviours not only with one another but also with deities and the dead. The Gold and Silver Gallery is equally spectacular, housing ceremonial jewellery and funeral masks.
8. Magic Water Tour (Parque de la Reserva)
While the Park de la Reserva is beautiful during the day, it truly comes to life at night when it hosts a stunning show of water, sound, and light. During night, the park’s 13 fountains come to life, making it a popular spot for families visiting Lima.
By combining laser lights and music, both classical and Peruvian songs, the fountains along the Magic Water Tour are transformed into dazzling explosions that leave visitors speechless. The Magic Water Tour is the largest fountain complex in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
9. Plaza de Armas
Lima’s central centre was established on the Plaza de Armas. It is the focal point of the city’s historic quarter and is commonly referred to as the Plaza Mayor. The Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro chose the site in 1535.
The plaza’s spectacular bronze fountain, built in 1650, is the only original structure left. The cathedral and various palaces now line the square, with the Palacio Arzobispal having some of the most beautiful Moorish-style balconies in the city.
10. Miraflores District
Miraflores, located on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean, is one of the most affluent and beautiful areas in all of Lima. It is Lima’s premier beachfront resort and nightlife hub. Several surfers and paragliders use this beach.
Luxury shopping may be found in abundance in Miraflores, but those interested in purchasing authentic Peruvian arts and crafts should head to Avenue Petit Thouars. Those who prefer to go out and have a good time go to Miraflores because of its abundance of nightlife options. As a residential district, it combines the best of colonial architecture with modern high-rises.