Highlights and main attractions of Lima

A typically bustling metropolis perched dramatically above the Pacific Ocean with views extending towards the crashing Pacific waves; Lima is not just Peru’s largest and most populous city. Lima is one of the continent’s best places to see the architecture of the Spanish colonial past, and the faded glory of the old town has enjoyed some excellent restoration. For those arriving fresh from an international flight, the area of Miraflores, an upmarket area within walking distance of the coast, is the perfect place to acclimatise and start or end your Peruvian adventure.

The capital city was established as a settlement in 1535 by conquistador Francisco Pizarro and remained the seat of Spanish control for 300 years. Surrounded by desert, Lima is built on either side of the Rio Rimac, in front of the Cerro San Cristobal Mountain.

Lima is the best place to explore the architecture of Lima's colonial past, and has some excellent places to stay.

Where is Lima?

Exploring Lima

The centre of the old town is the Plaza de Armas, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its excellent restoration of many important government buildings, such as the Government Palace on the north of the square, where changing of the guard takes place at midday each day. The cathedral was restored in 1755 and despite this has retained its colonial façade, and next door the Archbishop’s Palace has a superb wooden balcony. 

Some of Lima’s museums are worth of a visit, such as the National Museum, which traces the origins of the aboriginal races in the country. The Anthropological and Archaeological Museum also houses Inca artefacts and textiles, and the National History Museum has a collection of colonial and early republican paintings. The newly renovated Museo Larco is also known for its pre-Columbian exhibits.

The convents of Santo Domingo and San Francisco are both equally elegant, the latter with its eerie and intriguing catacombs adding a completely different dimension.

The pretty suburb of Miraflores is a good choice of base, and the Miraflores Park Hotel is one of the city’s most luxurious, with a seafront setting and views out to the Pacific Ocean. The Casa Andina Hotel enjoys a similar location, and is an expert blend of colonial and contemporary. Lima is also where some of the country’s most important train journeys commence, such as the train to Huancayo – the world’s highest passenger railway. 

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