Places to visit in Lima Peru | The city of Lima was the capital of the kingdom of the Ychsma and many other civilizations, until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1532. The Spaniards refounded the city, on January 18th, 1535; they called it La Ciudad de los Reyes—The City of Kings, because the Rimac Valley was discovered by the spanish on the 6th January, 1535—the arrival of the theree wisemen or the three kings in spanish language.
Francisco Pizarro, decided that Lima should be the capital in order to make it easier to escape via sea from the indigenous rebels; this was the main reason why Lima was established as a hegemonic city during the Viceroyalty of Peru.
At the foundation of the Republic of Peru in 1821, Lima was kept as the capital, due to its geographical location, the port of Callao and for being the birthplace of many spanish-americans, who started ruling the economy and politics of the newly born country.
So if you are in Lima, you will always have a good atraction to explore, Lima has dozens of tourist attractions from the pre-Hispanic times, colonial times, republican period and also natural attractions. Below we mention the most important ones.
- 1. Cultural Places in the city of Lima and Callao
- 2. Cultural Attractions in Lima region
- 3. Natural Attractions
- 4. Activities for Families and Kids
- 5. FREE Tours of Lima — Short Walks
1. Cultural Places in the city of Lima and Callao
1.1 The old city of Lima
Today Lima is an immensely large city, however in the colonial period it was not like that, its population did not exceed 50 thousand inhabitants at the beginning of the 19th century; Lima as a city also had a colonial city wall, the remains of this wall are still posible to explore at the Parque de la Muralla. If you are in the city center of Lima visit the Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Martin, the colonial streets, colonial walls, mansions, balconies, colonial plazas and Lima´s most famous museums such as the Art Museum of Lima and Larco Herrera Museum.
1.2 The Cathedral of Lima
The Cathedral of San Juan in Lima was built at the end of the 18th century, as a replacement for an old Baroque-style Basilica, that was unfortunately destroyed by the 1741 earthquake; the current cathedral was built with a wooden skeleton, making it a unique cathilic church to stand out exclusively earthquake; it was designed by Matias Maestro.
This church is located in the Plaza Mayor of Lima; if you are in Miraflores or Barranco, take a taxi, it will take you about 35 minutes to reach this attraction.
1.3 The Santo Domingo Convent
It is one of the oldest churches in the city of Lima, dating back to the 16th century, it is a convent, where the most famous Peruvian saints lived, such as Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martin de Porres. The first university in South America known as San Marcos was founded in 1560 in the convent of this church by the Dominican friars, thus this university became the first one in South America.
This attraction is located between Jirón Camaná 170 and Jirón Conde de Superunda 262, one block away from the Plaza de Armas.
1.4 The Francia Plaza
Everyone tells the emblematic Plazas in the historic center of Lima; but there is one that many people don’t mention, The Plaza Francia is a must-see attractions, it has a lot of green areas and unlike at other attractions, you won’t see many tourists hanging out here, additionally it’s an awesome place to take photos.
You can visit La Recoleta church located at this plaza, it is an intense blue-colored catholic chuch with a neo-Gothic style. The Plaza Francia is located on the avenida Garcilaso de la Vega close to the historic center of Lima.
1.5 The Catacombs of San Francisco
If you don’t know where to go in Lima, we suggest exploring this tourist attraction, the construction dates back to the middle of the 17th century, it has an immense catacomb, where it is estimated that 36 thousand people have been buried during the colonial period. Inside the church there is also a colonial and republican library, where you can still see The Founding Act of the Republic of Peru, which was signed on July 15th, 1821 and the Declaration was done on July 28th of the same year.
To get to this place, just walk north-east from the main square of Lima, the church is located on the Jirón Áncash, very close to the colonial city wall of Lima.
1.6 Chinatown of Lima, the oldest one in Southamerica
If you are in the historical center of Lima, you should visit the Chinatown< the Chinese people came mainly from Hong Kong in the mids of the 19th century as cheap labor. Today the Chinese community in Peru is the largest one in South America, at this place you can see EL Arco Chino and try delicious Chifa culinary.
Get to know the Chinatown and its portico—main gate or arch located on Capón street in the historic center.
1.7 The temple of Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores
This pre-Hispanic attraction is the ideal one, for Peruvian pre-Hispanic culture lovers. The archaeological complex functioned as a temple for many pre-Hispanic civilizations such as the Lima, Ychsma, Wari and finally the Incas.
This archaeological site is located on General Borgoño street, block 8 in the Miraflores district.
1.8 Callao Monumental
Visit the historic center of the port of Callao that contains old streets, squares and neighborhoods that date back to the colonial period—Spanish occupation. The most outstanding attractions are the Real Felipe military fortress, Plaza Grau, Plaza Gálvez, Graffiti art, etc.
2. Cultural Attractions in Lima region
2.1 The temple of Pachacamac
Visit the most famous pre-Columbian oracle on the South American western-coast known as Pachacamac—The mighty creator of all in the universe. Upon reaching this attraction, you will still be able to see the temple of the Acllas—The Virgins of the Sun who had the function of carrying out ceremonial activities to show their respect to their deities such as The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, The Mountains, etc.
2.2 Caral—the oldest city in South America
When people talk about Peru, they generally talk about the Inca culture, but in pre-Columbian Peru there were many other great civilizations that shaped the the socio-economical and religious structure of the Inca empire. The first city that existed in Peru is known as Caral estabiliched in 2900 AD and it was the mother of all subsequent civilizations in Peru and South America. This archaeological site has more than 32 buildings for ceremonial political purpose, there are production workshops as well.
This attraction is located in the Supe Valley, 182 km north of Lima city.
3. Natural Attractions
3.3 Beaches of Lima and Miraflores
If you are in Lima, especially in the summer season, visit the beaches of the Green coast of Lima and Miraflores, you can also practice sports such as surfing.
3.4 The Tres Picos park
If you love nature and don’t want to go far away from Lima, the Tres Picos Park will be a great choice for you; it is located on the green coast of the Miraflores district. Many tourists visit this place to see the sunset in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.
3.5 The Huacachina—an earthly paradise
One of the most visited places in Perú is the oasis and small city of Huacachina; the city of Huacachina is ancient, it has been occupied by many pre-Hispanic civilizations; however, in the last decades it became the most visited attraction by local and foreign tourists. We know that the Peruvian coast is very arid (similar to Egypt) and finding a city in these geographical and climatic characteristics is a unique experience.
The Huacachina is located south of Lima in the province of Ica, about 5 hours by bus.
3.6 The Ballestas Islands
In the southern part of Lima, there is a paradisiacal place known as Las Islas Ballestas, which is a group of islands where many local birds live such as guanay, piquero and zarcillo; we call those birds as Guano birds, because we used to use their pups as fertilizers in the mids of the 19th century. If you love marine fauna, this is the attraction that you must go to.
3.7 The Palomino Islands
There is another group of islands near to the Callao port, known as Las islas Palomino, this group of islands are famous because many sea lions live there—about 5,000 of them, there are also other animas or birds such as seagulls, pelicans and patillos.
4. Activities for Families and Kids
4.1 The Magic Water Park
If you are in Lima with your family and don’t know where to go in Lima, we recommend visiting the Magic Water Circuit, a place full of colors, lights and water, the first show starts at 7pm, the second at 8pm; the entrance fee for this place is super cheap, it costs 5 Soles—2USD, kids under 4 years old don’t pay— note, you better explore this place in the night time.
4.2 El Parque de las Leyendas—Zoo
If you are in Lima with your family, you shouldn’t miss this natural attraction, located on avenida Las Leyendas 580, in San Miguel district. The zoo is divided into four areas: the jungle, the coast, the andes and the international area; you will get to see exotic animals such as the vicuña or the white bengal tigers; the entrance fee does not exceed 10 Soles.
4.3 Kennedy Park and the Miraflores cliff
If you are one of the visitors with kids staying in the Miraflores district, if this is your case, you should visit the Kennedy Park, a place full of kids friendly areas, after visiting this park, make your way on foot to the Miraflores cliff—Malecón de Miraflores, where you will see the Love Park, the Lighthouse and Larcomar shopping center; we are sure that, you and your family will have a great time.
4.4 Barranco neighborhood
This neighborhood is bohemian, picturesque and quiet, its streets are fully decorated with graffiti, you will also find several restaurants, bars and green areas. The most outstanding attractions are the Bridge of Sighs—Puente de los Suspiros and La Bajada de los Baños.
5. FREE Tours of Lima — Short Walks
If you are not very good at orientation or you don’t like to explore this city on your own, let our authorized guides by DIRCETUR of Lima, show you the historic center on foot for free, at the end of the tour you can leave a donation according to the service; for more details and booking visit Free Tour Lima, check out our amazing comments here. You can also see thousands of pictures and followers on our Instagram and Facebook.