Our favourite capital city in South America? Lima!
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There were lots of places we loved in South America. We love Old Town in Cartagena and the warmth of the Caribbean Sea, we loved the sunshine and wine in Argentina and the metropolitan vibes from Santiago. But Lima still wins.
We spent a good few days in Lima, Peru with a little excursion to the desert in the middle. But we loved every second of our time there and can’t wait to go back.
Where did we stay in Lima?
We headed straight for Miraflores and only ventured out for a couple of sights elsewhere in the city. But you have very little reasons to head anywhere else.
Fortunately, we were able to book Airbnbs right in the heart of Miraflores and close to all the sights and amenities. We paid less than £30 a night for apartments in the middle of a capital city, which I thought was a total bargain.
Our accommodation was less than a five-minute walk from the local parks and we had three supermarkets within 10minutes and the coast was only a 15 minutes stroll.
Best things to do in Lima
Being a big city there are lots of things that you can get up to, but as a family on a budget we had to be a little selective. But here are our favourites:
Visit the local markets
We loved exploring the markets because they were bright and colourful and gave us a real taste of Lima.
There are two types of market that I recommend that you explore. Firstly, there are the food and produce markets used by the locals. You’ll find fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables aplenty. All on display for you to stare wide-eyed at.
Then there are also the more touristy artisan markets that sell rows and rows of alpaca clothing and accessories. This is the top spot to pick up souvenirs and we loved it there.
Make sure you go in low with your price and they will take less than they say it is, particularly if you are willing to pay cash.
Parque De La Reserva
Just North of Miraflores, and only a short Uber ride away, is Parque de la Reserva. There is a small entrance fee but kids under 5 are free.
Once inside you will the Magic Water Tour which consists of 13 fountains. Some of these fountains are interactive and the children can play in them. There’s also a water tunnel which you can walk through if you don’t mind a few drips.
Larcomar is a shopping centre in Miraflores that is built into the cliff and looks out on to the ocean. It is a beautiful place to shop and eat.
We visited a couple of times to look around and grab some lunch. There is a playground at the top too, so you’ll be able to bribe your kids into going with both that and ice cream.
It contains many familiar shops but many are on the more luxurious end of the market, so we didn’t buy anything. But it is worth a visit for the views!
Walk along the coast
You have two choices if you want to walk along the coast in Lima: top of the cliffs or bottom of the cliffs.
Walking along the top is far more scenic and there are several parks and cafes for you to enjoy too. We loved stopping off at the café at Parque del Amour for a Nutella crepe.
The path by the sea is lovely too, but its hard to get to. The beaches are mostly used by surfers and are targeted towards them rather than your typical beachgoers.
Right in the heart of Miraflores is a pre-Inca remain that you can visit and walk around. It is super fascinating and you get a guided tour included in your ticket price.
The whole structure is made from mud bricks in a bookshelf formation. Luckily, it hardly rains at all in Lima so that structure has stayed strong after all these years.
Food in Lima
I can’t write a post about how Lima was our favourite capital in South America without talking about the food. Dan loves it purely for the food!
Firstly, as a coeliac, I was excited to find an extensive range of gluten-free products in all supermarkets. There is bread, biscuits, pasta and pretty much anything else you want, so no issues there. They also do cooked chicken and chips which is gluten-free too.
But the food is generally delicious. We found a great food court in Lima Mercado San Martin. There were several stalls selling all of Peru’s famous foods, so it is a must-visit destination.
We also loved all the sweet food stall that we found in Parque Kennedy. In the evening, there are stalls selling everything from popcorn to churros to arroz con leche (creamed rice) every 10 metres. Dan tried them all!
But if you are after churros then you need to check out Manolo’s. For S/.16 (about £4), you can get 6 fresh churros to dip in the thickest cup of hot chocolate I have ever seen. It was ridiculously thick and the kids loved it.
You will also need to check out La Lucha, a chain of sandwich shops in Lima. They sell a variety of sandwiches and juices and get rave reviews from everyone.
Why we would go back
We spent a long time in Lima by traveller’s standards, but we would have stayed longer. The general vibe in Lima is chilled but exciting. It attracts people from all over the world and it just oozes culture. That and the food is amazing!
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.