Lima, Peru travel guide – The YEH, MEH, NAHs

If you’re a city person, a foodie, or a fan of nascent art scenes—like we are—the bustling, growing city of Lima, Peru is worth at least two days. Visit on Friday and Saturday nights to see Lima at its most lively, and head out of town on Sunday, after a final ceviche brunch.

[one_third]YEH Good to great, though sometimes only relative to the other options in town. ! = we wanted more.[/one_third]
[one_third]MEH An intense level of indifference. It probably won’t suck, but it won’t impress either.[/one_third]
[one_third_last]NAH Likely to cause sadness, frustration, wallet-emptying, or a raging need for Cipro. Avoid.[/one_third_last]

Monasterio de San Francisco facade, Lima, Peru

Monasterio de San Francisco facade, Lima, Peru

What to do and see in Lima, Peru

  • Museo Larco – We were more than intrigued by their erotic archaeological collection – YEH
  • Monasterio de San Francisco (Centro) – When it comes to attractions in Lima, Peru, this is on the top of many lists—and ours. After they’re done fixing the façade, I hope they get to the interior. The mandatory tour, which we took in Spanish rather than waiting hours for the next English one, is a rushed hour that neglects all the amazing details. Still, it’s worthwhile – YEH
  • Parque del Amore (Miraflores) – Eye candy like undulating, mosaic-covered walls and people-watching will keep you entertained even if the views of Lima’s cliffs are fogged by the thick garuaYEH
  • Puente de los Suspiros (Barranco) – It’s a simple thing, this bridge, but the swarms of Peruvians out for a stroll, make out session, or meal in the immediate area make it a charming place to spend time – YEH
  • Hanging at Puente de los Suspiros, Lima, Peru

    Hanging at Puente de los Suspiros, Lima, Peru

  • Archbishop’s Palace (Centro) – Since we’re not big on palaces, religion, or the flaunting of wealth, we only saw this from outside. But the façade, with its weighty wooden balconies, is impressive – YEH
  • Plaza de Armas (Centro) – A nice place to hang out if you can find some shade. We heard it is more romantically impressive at night – YEH
  • Basilica Cathedral (Centro) – We popped a pleasant squat in Plaza Mayor to take in the detailed exterior, including the sculptures of saints in niches – YEH
  • Parque Kennedy(Miraflores) – We really appreciated it for the picarones cart, the chill cafes (on the non-McDonald’s side of the park), and the cubes provided for graffiti artists. The rest of the tourist ghetto surroundings were less to our liking – YEH
  • Latino Power street art in Parque Kennedy, Lima, Peru

    Latino Power street art in Parque Kennedy, Lima, Peru

  • Changing of the guard, Palacio De Gobierno (Centro) – The shift change was happening just as we walked by Lima’s Plaza de Armas around noonish. A small crowd struggled to watch the ceremony through the palace gate, past a line of riot-geared police, and across the wide street. It was worth it only for the discordant moment when we realized that the government marching band was playing, among other pop hits, the Superman theme song –MEH
  • Jiron de Union street (Centro) – A much-noted pedestrian-only, local shopping drag, we only found it appealing because we (eventually) managed to get a local SIM card for our cell phones at a store there – MEH
  • Wayra, La Despensa, and Caja Dedalo – We made an effort to enjoy some shopping in Lima, but we’re spoiled by the shops at home in San Francisco. They were fine, but way overpriced – NAH
  • Lucid Lima Tour (Centro) – We were not the only folks surprised to find out this walking tour either isn’t reliable or doesn’t exist – NAH

Where to eat and drink in Lima, Peru

  • Sandwiches Monstruos (Barranco) – Believe the crowd that’s gathered in front of the by-far winner of our sandwich smackdownYEH
  • Sandwiches Monstruos' pavo sandwich, Lima, Peru

    Sandwiches Monstruos' turkey sandwich, Lima, Peru

  • Chala – A trendy fusion restaurant in Lima near Puente de los Suspiros. Entirely worth the money, especially for the Ravioles Italo-ChaleñosYEH
  • El Cordano (Centro) – While their jamon del pais was beat out in our sandwich smackdown , their pisco sours and crema volteada, a.k.a. flan, were outstanding. At the least, you can get your retro on in their warm wooden atmosphere – YEH
  • Museo Larco CaféBeyond blissful out on the garden-surrounded patio, they make a wonderful aguaymanto sour. Though the parts were haphazardly slapped on the plate, we still liked the variety of the el piqueo Limeño (appetizers of Lima plate) – YEH
  • El Muelle (Barranco), near the intersectionof Jr. Alfonso Ugarte and Av. Prolg. Gral. Jose de San Martin – If casual surroundings, cerveza, sunshine, and abundant seafood is your thing, than well, we should hang out and enjoy El Muelle together – YEH
  • El Muelle restaurant, Lima, Peru

    El Muelle restaurant, Lima, Peru

  • Canta Rana (Barranco) – You’ll need to look carefully to spot its small sign sporting a green frog for ceviche, tacu tacu (rice and beans stir fried and topped with your choice of fish awesomeness), or some other item from its large menu. Their choclo was stale. More of a lunch place, though it is open for dinner – YEH
  • Picas (Barranco) – Though the cheesy club with blaring 80s music that the restaurant morphed into on Friday night wasn’t our scene, but we had stereotype-busting conversation on their blessedly breezy terraza, located just under Puente de los Suspiros – YEH
  • La Noche (Barranco) – A casual, untacky place amidst a strip of flashing neon, desperate discos. You can huddle around pitchers of beer downstairs, or head into their live music venue – YEH
  • Bioferia Organic Market (Miraflores) – We would have enjoyed this farmers market more on a cooler day where all the organic desserts for sale weren’t suffering heat damage. Even so, foodies will want to check out Lima’s growing organic scene. Warning: Most of the savory food was vegetarian – YEH
  • Sanguchería El Chinito (Centro) – Points for being packed with locals, but neither their chicharrón or ham won our sandwich smackdownMEH
  • Punto Azul (Miraflores) – Defying all recommendations and reviews, we were entirely disappointed with everything but the cool breeze on the second floor. The ceviche was unlovingly prepared, with pieces of sloppily hacked fish, and the conchitas a la parmesana (scallops with Parmesan) were a congealed, thick waste of scallops – NAH

Where to stay in Lima, Peru

  • Casa Nuestra B&B (Barranco) – We found this wonderful place to stay through AirBnB. We loved the comfortable living room, the fruit-packed breakfast, and our en suite bathroom. Safe, quiet location, and close to the fast El Metropolitano bus. There is currently construction on the third floor of the building, so our one weekday morning was pretty loud. But that should pass soon.
The retro chic living room at Casa Nuestra

The retro chic living room at Casa Nuestra

Did you have a great experience or enjoy a meal in Colca Canyon, Peru that we missed? Share your travel recommendation in a comment below!