An area we did not spend enough time in, this artsy, bohemian district is a fantastic place for experiencing what Lima has to offer for food, nightlife, and architecture. A very popular place to stay, try to book your hostel a few days in advance - in late September, we were unable to find a decent place to stay and ended up in Miraflores (not a bad Plan B, eh?).
One thing we did enjoy in this district was a night at Ayahuasca. This resto-bar is well-known for its pisco sours and the many other inventive combinations using the same liquor. We each had pisco sours and they were arguably the best we had in all Peru. What really puts this place over the top is the ambiance - located in a mansion built in the late 1800s, each room provides a different experience. From the energetic bar area to the relaxed lounge spaces to the outside terrace, you will be sure to find a spot to settle in that fits your mood.
2. Walking Miraflores
Staying in this district, we spent plenty of time exploring the area on foot. From Parque Kennedy to Larcomar and a stroll north along the beach, we loved seeing all the various types of architecture and how the city has evolved over the years. Walking the tree-lined streets on a sunny afternoon is definitely a great way to spend the day.
Miraflores has plenty of great eating options to fulfill every budget, but one place we recommend if you're near Parque Kennedy for lunch is La Lucha. They prepare a variety of fresh juices and sandwiches that are hard to beat. We both tried the Chicharrón sandwiches as well as Surtidos 1 and 3 and they were very good, although if you aren't terribly hungry, one sandwich might be good for two people – they're plenty big.
3. Museo Larco
Museums can be some of the best things about capital cities, and this one located in the Pueblo Libre district of Lima was well worth the visit. Privately owned by the Larco family, the museum contains an extensive collection of pre-Colombian artifacts displayed chronologically to give patrons an understanding of how art evolved in the different areas of Peru. The museum is also known for its erotic gallery, displaying many pieces that offer insight into how different cultures regarded sex and its many forms.
Finally - and this may have been one of my favorite parts about our visit - you can enter into the archives of the museum to view all of the pieces not on display. Rows upon rows of display cases ten shelves high show off pieces in varying state, many of which are fully intact. Many times these areas are off-limits to the public, so definite thumbs-up to the museum for making it available.
If you're researching a visit to Peru and Lima in specific and gastronomy is an important facet of your travels, it's likely you already know that the region is the birthplace of ceviche. With the most-productive marine ecosystem just off the coast, Lima is a pescatarian's dream.
We had an amazing ceviche lunch at Costazul, currently the second highest rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. The high reviews, combined with the very close proximity to our hostel (The Lighthouse, a 5 minute walk away), drew us there. A small joint with helpful staff and fun ambience, the prices aren't exactly budget - we spent just over $30 US in late Sept. 2013 for a plate of ceviche and one called causa de corvina, composed of fried sea bass, potato purée, and a medley of vegetables. For us, the delicious meal was definitely worth the splurge as it always makes our list of Best Meals when anyone asks.
5. City Center
Home to the Plaza Mayor, the San Francisco Monastery con catacombas, and Lima Cathedral, the center boasts a wide array of interesting and colorful architecture. The day we visited, the plaza was shut down in preparation for an event, but we snuck in with some locals and were able to snap a few shots of the multicolored houses, the cathedral, and the Government Palace. We also stopped by the monastery for the short visit to the catacombs.
While in the center, we headed east into Barrio Chino for a great lunch at Wa Lok, one of the many chifas in the city. Found throughout Peru, chifas are Chinese restaurants that traditionally used Peruvian substitutes instead of the unavailable Chinese ingredients. At Wa Lok we had a great meal of kamcha, pork dumplings with mushrooms, and arroz chaufa con pato, duck fried rice. We recommend their Paruro location for a good lunch - they also have a location in Miraflores if you don't feel like heading north.