There’s literally no bad time to visit Lima, whatever the time of the year. Capital of Peru since the Peruvian War of Independence in 1821, the city’s main feature is the good weather, and the absence – practically throughout the whole year – of rain, which, together with mild temperatures (rarely above 30⁰C or below 10⁰C) make tours pleasant in any of the four seasons. This is because Lima has high levels of air humidity, besides low atmospheric precipitation, added to a privileged situation: in the middle of the Peruvian coastline and with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
In numbers, Lima is imposing: it’s the most populous metropolitan region in the country, and third only to São Paulo and Mexico City, with a population of around 12 million inhabitants. The very beautiful capital of Peru, considering the districts of Lima and Rimac, has a historical Center considered a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, thanks to its majestic constructions that range from archeological sites to colonial churches, museums, parks and squares, which, added to the incredible Peruvian gastronomy, attract over 4 million tourists a year, according to the local government.
And the ideal start to a tour through Lima is in the Historical center, in the Plaza de Armas, or Plaza Mayor, the city’s main public space. Around the square, there are imposing buildings: on the north side, the Government Palace; to the west, the Parque de Bandeira, the Municipal Palace of Lima, and the Union Club; to the east we find the Casa del Ouvidor, the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima and the Cathedral of Lima ( built – and rebuilt after earthquakes – in neoclassical style); lastly, on the south side, we find the headquarters of the magazine Caretas, one of the country’s principal publications. In the center of the Plaza, a large statue of General José de San Martin, who, together with Simón Bolívar, was one of the heroes of Peru’s independence.
Speaking of history, don’t neglect to visit the Central Bank Museum, which is in the environs of the Plaza Mayor and, with great artwork, recounts the history of the country. Another place rich in culture and history is the Museo de Oro Miguel Mujica Gallo (the Gold Museum), with an extensive collection of objects made of gold, silver and precious stones acquired by looting during the colonization of Peru. There’s also a lot of history in the Monastery of San Francisco de Lima, built in the 17th century, with incredible works of religious art and catacombs containing over 75 thousand skeletons. Lastly, a museum that is a true image of Peru: the Casa de Gastronomia. In a country where good cookery is highly valued, the museum, which is situated in the historical building of the Correios (Post Office), celebrates the history of the country’s typical dishes.
Begin the day at the majestic Huaca Pucliana, an archeological site in the heart of Miraflores that preserves original buildings and a small enclave for llamas. When you get hungry, there’s nothing better than visiting the historical Restaurant and Bar Cordano, open since 1905 and the oldest still in operation in Lima. If you want to taste the best of Peruvian cookery, you must visit the main restaurants and enjoy the ceviches, lomos saltados, paltas and suspiros, all accompanied, of course, by pisco, the famous typical drink of Peru. Begin with the most famous restaurant of all: Astrid & Gaston, considered the best in the country, then go to Los Cavenecia, La Red, or Señorio de Sulco, all of them with workshops for those who wish to learn how to prepare the typical Peruvian dishes.
After lunch, or dinner, be sure to visit the Salazar Park (Larcomar), an important open air shopping center facing the sea, with some of the world’s main designer labels, together with the best of the local handicrafts. For a romantic tour, next to the shopping center you’ll find the Plaza Del Amor (Plaza of Love), a very beautiful public space with Gaudi-inspired architecture. The cult of love is well represented by the sculpture El Beso (The Kiss), by Victor Delfin, in the center of the park, which is the stage for a kissing contest on Valentine’s Day. Lastly, another unmissable tour is the Parque de La Reserva, a favorite spot for both tourists and Peruvians, with its El Circuito Magico del Agua (Magic Water Tour), a spectacle with13 illuminated fountains, one of which has a jet that reaches the height of 80 meters.