This South American capital has it all: an eclectic art scene, red-hot restaurants, and trendy boutiques. Plus, with new direct flights from major U.S. cities, there’s no excuse NOT to go. Read on for the perfect weekend plan in Peru’s biggest city.
Arrive at Hotel B, an art gallery and hotel hybrid in Lima's bohemian Barranco neighborhood, and check into one of the 17 chic suites before setting off for a day of exploring. Start by walking a few blocks to La Jugueria Barranco for a fresh blend of Peruvian juices to-go, so you can sip and stroll along the waterfront to admire the historic mansions and antique Volkswagens parked along the tree-lined lanes. As Barranco is home to some of Peru's most vibrant musicians, designers and photographers, it's worth it to take a tour with local artist Hannah Zingre of La Artista Travels. Highlights include: the large sculptures at Detonador and ceramics at Taller Dos Ríos (JS tip: Take a private pottery lesson while you're here!). At the end of the day, dine at local favorite Isolina for traditional Peruvian cuisine like papa rellena (stuffed potato croquettes), tortilla de sesos (calf's brain omelette) and rinoncitos al vino (kidneys in red wine sauce). Save room for a dueling dessert combo at Crem dela Crem and BLU, two of the best gelaterias around, followed by a mint tea or local beer in the cozy den at Las Vecinas.
After spending the first day in a local hood, head 30 minutes north to the heart of Lima. Stop for a hearty breakfast at El Chinito, where you can tuck into a juicy pan con chicharrón (braised pork sandwich). Then, walk off the calories on your way to the Church of San Francisco, a 17th-century baroque chapel that is known for its creepy catacombs and cemeteries. Five minutes away is the Plaza de Armas, which has the best views of the Government Palace. When hunger strikes, Bar Cordano is a must. As one of the city's oldest bars, it has served almost every Peruvian president for the past century. Order the famous butifarra (ham sandwich) and wash it down with a pisco sour, the country's national drink. Still craving more? Walk 15 minutes to Chinatown to try chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) fusion fare at Salon Capon, or join an Urban Adventures Lima Night Bites & Sights tour — cocktails and street food included!
It's not hard to see how Lima got its Garden City nickname, especially at Miraflores, an upscale area with waterfront greenery and trendy shops. Go for a morning stroll along El Malecón, a six-mile stretch of parks, and stop by Parque del Amor for a picture by the famous El Beso statue. Then, flex that plastic at Larcomar, a mall with high-end boutiques by some of Peru's top fashion designers. The capital's food scene is also booming, so you can't visit without tasting some of the city's best flavors. Sip local coffee and nosh on sweet pastries at Peru pa' ti, or for a heartier bite, have a late lunch at La Mar, founded by the acclaimed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio. The ceviche with leche de tigre (tiger milk) is a must — and rumor has it that it's the best hangover killer in town. Make time to see one of the local markets (we love Mercado de Surquillo), before feasting on 15 courses of nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) cuisine at Maido, helmed by chef Mitsuharu Tsumura. Finish the evening with a craft beer at Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar or BarBarian — the Sacred Valley hops from Cervecería del Valle Sagrado is a favorite.