Lima Travel Guide
Lima is way more than a layover on the way to trekking Machu Picchu. Perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Lima is one of South America's most animated and culturally colorful cities. Beach meets business center in this capital coastal city. Skyscrapers compete for the best views of thrill-seekers paragliding from the Miraflores cliffs and surfing world class breaks. The pulsing restaurant and bar scenes have evolved way beyond ceviche and Pisco Sours—though you shouldn't skip either. Bohemian neighborhoods attract modern artists and hold Inca ruins. Lima is it.
Peru Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Thanks to the Pacific Ocean coast location below the equator, there are only two distinct seasons in Lima: winter and summer. The weather isn't dramatic and rain is rare, but days are usually cloudy and cool. Expect the warmest temperatures and biggest crowds between December and April. For events, February hosts both Carnival (don't miss Lima's Water Wars) and National Pisco Sour Day on the first Saturday of the same month. National Ceviche Day is usually at the end of June.
Things to Know
Currency: Peruvian Sol
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
I don't speak Spanish: No hablo espanol/castellano.
I'm lost: Estoy perdido.
I would like…: Me gustaria...
Calling Code: +51 1
Capital City: Lima
How to Get Around
Trains: The Lima Metro has one line with 26 stations, and generally serves commuters who live in the suburbs over tourists. The train stops running at 11 p.m. and it doesn't connect to the airport.
Buses: Lima offers two types of buses. The larger Metropolitano buses are slightly more expensive—but refined. Combis are cheaper van-size buses that barely slow down to drop passengers off wherever they want on the route.
Taxis: Both car and moto taxis are available. Be sure the driver starts the meter or states the price when you get in to avoid haggling over fares.
Car service: Uber and Cabify are available and affordable in Lima, but you will need internet service to operate the apps.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Miraflores gets all the ocean cliffside oohs and ahhs, plus high end shopping, globally celebrated restaurants, and luxe hotels. Barranco is beloved for its nightlife and boho-artistic vibes. But don't sleep on Barrio Chino's charming Chinese architecture and abundance of Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) restaurants. The Historical Center is worth exploring too, with its cathedral-fronted Plaza de Armas, Moorish balconies, and the historic El Gran Hotel Bolivar.
The weather in coastal Lima almost always plays nice—but cloudy days are typical and temperatures err on the cool side thanks to cold water currents in the Pacific Ocean. Remember, summer and winter are opposite of what we experience in the United States.
The warm season is generally from December through April, with temps rarely exceeding the mid 80s. Expect cool, humid, and cloudy weather from June to October. Rain is scarce throughout the year, but sea mist (called guara) is typical.