Make the most of Lima. Whether you are after beaches, beer, museums or markets, take a few tips—and live like a local in this beguiling capital city.
Hugging the Pacific Ocean, Lima is Latin America’s stately queen—vibrant and beautiful, with the architecture of its historic centre reflecting the royal past of this former capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Lima’s residents, known as Limeños, are wildly social, with evenings spent at gallery openings and lively parties. Socialising is often food-focused, whether that’s a ceviche and cold beer or a visit to one of the restaurants that appear on ”world’s best” lists. Complementing the acclaimed establishments are huariques—tiny family restaurants serving personalised versions of recipes such as tacu tacu (rice, beans and chilli).
Follow our 10 top tips on how to live the local life.
1. Pick up a pisco
The national liquor can be taken as a Pisco Sour, with lime juice and egg white, or Chilcano, with ginger ale, lime and lots of ice. Or visit one of Lima’s coolest bars, the blue-hued Belo Bar at Belmond Miraflores Park, for a signature Belo Mojito, inspired by colonial tisanes, with rum, tumbo and Andean mint.
2. Eat, Eat, Eat
The most popular street snack is the anticuchos—a kebab of skewered cow’s heart. For afters, picarones are pumpkin and wheat fried circles topped with chancaca syrup (made from sugar cane). For a sleeker experience, Tragaluz at Belmond Miraflores Park pays homage to Lima’s coastal and international, Peruvian, Oriental and Mediterranean influences, with dishes that include grilled octopus, and quinoa tabbouleh with grilled calamari.
3. Drink a chicha morada
For a fresh drink any time of the day, Limeños love their chicha morada with ice. Made from ckolli purple corn that grows in the Andes, this pre-Columbian drink is popular all over the country. Visit Creole restaurant El Rincón Que No Conoces, established in 1978, for your fix.
4. Hit the beach
Limeños love the beach and at the first sign of summer they head down to the nearby sands of Chorrillos, Barranco and Miraflores, or to Naplo or Asia, less than an hour and a half by car. If you're seeking extra adventure, you’ll find the sea is awash with surfing and paragliding schools, even in winter.
5. Learn Criollo
The official language of Lima is Spanish, but Limeños have their own Creole version. The most famous written works in the Limeño dialect are: ‘Un mundo para Julius’ by Alfredo Bryce Echenique, ‘Prosas apátridas’ by Julio Ramon Ribeyro and ‘La ciudad y los perros’ by Mario Vargas Llosa.
Barranco Beer Company
6. Sip a quinoa beer
Head for the bars in the lively neighbourhood of Barranco, and seek out artisanal beers brewed from quinoa, maca, chestnuts or wheat. Why not sample the brews at Barranco Beer Company which feature other intriguing local ingredients such as Peruvian coffee beans, Cusco honey and cacao nibs.
7. Check out Chinatown
Japanese and Chinese culture is strongly represented in Lima—Chinese-Peruvian cuisine is called chifa; Japanese-Peruvian is nikkei. In Chinatown, visit Wa Lok where the signature dish is ‘chita en flor de dos sabores’ (fish in a two-flavoured flower). On Sunday, the place to be is Chifa Royal. The menu offers more than 300 dishes, including Dim Sum and Peking duck.
8. Explore the culture
Popular with Limeños are Museo Amano, which tells stories of Peru through its collection of textiles; Museo Larco, one of the biggest collections of pre-Columbian erotic art; and Galeria Lucía de la Puente in Barranco for contemporary art. The MALI has collections of art spanning more than 3,000 years. The MAC (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Barranco has art from 1950 onwards, and Mario Testino’s MATE shows work by the photographer and invited artists. The place for folk art is Mari Solari’s house and gallery in Barranco, where you’ll be welcomed by the owner’s friendly dogs.
9. Make for a market
Lima’s markets are a must, especially Surquillo, with its vendors from all over Peru. Ogle at gigantic fish, more than 3,000 varieties of potato, and colourful fruits. The caseras (vendors) always have anecdotes to share.
10. Wear Alpaca
Take a tour with Belmond Miraflores Park to live like a local. Choose from the Bohemian Tour around Barranco; the Gastronomic Discovery experience, including a visit to Surquillo Market and a cookery class, followed by a lunch in Tragaluz; and the Peruvian Paso horse evening at Hacienda Mamacona followed by a Peruvian feast. You may also like to uncover off-piste city sights on foot with Lima Walks.
by Marcella Echavarria