After a very long and bumpy 20 hour bus ride from Cuzco, we arrive in Peru’s capital, Lima. Home to 7.6 million people this sprawling seaside city offers up cheap seafood, local beaches, ancient ruins and a number of national museums. While Lonely Planet describes Lima as a somewhat polluted and dangerous place we found Lima just as safe and charming as any other Peruvian metropolitan. Lima’s main neighbourboods including the touristy Miraflores and the downtown core are linked with a convenient expressway, with dedicated bus lanes throughout the center of the city making it easy and safe to get around.
Looking to cool off in the evening? Then head to Lima’s Parque de la Reserva, boasting the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest fountain complex. With flashing lights, music and 13 ornamental fountains including ones you can walk right through, it’s a fun evening spent marveling at the magic of water. Afterwards you can try one of the local specialties from the many stalls outside the park – corazon de res, or beef heart. If that doesn’t whet your appetite they serve chicken as well.
Daytime Lima offers everything from museums to art galleries, a number of city parks and major shopping complexes. Something a bit out of the norm and definitely worth the 7 sole ($2.5CAD) entrance fee is a visit to the beautiful and creepy Monasterio de San Francisco. It is one of the best preserved churches of Lima’s early colonial architecture, but the real reason to come is to see the catacombs underneath the church where up to 70,000 people are buried. The 45 minutes tour explains the history and artwork throughout the monestary, and then enters the crypts below. A smaller version of the catacombs in Paris, there are a number of pits filled with bones organized by type – femurs and skulls alike. No photos down below so you’ll have to use your imagination or pay them a visit first hand.
For a less creepy ancient burial site, check out the ruins conveniently located in the neighbourhood of Miraflores, just a short walk from the expressway. Built in 400 AD this adobe pyramid structure lies right in the middle modern development, juxtaposed with apartments and shopping malls. A guided tour is included in the admission price and while restorations are still heavily underway it’s an easy and interesting archeological site to visit with the confines of the city.
For a coastal city located only 10 degrees from the equator, Lima is surprisingly cool and overcast from April through November. If you do visit during the warmer months, there a number of accessible beaches in the seaside districts of Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos, but they don’t have much on the far nicer beaches of Peru’s northern coast.
Girl Gone Gallivanting Overall Recommendation: Something to see and do for everyone and a great place to recuperate from the high altitudes of Cuzco and the altiplano.