Day 1 - Walk on by
Arriving in a city and darting to the number one attraction is rushing things. You will get to them eventually, so rather than going straight to Lima’s number one landmark take some time out to get to know the city. This is particularly enjoyable in Lima as the colonial architecture makes walking around a very pleasant experience.
Plaza San Martin is a good place to embark on a morning or afternoon stroll around the Peruvian capital. A statue of San Martin is the centrepiece of this square which is complemented by flower beds and surrounding greens.
From this gaping square you can walk down the long pedestrianised Jr de la Union, Lima’s main shopping thoroughfare which will bring you to Plaza Mayor (also known widely as Plaza de Armas), Old Lima’s largest square. Standing proud in the centre of this square is a bronze fountain dating back to 1610.
If you have snapped up a few postcards along Jr de la Union this is a great place to scribble your thoughts to loved ones back home and make them envious or your location. It is also a good place to relax for a while and watch the Limeños (Lima’s locals) go about their lives.
Your appetite could be worked up ferociously at this stage from so much walking. To recharge your batteries, there are restaurants located on every second street in Lima. If you are on a tight budget keep your eyes peeled for Chinese and Italian restaurants – these are usually the best value. And if you are really on a tight budget you can pick something off the street stalls for next to nothing.
Day 2 - Time to see some attractions
What’s great about Lima is that many of its key attractions can be found in and around the city’s main square, Plaza Mayor. These include the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Cathedral of Lima and Municipalidad de Lima (City Hall).
The most impressive of all these is undoubtedly the Cathedral. Built in 1555, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1746. Thankfully, it was rebuilt soon thereafter to as similar to the original building as possible. Its showpieces are the silver-covered altars and the mosaics which decorate the walls. There are regular English-speaking guides here give tours for free but the guides do expect a tip. And considering the in-depth information they feed you, you won’t mind digging your pockets for a few Nuevo Sol (Peru’s national currency).
While you are on Plaza Mayor, try and make it to the changing of the guards which takes place daily at 12pm at the Presidential Palace. Also visit Municipalidad de Lima, the huge yellow building which offers good photo opportunities.
It’s always nice to treat yourself to something, especially if you are travelling on a tight budget. This is where to find that something special for, well, yourself! If you think you deserve a present there are good markets in Lima. The best of these is the Mercado Central Market (central market). Occupying an entire block, there are a wide variety of stalls here which sell all sorts of bits and bobs. Another good market is the Indio Market located between 6th and 10th Streets on Avenida La Marina. Here you can pick up local crafts, silver jewellery and woollen clothing.
Day 3 - Miraflores
After roaming around the streets for a couple of days take refuge to the city’s beaches and relax. The most popular of Lima’s is in a suburb just on the outskirts of the city centre called Miraflores. Crowded in the summer months, the sea here isn’t regarded as extremely safe for swimming. This doesn’t deter the surfers who supply you with something to look at during those moments when lying flat and staring at the sun become too much for you.
When you feel you have had enough sunshine for one day, Miraflores is still a pleasant district to explore. Full of shops, restaurants, bars and clubs, it presents you with some beautiful views of the hugging coastline. The best views can be seen from the suburb’s shopping centre.
Parque Kennedy is another of one of the more pleasant parts of Miraflores to visit. An arts and craft market is held here regularly, and in the evenings you could be lucky enough to catch one of the free concerts staged here regularly.
Miraflores is just alive at night as it is during the day. There is always a vibrant atmosphere around the streets and, rather than going to the city for some nocturnal activity, this is where its at most of the time.