Planning a solo trip to Lima, Peru? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital of Peru, with a population of 9.7 million.
- Was the seat of Spanish rule in South America for 300 years.
- Built in the desert, Lima is the second driest city in the world (after Cairo).
- Nicknames: The Garden City, Ciudad de los Reyes (“The City of Kings”).
- Currency: Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)
- Spoken languages: Spanish.
- Best time to visit: December to April. This way, you will avoid the colder winter season and the fog that settles over the city (from around June to November).
- Arriving via airport (Jorge Chavez International Airport): taxis are the best way to travel into the city. It is best to book a taxi through the pre-paid desks inside the airport – prices are displayed inside, and vary depending on which district you are traveling to (around 30 soles to downtown, 30-60 soles to Miraflores/San Isidro, and 60 soles to La Molina).
- There is an airport shuttle that goes along the route Airport -Miraflores – San Isidro (very spacious and comfortable, with Wi-Fi), which costs $8 (around 30 soles).
- The bus is a much more affordable option (at just 3 soles) – look for the large green buses just outside the airport (“Holding Express” or “Aquarius Express”).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Lima hostel for solo travelers: Rainbow Hostel. Clean rooms, comfy beds, and great safe location close to Miraflores. A mix between social and quiet – not a party hostel, but a great place to meet other travelers. Friendly and accommodating staff. Book ahead, especially during high season!
- San Borja is a safe, middle-class area that is reasonably priced.
- Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro are more upscale (and slightly pricier), though they do contain budget options within.
- Of the three, Barranco is perfect for those looking to stay beach-side and has a trendy bohemian feel (with plenty of nightlife options).
- Surquillo an area with lots of affordable great local restaurants.
- A taxi ride between neighborhoods is around 6 soles. Note: be careful when taking taxis in Lima – first check that both the vehicle and driver are registered.
- Note: there is no central bus terminal within Lima so it is best to check out the bus companies available in each district.
- Micro buses/Combi vans are small vans that make many stops all over the city. Tickets are cheap, at around 0.5 to 1 sole. A great public transport options – but watch out for pickpockets!
- Drinking age is 18, last call is never – bars/clubs are open all night long.
- Hip/local scene: head to Miraflores, where you will find a variety of nightlife establishments (including salsa clubs, nightclubs, and bars).
- Trendy scene: Barranco – many of its nightlife hotspots overlook the beach.
- Avoid downtown Lima – not the best place to party at. Also, watch your drink on a night out – it is not uncommon for drinks to be spiked.
- Tip: make sure you try Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru (made with a grape brandy).
- Great bars for solo travelers: Sargento Pimienta (rock music), La Noche de Barranco (live music), Wahio’s Bar. To catch the game, head to The Corner Sports Bar & Grill.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Plaza de Armas, located in the heart of the historic center (where Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535). The Palacio de Gobierno, home to Peru’s president, lies on the northern side of the plaza.
- Located in Miraflores, the Huaca Pucllana is one of Peru’s historic sites, built between 300 and 700 AD. This pyramid is one of Peru’s ancient ruins – a must-see.
- Located within Reserve Park, the Magic Water Circuit -contains 13 stunning fountain displays.
- Tip: City Sightseeing Buses can be found all around Lima, and are a great way to quickly sample the best sights.
- Take a walk through the Barranco district to discover Lima’s bohemian quarter – home to poets and artists. A stroll here will take you past astonishing 18th century architecture, as well as along stylish cafes and restaurants.
- Walk down Miraflores from the central parks to the district’s coastal cliffs for a beachside walk along El Malecon – a seafront strip full of sculptures, art and parks.
- Although Lima may seem a concrete jungle, locals swear by its beauty and architecture. The city is likely to win you over too, once you start exploring its sprawling streets.
- Peruvian cuisine is world-famous, and many people fly to Lima just for the food. Some great restaurants to try while you’re in town: Panchita (must visit), Restaurante Contraste, Bam Bam y sus Conchas Negras, La Picantería ($$$), Siete Sopas, La Picante, and El Aguajal (multiple locations). Also: Chifa Chun Yion Union (Cantonese cuisine).
- Where to find good cheap food: Lima is the best place in Peru to try the country’s cuisine. Prices are reasonable at many establishments. Be sure to try the seafood (the specialty in town is Octopus Ceviche).
- Dangerous areas: violent crime against tourists is minimal. Pickpockets are common, however, and visitors are advised to keep valuables hidden. It is best to avoid the La Victoria area, as well as the port city of Calleo. If you want to stay on the safe side, stick to the more upscale areas of Miraflores and San Isidro.
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days