Plaza Mayor and the Historic Centre of Lima World Heritage Site
Lima's main square, Plaza Mayor (or Plaza de Armas) is the birthplace and colonial heart of the city, and part of the Historic Centre of Lima UNESCO World Heritage site. To reach the square, start at Plaza San Martín and walk north along Jirón de la Unión, the city center's bustling pedestrian-only thoroughfare. Surrounding Plaza Mayor are some of Lima's most important heritage sites, including the Palacio de Gobierno (presidential palace), and the Cathedral of Lima. A couple of blocks northeast of the park is the Church of San Francisco, where you can tour the catacombs—the final resting place of an estimated 30,000 souls.
Unexpected food option: If you've dined at one of L'Eau Vive's locations in another city (such as Rome or Marseille), then you know the drill. If not, you're in for a treat. The simple food—primarily French classics, such as onion soup, quiche Lorraine, and coquilles St. Jacques (broiled scallops in a creamy sauce topped with bubbling cheese)—is prepared and served by cloistered French Carmelite nuns. The daily lunch special (served 12:30 to 3 p.m. daily, except Sundays) includes a starter, main course, drink, and dessert for less than ten dollars. Pay a little extra and go for dinner (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.)—that's when the sisters serenade guests with a sweet rendition of "Ave Maria." Reservations are recommended. The restaurant is located in a small pink building, steps away from Iglesia de San Pedro (St. Peter's Church).
Trendy food option: Order a pisco sour Ernest Hemingway-style—in an oversize catedral glass (big enough to hold two standard cocktails)—at the cocktail lounge inside the old-school Gran Hotel Bolivar (pictured above). The Bolivar bar makes the seemingly endless list of Hemingway's watering holes, and the bartenders here make one of Lima's best piscos.
Classic food option: Don Juan, a big and bustling eatery near the Cathedral of Lima—it gets packed during weekday lunch—serves generous portions of authentic Peruvian favorites. Try the causa rellena (a layered yellow potato tapa filled with seafood or chicken salad) and a tall glass of fresh suco de morango (strawberry juice).
By Maryellen Kennedy Duckett
Sights & Bites: What to Eat While Touring Lima, Peru
It rarely rains in Peru’s capital city, the second largest desert city in the world after Cairo. However, a cold Pacific Ocean current and high humidity keep skies overcast much of the year. Although the weather can sometimes be gloomy, the city’s vibe is anything but. Limeños have an infectious enthusiasm for life and for food—particularly ceviche (fresh raw seafood and hot chilies marinated in citrus juice) and frothy pisco sours (the national cocktail made with Muscat-grape brandy). Ride the Metropolitano rapid transit bus system to explore this sprawling coastal city and experience its distinctive Criollo flavors—a blend of indigenous, African, and Spanish.