Although perhaps not quite matching-up to some of Latin America’s most enchanting urban centres, Lima’s sprawling, sea-edged form comprises a patchwork of different architectural eras – from the jerry-built northern suburbs to the colonial gems at its heart and the Pre-Columbian riches filling its museums. It is, then, well worth the effort – especially if you stay focused on the highlights.
The clearest juxtaposition of new and old is offered by the monied district of Miraflores. Here, you can visit the neat adobe walls of Pucllana Temple – a ceremonial centre built in about 500AD. (If you get the adobe bug, head out of town to Pachacamac – a much grander archaeological complex situated 20 miles southeast of the city centre.) If the dust of history is proving too much for you, it’s time to head straight back to the present day with a cleansing stroll along El Malécon – a green lung six miles long atop the cliffs. Need some retail therapy, or Peruvian seafood with a sea view? Head down to Larcomar – a megacomplex built into the cliffside and under the streets and parkland of Miraflores.
If you’d rather browse goods with a considerably longer history, head to the Larco Museum in nearby Pueblo Libre for a three-millennium sweep of the ceramics, textiles and metal artifacts used by many of Peru’s Pre-Columbian civilisations. If you’re overwhelmed by the display of erotic pottery, head for the sanctuary of the excellent café and gardens.