Most travelers make a beeline straight for Miraflores upon touching down in Lima. It is, after all, Peru’s swankiest neighborhood, packed full of glitzy shopping malls and a sense of glamour not found elsewhere in the city. But for those with even a minute bohemian streak, the nearby seaside suburb of Barranco is a far better choice. Here’s why.
Stunning old-world architecture
Years ago, Barranco was the resort town of Lima’s bourgeois who constructed large colonial mansions on the cliffs overlooking the sea. As the city expanded, the wealthy built summer homes elsewhere, leaving an array of art-deco marvels to decay in the salty ocean breeze. But recent years have seen the area revitalize, with many these stunning homes being converted into trendy museums, cafés and boutiques. As a result, the colorful streets of Barranco are an absolute delight to explore, especially when compared to the soulless skyscrapers of Miraflores.
A more laid back vibe
The quaint streets of Barranco are also in stark contrast to the relentless hustle and bustle that torments the rest of the city. Leafy, spacious and with only a trickle of traffic, this pedestrian friendly barrio is undeniably more laid back than Miraflores. Crime is lower here too, meaning travelers can meander around without a care in the world.
The best of boutique shopping
Shopping in Miraflores revolves around bland malls packed full of international luxury brands. Barranco, on the other hand, is a much more intimate affair. Its colorful streets are brimming with the trendy boutiques, most offering the latest designs by the country’s most fashionable independent labels. The standout spot is Vernacula, a gorgeous colonial mansion which has been converted into a funky art gallery and concept boutique store.
Beautiful boutique hotels
Okay, so Miraflores has its fair share of luxury boutiques too. But not to be bested is Barranco’s legendary Hotel B, the city’s very first boutique hotel. Packed full of contemporary paintings from some of the country’s finest artists, this immaculate colonial manor is chic to say the least. Just be sure to arrive back by tea time, when a delectable serving of pastries and teas are dished out to hungry guests for free.
A myriad of museums
As would be expected in such a notable bohemian zone, Barranco is overflowing with art galleries and museums. Whether it’s perusing the works of renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino at the MATE, admiring the abstract in the Museum of Modern Art, or watching sparks fly at the Electricity Museum, there really is something for everyone in Barranco.
A casual dining experience
Admittedly, Lima’s most prestigious restaurants such as Central and Maido have set up shop in Miraflores. Then again, these kind of places cost a fortune to frequent, making the more casual yet undeniably scrumptious eateries of Barranco the perfect budget conscious alternative. Super chic La 73 is our pick, an unmissable retro dining experience entailing traditional Peruvian recipes which have been fused with flavors from all over the world.
La 73, Avenue El Sol, Barranco District, Peru +51 1 2470780
Awesome after dark entertainment
For an obnoxiously loud super club, Miraflores is honestly your best bet. But for those looking to sip on classy cocktails while rubbing shoulders with the city’s coolest inhabitants, look no further than Barranco. A number of trendy bars and lounges are scattered throughout the neighborhood, each offering their own unique atmosphere and style. Our pick? Check out the impossibly cool Ayahuasca, a beautiful 19th colonial house that has become Barranco’s liveliest watering hole.
Ayahuasca, Avenida San Martin, Barranco District, Peru +51 1 2476751
Culture at every corner
But a traveler needn’t seek out a museum or bar to get a feel for the local scene, as the streets themselves are alive with street art, artists and artisans. Mosey on down to the main plaza to watch local performers work their magic or stroll across the Bridge of Sighs to catch a glimpse of the vibrant street life that makes Barranco truly unique in the city.