Love Letter to Lima Peru’s Gateway

Apr 2018

Occasionally during your travels you get an unexpected surprise. After exhaustive research for my trip to Machu Picchu and Peru’s Amazon with AdventureSmith Explorations, the date to depart was suddenly here. Like many, I looked at my entry city as a jumping off point for the rest of the country. With few expectations, to my surprise, I fell hard for Lima Peru’s gateway. Take the extra days and discover the charms this interesting city has to offer; there’s something for everyone.

Lima Peru's Gateway

My Dearest Lima,
You had me convinced at the coastline before the plane ever landed. You’ve been such a surprise in every way. I can’t wait to share all of your treasures with my readers, and better yet, I am counting the days until I can return to your beautiful city once again.
Hugs + kisses                                    Your new fangirl alison

Lima Peru’s Gateway and So Much More

Peru has many attractions for the culture and adventure seeking traveler. The capital of Lima is often regarded as the gateway to other destinations. Based on recent experience, I can tell you it is a mistake to quickly bypass this city on the way to Machu Picchu, the Amazon Basin or any of the other wonders for which the country is well known.

Peru’s capital of Lima is a lively metropolis filled with pre-inca ruins, world-class museums, and a waterfront area that’s hard to believe. Just in case you haven’t heard, Lima is definitely having a culinary moment. In fact the food of Peru has put Lima in the spotlight like never before with 3 of the World’s Top 50 Best Restaurants 2017.

Lima’s Top 10 Experiences

Since my time was short, I had to hit the ground running. I’ve done the leg work for you during my trip there with AdventureSmith Explorations. Now you can make sure to enjoy some of Lima’s best offerings, rather than passing through. You’ll find Lima is unlike any coastal city you’ve ever visited. Dramatic shoreline cliffs line the waterfront and frame the Miraflores district of pricey condos and upscale boutiques. Buildings are built upon Inca ruins and creative street art can be seen from the sky while paragliding over the water.It’s easy to see why the residents are so passionate about their city by the bay.


As I said before, Peru in general is having a moment of gustatorial celebrity. There are many excellent restaurants to choose from. Foodies should take the plunge and indulge at Central where Virgilio Martinez is giving new meaning to sustainably eating local. Astrid y Gastón, Maido or Chez Wong. Ceviche marinated in leche de tigre makes my mouth water as I type. Chicha morda, causa, quinoa and pisco have fans around the world. An important tidbit to remember is you don’t have to go high end to eat delicious food in this city. The street food, especially for carnivores and snout to tail specialists, is legendary. Grilled anticuchos or llama jerky anyone? There’s a hearty assortment of food tours from which to choose.

As a matter of fact, I’d love to return and spend a long weekend doing a deep dive into the culinary scene. One spot in particular I loved was La Rosa Nautica. On a nice day, the restaurant sits out on a boardwalk in Lima Bay and overlooks the cliffs anchoring Lima. Make sure to get a window seat, enjoy the freshest ceviche and parmesan scallops and wash it all down with a pisco sour. Being on the pier and seeing Lima from the water gives the visitor a whole new perspective on the city. It was a welcome respite from racing to and fro trying to see all the city had to offer in such a short period of time.

Parque del Amor

Parque del Amor Lima Peru's Gateway

Parque del Amor

Overlooking the Bay of Lima along a coastal strip you’ll find the romantic Parque del Amor. The Gaudi-esque mosaics of undulating walls seem to take their shape from the waves in the background and protect visitors from a heavy shore breeze. Central to the love theme is a Delfin sculpture El Beso, an entangled couple caught in a rapturous embrace. The area is especially popular at sunset.

Paragliding In Lima Peru’s Gateway

Paragliding in Lima

Looking for adventure and a rush of adrenaline? A few hundred feet from the park is the take off location for Paragliding. Best to not spend too much time analyzing the process flinging yourself off a cliff over a highway and just go for it. While the breeze lasted, I got a ringside view into rooftops and the million dollar condos that line the strip. As the wind died, we slowly lost altitude, the cliffs moved in a little too close and we crash-landed on the beach. No injuries, but it was a bit more than I bargained for. And as for that adrenaline rush; a resounding success!


The Malecon walkway through Miraflores along the water is a great way to shake off the jet lag and get to the Barranco neighborhood with a refreshing salt air breeze blowing out the cobwebs of a long flight. At some point, you have to cross the highway, and work your way back into the city.

Barranco Street Art

Café culture and street art line the trendy boho neighborhood of Barranco. If you like to walk, take a few hours and feel the pulse of a very hip area. The MATE-Museo Mario Testino brings contemporary international artists as well as Peruvian art and culture in a 19th century townhouse. In addition the Contemporary Art Museum presents interesting contomporay exhibits. You’ll find many examples of great murals lining the streets.

Plaza Mayor

Get a taste of Lima’s colonial past with a walk through the historic center: Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas. Surrounded on all sides by important historical structures, this is known as the birthplace of Lima and represents the city’s heart.. La Catedral with it’s imposing towers dates from 1564. This area also houses Casa de Aliaga, an impressive former mansion considered by many to be the oldest home in South America.

Monasterio de San Francisco Catacombs

Skulls and Bones in the Catacombs

Nearby is the Monasterio de San Francisco. The cheery yellow and white complex belies the fact that the church is built atop a network of tunnels that are home to thousands of bones. The catacombs are not for the faint of heart, but those who brave the space will find the mass tombs of human skulls and bones more then a bit gruesome and fascinating all at the same time.

Santa Domingo Convent

Make sure to climb all the stairs of the Santa Domingo Convent and ring the huge bell at the top. The views are fantastic into the hills and San Cristobal neighborhood in the distance. Although the conditions are harsh in these pueblos jovenes, the bright spirited tones the residents chose reflect the colorful nature of their indigenous culture.

Lucuma Ice Cream

You’ll find an abundance of small artisan ice cream shops in most neighborhoods. Don’t miss the Lucuma flavor. Imagine a fruit tasting like burnt caramel wrapped in butterscotch. Locals call it the Gold of the Incas. There’s good reason this fruit (looks like a pear met a mango) is the #1 flavor in Peru.

Museo Larco

Museo Larco housed in a 18th century viceroy’s mansion has a gorgeous collection of one man’s passion for Andean art and ancient Peru. Beautiful gardens surround the museum and the shop is filled with imaginative takeaways and modern crafts. Don’t miss the excellent restaurant; food is just as tasty as the décor is chic and elegant. If you have a late flight, this destination is a perfect ending to Lima’s charms.

Museo Larco

This was a quick taste of Lima, an appetizer of what she can offer. I for one, can’t wait to get back and dig into the main course.

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Lima Peru's Gateway

This Story first appeared on AllWays Traveller

Disclaimer: The author was the guest of AdventureSmith Explorations for her travels in Peru. Opinion, reviews and thoughts are, as always, her own.

  1. A well-rounded post. I have been to Lima and to many of the sites you mention. The food was wonderful, and we loved the history and coastline. Lima is a city to visit even if you’re not going to Machu Picchu or the Amazon.

    • alison says:

      My point exactly Pamela. I was completely blown away by all the city has to offer. Just scratching the surface has given me the itch to return as soon as I can.

  2. Jane says:

    We enjoyed Lima as well, particularly the Barranco neighbourhood. Also, visitors won’t want to miss the ‘erotic pottery’ galleries at the Museo Larco, if you want to be astounded at the imaginative use of the human form as inspiration for ceramic vessels!

    • alison says:

      I’m glad you mentioned the collection of erotica. I meant to include it, thanks! It was such an unusual group of ceramics, and certainly eye opening!

  3. Loved this post. I, too, fell in love with Barranco (and Miraflores). Lima is a great city!

    • alison says:

      I’ve always been drawn to up and coming neighborhoods like Barranco Irene. Although usually it’s the kiss of death towards gentrification once the artists move in, this felt like there was something quite different going on. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks.

  4. Patti Morrow says:

    I was amazed by how much Lima had to offer! At first, I considered it just a stopover, but soon changed my opinion. History, culture, gastronomy, shopping, and adventure — what more could you want?

    • alison says:

      I didn’t realize just how much ground we covered until I went back and started going through my photos. Wow, and we hit every category too! As always, a pleasure to travel with you. Peru is a very special place.

  5. Anna Parker says:

    I am glad you stopped to explore, it isn’t somewhere I’ve heard about as you are right everyone goes straight for the Inca’s. Such a varied and vibrant city and the food must be good with 3 of the top 50!

    • alison says:

      Everyone passes through on a layover, and I hope after reading, everyone will add on the extra days that Lima warrants. Such a great spot!

  6. Cindy Baker says:

    I had no idea that Lima had so many fascinating things to offer. The food looks incredible and kudos to you for your adventurous spirit in flinging yourself off a cliff!

    • alison says:

      Reviewing the video, I’m not sure kudos is the right word-those cliffs came awfully close. A coach landing on the beach is not the smartest way to begin a trip. Thanks for stopping by Cindy. I hope you’ll visit again.

  7. Kudos for finding so much to love in Lima, which is so often overlooked. I’m inspired to return, for a longer stay this time.

  8. I’m guilty as charged because we only changed buses in Lima and didn’t stop there – but it was more to do with finances and logistics than anything. I’m sure you’ve already cottoned onto how much I love Peru, and I’ll make a point of staying awhile in Lima next time…with the paragliding strictly on a ‘see-how-you-feel-at-the-time’ basis!

  9. Oh my! Those Parmesan scallops look fabulous! I need the recipe (scallops plus Parmesan cheese perhaps? Would a subtler cheese work even better? That aside, Lima sounds wonderful. I’ve yet to make it to mainland South America but Lima would be a great place to start.

  10. Lucy says:

    Lima featured on the TV cookery show Masterchef in the UK recently and I was blown away by how good the food there looked! That and your ideas here have definitely catapulted the city and the country higher up my wishlist.

  11. Donna Janke says:

    Lima sounds like a city I’d enjoy with its historic centre and its art. This appetizer certainly whetted my appetite.

  12. Leanne Tait says:

    I recently got back from Lima as well, and I couldn’t agree more with your top picks. As a Foody, I also recommend finding Peruvian chocolate. Due to the biodiversity in the Amazon, you’ll find delicate,tasty varietals that you’ll never find in mass market chocolates.

    • alison says:

      We did see quite a bit of chocolate in the different markets Leanne, and indulged more than once in amazing desserts. Great suggestion, and it’s true, these are small artisanal makers you won’t find anywhere else!