The Perfect Lima Itinerary for 2 days in Lima, Peru

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Lima is one of the largest cities in South America, but surprisingly, doesn’t get much love from travelers. Many visitors skip over Lima entirely, simply using it as a temporary base to recover from an international flight before heading to Cusco. But that’s a shame. Why? Because there are tons of cool things to do, see, and eat in Lima. I spent four days there myself after my Intrepid tour and didn’t see everything. The good news is that you can see the highlights of the city in just a couple of days, which is handy since most visitors tend to spend only 2 days in Lima. No matter how much time you choose to spend in Peru’s capital, I’ve got you: this is the perfect Lima itinerary for 2 days in Lima (and beyond).

Arrival in Lima – How to get to Miraflores from the Airport

In an ideal world, you’ll arrive the evening before your first full day in Lima and get a good night’s sleep. Lima is a port city and is easily accessible by pretty much every mode of transportation: plane, car, bus, train, and cruise ship. If you fly in, you can easily get to your hotel using an inexpensive shared shuttle (if you’re staying in Miraflores). I do NOT recommend trying to save a few dollars by taking local transport as it’s notorious for pickpocketing (but getting here with Peru Hop is totally safe). Uber also doesn’t have the best reputation in Lima so I strongly recommend pre-booking your transfer.


Lima Itinerary: Day One in Lima, Peru

Explore Barranco, Lima’s artsy neighborhood

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Across from Barranco’s Plaza de Armas, Lima, Peru

One of the coolest things about Lima is that each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe. While most visitors tend to stay in the Miraflores neighborhood, you should definitely spend at least a few hours exploring Barranco, Miraflores’ southern neighbor. Barranco is to Miraflores what Brooklyn is to Manhattan – it’s artsier, hipper, and far less touristy. And the best way to see it is with a free walking tour.

Free Walking Tour: Barranco

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The entry sign to Barranco from Miraflores – Lima, Peru

A three hour walking tour in Barranco might seem a tad long but trust me – you’ll see all of the highlights of the neighborhood plus get a healthy dose of Lima’s street art scene. It’s a bit challenging to find all of Barranco’s great murals and hot spots on your own, so doing a free tour is the best way to cover the highlights of the neighborhood in just half a day. By the time the tour is over, you’ll be hungry enough to grab a later lunch at one of Barranco’s many eateries. I’ve listed a few of the best things to see in Barranco below, in case you prefer to explore on your own.

Street art and murals in Barranco

One of Barranco's many colorful murals - part of the 2 day Lima Itinerary
One of Barranco’s many colorful murals

If street art and murals are your vibe then you must spend some time walking around Barranco, where you’ll find some of the best street art in all of Lima. The history behind street art there is fascinating. Back in 2015, the mayor ordered all the murals to be covered in yellow paint since he didn’t feel like street art best represented the city. Later, Barranco authorities responded with a street art contest and well, the rest is history. Now, you’ll find murals in many corners of the city, most with political and socio-cultural messages.

Plaza de Armas (Barranco)

Barranco Library in Lima, Peru - one of the best things to do in Lima in 2 days
Barranco’s Plaza de Armas has a PINK library!

You’ll find a Plaza de Armas (the central square) in every major Latin-American city and Lima is no exception. It actually has two – one in Downtown Lima and one in Barranco. Although there isn’t anything major to see in the central square, it’s worth visiting for the beautiful fountain, pink library and ample opportunities to people watch.

Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros)

Bridge of Sighs in Barranco - Lima, Peru - 2 days in Lima
Making a wish while crossing the bridge. SO glad I packed some cute things for after the Inca Trail!

The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most famous bridges in Lima. Legend says that if you walk across the bridge without breathing, a wish is granted. Although the bridge itself isn’t the most beautiful structurally, it’s the connecting point to several of Barranco’s older buildings and colorful murals.

La Ermita Chapel

La Ermita Chapel in Barranco, Lima, Peru - part of the perfect Lima itinerary

The La Ermita Chapel is a small church in Barranco near The Bridge of Sighs. It was nearly destroyed in an earthquake, but what makes it most prominent is its bright gold exterior. Unfortunately, the church hasn’t been restored so you can’t enter, but renovation plans are in the works. Hopefully, it will be open to the public soon.

Lunch in Barranco

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Lunch at Chifa Union, one of the best Peruvian-Chinese restaurants in Barranco

There are quite a few great foodie options in Barranco, but the best place to eat lunch is Chifa Union. I know what you might be thinking – why would you eat Chinese food in Peru? Well, thanks to decades of immigration, “chifas” emerged in Peru – restaurants serving Peruvian-Chinese fusion. These restaurants are quite popular amongst locals and have been around for over a century; they’re also delicious. Chifa Union has some fo the best Chinese-Peruvian cuisine I ate while I was in Peru, and I strongly recommend it if you’re in Barranco. Be sure to check out their “menu del dia” (menu of the day) if you plan on eating lunch. The two-course meal is affordable, delicious, and generous.

Head to Miraflores, Lima’s central business district

Huaca Pucllana

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Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana is one of the few (if not the only) ruins located within central Lima. This pre-Inca ceremonial site is dedicated to the God Pachacamac and consists of a giant clay pyramid built with millions of adobe bricks. This site was an important center for administration and ceremonies and also has a small museum attached. The coolest part is that your ticket includes a free guided tour (they have both English and Spanish tours), so you get to learn the entire history of the pyramid.

Miraflores Indian Market 

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A quick snap from Lima’s most popular souvenir market

If you’re at all interested in buying souvenirs, then head to the Miraflores Indian Market, where you’ll find every type of Peruvian souvenir imaginable. This market is quite the sensory experience: it’s colorful and it’s huge, stretching several blocks. Many stores do sell similar trinkets, but various sections specialize in art, apparel, and more. I ended up buying the majority of my souvenirs (and gifts for myself *ahem*) from here and managed to get everything at reasonable prices. Be sure to check it out!

Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Magico del Agua)


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Lima is home to plenty of beautiful parks, and the Magic Water Circuit is no exception. Once you’ve finished with your shopping, head to this spectacular park to witness one of the three evening fountain and light shows (7:15 PM, 8:15 PM and 9:30 PM). This isn’t just your average dancing fountain spectacular, either. This one consists of lasers and holograms, telling stories about Peru’s culture and history, as well as highlighting local hot spots. It’s seriously the coolest show and the entrance fee is really affordable. Don’t miss out on a visit!


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Oysters at La Mar Cebicheria – delish!

Depending on how hungry you are, there are quite a few delicious options for dinner in Miraflores. There’s La Mar Cebicheria, for some of the best seafood in Lima. There’s Siete Sopas, an ultra local restaurant serving seven different kinds of soup with a rotating menu. There’s Grimanesa Anticucheria, serving some delicious anticuchos (meat skewers), a staple Peruvian street food. The list goes on and on. If you want to experience some upscale options, Lima has plenty of award-winning restaurants as well, such as Astrid y Gaston and Central. If you do choose to eat at one of Lima’s most famous spots, be sure to make reservations as soon as you can – some of these restaurants fill up months in advance!


Lima Itinerary: Day Two in Lima

Downtown Lima Walking Tour

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One of Downtown Lima’s beautiful fountains

Before visiting Lima, I thought that Miraflores was considered Downtown Lima, but that’s not the case. Downtown Lima is a separate neighborhood and has its own historic center nestled amongst modern buildings. Because Downtown Lima is large and a bit far from Miraflores, I highly recommend doing a free walking tour. I did this one. I met the tour guide in Miraflores and we all made our way to Downtown Lima by bus. The tour itself was on the longer side (around 4 hours) and our group was huge, but it was pretty good for a free walking tour. We covered the highlights of the area including: the Plaza de Armas, Convento de San Francisco (from the outside), Convento de Santo Domingo (from the outside), Casa de La Literatura Peruana and Parque de la Muralla. If you’d like a more intimate tour, check out this one instead.

Plaza de Armas

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Plaza de Armas, Downtown Lima

Lima’s Plaza de Armas has some of the most beautiful architecture in the city. It’s the center point of Downtown Lima and where you can see the changing of the guards (everyday at noon) in front of The Government Palace, which incidentally, is the oldest Spanish palace in Peru. Other highlights of this grand plaza include a spectacular bronze fountain built in 1650, the magnificent Cathedral of Lima (get an entry ticket here), and some bright, colonial-style buildings.

Casa de Aliaga 


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Casa de Aliaga is the oldest colonial mansion in Peru (some say in all of the Americas). This mansion was built in 1535 when the Spanish founded Lima and still stands today, thanks to numerous renovations. In fact, it’s still partially occupied by descendants of the Aliaga family. Casa de Aliaga is a spectacular example of seriously beautiful colonial architecture and is well-worth the visit. At the very least, be sure to check out the adjacent covered hall. It’s free to enter and a great place to take photos.

Convento de Santo Domingo (Convent of Santo Domingo)


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Dating back to the 16th century, the Convent of Santo Domingo is considered to be one of the most historic religious sites in Lima. The iconic pink church has been renovated several times and both the interior and exterior are absolutely stunning. It’s most well-known as the burial place for three of Peru’s most important saints: San Juan Macías, Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martín de Porres. You can also get excellent views of the city from the top of the tower. There’s a small admission fee and you can buy your ticket ahead of time here.

Casa de La Literatura Peruana

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Interior of the Casa de La Literatura Peruana

This renovated railway station is worth a visit for its beautiful stained glass ceilings alone. The exterior resembles a pretty colonial-style museum, but it’s the interior that is truly breathtaking, thanks to the architectural details. 

Parque de la Muralla

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Although Parque de la Muralla doesn’t appear fascinating at first glance, the history behind it is. Within this park are the remains of the old city wall of Lima. This wall once protected Peru’s capital from both the rising waters of the river and from invaders. Today, you can see hundreds of meters of the restored city wall, some artifacts in the small museum, and some great views of the city. I wouldn’t say that this park is a must visit, but it’s an interesting place to stop when walking through Downtown Lima.

Museo Convento de San Francisco 

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There are catacombs inside!

If you only choose to visit one museum in Downtown Lima, make it the Convento de San Francisco. What makes this church and monastery worth visiting isn’t its age (established around 1674) but the fact that it houses the remains of more than 70,000 people in its catacombs! Yes, you read that right. You can see various skulls and bones, which is morbidly fascinating. Additionally, the church houses a beautiful library that houses thousands of ancient texts. This is definitely the most fascinating place to visit in Downtown Lima.

Lunch at La Lucha Sangucheria


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Once you’ve finished your walking tour and / or independent exploring of Downtown Lima, head back to Miraflores for a late lunch at La Lucha Sangucheria. La Lucha is famed for its seriously delicious (and inexpensive!) sandwiches. They also have drool-worthy fries and fresh juices. If you’re hungry for a more sit-down meal, you can always head to Al Toke Pez (for seafood) or La Picanteria (for family-style Peruvian dishes), but La Lucha is a Lima institution that is not to be missed!

Kennedy Park (Parque Kennedy)

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Parks + cats = life complete

Once you’re done with lunch, cross the street into Kennedy Park, Lima’s version of New York’s Central Park. This park is a great place to wander through or relax in. There are plenty of vendors selling local arts and crafts and just as many food vendors selling local Peruvian treats. If you’re a cat lover, you’re in for a treat – it’s cats galore in Kennedy Park and most are quite friendly. I’m a big fan of city parks so I particularly enjoyed hanging out here, but if you’re short on time, then you can skip Kennedy Park (or walk through it quickly) to get to the Malecon.

Walk the Malecon (boardwalk) at sunset 

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Lima during sunset is pure magic

Make your way to Lima’s boardwalk just before sunset for an enchanting stroll along the coastline. Start at Faro la Marina (Marina Lighthouse) then head south towards Barranco. Along the way, you’ll pass Parque del Amor (the Love Park), so named because of its mosaic walls of romantic quotes and a large statue of a couple. Continue along the boardwalk until you reach the Larcomar, which marks the official end of your walk. You’re welcome to stop at Beso Frances Creperia for a snack if you’d like. Otherwise, spend some time exploring Larcomar, Lima’s gorgeous outdoor shopping center. You can stop here for some shopping, dinner, or drinks, or head somewhere else for dinner post-window shopping.


Planning a trip to Peru? Be sure to read this Perfect Lima Itinerary for 2 days in Lima Peru to help you plan your trip! |
Ceviche from Mercado 28

Like the night before, I leave dinner entirely up to you. Consider one of the choices I listed for your first day in Lima. Or, if you’re feeling undecided, head to the trendy Mercado 28. It’s a hipster outdoor food court with numerous fusion options that are both delicious and reasonably priced. You really can’t go wrong in Lima – it’s such a foodie city that you’re guaranteed to find a good place to eat. Just follow your nose and your budget!

There you have it. The perfect two day Lima itinerary. if you have even more time in Lima or don’t love all the activities I’ve recommended on my itinerary, don’t worry! Here are some of the other fun things to do in Lima.


Best things to do in Lima in 3 days and beyond

Good news – there are even more things to do in Lima if you have the time. I’ve included some of my favorite options below!

MAC – Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Lima


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If you’re an arts lover, there’s plenty of cool art to see in Lima – particularly in Barranco. MAC, Lima’s contemporary art museum, is a good place to start. Despite it’s smaller size, both the standing collection and rotating exhibits are fascinating. You can always check to see what or who is being displayed on their website before visiting.

Museo MATE


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The MATE Museum, also located in Barranco, is home to a permanent collection of photographs by famous Peruvian photographer Mario Testino. The museum itself is in a restored 19th century mansion and showcases rotating exhibits of both local and international artists of a variety of disciplines. I personally enjoy photography much more than contemporary art so I loved this museum but art (and museums) are such a subjective experience. That being said, if you have some time, I recommend a visit to MATE. You can purchase your ticket ahead of time here.

Artesanias Las Pallas 


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If shopping for locally-made, artisan crafts is your thing, then Las Pallas in Barranco is where you should go. This shop is home to beautiful local arts and crafts – think the hand-made and unique versions of the things you’d find at the souvenir market. It’s worth the visit if you have some time and shopping to do!

Buy artisan crafts at Dedalo


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Like Las Pallas, Dedalo is another shop in Barranco where you can find unique artisan goods. If you’re interested in one-of-a-kind pieces for your home or as a gift, be sure to stop here while doing your souvenir shopping.

Surf on the Lima coast

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Just because Lima is an urban city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors! Surfing is actually a very popular activity in Lima, and the best part is you don’t have to leave the city to do it. Take a lesson then hit the waves to practice. Plus, your wetsuit, wax, surfboard and lunch is all included. It’s a great way to get an introduction to surfing.

Take a Cooking Class

Peruvian Food | What to Eat in Peru
Fresh fish in Peru

Peru has been named the best culinary destination for 7 years in a row, so what better skill to learn than the art of Peruvian cooking? Treat yourself with a local cooking class and reap the benefits for years to come. In this hands-on class, you get to learn how to cook some of Peru’s best dishes from start to finish (including picking the ingredients at the market). I’m personally a huge fan of cooking classes and try to take them whenever I travel and Peruvian is definitely a cuisine worth learning to cook!

Go on a food tour

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Ceviche is a must-try dish in Peru

Want to sample the good eats without the effort of cooking them? No judgement here. Lima is the best city in Peru to do a food tour, hands down. On this four-hour food tour, you’ll get both breakfast and lunch (win!) and sample 16 different items. Plus, you’ll get to meet and chat with local restauranteurs and vendors to learn the history behind certain dishes (I’m not the only one that nerds out about that stuff, right?).

Larco Museum


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Experience 5000 years of Peruvian history at Lima’s Larco Museum, located in an 18th-century colonial mansion. For those of you who are curious as to when exactly each Peruvian civilization was around, what their different artifacts and rituals meant, how exactly Machu Picchu and The Nazca Lines are connected, and more, this museum is for you. Get your ticket to one of the best museums in South America here.

Shanty Town Tour

Let me just preface this by saying that I do not believe in “poverty porn:” visiting impoverished areas to gawk at locals. However, when done correctly, tours of certain neighborhoods can offer tourists a better insight on what day to day life is like for many people living in the country they’re visiting and bring greater awareness on how to be a responsible tourist while traveling. This tour allows for that. Be respectful (and don’t take photos without explicit permission and no photos of kids, either), humble, and open-minded. This is a community where people live and it’s important to use this opportunity to learn from the locals and to only contribute positively. End rant.

Bike and Hike along the cliffs


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What better way to enjoy Lima’s great outdoors than with a biking and hiking tour? On this half day tour, you’ll bike along the Malecon (Lima’s boardwalk) before leaving the city center in favor of nature. More specifically, you’ll hike to the summit of El Morro hill for some seriously magnificent views of the city. What makes this tour even more awesome is that all your equipment and refreshments are included and it’s limited to just eight people – so you won’t be dealing with a large group that the guide can’t keep track of. What’s not to love?

Learn the secrets of making delicious chocolate

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Chocolate samples at the museum – yum!

Did you know that Peru makes some of the best chocolate in the world? I didn’t either, until I went to the ChocoMuseo. The reason you might not know much about Peruvian chocolate is because it’s made in such limited quantities compared to the world’s most popular brands. But it’s never too late to learn, and what better way than with a chocolate making class? Learn all the details of how cacao becomes chocolate then experience it all firsthand. You’re guaranteed to leave with a bit of a sugar buzz and some souvenir bars – sweet! Get it? Sweet? Hehe.


Best Day Trips from Lima

Have even more time in Lima and want to explore outside of the city? Good news: there are plenty of awesome day trips you can do from Lima.

See history come to life at Pachacamac


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Just 20 miles from Lima lies the ancient ruins of Pachacamac, the God of Fire. This large archeological site houses the remains of what was the most important religious center in Peru, constructed more than 1,000 years before the Inca Empire. Because this complex is so large, you’ll need to book a tour to get there and get around.

Sand board near a natural oasis


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If there’s one day tour you do from Lima, make it this one. It’s a long day but it combines two of the coolest experiences in Peru (besides Machu Picchu of course): a boat ride to Islas Ballestas (the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”) and the opportunity to go sandboarding in Huacachina. Huacachina is home to a natural oasis that is surrounded by miles of sand dunes. It’s, in a word, magical. Plus, you’ll get the added exhilaration of zooming down the sand on a sandboard, which is less scary than it sounds. In Paracas, you’ll spot tons of wildlife hanging out on the islands, which are especially well-preserved since humans can’t disembark there. I visited both of these places over the course of a couple of days, but if you’re short on time, visit them on this day trip!

Witness marine life in action at Pucasana Fishing Village


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Tired of the hustle and bustle of Lima? Then escape the city center and hang out with some marine animals instead! On this tour, you’ll visit the charming fishing village of Pucasana, where you’ll get the opportunity to see penguins, sea lions, and other wildlife on a boat tour. The tour guide himself is a marine biologist, which makes the tour that much more special. Overall, it’s a fun and relaxing way to spend the day.

Rappel down a 100-foot waterfall 


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Get your adrenaline on and trek for an hour to Huanano Falls, where you’ll rappel down a 100-foot waterfall! If you’re an adventure junkie, this is one of the coolest activities to do outside of Lima. You also get to canyon through a number of natural waterslides in the nearby area, in case rappelling isn’t enough of an adrenaline boost for you. I did a similar activity in Argentina a few years ago and ended up loving it (even though I’m a scaredy cat). As long as you’re in decent physical shape, this should be quite the adventure! Book the tour here.


Is Lima worth visiting?

Lima is 100% worth visiting for at least two days. I know that many tourists end up passing through Lima when flying in and out of Peru, but it would be a shame to do the same. As seen above, there are tons of great things to do, see, and eat in Peru’s capital – it’s really like no other city in the country!

Best time to visit Lima

Lima is a coastal desert and has moderate temperatures all year round. However, the best time to visit (assuming you’ll be visiting other cities in Peru as well) is April through October, since this is the dry(ish) season for all of Peru. May – November tends to be foggy and somewhat overcast in Lima, but the temperature is still pretty decent. Ultimately, April is the best time to visit both Lima and the rest of Peru.

Is Lima safe?

Just like in any big city, you have to be vigilant of your surroundings and belongings while in Lima. Although Lima is mostly safe, it’s the only city where I’ve ever had something pickpocketed from me (RIP smartwatch). That being said, this is your friendly PSA to: always buy travel insurance (World Nomads is my go-to, always), keep an eye on your belongings (especially if you’re taking public transport), travel with a lockable purse, not wander into sketch areas at night, and keep your valuables in your hotel safe. Overall, Lima is as safe as most major capital cities – just don’t be dumb or flashy.

Planning a trip to Peru? Be sure to read this Perfect Lima Itinerary for 2 days in Lima Peru to help you plan your trip! |
Parque del Amor, Miraflores, Lima

Where to stay in Lima

Trying to decide where to stay in Lima? I strongly recommend Miraflores. Lots of people told me to stay in Barranco, but it was such a trek to explore other parts of the city while I was there. You’re better off basing yourself in Miraflores and spending some time in Barranco instead. That being said, the below are my top picks for Lima hotels for every budget.

Transportation in Lima: How to get around Lima

Lima is quite large but luckily there are plenty of ways to get around the city.

  • Foot: You can easily explore both Barranco and Miraflores by foot. It’s a fairly large distance to cover but easily done, especially if you aren’t short on time.
  • Mirabus: Mirabus seems like it’s a hop-on, hop-off bus, but it’s actually not. It’s more like an organized tour bus. It’s probably one of the better ways to hit the various tourist spots if you’re really short on time, but to be honest, reviews are pretty mixed. Check them out here.
  • Segway: I had to include a Segway tour option in here, of course! I’m pretty klutzy so I’ve never done this myself, but one day I hope to work up the courage to try it out, knowing that I will likely fall off at some point.
  • Taxi: To be honest, taxis are the best way to transport yourself from one part of the city to the other. They’re inexpensive (be sure to negotiate first) and safe (make sure you get a legit taxi) and there’s no chance you’ll get pickpocketed (unlike public transport).
  • Local transport: Public transport is relatively easy to use. You’ll need to buy a transport card or you can just pay someone for the cost of the ticket and they’ll swipe you in – that’s what I did. Besides the purchasing-a-ticket part, it’s easy to get all over the city on the bus. Just note that they get pretty crowded and there’s a pickpocketing problem, so if you do opt for this method, keep an eye on your stuff.

Currency in Peru

Peru uses Peruvian Soles (PEN) and at the time of publishing this post (June 2019), the rate was about USD $1 to 3.33 PEN. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Peru unless you’re in larger establishments, so you’re better off either bringing cash or using one of the many ATM machines and withdrawing cash.

Note: there seems to be a weird, perpetual shortage of small change in Peru. It’s not just at small kiosks either. I even went to a few restaurants and markets (big ones) that told me they couldn’t make change with big bills. I imagine there’s just one Peruvian guy somewhere hoarding all the coins and small bills of Peru. Either way, whenever you get the opportunity to break a large bill while in Peru, do it. Not only will you want the 1 sol coins for bathroom visits (that’s the entry fee) but you’ll also want them for small purchases as well.

Language in Peru

The main language spoken in Peru is Spanish, which is spoken by a large majority of people. In some (more rural) areas, some people may speak only indigenous languages like Quechua and Aymara. In most touristy places, you’ll find that many people have a basic grasp of English, but you’re better off learning some Spanish phrases just in case you find yourself in a jam.

Planning a trip to Peru? Be sure to read this Perfect Lima Itinerary for 2 days in Lima Peru to help you plan your trip! |
Walkway next to Casa de Aliaga in Downtown Lima

Visas for Peru

If you’re from the United States, you do not need a visa to enter Peru. You’ll get your passport stamped at the airport and voila, done.

Other Tips

For even more tips for traveling in Lima and in Peru in general, check out my Peru travel tips post!

There you have it: the perfect Lima itinerary. Although 2 days in Lima certainly isn’t enough to do everything, it offers a great overview of this fascinating capital city. It’s definitely worth the visit.


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