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There are a ton of day tours in Lima to choose from – which makes selecting only one or two confusing! So in this blog, I’ve narrowed it down to the 15 BEST Lima tours and day trips! I’ve also included which type of traveler would likely enjoy each tour to make choosing the best Lima tour for you easy!
Lima, a vibrant modern city and the capital of Peru. This massive city boasts Peru’s largest international airport, and as such, is the starting and ending point for many tourists.
Lima is best explored with a guide who will make navigating and learning about such a large city in a short amount of time possible. And that’s why choosing the best tours in Lima is so important! You want to maximize your time in this amazing city – and with the right tours, you can do just that.
Unlike most travelers, I spent an entire month in Lima. In that time, I was able to try a huge range of tours in Lima as well as day trips to see what I liked, and well, what I didn’t. In this blog, I’ll share with you my top 15 day tours in Lima so you can narrow down which Lima tours will suit you best!
15 BEST Tours in Lima & Day Trips
1. Palomino Islands and swimming with Sea Lions
This is one of my personal favorite day tours in Lima! I absolutely loved this tour simply because it was so different than anything else that Lima has to offer – an incredible wildlife encounter right in the city!
On this tour, you will head to the port at Callao (about a 30-minute drive from Miraflores with traffic.) Here, you will board a boat and get driven out to the Palomino Islands.
These islands are located about 15 kilometers from the coast of Callao and they are home to sea lions, penguins, and other sea birds.
Actually, they are home to well over 10,000 sea lions!
Once you reach the main island, you will see thousands of sea lions hanging out on the island and swimming about. Here is the exciting part of this day trip and where you’ll jump into the water!
The sea lions are playful and curious and they will come over and say hi! When I did this tour, there were sea lions swimming around my feet and bumping into them under the water. It was kind of nerve-racking but also super exciting.
There are a couple of different companies that operate the swimming with the sea lions day trip from Lima, but I personally recommend this one. It is with a well-established company which has been running these tours for several years and they are very reputable. This is the exact tour that we did and enjoyed.
They don’t cost any more than the other companies and actually use a speed boat which means less time rocking about in the water. I normally get seasick on boat tours, but on this one, I didn’t! The guide also comes in the water with you and a wetsuit and lifejacket are provided.
You can book the same tour we did online in advance!
2. Lima Food Tour
Did you know Lima is rated as one of the top culinary destinations in the world?! Yes. That’s right – you’d be silly not to join a food tour while in Lima!
From Ceviche to plantains to Lomo Saltado, the food in Lima is diverse and tasty! And the best way to try it all and learn at the same time is on a food tour!
We went on an evening food tour with Lima Gourmet Company and it was one of the best tours we’ve ever done! Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and we ate (and drank) lots of amazing things. Even having been in Lima for so long, the food we tried was new to us and the entire tour was exciting.
On this food tour in Lima, we went to four different restaurants and sampled various dishes at each place. One of the restaurants was even overlooking the Huaca Pucllana ruins which was a memorable experience in itself. But the tour wasn’t just about trying the food, we also learned a lot about the history of Peru and how the food has come to be.
Lima Gourmet Company offers both evening and day time tours. Tours last for about 5 hours and include tons of tasty food and drinks as well as an English speaking guide and air-conditioned van for transport.
If you are a foodie, or if you just like to eat, this is one of the lima tours you just have to do!
Tip: There are lots of food tours to choose from in Lima. We went with Lima Gourmet Company and they were incredible! We aren’t the only ones who think this either as their TripAdvisor reviews are impeccable! Just be sure to book in advance as their tours often fill up!
3. Downtown FREE Walking Tour
Free Walking tours are great, I mean not only are they FREE but they are also a fun way to meet like-minded travelers from around the globe. These tours typically attract larger crowds and although this makes the tour less intimate and personal, it makes for a fun social tour!
A tour of downtown Lima is the best way to look around and learn about the history of the city. Since most travelers stay in the safer neighborhoods of Miraflores or Barranco, the downtown historical center can seem a bit daunting.
But on a tour, you can safely be guided around and shown the top attractions including the Plaza de Armas and the changing of the guards at the government palace. It’s a good tour to work into your Lima itinerary especially if you’re short on time because you’ll see and learn a lot only in a couple of hours.
In Lima, there are many different companies that operate FREE walking tours in the downtown area. Personally, I did one with Lima by Walking and it was great! A new company called Strawberry Tours has also just popped up and I really enjoyed their free food tour in Miraflores (so I’m sure their downtown tour would also be great!)
Just remember, free walking tours are not actually “free” and you are expected to tip at the end! This is how the guides make their living so it’s very important.
Of course, there are also paid downtown walking tours in Lima, and these are a great option if you’re not budget-conscious and prefer to have a more one-on-one experience with the guide.
4. Open-air Bus Tour of Lima
If a walking tour sounds like a bit too much physical activity (they can involve a lot of walking) you can join a city bus tour instead. There are a few different buses and routes you can do for less than $10 USD.
These buses are large double-decker buses with the top deck open so you can take in all of the views.
This particular company runs 4 different bus tours around Lima: a historic tour, one in Miraflores, one in Barranco, and they even have an evening fountain light show tour!
These tours last around 3-4 hours and include a visit to some of the best attractions in Lima. They aren’t the most in-depth of the Lima tours on this list, but are a great option if you’re short on time and want to cover lots of ground.
5. Huacachina and Ica Day Trip from Lima
I love Huacachina, Peru! If you’ve done any research on Peru then this little paradise (or “Oasis” as it is called) is a photo you would’ve seen. Huacachina is a small town centered around a lake and palm trees in the middle of mountainous sand dunes. It’s incredible and breathtaking.
From Lima, you can actually go on a day trip to Ica (the larger coastal city just next to Huacachina) as well as visit Huacachina. It is a bit of a drive at around 3.5 hours each way, but you can use this time to relax in the air-conditioned vehicle before doing all of the adventures these destinations offer.
Each tour from Lima includes different activities, but my best advice would be to choose one that includes a good amount of time in Huacachina and maybe even pisco tasting at a vineyard in Ica (where they make pisco!)
In Huacachina, the most popular thing to do is go on a sandboarding and dune buggy tour. This tour involves jumping in a specially designed buggy and flying around the sand dunes. It’s exhilarating but the views are also breathtaking! You’ll also stop at various points where you’ll have the option to try out sandboarding (you know, like snowboarding but on the sand instead of the snow.)
Of course, you’ll also want to go for a walk around the Oasis (the lake) in town and maybe even enjoy a cocktail at one of the lakefront bars.
Many tours combine a visit to Huacachina and Ica with the Ballestas Islands (more info below) and this is a good option for a full-day of excitement. This particular tour comes highly rated and it’s affordable. It includes all of the stops you would want on this day trip from Lima! It is easily one of the most exciting full-day tours in Lima.
However, if going all the way to Huacachina seems like too much effort, you can also try sandboarding in dunes just outside of Lima. This tour takes you on a full-day experience sandboarding. It is a lot less driving, so more is spent time on the board.
6. Ballestas Island (Poor Man’s Galapagos) and Paracas Nature Reserve Tour
If you plan on going on a day trip to Huacachina and you like wildlife, then you might as well visit the Ballestas Islands as well. This group of islands is located just off the coast from the town of Paracas which is on the way from Lima to Ica. They are located within the Paracas Nature Reserve and are home to tons of wildlife.
If fact, so much wildlife live on the Ballestas Islands that this group of islands has acquired the nickname “the poor man’s Galapagos of Peru!” Like on the Galapagos Islands, it is possible to see the Blue-footed Booby bird as well as many others. You can also see penguins, seals, and sea lions!
A tour from Lima to Paracas involves a 3-hour drive, and then a short boat ride. The tour of the islands is done completely on the boat and normally only lasts about half an hour.
For this reason, the boat tour of the Ballestas Islands is often combined on a full-day trip from Lima with a visit to Huacachina and Ica. However, if you are more interested in wildlife and the beaches near Paracas, there is this awesome full-day Ballestas and Paracas tour from Lima!
7. Nazca Lines Tour from Lima
If you’ve always wanted to see the Nazca Lines then you’re in luck, you can go on a tour from Lima! On this Lima day tour, you will spend a lot of time on a bus, but you will get to check off that bucket-list item of seeing the Nazca Lines from above!
If you don’t already know what the Nazca Lines are, then this tour probably isn’t for you as it does involve a lot of travel. But if this is on your Peru bucket list then don’t hesitate to book it!
8. Chocolate-making Experience
Did you know that Peru is a producer of some of the world’s highest quality cocoa beans which are used to make chocolate?! Well, right in Lima you can learn all about this on a tour and then make your very own chocolate!
We did this tour at the Choco Museo right in Miraflores. Here, for only $25 USD each we had a 2-hour workshop that involved an explanation and demonstration about how exactly chocolate is made. We made our very own chocolate bars to take home as well as drank some tasty hot chocolate during the tour.
To me, this is one of the best value Lima tours because it is very affordable and fun, plus you get tons of chocolate to take home with you! If you have a sweet tooth, this short Lima tour is perfect for you!
You can sign up online or in person for the chocolate-making experience. Tours run daily.
9. Cooking Class
This is another great choice of the best Lima tours for foodies! So instead of just eating all of the wonderful food in Lima, you can learn how to make it yourself on a guided cooking class experience!
This particular cooking class goes for 4 hours and includes a visit to the local market to buy local ingredients. You can choose between making four different dishes (they even have a vegetarian option!) This tour in Lima comes highly rated with 5/5 reviews!
10. Fountains and Folkloric Show Evening Lima Tour
Lima has the largest outdoor fountain complex in the entire world! The Magic Water Circuit in Parque de la Reserva is made up of twelve fountains that perform a magical show with lights and music every night from Tuesday to Sunday!
On this particular tour in Lima, not only do you visit this World Record-holding fountain, but you finish the night with a delicious dinner buffet and cultural dance performance.
Now, I must admit that before I went to this show for myself, I had very low expectations. But the truth is that I was blown away! The food was incredible and the selection was huge. The dancers were even better though and performed a range of well-rehearsed dances with elaborate costumes and music.
The talent was incredible. They also involved the audience quite a lot which was fun!
This is one of the Lima tours that many people miss, but shouldn’t! It’s an absolutely amazing way to spend an evening that I would highly recommend! To me, it’s easily one of the best things to do in Lima!
Secure your spot in advance on this Lima tour of fountains, culture, dance, and food!
11. Bike Miraflores and Barranco Lima Tour
Miraflores and Barranco are the most upper-class and trendy neighborhoods in Lima. For this reason, this is likely where your hotel will be located and where you’ll spend the majority of your time in Lima.
But these neighborhoods aren’t small, and there is a lot to explore including some very incredible views of the ocean.
The best way to cover a lot of ground while getting up close to the attractions is on a bike tour! This bike tour of Lima goes through Miraflores and Barranco for about three hours hitting all of the best tourist highlights around!
Of course, you can also just rent a bike and explore on your own. But in my personal opinion, having a guided bike tour in Lima takes off the stress of planning where to go, what to see, and you also get lots of information along the way!
12. Take a Surf Lesson
This might not be a “Lima day tour” per se, but it is a really neat guided experience you can have right in the heart of Lima! Lima sits on the coast and the Pacific ocean offers some really great waves for beginner surfers.
Right from the neighborhood of Miraflores, you can walk down to the beach and have a surf lesson! You can either book a surfing lesson online in advance that includes hotel pick up, or just head to the beach and negotiate your own price with an instructor – there are literally dozens of people offering both group and private lessons here.
Dan and I skipped this particular experience in Lima this time (we’ve done a fair amount of surfing all over the world and the water was really cold!) But if you’ve never surfed before and are looking for an active tour in Lima then surfing could be perfect for you!
13. Pachacamac Ruins
Only a short 30-minute drive from Miraflores is the Pachacamac Ruins of Lima. This is one of the best tours in Lima because it involves a history lesson and insight into the Incas who lived here long before us!
I am a huge fan of visiting historical sites with a knowledgeable guide. Without one, I find myself missing the significance of the ruins and a bit confused as to what I’m looking at!
This Lima tour is a guided experience around the Pachacmac Ruins, guaranteed to satisfy history buffs! It lasts for around 4 hours and includes transport to and from the ruins with pickup offered from your hotel.
This Pachamcamc Ruins tour could be a great warm-up for exploring Inca ruins if you are planning on heading to Machu Picchu!
14. Pisco Sour and Cocktail Tasting Tour
Pisco is the spirit of Peru! This clear alcohol is most commonly used in Peru’s own cocktail – the Pisco Sour! To me, Pisco Sours are delicious. They are made with lime so they aren’t too sweet but definitely tasty.
If you like cocktails, then you will love Pisco Sours!
In Lima, you can go on a guided tour that takes you to try Pisco Sours from different bars including different variations of the Pisco Sours and some other traditional Peruvian cocktails.
This particular Lima Pisco tour takes you first to the fountain show before trying lots of Pisco and eating some street food! It’s an excellent tour in Lima for those who want to have a couple of drinks while learning about the culture of Peru. Our food tour with Lima Gourmet Company also included a Pisco Sour tasting!
15. Barranco Graffiti Tour
Barranco is the trendiest neighborhood in all of Lima! Here, you’ll find tons of bars, cute restaurants, street art, as well as musicians and artists lining the cobblestone streets. To me, no visit to Lima is complete with a trip to Barranco!
If you want to learn about Barranco and ensure you don’t miss any of the attractions, consider going on a walking tour. There are various free walking tours you can do in Barranco including a bar walking tour and a graffiti walking tour.
I did both of them and found they both had lots of different information to offer and things to show! Tours of Barranco are definitely some of the best tours in Lima!
Where to Stay in Lima
Selina Miraflores – Selina have hostels all over Latin America and I’ve personally stayed in lots of them. The Selina in Miraflores is a beautiful hostel in a great location with dorm beds starting from $25 USD per night. You can book the Selina on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Puriwasi Hostel – Puriwasi Hostel is the most popular and famous party hostel in Miraflores. It’s the perfect hostel to let loose and meet other travelers and is super reasonable starting at under $20 USD for a bunk . You can book Puriwasi Hostel on Hostelworld.
Larq’a Park Rooms – This beautiful hotel is almost a budget option that’s great value for money (rooms starting around $50 USD) and has amazing reviews. The location is right next to Parque Kenedy and the rooms are modern, clean, and comfortable.
Tierra Viva Miraflores Centro – This hotel is my top pick in Miraflores, Lima. The hotel has a 9.2 on Booking.com, is perfectly located, comes with either a king bed or two singles, is clean, includes breakfast, and is only $70 USD per night.
JW Marriott Hotel Lima – The Marriott Hotel Lima is located right behind the Larcomar shopping center with amazing views of the ocean. The location is perfect! The rooms are luxurious and has everything you’d expect from a Marriott Hotel. You can expect rooms to start around $200 USD, but you can find the best rates on Booking.com.
Heading to Cusco? Check out the best backpacker hostels in Cusco here!
Before you go…
I hope my blog covering the best Lima tours has helped you decide what you’re going to do in Lima! It’s truly an amazing city and I hope you find it as interesting and exciting as I did!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below so we can get back to you!
For more information about travelling in Peru, check out complete Peru travel guide!