The Peruvian capital is often overlooked by travellers and considered to just be a transit point on the way to Cusco. However, hosting over a third of the Peruvian population, and districts like bohemian Barranco and the stylish Miraflores, this city has so much more to offer than just a service stop to the Incan valleys.
Delaying your connecting flight for a few days will allow you to explore one of South America’s largest capital cities. And what better way to do it than to cycle.
We booked a bike tour with Ronny via Airbnb. The journey took us along ‘El Malecón’ – a strip of green space and paths overlooking the Pacific Ocean – and lasted around three hours. Ronny would stop every 10 minutes or so in order to explain the significance of what we were seeing, and acted as a fantastic personal photographer.
Two of the most notable stops included the Parque del Amor (a collection of Parque Güell-inspired mosaic walls that surround the ‘El Beso’ sculpture and overlook the Pacific), and Barranco’s fantastic street art. My favourite was the ‘Achorada’ (a woman who is determined to achieve her ambitions), which had been recently created for International Women’s Day 2019.
Lima is mainly flat, which makes it great for running, but as mentioned above it also made cycling a breeze. We both agree that a bike tour of the city was the most efficient and exciting way to see everything we wanted (and minimised the chafing!). The bikes and helmets were great quality and we felt very safe. You can check out Ronny’s Instagram here.
We spent five days in Lima before catching our next flight, and whilst we definitely didn’t visit everything the city has to offer, here are some other activities to add to your Lima bucket list:
Find some shade with the cats at Parque Kennedy
Diagonal, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Situated in the centre of Miraflores, Parque Kennedy is home to many cats who are (as well as being vaccinated and fed) free to roam in the sunshine and make friends with the visitors. The park itself is also very well cared for and has many street vendors selling snacks.
Cool off with some ice cream from Blu Gelateria
28 De Julio 202, Barranco 15063, Peru
I read about this gem on Along Dusty Roads and seeing as it was minutes from our hostel it would have been rude not to check it out. It definitely lived up to the hype. With reasonable prices and a mouthwatering selection of flavours, this place was definitely one to remember.
Catch a sunset over the Pacific at any one of the green spaces along the Malecón
Any spot along the cliff top is perfect for bathing in the golden hour sun and watching it disappear over the horizon in the evening.
Make a wish at the Puente de los Suspiros
Jr. Batallón, Ayacucho 271, Barranco 15063, Peru
The Bridge of Sighs is a perfect spot for people watching, listening to musicians play nearby, and making that all-important wish. It’s also, unfortunately, a prime spot for pickpockets so make sure to keep you belongings close to you.
Ride the waves at the beach
Circuito de Playas 5, Lima 15074, Peru
Surfing is a must when stopping in Lima. Neither of us had ever surfed before, but we booked a 1.5 hour lesson through Pukana Surf School. Our instructor delivered the lesson in Spanish, which was fine as I was able to translate for Elliot, but if you are not confident in your language abilities it may be worth contacting them to see if they have instructors who speak English, or even booking through one of the many other companies along the shore. The wetsuits, boots, and boards were all provided by Pukana, and by the end of the lesson we were both able to stand up to ride the waves (which I have to admit, were not hugely high but it was an achievement nonetheless). The lesson cost us $25 per person, and it’s something we’d both liked to have done again if we’d had more time in the city.
Get a taste of real Peruvian cuisine by trying Ceviche
Jirón Ayacucho 281, Barranco 15063, Peru
Sitting right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Lima is the perfect place to try one of Peru’s most famous dishes. We headed to family-run Sóngoro Cosongo (although it’s available in many restaurants) to experience the intense flavours, accompanied by the owner playing the piano during our meal.
Peruse (if you’ll pardon the pun) the amazing stalls of Bioferia at Parque Reducto
Calle Ramón Ribeyro 490, Miraflores 15047, Peru
Every Saturday morning outside Parque Reducto there is an incredible organic market selling everything from fresh vegetables to pastries. We bought some delicious cakes (vegan and gf options were also available) and enjoyed them in the sunshine at the park before catching our flight to Cusco. Ubers are very cheap and readily available in Lima, which was incredibly helpful when we had our backpacks with us.
Get tipsy on Pisco
You will find Pisco in basically any bar throughout Peru, and although neither of us were huge fans, we couldn’t leave without trying a Pisco Sour (lemon juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and Pisco). If you’re travelling to Peru in July, keep an eye out for events celebrating Día del Pisco (or National Pisco Day) – one year the central fountain at the Plaza Mayor was converted into a Pisco fountain for the day. Beware when trying Pisco (or any other alcoholic drink, for that matter) elsewhere in the country – high altitudes and 48% don’t mix well.