Adventure in Lima: The Culinary Capital of the Americas
The tourism industry in the country of Peru has been robust for decades and growing ever stronger by the year. The country holds some world-class attractions, most notably Machu Picchu, Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain, the Ballestas Islands, Huacachina Oasis, and Lake Titicaca just to name a few. There is something for everyone to enjoy. However, in this natural beauty and ancient history, tourists often forget about the capital of Peru, Lima.
Over the last few years, Lima has developed into a modern metropolis that has a unique culture, history, and plenty of activities to keep visitors more than entertained. The city has also become famous for its incredible food scene that rivals other famous foodie destinations like Paris and Copenhagen. Clear examples of the quality of the food scene are the restaurants Central and Maido, which are ranked in the top ten in the world. And these two are only the tip of the iceberg because Lima’s food scene thrives on its diversity and freshness of produce. The city has a minimum of five native types of cuisines, Criollo, Chifa, Nikkei, Andean, and Amazonian, each representing a different set of people calling Lima home.
Chifa, a mix of traditional Peruvian food with Chinese cuisine, might be the most widespread food in the city. It became popular during the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. A great place to try Chifa is near Lima Centro in Barrio Chino. The Chinatown Gate, marking the heart of Barrio Chino, is surrounded by numerous restaurants serving Chifa. This area is only a few minutes’ walk from the central plaza in the city, Plaza de Armas.
Plaza de Armas
The area around Plaza de Armas, also known as Plaza Mayor, will take you a whole day to explore. Surrounding the plaza are the Government Palace of Peru, Archbishop’s Palace, Cathedral of Lima, and Municipal Palace of Lima. The Cathedral of Lima has a beautiful interior worth exploring. On the other side of the plaza is the Government Palace of Peru, used as the residence of the president. At noon daily, visitors can witness the Changing of the Guard that protects the entrance to the building.
A few steps from the plaza, you will find Basilica San Francisco de Lima and Basilica Santo Domingo. Basilica San Francisco is free to enter and explore the interior; however, you will need to pay a small fee for the tour that explores the covenant and the extensive catacombs beneath the church. The catacombs contain the remains of thousands of people and the guides do a fantastic job explaining the burial rituals of the time.
Basilica Santo Domingo, on the other hand, is easily recognizable due to its pink exterior. Inside, you can find some of the most important religious relics in the country. Walking inside the church is free as well, but if you want to explore the grounds and the tower, you will need to hire a guide.
Pisco and Plaza San Martin
A great walk from the city center is on Jiron de la Union, which is the main pedestrian street in the city connecting Plaza De Armas with Plaza San Martin. Make sure to grab a Pisco Sour at the historic Gran Hotel Bolivar, located in front of the Plaza San Martin. Pisco is a type of brandy and Peru’s national liquor. The Pisco Sour is the country’s most famous cocktail. The Gran Hotel is responsible for popularizing the drink during its heyday, when many celebrities and diplomats stayed here.
San Isidro is the quieter of the two neighborhoods and provides an excellent opportunity to escape the bustle of the big city. El Olivar is a large park made up of Olive trees running through San Isidro. It is the perfect place for a picnic, to read a book, or just to find some shade on a sunny day. A short walk from the park, you can also visit one of the pre-Inca pyramids located in Lima. Huaca Huallamarca is a step pyramid, and it highlights different burial traditions from that period.
Miraflores, on the other hand, is home to most upscale restaurants, local shops, fun activities, and amazing views of the Pacific. The coast of Lima is unique due to the enormous cliffs that the city rests on and the separation to the beaches below. However, these cliffs do provide spectacular views of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, as well as make Miraflores one of the best places in the world for paragliding. On a windy day, you will see numerous instructors take off with tourists from the seaside parks along the edge of the cliffs in Lima.
One such location is the Park of Love, which is also home to the famous El Beso Sculpture, a place where locals in love watch the sunset together. A short walk from the coast in Miraflores, you will also find the Hilton Lima and its spectacular local restaurant serving specialties such as the Octopus and Avocado dish that seafood lovers should not miss. Nearby is also the La Lucha Sandwich chain, which has the best fries you will ever try, and some of the biggest sandwiches as well.
Once the sun sets head towards the Park of the Reserve. It is a large park next to the national stadium containing numerous large fountains that illuminate at night and are accompanied by different songs based on the season. It is a great place to visit with the family; however, if you are looking to dance the night away, you must visit the Barranco neighborhood. Barranco is the artsy area of Lima and it’s immediately south of Miraflores. In the center of the district is the famous Bridge of Sighs, a perfect location for a night walk while listening to street musicians and exploring the hundreds of pieces of street art all over the district. Mayo Bar serves some of the best cocktails in the city, and you can hear great local live music at La Noche de Barranco.
When traveling to Peru, do not forget about its capital. The natural wonders that the country holds are hard to match; however, Lima’s unique culinary scene and local history make it a must-visit location if you are thinking of traveling to South America.