Visiting Lima - What to See and Do
(Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport LIM, Peru)
is a mixed bastion of ancient, colonial and modern architecture, making it one of the most alluring cities in all of South America
. As Peru's capital, the city is busy, catering to more than eight million residents and growing. It was settled by the Spanish around 1535, which led to the construction of the colonial quarters of the city. Many of these attractions have been well preserved, providing fantastic landmarks for sightseeing-buffs.
Before Spanish sailors arrived in the area, Andean civilisations flourished. The Inca and Moche people lived in large settlements in and around today's modern metropolis of Lima. Many of these pre-Hispanic sites are still accessible and well-worth the visit. Both nearby Cajamarquilla and Pachacamac are particularly interesting.
Despite these treasures, Lima is much more than just architecture. Tourists can chill out along the beaches or try their hand at surfing. Culinary tours are also on the cards. The shopping sights of the city are too often overlooked, as plenty of major complexes and malls make the retail culture of Lima a potential gold mine.
Ten things you must do in Lima
- The Convento de San Francisco (Saint Francis Convent) is a colonially built church in the city centre. It boasts a fantastic facade that is worth a visit in itself. However, dig deeper into the church and visitors can explore the eerie catacombs. More than 25,000 skeletons and remains are found throughout the underground rooms of the convent.
- Peruvian art is the main attraction at the Lima Museum of Art. Interesting permanent and temporary collections provide great works of art from pre-Hispanic periods, colonial and modern eras. The best of Peru's art industry is predominantly displayed here, although there are other smaller galleries and museums located around Lima and Peru.
- Lima Zoo doesn't boast the elegance of the San Diego or London zoo. However, this zoological park is still a great place to explore South America's abundance of magnificent wildlife. Monkeys are found at Monkey Island and happen to be the main attraction. The penguin pools, tiger and cat enclosures, and bird aviary are also worth visiting.
- The Puruchuco Museum is more than just a cultural and history centre. It is actually an archaeological site that has been partly transformed into a museum. Visitors will find many spectacular features, such as real ruins, burial costumes, head wear, ceramics, pottery and more. The landmark is only a short distance from the heart of the city, so transportation is never an issue.
- Pachacamac is located some 25 km / 16 miles from the city centre and is one of the largest archaeological sites in South America. This ranks amongst the best preserved settlements of the Incas and pre-Inca civilisations, ranging from 500 to 1,500 BC. One of the onsite temples is a sun temple, while several ramp temples can also be spotted.
- Peru's amazing 3,000-year-old history is on display at the Larco Museum. From the Pre-Columbian period, Lima is blessed with an exciting ensemble of artefacts and relics, most of which are located inside the Museo Larco. The complex is open from 09:00 to 18:00 every day without fail. Check out the fascinating pottery displays within the complex.
- Just off the coast of Lima are the two Islas Palomino islands. Visiting for the afternoon is a popular practice by locals and tourists, as it only takes a short cruise to reach the islands. Cormorants and sea lions are the main attractions. It is even possible to swim with the sea lions, which basically means taking a dip along a beach that is next to a sea lion population. Cruises can be found at the port area of Lima.
- The ancient landmark, Huaca Pucllana, is a red-brick building constructed around 500 AD. This makes it one of the oldest edifices in the country. There is a museum found inside the site, and tours of the grounds and exhibitions are easy to arrange. Tourists will be able to stay for hours if needed, as a restaurant also operates here.
- Translated as the 'Dead City', Cajamarquilla is a pre-Hispanic settlement found just outside the city. Day trips to this site are commonplace, and even though much of this archaeological landmark is crumbling and worn, it still provides a fantastic display of ancient architecture. Entry is free and tours are relatively easy to arrange.
- The Cerro San Cristobal is a beautiful hill found at the northern reaches of Lima. Standing some 370 metres / 1,214 feet above sea level, the hill provides a stunning viewpoint for the entire cityscape. In addition, onlookers can follow the course of the Rimac River as it meanders through the Peruvian capital.