Lima is a bit of a wallflower. A shy city often overlooked as a mere stop-over point for travellers on their way to Machu Picchu. And while there's no denying the famous Inca city is Peru's biggest drawcard, it doesn't mean that Lima should be ignored entirely. Like most wallflowers, give it a chance and Lima will surprise you. As the capital and largest city of Peru, its size is impressive. Within the city are 43 districts, each with their own identities, from sleek and modern neighbourhoods to orderly shantytowns and a colonial church on almost every corner.
Despite being built on a valley surrounded by an extremely arid desert, Lima also goes by the title of ‘Garden City.' Some of its best stretches of green can be found along the seaside cliffs of Miraflores, a popular surfing/skateboarding/soccer hangout boasting spectacular views. While it's essential to take in the sea sights and wander through your fare share of attractions, it'd be amiss to leave Lima without taking a minute to truly soak it in. You can do so while sipping a pisco sour at Larcoma, enjoying a bowl of ceviche along the Boulevard of Gastronomy or dancing at a club in Barranco. For a wallflower city, Lima will surprise you. You just need to give it a chance.
While it's not necessarily within Lima's city limits, Machu Picchu is often attributed as a must-do for the city. And it is. Located over 1000 kilometres from Lima, the best way to reach the ruins is by flying from Lima to the nearby town of Cusco then catching the train from there. But Machu Picchu isn't the only ruins worth seeing in Peru. Closer to Lima you'll find the Pachacamac ruins, an archaeological city with buildings and temples dating back as early as 200 CE (Common Era). Once an important pilgrimage centre, Pachacamac contains a range of pyramids, temples and plazas as well as a museum where ancient remains found on the site, are displayed.
Even closer to the city, Lima has a number of historic sites worth exploring. The ancient Huaca Pucllana remains are wonderfully preserved considering its trendy neighbours within the upscale Miraflores district. Lima's most famed church, the Monastery of San Francisco, is a magnificent display of baroque style architecture, not to mention its spooky catacombs that lie below. You can also delve even further back in time at the Larco Museum which houses artefacts dating back 300 years. But for all its history, Lima is a modern city too best seen at the multi-level Larcomar complex, built magnificently on the Cliffside underneath Miraflores.
For more must-dos in Lima, check out our things to do page and start planning your Lima holiday.