When I asked friends, family and readers here at Bicycle Touring Pro what I should see or do in Lima, Peru, the answers I got back went a little something like this: “Get out of there as quickly as you can and make your way to Cusco.”
But I decided to ditch that advice and spend two whole weeks explore the streets of Lima, in search of fun, alternative, and outdoorsy things to see and do.
The big guidebooks seem to mention to city’s numerous museums and the many shopping areas where you can buy food, clothing, souvenirs and more, but I wanted to find things to do in Lima that went beyond all that. So here you go! This is my list of 10 fun things to do during your stay in Lima, Peru.
Jump Off A Cliff: Go Paragliding
Take a walk down to the cliffs of Miraflores and you’ll surely see a number of paragliders soaring through the air. But you don’t need to be an experienced paraglider in order to try this for yourself. For about $55 USD you can ride tandem along with an experienced paraglider and soar like a bird over the shores of southern Lima.
Visit the Pachacamac Ruins
About 30 kms south of Lima, near the beach and just off the Pan-American highway, are the Pachacamac ruins. Here you will find two pyramids, a temple and dozens of other ancient Inca ruins dating back thousands and thousands of years. This is a site mentioned in many of the guidebooks, but because of its distance from the city, Pachacamac isn’t visited by too many tourists. When I visited the ruins, I was the only person there and had the entire place to myself. If you are up for an adventure, rent a bicycle and ride to Pachacamac. The road from Lima to Pachacamac is almost entirely flat, but because of the crazy city traffic, this is not a bike ride for beginners. Schedule an entire day for the trip.
Ride A Bicycle Across The City
Speaking of bicycles, why not ride your bike across the city of Lima while you’re there? Despite the fact that Lima is far from bicycle friendly, there are still a number of bikers that call this city home. If you are brave enough, you can ride in the city streets, but you might just get yourself killed in the process. That said, if you want a less stressful bike ride, try cycling along the coast of Miraflores (there is a bike lane in parts) or cycle from Miraflores to the center of Lima along Avenue Arequipa (there is a walking/cycling path that runs down the center of the road for more than 5 miles).
Tour The Catacombs
In the heart of Lima is the Monesterio de San Francisco (Saint Francis Monastery), which is a small, but beautiful monastery and church in the center of the city. The Monastery and church are nice, but underneath the two buildings is the real attraction: a complex network of catacombs where hundreds of people are buried – their bones stacked more than 4 meters high and arranged in patterns by the monks that once occupied the Monastery itself. Photos aren’t allowed inside the catacombs or the Monastery, so I took this picture of the outside of the church instead. (PS – The library inside the Monastery is absolutely amazing. I wish I could have taken a photo of it for you.)
If you’re a bit of an adrenaline freak, you should know that skateboarding is huge in Lima. You will see skateboarders of all different shapes and sizes in the city. There are a number of skateboard parks within the city limits (the one above is on the coast of Miraflores) and a number of spots where skaters have simply staked their claim of the city’s flat and open concrete plazas.
Play Soccer On The Beach
Football (soccer) fans will love Lima. North of Miraflores you will find a number of beach-side soccer fields (shown above) where games take place almost every day – all day long. The locals are usually more than willing to let you jump in on a game or two if you have some skills. But watch your belongings while you’re down by the coast (or better yet, leave your belongings back at the apartment, hotel or hostel where you are staying). Volleyball is also popular in Lima… and jumping in on a game of beach volleyball is a snap.
Climb To The Top Of The Huaca Pucllana Pyramid
In the center of Miraflores, in the center of the tall multi-story apartment buildings, in the center of what looks like any other neighborhood in Lima, is the Huaca Pucllana pyramid. This ancient pyramid, which dates back to about 400 AD is built of thousands and thousands of adobe bricks and was only recently unearthed. In fact, they are still excavating the site and don’t plan to have the entire excavation finished for at least another 20 years. Before it’s unearthing in the late 1980’s the people of Lima used to picnic on top of and ride motorbikes across the top of this hidden ancient site. Today, there is a small entrance fee and guided tours of the pyramid in both English and Spanish.
Surf The Coastal Waters Of Miraflores & Barranco
If you’ve ever wanted to try surfing, Lima is a great place to do it. The water may not be very clean, but the locals are out there every single day and the surfing at times can be absolutely fantastic. Best of all, finding a wetsuit and a board to rent for the day is as easy as pie. Just walk down to the coast of Miraflores or Barranco and you’re bound to meet a salesman or two who will quickly sign you up for surf lessons. They’ll give you all the gear you need, show you how to get started, and then off you go. You’re surfing bro!
Hit The Casinos
Finally, consider placing a bet at one of Lima’s numerous casinos. All over the city of Lima are various locations where you can gamble, bet and lose your money. If you do plan to hit the casino’s while you’re in the city, you should know that US Dollars are needed to play the slot machines or make bets of any kind inside most (if not all) of Lima’s various gambling rooms.
So, there you go! 10 fun things to see and do in Lima, Peru.
Have you been to Lima, Peru before? If so, what did you see and do while you were there? Are there any other things you would recommend people see or do in Lima, Peru while they are in the city? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.