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Peru’s capital Lima is usually the first port of call for visitors travelling into this South American country. Don’t be fooled by the size of the Larcomar area, this city is huge. Just over ten million people reside in the 43 districts, that’s double the population of Scotland! Three main areas boast the most hotels and hostels in Lima, the historic Central Lima, bustling Miraflores and the bohemian Barranco. If using Lima in transit and just staying for one night then Miraflores is your best option. If you are spending 2 days in Lima, we (Gemma and Craig) encourage you to venture out to the laidback Barranco. Here’s your guide on where to stay in Lima and what to do in each district.
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Where to stay in Lima
There is no shortage of accommodation in Lima. In fact, there are over 70 Lima hostels and 250 hotels with prices ranging from £5 to £500 per night so there really is something to suit every type of budget.
Miraflores is a built-up area of the city, a little grimy yet packed with backpackers. Here you will find the usual American embassies (McDonald’s, KFC) as well as Peruvian restaurants serving Ceviché (raw fish cooked in lemon acid, served with cold sweet potato, corn and coriander) and Pisco Sours.
There’s a restaurant/bar strip found close to the cat park (John F Kennedy) plating up Western menus as well as Peruvian meals. The most attractive area of Miraflores is the Larcomar (shopping centre) which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and boy those sunsets are wild.
Hostels in Miraflores
Miraflores hostels come in all shapes and sizes. You will find the typical chain hostels (you will stay in one of them at least once during your time in Peru!) such as the always effortlessly cool, Hostel Kokopelli (we stayed with them in Cusco).
Don’t be put off by its lively rooftop (with stonebaked pizzas), Kokopelli designs its rooms with the traveller in mind – hostel dorm beds have curtains for privacy (like the old fashioned trains, romantic!) and some private rooms have balconies. Free breakfast is also included as well as free city walking tours of Lima. Click here to check availability.
Pool Paradise is the new kid on the block, freshly opened for 2018. It’s not just the paint that’s fresh, this Lima hostel has a swimming pool (with bar) which is perfect for the city.
Pool Paradise also offers free tours, cooking classes and breakfast. Dorm rooms come in at around £8-12 and private rooms for just over £30. Click here to check availability.
A more chilled alternative is the B&B Tradiciones in Miraflores, a home away from home hosted by Norma and Angelo. This B&B offers free breakfast and private rooms starting at around £30. Click here to check availability.
Hotels in Miraflores are surprisingly economical for a capital city. All hotel facilities include WiFi and breakfast unless stated otherwise.
One of the top picks in Lima is Apart Hotel Petit Palace Suites. Holidaymakers like the clean comfortable rooms, fruit and bread continental breakfast and professional staff. WiFi is excellent and flatscreen TV includes English movies.
A nice addon is the use of free bikes, I recommend riding along the Malecón! Standard rooms start around £50, prices go up to suites at £100 (5 people). Click to check availability.
For boutique hotels in Lima check out Ife Boutique Hotel. This uniquely decorated Miraflores hotel offers free toiletries.
Staff go above and beyond for their guests, mention if you are visiting for a special occasion for a nice surprise. Some of Ife’s rooms have a terrace and a spa bath to rest the muscle after a day of sightseeing or cycling.
Airport shuttle and free parking are available. Standard rooms start at just over £50 with suites coming in at around £65. Click to check availability.
The Luxury Inkari Hotel is something else! The heated swimming pool (hello views!) and a well-equipped gym with sauna make it a favourite for those looking to splurge during their trip to Lima.
Visitors like the restaurant and creative cocktails. An airport shuttle is also available. Click to check availability.
The 5-star Hilton Lima Miraflores boasts of a rooftop pool with the best views of the city. The super modern rooms are elegantly decorated, kitted with luxury linen and is a hit even with visitors who don’t normally choose chain hotels.
The restaurant is recommended, some guests even choose to dine in several times during their trip to Lima.
Deluxe rooms start at around £150 with Executive for four people capping at around £320. Click to check availability.
Things to do in Miraflores
One of the strangest Lima points of interest is Kennedy Park, officially known as Parque Kennedy but affectionately called the Cat Park. Sorry, JFK, feline friends are more popular than you in Miraflores – this park is home to triple figure furry kitties.
Jokes aside, it’s quite a sad story as this is the park is where cats are dumped by owners who can’t look after them. Locals, the church and the Feline Protection Volunteer Group take on the role of mum. Help the team feed residents of Cat Park by donating here.
A nicer park story and quite a funny one at that is the Park of Love/Parque del Amor in Lima found down by the Larcomar shopping centre.
This park features a huge sculpture of two lovers having a smooch.
El Beso by Peru’s famous sculpture, Víctor Delfín portrays him and his wife in an embrace and represents a local kissing competition apparently.
You will see young couples with tongues down each other’s throats at some point in your adventure around Peru, they are very open about affection.
Nothing quite chases the Pisco Sours cobwebs away like a stroll along the Malecón seafront, the perfect location for people-watching and paragliding spotting in Lima.
This is also the place to be a sunset. If you are into shopping while holidaying check out the Larcomar.
Bike tours of Lima
Why not cover more ground and take a bike tour from Lima to Barranco?
Tours start at 09:45 to avoid the heat and if you are lucky you will get our tour guide, the enthusiastic Miraflorian, José.
During the bike tour, you will be treated to a historical account of natural disasters, the war between Chile and Peru, terrorism, corrupt governments, and stories of migration while you make your way by wheels to the ‘town within the city’ Barranco.
Lunch of sandwiches called Butifarras (ham or vegetarian cheese and olive) is served at a local cafe such as Piselli where you dine over great chat about life in Peru.
I always recommend taking a tour while travelling because you get to speak with a local, usually one that is tuned into politics and current affairs which is a particular interest of mine. I also like the local tips for cheaper eats and things to see!
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Barranco is the coolest area of Lima. Its chilled out vibes completely contrast with the hustle of Miraflores and it’s easy to see why the area is named the Soho of Lima.
Barranco is an extremely green area of the city covered in colourful sweet-smelling plants.
The plants are not the only aesthetically pleasing thing about Barranco, the architecture is interesting and there are pockets of street art to see too.
Barranco hostels are limited in numbers but they make up for it in variety.
Going against the grain of chilled vibes, The Point Lima is a popular party hostel in Barranco.
The Point bar closes at 1am but the party doesn’t stop, a guide takes you to a club in Barranco!
Meals are available onsite but it’s so close to the cute cafes in Barranco so you will want to dine out. Dorms available from around £8. Click here to check availability.
If you prefer low-key accommodation check out the family-run Casa Estrada which only has 6 bedrooms throughout the two-story 1945 building.
Free breakfast is included in the price and this hostel has a kitchen if you prefer to cook in. Dorms start at under £10. Click here to check availability.
An economical option for hotels in Barranco is the colourful Lima Wari Hotel. Rooms vary in size accommodating 2-7 guests with a private bathroom or shared.
The hotel has a shared common area and use of a microwave. Airport shuttle available on request. Room rates start at £27-£55 – click here to check availability.
A little on the pricier side, Villa Barranco is a boutique hotel based in a 1920s building.
The hotel has a glorious garden and relaxing modern patio. Some rooms are bright and modern, others are rustic.
Rooms start at £152-£330, some have a standalone bath, wow factor. Click here to check availability.
Hotel B is the luxury boutique hotel in Barranco and is famous for its art and striking decor.
Breakfast and afternoon tea is included in the price, the gin bar gets a thumbs up from tourists too.
The patio is a great place to lose an hour or two. Rooms include a flatscreen TV, iPod dock and some have a standalone bath.
They start at around £275 to £500 and include air conditioning. Click here to check availability.
Things to do in Barranco
Nothing beats a fresh beer, ok a fresh craft beer beats just any old fresh beer and this can be found at Barranco Beer, Lima’s craft beer brewery. Barranco beers serve every type from IPAs to Pilsners and also food such as pizzas while football is on the big screen.
Bridge of Sighs/Puente de Los Suspiros
Walk the length of this wooden bridge whilst holding your breath then your love will last forever.
Now you can tell your sweetheart that they really do make you breathless!
You won’t be surprised to hear that Barranco is where the artists live.
The famous photographer, Mario Testino who has captured everyone from the esteemed Kate Moss to the kid, Kendall Jenner and even the Royal Family, is from Barranco.
You can see his work at MATE – Museo Mario Testino. Modern art fans should also swing by the MAC.
Hit the Beach
Get a tan while watching the surfers attempt the wild waves of the Pacific Ocean. Stay to watch the electric sunset over the city.
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Historic Centre of Lima
There’s no surprise that Ciudad de Los Reyes or the City of Kings is where you will find most of the historically important buildings in Lima such as the main square, Cathedral and Government Palace.
This area of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Historic Centre of Lima Accommodation
Accommodation in Lima’s historic centre really varies in quality so if you decided to make this area your base, choose wisely.
Lima Historic Centre Hotels
Kamana Hotel is centrally located, each room has a safety deposit box and en-suite shower.
Rooms vary – some are modern, others look slightly dated. Prices start at £37-£50. Click here for availability.
Gran Hotel Bolivar Lima is not just a hotel, it’s a national monument and the oldest hotel in Lima.
Since the 1920s royalty and celebrities have graced its floors! This grand, vintage hotel with its large spacious rooms is suitable for couples and families. Request a balcony room as rooms can get hot. Prices start at £42-£130, click here to check availability.
Things to do in Lima’s Historic Centre
Check out the colonial buildings of the Government Palace and the Cathedral of Lima which surround the main square in Lima.
One of the most interesting things to do is see in Lima is the catacomb at the Monastery of San Francisco.
Members of the public can view the skeletons of the brotherhood which have been strategically placed underneath the church.
Let a local guide you through the history of time on this 4-hour walking tour of the city.
This tour stops at the oldest buildings, Central Market to sample some Chicha de jora, Saint Francis Monastery and the Park of the Wall.
One of the best Lima city tours for culture and history. Click here to check availability.
Getting to Lima
Jorge Chávez International Airport is located 10km outside of the city centre. There are six licensed taxi firms which operate, including the Taxi Green firm which we used.
Flat fee rates start at around 50-60 soles and can take around 45 minutes to get to Miraflores, traffic depending. Uber operates in Lima!
Click here to find out more about this transport option, prices similar to taxis. It is not advised to hail an unofficial taxi in the are of Callao.
Alternatively, there is the Lima Airport Express Bus which has onboard toilets, USB chargers and WiFi. Prices start at $8 single/$15 return and there are 7 stops in Miraflores.
If time is on your side and your budget is against you, check out the local airport bus which leaves around every 30 minutes.
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Lima airport hostels are situated in Los Olivos. Mama Backpackers is a bright, clean hostel suitable for layovers. Dorms start at around £7.50, privates from £19. Click here to check rates.
Lima Airport hotels are fewer in numbers but the Costa del Sol Wyndham Lima Airport is 20 yards from Jorge Chávez International Airport.
This very modern hotel has a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and fitness suite.
Rooms include large TVs with cable and suites have a hot tub. Double room starts £144, click here for availability.
Getting around Lima
We mainly moved around the city by foot or bike. Most tourists use taxis to get from Miraflores to the Historic Centre although microbuses do operate and welcome visitors.
You will hear the bus boys shouting out destinations before they pull over. Traffic is crazy, a member of our bike tour was hit by a taxi driver who mounted the pavement.
Thankfully she was safe and made it home to Portland, Oregan. I still recommend a bike tour of Lima, it was a freak accident and we’ve cycled in various cities since then.
Currency and ATMs in Lima
Peruvian Sol is the main form of currency accepted in Peru although some tours do advertise in USD $ and modern hostels, big hotels and restaurants will accept USD $.
ATMs are widely available and you can withdraw both Soles and USD from them. Credit cards are accepted in most larger restaurants, hotels and by tour companies.
Day trips from Lima
If you are spending 2 or 3 days in Lima you may want to consider taking time out of the city to catch some of Peru’s epic attractions.
One of my favourite days out was the Paracas based boat tour of Islas Ballestas. We nearly skipped this trip to save time but I’m so glad we didn’t because we saw sea lions and baby penguins and a Nazca Lines style design call the Candelabra.
This full day tour from Lima also stops at the stunning Paracas National Reserve (Peru’s Playa Roja/Red Beach) and sand dunes.
Don’t just see the sea lions, swim with them on this half-day tour from Lima to Palomino Islands.
The tour picks you up at your hotel and takes you to Callao Harbor where you board a luxury yacht.
You then sail around El Camotal, San Lorenzo and Palomino before taking a dip in the Pacific Ocean with the sea life (wetsuits and life jackets provided).
If you like wine, Pisco and adventure check out this tour of Ica and Huacachina. Ride the buggies, board down the dunes then sample Peru’s wine and brandy, Pisco. Lunch in Ica is included. Check availability here.
If you are short on time but want to experience the Nazca Lines you can still do so on this full-day all-inclusive tour to Nazca. See the bird’s eye views of Peru’s geoglyphs from the small plane.
Headsets during the journey are provided so you can hear your local English speaking guide.
Visiting Lima, Peru is not stressful. The city is relatively easy to get around by taxi, foot or bike, the locals are accustomed to tourism and there is lots to look at. Hotels/hostels/apartments accommodation exists for every budget and travelling style.
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15 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Lima + What to do in Each District”
Oh god guys, that’s terrible to hear, hope you’re not too shaken up. Poor José too, this is his living. I hope the victim is ok.
Victim is at home in Portland, thankfully. We’re cool – it’s a surreal experience! Will still get on a bike mind.
Ah good, that’s good to hear. Stay safe, have fun pedalling 🙂
Just read this. Yikes! I hope the person’s recovering well. I’ll be in Lima in two weeks and hope to contact Jose.
He is an outstanding tour guide. Recovery was full, we’re hoping to meet the couple in Portland in January and they’d agree with us that the accident is not reflective of normal behaviour in Lima! I’m very excited for you. Have been looking through old Peru photos and have been dreaming!
Jose is an awesome person. i am going to lima in future. hope for best riding.
This is such random timing Nancy. We were on a bike tour in Bucharest ROMANIA yesterday, and our guide knows Jose via Facebook – wwhhhhaaat! The worlds are aligned. He is just a darling isn’t he? Have fun in Lima, try the pisco sours (after biking!)
Crazy story! (with beautiful pictures)
I know, but still such a lovely company to cycle with!
This is a complete information guide on Lima. Thank you for sharing such great information and awesome pics.
Aw cheers Steve. I really love the Barranco area!
Hi Gemma & Craig,
I’m planning a family hol to Peru, so appreciate all the tips! Probably can’t do the bike tour as little one is just 8 yrs old….how can we book tours to the Lima catacombs itself (rather than doing a 1/2/full day tour with a company)?
What a lucky 8-year-old! You should be able just to book there and then.
Totally dug the cat park in Miraflores Gemma! Also, Bircher and Benner. Or some similar spelling LOL. The really good vegetarian restaurant in that part of town. Lima has a different feel to it. Cannot explain it. Dug the place big-time. Fabulous review!
It was a great intro to a very exciting country! Felt very nostalgic reading over it of late. Thanks for the veggie tip!