Like most Americans with no personal connection to Peru, thinking about the country brought to mind Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Nazca Lines, ceviche, and the Incas. Lima sounded vaguely familiar to me, but intrigued me nonetheless. I have always felt that most capital cities explain a lot about a country.
What I loved immediately about Lima was that it was a city for Peruvians. There were tourists, but not the amount that you would expect for a major city. It was New Years when we were there, and Peruvians were spending the day with their families. A father taught his son how to skateboard on the Malecón, and families swarmed to visit Parque de la Reserva. Even though we weren’t part of the Peruvian crowd, we still felt welcome. Everyone I spoke to was happy to continue a conversation with me in Spanish. Taxi drivers gave us advice about where to visit. My friend broke a plate while eating at an outdoor cafe, and people laughed and clapped as he broke the silence with, “feliz año!”
Lima’s food is also not to be missed, and it is increasingly recognized for its gastronomy. Ceviche is the staple dish of the country, and if you like raw fish you must try it. All the other seafood is excellent as well, and I splurged for a shrimp risotto that was to die for. Lima also features foods from other parts of Peru, such as quinoa and guinea pig from the Andes and tropical fruits from the Amazon. International fusion is also popular. The gnocchi I ate here was better than gnocchi I have had in Italy.
What to See in Lima in 48 Hours
Miraflores. This is a neighborhood of Lima and is probably the best place to stay if you are a tourist. Miraflores is safe and features El Malecón, an oceanside walkway that features great views of the Pacific. Along El Malecón you will come to Parque del Amor once you see a giant statue of two lovers canoodling, surrounded by real-life lovers canoodling. Take some time to walk around the Larcomar shopping center and splurge on some of the great restaurants overlooking the Pacific.
Parque Kennedy. A city park dedicated to John F. Kennedy to commemorate the sister city status (whatever that means) between Pensacola, Florida and Miraflores. Enjoy a stroll through the park to admire the many stray cats and craft sales.
Barranco. The colorful neighborhood of Lima that’s full of street art and bohemian shops/restaurants.
Plaza de Armas. A common name for any main square in the major cities of South America. Like most, Lima’s Plaza de Armas has a heavy Spanish influence in the architecture of its churches and governmental buildings.
The Larco Musuem. A beautiful museum that is full of Pre-Columbian art. It is most famous for its rooms dedicated to erotic statues.