Lima Itinerary: 3 days in Peru capital

Sunset at Miraflores Lima Peru - laugh travel eat
  1. Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu: picking which company + full break down
  2. Lima Itinerary: 3 days in Peru capital
  3. Street Food in Lima Peru: What’s it like on a Lima Food Tour

Planning a trip to Lima and not sure where to start? Here’s my Lima itinerary is designed to give you a taste of everything this coastal capital has to offer. From the historic heart of the city to the trendy neighborhoods, we planned our trip to make sure we see the highlights in 48 hours.

Whether you’re here for the food, the culture, or the stunning Pacific views, our guide will help you navigate Lima with ease and make the most of your time in this dynamic city.

Frequently Asked Questions on visiting Lima 

How many days do you need for Lima?

Lima main square historic quarter Lima Peru - laugh travel eat-4

Ideally, you should spend a minimum of 3 days to explore Lima properly. But if you are pressed for time, 2 days is enough to see the highlights but you would have to pick and choose where to go.

The urban center of Lima alone is 800km2 and there are many neighbourhoods to explain and history to see. However, some area are not safe and we decided to stick to 3 areas during this visit.

Is Lima worth visiting?

Absolutely! As the capital of Peru and the second largest city in South America established in the 16th century, there is so much history in the city.

It is also where the different flavours from different regions of Peru gather. You can sample fresh ceviche as well as Amazonian dishes – more about this in my post on Peruvian food in Lima.

Is Lima better than Cusco?

Comparing Lima and Cusco is like comparing the sea with mountains. Lima is a coastal city facing the Pacific while Cusco is tucked away in the Peruvian Andes at 3600m above sea level.

Lima is a more modern city while Cusco feels more like a heritage old town. There are more tourists in the latter but milder climate, whereas Lima is very artsy and bustling.

If there is time you should definitely visit both, as there are plenty of overland bus routes and domestic flights connecting the two.

Is Lima Peru expensive to visit?

Is Lima Peru expensive to visit?

Lima is not as expensive as I thought. Prices are similar to Bangkok in the range and quality. Even fine dining and amazing restaurants are quite affordable, here are some average costs on our trip:

  • Uber – we used Uber to call a taxi and it’s really inexpensive and efficient for a group of 2-4. 
  • Meals – we paid around 200 PEN per person at nicer restaurants and it’s really quite affordable especially since you can get street food as well
  • Hotels – we paid around 400 hkd which is around 50 USD for a nice chain hotel in Miraflores. So there are cheaper 
  • Souvenir – we saved our souvenir shopping for Cusco since we want alpaca items versus other knick-knacks

Essential Information for Lima

Getting Around in Lima

The best way to get around Lima is with Uber app, where you can pay by card in app and your rides are safe. Fares are cheap and it’s much easier than navigating the public transport system, especially for those who don’t speak Spanish.

That said, you need to be prepared for the traffic as it can be quite bad.

Here are other public transport options such as:

  • Buses: fare are 4 PEN but they make frequent stops and you have to watch out for where you get off (so difficult if your spanish is not good)
  • Cycling: there are many bike lanes around but recommend to only do this in touristy neighbourhood like Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco.
  • Tren Eléctrico: Also known as the Lima Metro, it’s a quick way to zip across town without the traffic jam. There’s 2 lines with 53 stations and you can see the map here.

Currency in Peru

The official currency of Peru is the Peruvian Sol (PEN), symbolized as S/. You won’t need too much cash in Lima as most restaurants and hotels accept credit card, but it’s good to have for smaller shops and markets.

  • Exchange Rate: 1 USD equals approximately 3.78 PEN
  • ATMs: Available throughout Lima, but it’s wise to withdraw cash in advance if traveling to smaller towns or remote tourist destinations.
  • Currency exchange: we brought USD to exchange into PEN and went to the tourism office money changer. Rates is generally okay and it’s safe
  • Change Shortage: It’s common, so carry small denominations to avoid issues when making purchases
  • Counterfeit Money: Be vigilant as counterfeit sols and dollars can be an issue, particularly in major cities

Remember, while this information is current as of now, exchange rates can fluctuate, so it’s always best to check for the latest rates before your trip.

Sim Card in Lima

Sim Card in Lima

There are quite a few sim card options for Lima, although buying it at the airport would be comparably more expensive but so would e-sim, so it’s a choice for you to pick. The most popular telecom brand would be Claro, Entel, and Movistar.

  • Claro – 4GB 20 PEN, 10.5GB 30 PEN, 13.5GB 40 PEN, unlimited whatsapp
  • Entel – 7GB 20 PEN, 12GB 29 PEN, 20GB 30 PEN, all comes with unlimited minutes, FB + IG
  • Movistar – 4GB 20PEN (20 days), 4.5GB 25 PEN (25 days), 7GB 30 PEN (30 days). Comes with unlimited social media but only at 40% speed.

It’s cheapest to buy it in town or at the telecom store outlet but it can be time consuming. The prices are official for 2024 so it’s a good reference point for you to look at the ones being sold at corner stores.

Neighbourhoods in Lima

Lima, a sprawling metropolis that’s a feast for the senses, is divided into 43 diverse districts, each offering a unique slice of the city’s rich tapestry. The urban area of Lima is generally considered to be formed by thirty of these districts, with the remaining thirteen consisting of mostly rural and sparsely populated desert and mountainous areas.

As a visitor, here are the neighbourhoods to visit:

Miraflores

The heartthrob of Lima’s tourist scene, Miraflores is like the city’s charming smile, boasting cliffside ocean views, lush parks, and a vibrant food scene. It’s the go-to for those looking to indulge in fine dining or catch a wave of paragliding excitement.

Barranco

The bohemian soul of Lima, Barranco is where art and nightlife come together in a colorful fiesta. Stroll down the Bajada de los Baños or cross the Puente de los Suspiros and feel the creative pulse of this trendy coastal district.

Cercado de Lima (Historic Center)

Lima main square historic quarter Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

The grandparent of Lima’s neighborhoods, Cercado de Lima is steeped in history. Wander around the Plaza de Armas and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of conquistadors and revolutionaries alike.

San Isidro

The sophisticated sibling, San Isidro is all about manicured gardens, golf clubs, and a financial district that never sleeps. It’s the neighborhood you visit when you want to mix business with pleasure.

Pueblo Libre

The museum district of Lima, Pueblo Libre is where you can dive deep into Peru’s pre-Columbian history. It’s like stepping into a time machine, surrounded by artifacts and tales of ancient civilizations.

A short history of Lima

Lima’s story is as zesty as a slice of lime in a Pisco Sour! Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, this city started as a strategic settlement nestled in the Rímac River valley, chosen for its prime coastal location. Originally named ‘Ciudad de los Reyes’ or ‘City of Kings’, Lima quickly rose to prominence as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, becoming the hub of Spanish power in South America.

Lima main square historic quarter Lima Peru - laugh travel eat-3

Fast forward through a few centuries of pirate threats, earthquakes, and the War of the Pacific, and you’ll find modern Lima as a bustling metropolis that’s a melting pot of Andean, Spanish, and Asian influences. It’s a city where pre-Columbian pyramids rub shoulders with colonial architecture and glass skyscrapers, all while serving up some of the world’s best ceviche. 

Lima Peru 3 day itinerary

Day 1 in Lima

Arrival in Lima

The Jorge Chávez International Airport is located on the eastern tip of the city in the center of the metro area. It’s near the coast so the view when we are landing was quite spectacular.

It was a smooth journey out of the immigration and we called an Uber to go to our hotel in Miraflores, which costed less than what our hotel transfer would be.

Note: we were there during the Easter holiday and most locals are out of town. This was kind of why we encountered less traffic during our trip!

Cosme Restaurant and Bar dinner

Cosme, nestled in Lima’s upscale San Isidro district, is a culinary gem that celebrates the aromas and textures of Peruvian home cooking. Here’s why it’s a must-visit:

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants: Cosme has earned its place on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, currently ranking at an impressive No. 501. Chef James Berckemeyer, armed with haute cuisine experience from around the world, returned to his native Peru to create this culinary haven.

A Relaxed Approach: Cosme’s philosophy revolves around simplicity and diversity. The concise menu captures the essence of Peruvian comfort food, making it a delightful choice for both casual dining and special occasions.

Cosme Restaurant and Bar Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

Artistic Interiors: As you step inside, your eyes will be drawn to the ceiling adorned with an installation made of 5,000 recycled plastic bottles. The back wall, decorated with 13,345 bottle caps, adds a touch of sustainable creativity.

Must-Try Dishes: Whether you opt for à la carte or the “chef’s choice” six-course tasting menu, Cosme delivers. Highlights include trout with citrus air, seafood cau cau, grilled sweetbreads, and a lucuma fruit coulant dessert.

Address: Av. Tudela y Varela 162, San Isidro 15073, Peru

Phone: +51 1 4215228

Opening times: Mon – Sat 12:30 – 22:45; Sun 12:00 – 16:00

Day 2 in Lima

Explore the Old Town

Lima Main Square
Lima main square historic quarter Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

The Main Square of Lima—also known as the Plaza de Armas—is a captivating blend of past and present. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, this historic heart of Lima witnessed pivotal moments. It served as the headquarters of Spanish colonial rule and bore witness to the proclamation of Peru’s independence in 1821. Imagine the buzz of market stalls, bullrings, and even executions during the viceregal era.

Nowadays, it’s a great place to start off your historical center of Lima roam and soak in the grand scale and buildings.

Basilica and Convent of San Francisco
Basilica and Convent of San Francisco historic quarter Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

The monumental Basilica and Convent of San Francisco—also known as “San Francisco el Grande”—stands as a testament to Lima’s rich heritage. Founded in 1546 by Franciscan friars, it evolved from a modest chapel to a marvel of colonial art. The Baroque façade and Neoclassical touches create an awe-inspiring ensemble.

Don’t miss the catacombs, built to support the convent during earthquakes. These catacombs served as a cemetery. Thousands of human remains rest here, a silent testament to Lima’s history.

Address: Jirón Lampa 1, Lima, Peru 

Ticket Price: Approximately $5 (includes guided tour – photos not allowed)

Muninet Parque La Muralla

During the 17th century, Lima was encircled by a muralla (wall). Today, the Parque de la Muralla stands on part of those ancient fortifications. Recovered during Luis Castañeda Lossio’s administration, it reveals remnants of Franciscan work from 1610. Explore the archaeological pieces, dine at the park’s restaurant, and admire the statue of conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

Lunch: Bar Cordano 

Bar Cordano historic quarter Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

Founded in 1905 by Italian citizens Luigi, Antonio, and Virgil Cordano, this iconic gem has stood the test of time. Imagine Lima’s bustling streets back then: intellectuals, artists, and political figures all found solace within these walls. Order up authentic Peruvian dishes: ceviche, lomo saltado, and causa, each a symphony of flavors. 

But don’t stop there! Raise a glass of Pisco Sour—the quintessential Peruvian cocktail—and toast to tradition. We had a few local dishes along with our glass of Pisco Sour, which was indeed fantastic.

Address: Corner of Carabaya and Áncash streets, Lima, Peru

Larco Museum Larco

Larco Museum Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

Step into the Larco Museum and you’re stepping into a treasure chest of ancient Peruvian wonders. Housed in an 18th-century vice-royal mansion, surrounded by enchanting gardens, the museum is a portal to over 5,000 years of history.

The name of the museum comes from the archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle who amass the collection. Back in 1926, he embarked on a mission to gather ancient treasures from Peru’s northern coast. With the help of his father, Rafael Larco Herrera, he acquired several archaeological collections, amassing an impressive 45,000 pieces. 

One unique thing about Larco Museum is that you can also visit their storage to see items that are not on display. There’s also the Erotic Sculptures Museum by the restaurant for those of you who are over 18.

Address: frente al, Parque Larco, Av. Simón Bolivar 1515 Ingreso por, Navarra 169, Pueblo Libre 15084, Peru

Opening times: 9:00 – 19:00

Ticket: Adult 40 PEN, Over 60 30PEN, Student and under 17 20PEN, 8> free

Carnaval 

Carnaval is a carnival style bar that was one of Latin America’s 50 best bars. The interior is a wondrously eclectic space, curved and glass-fronted, adorned with souvenirs from every corner of the world. But it’s the drinks that steal the show. Carnaval’s signature cocktail of the same name arrives hidden in a glowing sky lantern—a concoction of gin, pineapple, green herbal liqueur, lime, and witbier.

The menu? A delightful mix of 360-degree-spun classics (you’ll barely recognize their origins) and Carnaval signatures. And here’s the twist: most cocktails require bespoke ice—crafted on-site in the bar’s Ice Room by their very own ice chef.

signature drink Carnaval Bar Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

They have some food item as well and we opt for their tasting menu, which includes 4 drinks. It’s best to make a reservation as they are very popular!

Address: Av. Pardo y Aliaga 662, San Isidro 15073, Peru

Opening times: Mon – Sat 17:00 – 0:30

Day 3 in Lima

Lima Tasty Tour 

Let’s embark on a culinary adventure through the vibrant streets of Lima with Lima Tasty Tours’ “Lima Just For Foodies” experience. Designed for true food enthusiasts, this comprehensive street food tour unveils the authentic taste of Peruvian local flavor. 

Led by experienced Peruvian foodie guides, you’ll explore hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path eateries in Barranco, all while indulging in some of the best street food Lima has to offer. 

We tried over 13 mind-blowing Peruvian flavors, savor over 10 seasonal fruits, and immerse yourself in the rich culinary tapestry of Peru. From ceviche to exotic superfoods, every bite is a delightful surprise waiting to be savored. So, skip lunch afterward—you won’t be able to resist the irresistible Peruvian delights! 

Tour Hours: Daily, 9:00 – 11:00

Capacity: Up to 6 people

Cost: $59.00 USD 

Barranco 

A cute neighourbood with beautiful murals, hip restaurants and cafes, as well as a nice broadwalk to the sea, it’s hard to not like Barranco. The food tour took us to the local side of the area, so we spent some time walking around too to burn off the calories.

Don’t miss the Main Square & Bridge of Sighs: Start at the picturesque Bridge of Sighs, just a block from the main square. This wooden bridge spans an old gorge, where lovers once whispered secrets. The square comes alive at night, with street musicians and open-air markets celebrating everything from chocolate to coffee.

Huaca Pucllana Site Museum

Huaca Pucllana Site Museum Miraflores Lima Peru - laugh travel eat-2

Huaca Pucllana stands as a proud testament to Lima’s ancient glory, right in the heart of the modern Miraflores district. This adobe pyramid, built by the Lima culture between 200 and 700 A.D., is a slice of pre-Inca history that you can walk through.

At Huaca Pucllana, you can marvel at the 25-meter-high pyramid, explore the museum showcasing artifacts unearthed during excavations, and even enjoy a pisco sour at the on-site restaurant with a view of the ruins.

Huaca Pucllana Site Museum Miraflores Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

Your entry tickets include the tour which departs at regular interval. Interestingly, videos are not allowed but you can take photos. We had a more monotonous tour guide but overall it was an interesting visit.

Address: Calle General Borgoño cuadra, 8, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Admission: General public: S/ 15 (about $4 USD), Children: S/ 7.50, Senior citizens: S/ 7.50, school children: S/ 1

Opening Times: 9:00 – 17:00

Restaurante Pueblo Viejo 

Restaurante Pueblo Viejo Miraflores Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

Restaurante Pueblo Viejo is where Lima’s culinary soul comes to life, especially when it comes to their famous ‘Arroz con Pato’ – a savory duck rice that’s the talk of the town. Nestled in the heart of Miraflores, this eatery is a haven for those craving authentic Northern Peruvian dishes served with a side of homely charm.

So, if you’re plotting your Lima itinerary, pencil in a lunch at Pueblo Viejo. Just remember to beat the clock for a taste of their legendary duck rice. It’s not just a meal; it’s a culinary journey through the heart of Peru’s rich gastronomic landscape.

Address: Av. P.º de la República 5628, Miraflores 15046, Peru

Opening times: Mon – Fri 12:30 – 16:00; Sat – Sun 12:30 – 17:00

Sunset at Miraflores 

Sunset at Miraflores Lima Peru - laugh travel eat

Miraflores is one of the best places to watch sunset in Lima. The Miraflores Boardwalk has a panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Stretching along the coast, this scenic walkway is lined with parks and benches, ideal for a romantic evening or a peaceful moment of solitude.

Depending on where your hotel is and the crowd level, Parque del Amor is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Another one is the Larcomar mall.

Note: we actually saw the sunset twice and love it both times!

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