All You Need to Know About Barranco, Lima's Coolest Neighborhood

Mural-splattered buildings, tasty local treats, and a vibrant cultural scene make the Barranco neighborhood a must-visit while in Lima.

Barranco, Lima
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Entering the Barranco neighborhood of Lima is sort of like entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. No, there isn't a chocolate river or edible flowers and trees, but it's a lively respite from the moody skies and gray clouds lurking above Lima. Known as the SoHo of Lima, Barranco is one of the city's hippest neighborhoods, with colorful street art, tucked-away bars and coffee shops, vibrant old mansions and summer houses, beautiful museums, delicious food, and plenty of bohemian vibes. Here, a guide to some of the best treasures in the neighborhood.

Puente de los Suspiros, Lima
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Where to See Culture in Barranco

A great start to the Barranco neighborhood is making your way across the Puente de los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs. One of the most famous landmarks of the neighborhood, this wooden bridge comes with a legend that states that if you make a wish and hold your breath for the entire time you walk across the 100-foot bridge, then your wish will come true.

To see some incredible street art, simply start wandering through the neighborhood and look for murals. These vibrant displays are everywhere and constantly changing, with whimsical, realistic, and graffiti-style displays. Wear comfortable shoes and make sure your phone is charged, as you'll find yourself snapping photos constantly.

Barranco, Lima
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For shopping, head to Dédalo arte y artesanía, a shop and gallery combination where you can roam the halls and bounce from room to room for Peruvian crafts, modern fashion, jewelry, décor, furniture, and recycled objects. The exhibition hall displays works from more than 700 Peruvian artists.

San Isidro, Lima
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Where to Eat in Barranco

Ceviche — a seafood dish made from fresh, raw fish that's cured in citrus juices and seasoned with spices, salt, and onions — is a must-try while in Peru. Head to El Muelle, a laid-back cevicheria that offers some of the freshest ceviche in the city. Sample some other local favorites here, like causa, a cold dish of mashed yellow potato packed with layers of filling of the chef's choice. Common causa ingredients are chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and avocado. Wash it all down with a glass of chicha morada, a Peruvian non-alcoholic drink traditionally made from purple corn, pineapple, and spices like cinnamon and clove. It tastes like autumn, and you can thank me later.

For authentic drinks like a pisco sour or chilcano, head to Juanito de Barranco, a beloved 1930s bar reminiscent of a New York City Jewish deli. The space is small, with walls covered in posters advertising local art shows and theater performances, but it's always full of locals cheering on Peru in a soccer match or raising their glasses after a long day at work. For a hopping nightlife scene, sip cocktails at Ayahuasca, a bar and restaurant located in the 19th-century Berninzon Mansion. Wander from room to room upstairs and down, each furnished with unique décor.

You cannot go to Barranco and skip a meal at Isolina, a tavern-style eatery celebrating home cooking and forgotten recipes from generations past. Chef José del Castillo named the restaurant after his mother, and fans have formed a loyal following of his cuisine. Be sure to make a reservation, since tables are in high demand. Order the papa rellena — stuffed potato with minced meat, criolla salsa, and Peruvian red pepper cream; escabeche de bonito — bonito fish brined in vinegar, spices, and ají chili pepper; and costillar de cerdo a la chorrillana — crispy pork ribs with stir-fried onions, tomatoes, and boiled potatoes.

If you're looking for some sweet treats to take home for souvenirs, head to El Cacaotal, a Peruvian chocolate house that specializes in bean-to-bar, fair-trade chocolate. Join in a chocolate-tasting class, or simply chat with a staff member to find the best Peruvian chocolate. (Long story short, fair-trade chocolate isn't always fair.)

Where to Stay In and Near Barranco

Miraflores Mall, Lima
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Hotel B is housed in a restored Belle Époque mansion and has the requisite luxury amenities to match. From complimentary afternoon tea at the rooftop terrace to exclusive experiences like sailing trips, art tours (the hotel itself has over 300 original works of art and installations throughout), and culinary classes, you’ll never want for something to do in this Barranco gem. 

Villa Barranco by Ananay Hotels is a boutique hotel a few blocks from the Plaza de Barranco. In a house that dates to the 1920s, this charming retreat has breezy, modern interiors, free breakfast, and onsite bicycles you can use to explore the neighborhood.  

In the Miraflores neighborhood just north of Barranco, the AC Hotel Lima Miraflores is a contemporary oasis with ocean views and rooftop dining. The hotel has a great location at Malecón de la Reserva with an easy walk to Larcomar, the seaside shopping center next door with numerous dining and retail selections. Also in Miraflores, the JW Marriott Hotel Lima is located within walking distance to the beach and offers modern amenities, Asian and Peruvian cuisine at two on-site restaurants, and ocean views.

For sweeping city views, stay at the Westin Lima Hotel, where guests can peer out their windows at night to see the beautiful city twinkling below. In the San Isidro district, the hotel is surrounded by restaurants, shopping, and city living. The hotel has the largest urban spa in South America, and excellent Peruvian fine-dining cuisine at Maras, a great option for those wanting to sample some of Lima's storied gastronomy.

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