If Lima were a tune, this melting-pot city would be a mash-up of musical styles combined into one modern masterpiece. In affluent Miraflores, San Isidro and Barranco, where most visitors stay, it's not uncommon to see people doing tai chi while llamas lounge in the shade of the leafy green spaces. The oceanfront enclaves lined with hip eateries full of fashionable Limeños seem to have more in common with Los Angeles than the rest of Peru.
When to Go
Peru's peak tourist season runs from May to August, but the sun-drenched summer months from December to April are the ideal time to visit Lima itself. Come May, the coastal city is enveloped in a blanket of clouds, dense sea mist and fog, known locally as garúa.
On January 18, Lima celebrates its official founding by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Events are scheduled through the city, but the colonial-era buildings surrounding the Plaza de Armas provide the backdrop for an impressive display of traditional dances and musical performances by artists representing a variety of styles from Andean folklore to rock and roll. The event comes to end once the last firework explodes in the night sky.
What to Eat
Peru continues to dominate the international culinary scene, but the food always tastes better at the source. Ceviche—raw fish cooked with citrus juices—remains the poster child for Peruvian cuisine, especially in coastal areas where the fresh-caught seafood is hauled in daily. Other popular dishes, like papas a la huancaina, anticuchos, tacu tacu, and lomo saltado reflect the influence of European, African and Asian cultures on new-world ingredients like corn, ají peppers and potatoes.
Souvenir to Take Home
Practice the art of bargaining in Lima's many open-air handicraft markets, such as the Indian Market in Miraflores. It's easy to spend hours wandering among the stalls, stocking up on colorful Andean textiles, Chulucanas pottery, and silver jewelry with Incan designs. Looking for something a little different? Head to Dédalo in Barranco for contemporary art, clothing, decorative items and jewelry created by talented Peruvian designers.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
Reduce water usage when possible during a visit to Lima, one of the world's largest desert cities. The thirst for fresh water in the Peruvian capital has created water shortages throughout the country, but despite the scarcity, residents still use almost twice the water than other capital cities in the Andes region.
Soak up the atmosphere of the Magic Water Circuit at the Parque de la Reserva. After the sun sets, the world's largest fountain complex provides countless opportunities for capturing silhouettes in front of the colorfully lit Rainbow Fountain or in the Tunnel of Surprises. Stop to enjoy the carefully choreographed water, music and laser light show at the Fountain of Fantasy.