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In Pictures: Travel Guide to exploring Lima, Part 1 of 2

Lima, the capital of Peru is probably South America’s most underrated city and it’s not hard to guess why. Most tourists visiting Peru more or less see Lima as a transit destination on their way to the more famous Machu Picchu. And if I’m being completely honest, I did visit Peru for that very reason but luckily, Machu Picchu was the last leg of my itinerary (talk about ending the trip on a high, ha!). That gave me the chance to explore the rest and I can confidently say that Lima, home to more than 10 million people, has a lot more to offer than just being a transit destination. In this post, I’ll give you not only the reasons to put Peru’s capital on your list of travel destinations but also tips on exploring the best of Lima.

Part 1:
Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas)
Plaza San Martín
Miguel Grau Square (Plaza Grau)
Park of the Reserve (Parque de la Reserva)

Part 2:
Larco Museum (Museo Larco)
Huaca Pucllana
Park of Love (Parque del Amor)
Peruvian Ceviche

Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM)

13 km (8 miles) from Historic Centre
20 km (12.4 miles) from Miraflores
22 km (13.7 miles) from Barranco
Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas)
Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas) is the birthplace of Lima

Whether you’ve just arrived or have been in Lima for a while, it’s a good idea to start where it all started – Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas), the birthplace of Lima. Located in the historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is surrounded by many impressive and important buildings:

Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal)
Municipal Palace or City Hall of Lima

The Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal) or City Hall of Lima is ideal for those interested in art, history, and architecture. The interior design has some French Renaissance influence and interestingly, the building still serves as headquarters of the metropolitan municipality. Among things that are accessible to the public, most notable are a hall of mirrors, a library, and an art gallery depicting an interesting collection of photographs and paintings by Peruvian artists. The library contains original documents of Charter of Foundation of Lima and the Declaration of Independence.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 4 pm.
Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno)
The Government Palace is the official residence of the President of Peru

The Government Palace of Peru, also known as the House of Pizarro (named after Francisco Pizarro, founder of Lima), is the official residence of the President of Peru. As you can imagine, the building is heavily guarded and access to the public is restricted. Special tours can be arranged but require a reservation in advance. For more information on these tours, you can visit the office around the corner or call at +51-01-311-3908 to make an appointment. You could also just ask the guards stationed in front of the building. Remember to carry your passport.

Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place daily at noon (no reservation required). There are dedicated stands outside the palace for public viewing.
Archbishop’s Palace of Lima (Palacio Arzobispal)
Archbishop’s Palace of Lima

The Palace is the residence of the Archbishop of Lima. The building houses a museum that has an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures, among other objects from different eras.

Open Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm.

Entrance fee is S/. 20.
The Cathedral of Lima (La Catedral de Lima)
The Lima Cathedral

The Cathedral is home to the tomb of Francisco Pizarro (founder of Lima), who laid the Cathedral’s first stone on Lima’s foundation day, January 18, 1535.

Open Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday, from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Free. There is an entrance fee of S/. 10 for the Religious Art Museum.
Plaza San Martín
Monument to General Jose de San Martin

Located southwest of Plaza Mayor, less than a kilometer away, is another historic site of Lima. Plaza San Martín is dedicated to Peru’s liberator, General Jose de San Martín. He declared Peru’s independence on July 28, 1821 and was voted the Protector of the newly independent nation.

Miguel Grau Square

About a kilometer south of Plaza San Martín is the Miguel Grau Square or Plaza Grau, dedicated to the Pacific War hero, Admiral Miguel Grau Seminario. Every year, Peruvian Navy officials lay a wreath to honor him and others who died in the Battle of Angamos. The monument is located in the middle of a busy intersection so you’ll have to be careful while trying to get there.

Monument to Admiral Miguel Grau

Standing at the square facing North, you can see the Naval Heroes Walk – a public park surrounded by important buildings such as the Palace of Justice, seat of the Supreme Court of Peru on the east, the Rímac building in the north, the Civic Center, the Sheraton Hotel and the Museum of Italian Art on the west.

Palace of Justice, seat of the Supreme Court of Peru
The Rimac building (center)
Park of the Reserve (Parque de la Reserva)
Main entrance to Park of the Reserve

A public park that boasts of water fountains and large areas decorated with sculptures by Peruvian artists. One of the main tourist attractions here is El Circuito Mágico del Agua or The Magic Water Circuit, which holds the record for the largest fountain complex in the world, consisting of 13 distinct fountains (many of which are interactive). If interested, I’d recommend visiting this place at night, when all of the fountains are illuminated, with continuously changing color schemes.

Open Wednesday to Sunday (and public holidays), from 3 pm to 10.30 pm.

Entrance fee is S/. 4.
Bonus – National Stadium (Estadio Nacional)
National Stadium of Peru

No prizes for guessing Peru’s national sport. For the completely oblivious, it’s football (soccer). Located not too far from Park of the Reserve, the National Stadium of Peru is the standard playing venue for the Peru national football team. It is also used for concerts from time to time and has a capacity of 40,000. If you time your trip right, you might be able to catch the national team in action.

Overlooking the Paseo de la República, one of Lima’s main expressways

That brings us to the end of Part 1. I hope you found this information helpful – let me know your thoughts (leave a comment!). Click the button below to continue exploring the best of Lima.

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