Lima boasts an impressive historical and colonial legacy, excellent hotel options, cutting-edge contemporary art galleries and shops, and unparalleled gastronomy with top restaurants and chefs, markets, orchards, and cooking classes on offer.
Ker & Downey recommends staying a minimum of two nights in Lima to capture all this exciting city has to offer. Consider this our official Lima Travel Guide to help you plan your next luxury trip to Peru.
What to Do
In Lima, one can find endless corners of cool -- whether in the historic city center, along the sweeping waterfront, in the artistic outer reaches, or in the bohemian Barranco district. Here are a few of our favorite experiences:
City of Kings Tour
First on our Lima Travel Guide is a classic, privately guided tour of the “City of Kings.” Drive to the Historical Center of Lima and the Plaza Mayor, home to the Government Palace, City Hall, the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace. Move along to the San Francisco Monastery, hosting the intriguing catacombs. Indeed, the catacombs served as a burial ground until 1808. In fact, monks arranged the remains according to bone types, resulting in an absolutely amazing display of the burial sites.
Step inside Casa Aliaga, one of America’s best-preserved colonial mansions. Located across from the Presidential Palace in colonial Lima, Casa Aliaga was built in 1535 by Don Jeronimo de Aliaga, a member of Pizarro's conquering forces. Seventeen generations later, Casa Aliaga is still inhabited by the Aliaga family, whose heirlooms include beautiful original furniture.
Larco Herrera Museum
Don't miss a visit fascinating Larco Herrera Museum, housed in an 18th century colonial mansion. It houses the most extensive collection of Pre-Columbian art in the country, including fine examples of textiles, pottery, and gold and silver pieces set with semiprecious stones.
While here, enjoy dinner at Museo Larco Café Restaurant. As you walk through the grounds, you will find many bougainvillea plants lining the path down to the restaurant area. The restaurant offers a magical and cozy space, and some of the best of Peruvian and international cuisine.
At every turn, Barranco offers excellent art galleries, hip eateries, cool coffee shops, bars, and boutiques. Meander past stately 19th century homes in various stages of restoration. Enter La Catedral, the neighborhoods main Catholic cathedral. Walk along the Bajada de los Baños to view the beach and the sea. Finally, traverse the romantic Puente de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs).
A highlight in Barranco is a private tour of MATE – Museo Mario Testino, the showpiece, nonprofit art space belonging to famed Peruvian fashion photographer.
Venture to the Pachacamac ruins, one of the largest religious centers on the Peruvian Coast. According to archaeologists, Pachacamac was the most important pilgrimage center in ancient Peru. Pachacamac contains various pyramids, temples, and large plazas, where visitors can enjoy a pleasant walk while exploring the site. In addition, you can visit the Museum of Pachacamac located inside the archaeological complex, which displays ancient remains found there.
Travel inside a private house-atelier in Lima for a peek into a local jeweler's creative process. While there, she will share her passion and help you begin a creative adventure on your own as you design a piece of art during a one-on-one workshop.
Callao Art Tour
El Callao is the chief seaport of Peru and although widely considered to be something of a coastal suburb of Lima (due to its proximity to the capital city), Callao has always been an independent constitutional province. The cultural movements known as ‘Monumental Callao’ and FUGAZ have recently set up in the port and have transformed abandoned spaces into shops for local designers or restaurants. They have also given artists a platform to exhibit their work. On a private tour of Callao, explore the galleries and exhibitions on an expert-lead ‘street art tour’ of the area. You can even try your hand at making your own graffiti art alongside a famous local artist. This experience is especially great for art lovers and travelers who have a long layer in between flights.
How to Eat
Lima is hands-down the culinary capital of South America. Ker & Downey can certainly secure world-class reservations at Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s Malabar, Gastón Acurio’s Astrid y Gastón, or Virgilio Martínez’s Central—the #1 restaurant in the world. However, we recommend starting at the roots with the following Lima Travel Guide culinary experiences.
Enjoy a market and culinary tour of Lima with a local chef and culinary expert. First stop at the wholesale fruit market, which houses the most priced treasures of the coast, highlands, and jungle. Then go to the Surquillo market, located on the border of that district and Miraflores. It offers a great variety of vegetables and fruit plus all fresh aromatic herbs.
Early in the day is also the best time to grab a seafood breakfast—catch-of-the-day ceviche at Terminal Pesquero, the city’s largest fish market.
Indeed, wandering some of our favorite market stalls in Lima, stopping and tasting at street carts, sharing with traditional cooks in their small “huariques,” and meeting local producers in the hands of a local culinary expert is a fabulous way of exploring Lima’s food scene without filters.
Lunch at Isolina
Isolina restaurant, named after co-owner José de Castillo’s mother, Doña Isolina, is a must. The restaurant pays homage to her cooking and spirit. A single mother of four, she struggled to make ends meet until she rented a small shop and started her own restaurant. Little by little, she learned how to cook and developed her own style of traditional Peruvian cooking. This local favorite therefore serves traditional home-style cuisine, resurrecting old traditional family recipes rather than reinventing them. You will not find fusion cooking here—just simple and delicious dishes.
Gone are the days when a good bottle of wine would grace the dinner tables of social gatherings. Today, pisco has rightfully claimed its spot as Peru's national spirit. Indeed, Limeños, and all Peruvians, now love discovering the latest exceptional pisco creations coming from private productions and hidden small bodegas.
From pisco tastings with experts and sommeliers, to cocktail making, or even immersing yourself in the history and world of pisco at a private hacienda and distillery, there are plenty of ways to discover and taste this national treasure. One of our favorite Lima experiences is a visit to the top wine and pisco producers in Peru. Since 1880 this family has been producing wine in this region. Enjoy lunch alongside wine and pisco pairings. Then take a tour of the property and production facility.
Far more than a mere cooking demo or class, Ker & Downey's Kitchen Lab experience transports you to the heart of a professional kitchen where recipes are born and gastronomic wonders come to life. The local chef here comes from a lineage of culinary artistry that spans three generations. Now, he's at the helm of one of Lima's most talked-about restaurants. In this exclusive and intimate encounter, your chef divulges the cherished secrets and techniques he uses to create his alluring dishes. But this is no rigid cooking class; the Kitchen Lab exudes the vibrant ambiance of a friendly gathering.
Travel to the outskirts of Lima to a by-appointment-only, sustainable farm. This farm produces organic fruits, leafy greens, edible flowers, and vegetables for the region’s top chefs. While here, your host invites you to dig, pick, and taste the earth’s bounty. The process inspires an honest appreciation and respect for these fertile grounds.
It feels like the appropriate homage to the ancient Andean culture that worships Pachamama—goddess of fertility, planting, and harvesting—above all. After pulling yucca from the dirt and clipping the lettuce for salad, enjoy a simple, memorable lunch from the earth.
Where to Stay
Lima boasts no shortage of luxury hotels. Here are a few of our favorite options, from high-end global brands to boutique guest houses.
Built in 1914 for a wealthy family, this gorgeously restored Belle-Époque-style Barranco mansion shines in crisp white from its corner position—a stone’s throw from the city’s best surfing beach and the best art galleries, cafés, and museums in town.
The check-in process is gracious and delivers guests upstairs, past bright yellow and pastel blue walls lined floor-to-ceiling with more than 350 surreal, modern, and colonial period Peruvian artworks, to their guestroom. In the sexy suites, the layering of fabrics, antiques, and art books—between a soaring ceiling and original wide planked floors—is enough to take your breath away.
Downstairs a series of intimate nooks comprise the dining room, library, and bar spaces. Indulge in “el lonche,” Peru’s decadent high tea ritual. Or, sip on the endless carte of G&Ts at the Hotel B's bar, a hot spot for locals.
Belmond Miraflores Park
A true signature classic in Lima. This reinvented luxury hotel offers the best Pacific Ocean views. It also promises exquisite Belmond service and a prime location in Miraflores. Right on Lima’s upscale “Malecón,” where one can stroll or jog along its green sidewalk on a cliff overlooking the Pacific and enjoy stunning sunsets, it is also located within walking distance of one of Lima’s nicest commercial areas. Additionally, guests will find great dining options nearby. We especially love the Ocean View rooms and onsite restaurant, Tragaluz, with its art walls, a cutting-edge menu, and funky atmosphere.
Country Club Lima Hotel
Located in the upscale neighborhood of San Isidro, facing the greens of the uber-exclusive Lima Golf course, stands the glamorous Country Club Lima Hotel. Opened in 1927 as the most exclusive country club in the city, it now boasts the title as the second oldest hotel in Peru. Indeed, such celebrities as Duke of Windsor, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Ernest Hemingway, and Ava Gardner have all stayed here.
The hotel's age, however, does not hinder its style. The beautiful colonial building has an antique yet elegant flair. Plus, its recent refurbishment has put this traditional "grand dame” gracefully and solidly back in the city’s luxury hotel scene. Breakfast at the “Perroquet” and its lovely veranda continues to be our favorite in Lima. Plus, one of the country’s most esteemed Pisco sommeliers works at the English Bar and creates some of Peru's best pisco sours.
Villa Barranco is a beautiful boutique option in Barranco. Located in a charming Republican house from the 1920’s, just two blocks away from Hotel B on a quieter street and closer to the sea, it offers the feeling of a home away from home with a very authentic Barranco sense of place. The nine rooms are bright and spacious. Additionally, the whole property blends traditional architecture and decor with discreet bohemian, artsy touches. Former 15-year Belmond Manager Patricio Zucconi oversees all details with his very personable staff. Don’t miss watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean on its rooftop terrace.
Housed in a revamped 1940s mansion in the Miraflores district, this boutique property offers a blend of eclectic-urban-cool with a Lima sense of place. This small luxury hotel was recently renovated and only offers six rooms. The best part? Atemporal is entirely private, so only guests and those they invite can use its exclusive spaces, which include a veranda, salon, and private garden. Altogether, it creates a cozy feeling of staying in a luxury home more than in a public hotel.