Many travellers we met didn't enjoy Lima. Perhaps, if you're on a short holiday in Peru, then a busy Latino city is not what you're here for. And that's totally understandable. You've come to Peru to hike the Sacred Valley, visit Machu Picchu and maybe hang out at the beach.
However, everyone visiting Peru is bound to spend a day or two in Lima, even if it's just waiting for your plane home or for a bus connection elsewhere.
So, instead of writing it off, why not use our guide to to discover some great things to do in Lima and make the most of the weekend in Peru's capital city.
(Not there on the weekend? Don't worry, most of what we recommend is still going on!)
Hit up the market
It's your first day in Lima so start early and make it to Parque Reducto in Miraflores for 8.30 a.m. to experience the best in organic markets - the Bioferia - where you can stock up on cheeses, vegetables, breads and all sorts of olive-y-oil goodness. The range of produce grown and created within Peru is phenomenal and this is a great starting point to sample some of the best of it.
Not in the market for a big shop? All the stall owners were more than happy to provide multiple free samples - don't miss the goat's cheese!
If it's a nice day, why don't you grab a coffee, pick your spot in the sun within Parque Reducto and enjoy the regular live music.
Address: Parque Reducto No. 2 Av. Benavides y Via Expresa, Miraflores
Opening times: Saturday 8.30 a.m. - 2.30 p.m.
Check out the cats at Parque Kennedy
On your way back to central Miraflores, why not take a walk through Parque Kennedy? What was was once simply an expanse of green flanked on either side by traffic is now home to more than 100 cats.
Rumours abound about how they ended up here, but nobody seems entirely sure. Cared for by a community that feeds, vaccinates and provides veterinary care, one thing's for certain - they're not going anywhere for now!
Tame enough for cuddles, and friends with anyone that hints at a free dinner, they are an essential stop on any cat-lover's Lima itinerary.
Address: Parque Kennedy, Av. Mariscal Oscar Benavides, Miraflores
Grab some brunch!
Ready for a coffee? How about the best bread of your life? And only thirty minutes away!
Since their opening in 2011, El Pan de la Chola has developed quite the cult following, offering simple yet beautifully prepared and presented breads, sandwiches and drinks - it really is the best place in Lima for brunch.
We spent hours here sampling the best their menu had to offer. Check out our in-depth article, including drool-inducing photography, here.
Address: Av. La Mar 918, Miraflores.
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 8 a.m - 10 p.m, Sunday 9 a.m a 6 p.m.
A stroll along the malecon
After you've got your fill of organic produce, cat cuddles and our favourite place for brunch, follow the smell of the ocean back to the sea.
The best way to get your bearings in a new city is to walk it, and when the city happens to hug a spectacular coastline the route to choose is easily made. Starting in Miraflores, simply follow the path (malecon) as far you desire.
Stroll through landscaped gardens, relax in a park for lovers, or stop in at coffee shops and boutique shops. No need to rush, there are benches dotted along the way for you to take a seat and simply stare at the ocean or watch the wet-suited surfers who attempt to conquer it.
Sampling the ceviche
Ceviche is an institution in Peru, so if you're going to sample it, you really should try some of the best. In Lima, that just may be at El Verídico de Fidel.
Given its popularity, Fidel has expanded to have four locations across the city. The original is found in an area of town that can be a little unsavoury, so you're better off jumping in a cab from the malecon but the trek across Miraflores will be worth it!
Famous for its leche de tigre (the broth in which ceviche is served), this family run restaurant has almost become as famous as the dish itself in Lima - and you may even meet a few Alianza football players on your visit.
If you don't fancy going that far out of the tourist centre, then you can simply walk from the malecon to the newer restaurant in Miraflores, found at 246 Calle Colón.
Unfortunately, we didn't make it here on this trip, but that didn't stop almost every local and ex-pat we met recommending the place!
Address: The original is a taxi ride away at Abtao 935, La Victoria, whilst you can eat at the newer restaurant at 246 Calle Colón if you'd prefer to stay in the central Miraflores area.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Ready to party in Miraflores?
Sure, it's a tourist trap but if you're looking for a fun night out and want to meet other travellers, then take a walk along Calle Berlin. You'll find everything from small taverns selling dirt cheap bottles of beer to night-long clubs playing everything from heavy metal to the most popular latin beats.
Some hostels get free entry passes to the nightclubs, so be sure to ask at yours. We stayed at Kokopelli - a great hostel perfectly located to enjoy all that Calle Berlin and central Lima offers.
Grab a quick coffee
From your hostel/hotel, jump in a cab or take the bus to Barranco - the increasingly gentrified neighbourhood for today's activities. Replete with crumbling and decayed architecture, artists in residence, stylish little restaurants and bars, it's the ideal Lima spot for some gastronomic and cultural wandering around.
And what better way to start your day that with a great cup of coffee. Our top pick? Bisetti. In existence since the 1950s, this stylish cafe is a mecca for Lima's coffee lovers.
Take a while to watch them roast there own beans in the aptly named 'laboratory' or simply get your coffee to go and enjoy it in Parque Barranco amongst the beautifully maintained colonial buildings and manicured gardens.
Address: Pedro de Osma 116, Barranco 15063
Spend some time with Mario Testino
Barranco is home to a staggering 14 art galleries, the most impressive by far being MATE.
A short walk from the square you will discover a beautifully restored 18th century residence housing a space dedicated not only to the work of one the world's foremost fashion and portrait photographers but also to promoting young Peruvian artists.
Entrance is 20 soles for foreigners which gives you access to Testino's permanent and temporary exhibits. You'll come face to face with his iconic work with the stars, such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Lady Diana, as well as beautifully composed portraits of indigenous Peruvians. This was without a doubt one of our favourite activities in the city.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Address: Av. Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco
Check out the local street art scene
In the mood for a little more art? Then you're in the right place. Barranco is the home of all that is alternative-chic in Peru's capital city and art and culture abounds throughout its streets; large scale grafitti and street art is everywhere here.
Get some gelato
The walk around the streets of Barranco is sure to have burned a number of calories, and if it's a nice day, it's definitely time for an ice cream. Or more precisely, a gelato from the area's new and increasingly popular 'Blu'.
Despite having opened in only February this year, Blu has gained quite a following - and for good reason. The gelato is decadently thick, full of rich flavours and in many cases punctuated by quality ingredients.
Can't eat dairy? They have you covered with one of their numerous fruit sorbets.
Just one word of warning - the portions are HUGE. We could barely finish a two-scoop cup between us.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Address: Jiron de 28 de Julio 202, Barranco
You only have a short time in the city so we know you don't want to waste it exploring malls and generic retail shops, so our next suggestion is something quite different.
The art and design fair on Jr. Union 108 is full of unique fashion, arts and crafts and traditional treats - an ideal place to pick up a couple of mementos or a one-of-a-kind gift.
If you're in town for a while, do check out their Facebook page for information on the regular special events that are held here, showcasing everything from dance and song to gastronomic fairs.
Opening times: Fridays - Sundays, check times and event listings in advance on their Facebook page.
Address: Jr. Union 259, Barranco
fancy a drink?
Although it's unfortunately not open on a Sunday, if you're wandering around Barranco any other day of the week finish the night in one of Barranco's coolest newest bars - Barra 55. Specialising in gins, this is the ultimate in cool.
Address: 28 de Julio 206, Barranco
mapping out the perfect lima weekend
Although we've given you an outline of the perfect weekend in Lima, it's worth remembering that the majority of these suggestions, excluding the the organic market and art and design fair, are available throughout the week.
What other activities or places would you add to make this Lima weekend even more perfect? Let us know in the comments.
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Andrew and Emily, the British couple behind Along Dusty Roads, show you how to travel Latin America on a tight budget with their beautiful photography, destination guides and honest reviews. Follow their journey on Facebook and get daily inspiration for your big adventure.