Lima is a sprawling, gridlocked Metropolis that can be intimidating to get around in. Buses fly around the city with recklessness, swerving in-and-out of the ubiquitous traffic. Everything moves so quickly it can make your head spin and make crossing a street a death sentence. Mix these ingredients up and a drink at the hotel lounge may sound more appealing. But don’t let it as Lima has a lot of unique things to offer. If only for 24 hours, here is what you need to do in the Peruvian capital.
Start your day with some Peruvian coffee. While there are a lot of great coffee shops that have sprung up in Lima over the last couple of years, don’t miss out on Bisetti. It is a family owned coffee shop that has been a Barranco and Lima staple for a while. You can also grab a bite to eat here before you start your day.
If you’re not jet-lagged and are in the mood for some exercise, go surfing. Peru has a rich surfing history and some of the best waves in the world. If you’re in Miraflores, just take the stairs down the cliff to the ocean and you’ll find plenty of companies offering surfboard and wetsuit rentals. For those visitors who don’t know how to surf, fear not, every rental company will also offer lessons. Boards will be about $8 each for the day and lessons will be around $20.
Keep the adrenaline going and go paragliding off of the Miraflores cliff, just above where you had been surfing. If the sun is out, you’ll have a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and Lima’s beach neighborhoods. It cost around $50 for 10 minutes.
Now that you’ve worked up quite the appetite, it’s time to enjoy some ceviche. Peru is known for this delicious seafood and for good reason: you can find fresh ceviche everywhere in Lima—even on street corners. But if you’re looking for some of the best Lima has to offer, go to Sonia’s in Chorrillos, just south of Barranco. It is family owned, Sonia prepares the ceviche that her husband catches that morning, and has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations. With real, colorful fishing equipment used for decoration and a pianist playing off to the side, Sonia’s has as much charm as any restaurant found in Lima.
Take a taxi and head to Plaza De Armas in Lima’s historic center. Here is where you’ll find Lima’s most breathtaking colonial architecture. Francisco Pizarro established the center in the 16th century to serve as the capital of Colonial South America. Though not one building remains from that period, the center is nonetheless stunning. To the east of the plaza resides the Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop’s Palace), which has ornate Moorish-style balconies, something very unique to Peruvian architecture. In the Northeast is Palacio de Gobierno, a grandiose baroque-style building that serves as residence for Peru’s president. Wander the streets and enjoy the intricately carved balconies and colonial-style buildings.
Before you leave the center, head to Plaza San Martin, which is only a short walk away from Plaza De Armas. Once there, head to Gran Hotel Bolivar, where you can try their famous Pisco Cathedral, which has five ounces of pisco in it. Not only is there pisco to drink big, but their bartenders make some of the best pisco sours in the city.
End the night eating at Central Restaurante, which got voted best restaurant in the world. Owned by Virgilio Martinez, the restaurant offers a menu that reflects and celebrates the biodiversity of Peru. Diners are treated to 11 or 17 course meals arranged according to elevation and made up of ingredients from some of the most remote places in Peru. The dishes are as gastronomically pleasing as they are aesthetically striking.
If you still have energy after the long day, go to Pizza Street just off of Parque Kennedy. The street is lined with bars and it is always busy. People don’t start going out until 10 or 11 in Lima, so prepare for partying into the morning.