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The Top 7 Things to See and Do in Lima’s Historical Center

Picture of Brandon Dupre
Updated: 23 January 2018
The historical center in Lima is without a doubt the city’s prized attraction and a must-see by everyone visiting Peru’s capital. Here you’ll find the country’s most storied and grandiose architecture that spans centuries and dates back to the 16th century when Spain first came to Peru. While much has been rebuilt after numerous earthquakes, the historical center doesn’t lose any of its splendor because of it. Here is our guide to exploring the historical center in the City of Kings.

Take a walk

Lima’s historical center is one of Peru’s most beautiful and storied places. You’ll find buildings that were built when Pizarro first arrived in Peru and also some of Peru’s most iconic images. You’ll certainly have landmarks that you want to specifically go to, but just take some time to walk around and soak it all in first. Begin in the main plaza and enjoy the 360 degree view of the most breathtaking vistas Peru, or any country for that matter, has. You’ll find towering cathedrals, a majestic presidential palace and plenty of unique baroque balconies.

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Cathedral de Lima | © Art DiNo / Flickr

Visit La Cathedral de Lima

Since you just got to Peru then you won’t be worn out by all the colonial churches, which is perfect because this is one of Peru’s most beautiful. It occupies the plot of land Pizarro first designated for the church, although it has since been rebuilt numerous times. It’s best to pay for a guide to give you all the details of the cathedral’s stunning interior that features various architectural styles.

Drink a pisco sour at a famous hotel

El Gran Bolivar was once the place to stay while visiting Lima. Every star who came through, from Hemingway to Walt Disney, would stay here and enjoy one of their now world-famous pisco sours. They still are some of the best that you can have in the city, and the old-school atmosphere of the hotel only adds it its allure. You can’t leave without sitting down and having a cocktail.

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Peruvian chocolate is among the best in the world | © Pixabay

Eat some chocolate

If you want to take a break from some of the sightseeing, head to the Choco Museo for some of Peru’s most delicious chocolate. You’ll find unique flavors such as coca and lucuma, a popular Peruvian fruit, as various gradients of chocolate. They also offer classes on how to make chocolate, just book in advance.

Catacombs

In the basement of the Monastery of San Francisco, you’ll find the bones of an estimated 75,000 bodies. The area originally served as Lima’s cemetery, but as the wealthy continued to die more bones began piling up. As you explore the claustrophobia-inspiring cemetery you’ll find bones laid out in unique patterns and displays—it’s clearly a tour that is not for the easily frightened. If you choose, there are tours in English that last about 45 minutes.

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Archbishop’s Palace, Lima | © Latin America For Less / Flickr

Casa Aliaga

Casa Aliaga is one of the oldest buildings in all of Lima. The property was given to a wealthy Spanish family by Pizarro in the 16th century. It has since been occupied by 16 generations of the Aliaga family. The inside displays its unique furnishings and beautiful architecture and can be seen with a guided tour if you really want to understand its history.

MALI Art Museum

If you’re going to see only one art museum in Lima, this is the one. The MALI Art Museum houses a large collection of Peruvian art stretching over centuries, from Pre-Incan artwork to contemporary Peruvian art pieces. You get everything all in one museum.