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9 Absolute BEST City Tours in Lima

9 Absolute BEST City Tours in Lima

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Lima is undeniably one of the most incredible cities in Latin America – or even the whole world! Home to over 11 million people, Lima is a bustling metropolis that boasts a vibrant culture mixed with coastal living.

But a city this big can be overwhelming to explore on your own. With so many things to see and do in Lima, where do you even start?! Combine that with safety concerns and the logistics of getting around, and you’ve got a bit of a complicated travel destination.

That’s why Lima city tours are so helpful! With an experienced local guide, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. Plus, no planning is required (bonus!). And if you only have one day in Lima, city tours will help you maximize your time and see the best sites.

So while you’re in Lima, we recommend booking a city tour or two. These tours range from your typical sightseeing tours to more unique experiences centered around food and drinks. We’ve chosen the best of the best below so that you can have the best time while you’re in Lima!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Some of our favorite city tours in Lima include:

  1. Having a wonderful evening on this gourmet food tour
  2. Enjoying panoramic views of Lima on this bus tour
  3. Getting dinner and a show on this tour of the Magic Water Circuit

The BEST City Tours in Lima

1. Downtown FREE Walking Tour 

Exploring downtown Lima on a free walking tour
On the tour, you’ll learn why almost all of the buildings downtown are yellow!

Naturally, the best place to start when we are talking about city tours in Lima is a free 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, we 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 as budget-conscious and prefer to have a more intimate experience with the guide since group numbers are capped. 

Related Read: If you are into history and ancient ruins, be sure to visit the Sacred Valley in Peru, too!

2. Lima city food tour

A plate of ceviche in Lima
I love ceviche so much!

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 this evening food tour and it was one of the best things we did in Peru! Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and we ate (and drank) lots of amazing things. Even having been in Lima for so long (we were living there at the time), 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.  

The company that we went with specializes in food tours, and they offer both evening and daytime 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 haven’t done them all, but the one we did we absolutely loved, and it’s clear we aren’t the only ones who thought this as they have hundreds of 5-star reviews! You can book the exact same tour that we did online here (you should book in advance as it is often fully booked!) We did the evening tour, but you can use the same company and book their daytime tour here if you prefer.

3. Open-air bus tour of Lima 

Park of Love, Lima on our open air bus tour
If you want to see the city fast (and visit the Park of Love) then a bus tour is perfect!

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 $40 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 a highly-rated bus tour around the city that stops at the top attractions including Huaca Pucllana, Plaza San Martin, Cathedral of Lima, and more. Plus, it also passes by tons of other popular spots too, so you’ll want to have that camera ready!

This tour last around 4 hours and includes both your entrance fee and a guided visit to the Cathedral of Lima. Overall, it isn’t the most in-depth of the Lima city tours on this list, but is an excellent option if you’re short on time and want to cover lots of ground. 

The best part is that this tour only costs $35 USD per person. It’s a great deal and one of the easier ways to get around Lima. You can book your spot in advance online here.

4. Cooking class and market tour

Cooking in Lima of a cooking class

Lima is one of the top culinary destinations in the world. So naturally, one of the best Lima city tours would involve cooking and eating! On this particular tour, you can learn how to make some of the most popular Peruvian dishes for yourself.

The tour lasts for about four hours and starts off with a visit to the local market. Here, you will be taught about some of the food that is unique to Peru – you’ll even get to sample some very interesting fruit – before purchasing all of your ingredients for your meal. Then, it’s time to hit the kitchen!

You can choose between making four different dishes, and they even have a vegetarian option! Of course, you’ll get to eat everything that you make at the end.

The tour costs only $65 USD and has some of the best reviews I’ve ever seen for tours in Lima. You should book this tour online in advance here since spaces are extremely limited and it’s a very popular experience.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

5. 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 (my favorite part!)

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 city 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!

The tour lasts for about 5 hours and costs $99 USD. Because it’s an evening tour that starts at 6 pm it’s easier to squeeze into your busy day. You should book this fountain and show tour online in advance here.

6. Bike Miraflores and Barranco Lima Tour

Views of the beach from Miraflores on our Bike Miraflores and Barranco Lima Tour
Stunning views of Miraflores on our bike 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!

The tour costs less than $30 USD per person and lasts for about 3 hours. It also includes a really knowledgable guide who will tell you all about the city and answer all of your questions.

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!

Related Read: Another fun activity in Peru is hiking. Learn our top tips for trekking in Peru before you set off!

7. Take a Surf Lesson

Surfing in Lima at the beach near Miraflores
Don’t be fooled by the warm temperatures outside, the water is freezing!

This might not be a “Lima city 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 ideal 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 right in Lima city, then surfing could be perfect for you!

8. Pisco Sour and cocktail tasting tour 

Drinking Pisco Sours on a pisco sour tour in Lima
We love a good Pisco Sour!

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 (like we do!), then you will love Pisco Sours!

So if you want to try a Pisco Sour, then why not combine a tasty drink with a city tour?! Well, on this particular tour you can do just that!

This small group tour of Lima city will have you visiting some of the top attractions in the city with a guide, but you’ll also stop for Pisco tasting along the way! Not only will you drink the Pisco Sour, but you’ll also get to see a demonstration of how it’s made.

On top of all of that, the tour will visit places including Huaca Pucllana archaeological site, the Convent Museum of San Francisco, and Plaza Mayor.

The tour includes hotel pick-up and drop off, your Pisco Sour, entrance to the San Fransico Museum, and an excellent guide. It costs of $45 USD and lasts for about 4 hours, with both morning and afternoon departures available. You can book it online here!

Related Read: Want to get out of the city? Check out the best day trips from Lima!

9. Barranco Graffiti Tour 

Grafiti in Lima on our Grafit walking tour
Just some of the beautiful and interesting street art you’ll find in Lima

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 without 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!

Related Read: Going to Machu Picchu? Consider hiking the Salkantay Trek to get there!

Where to Stay in Lima, Peru

Miraflores coastline with views of the bike path on a bike tour in Lima, Peru
The best hotels are located in the area of Miraflores!

If you’re spending some time in Lima, you’ll need a place to stay! Lima is a big city with many accommodation options. However, I definitely have my favorite spots and am happy to share those with you. Keep reading for my top hostels and hotels for each budget range.

Luxury – $$$

JW Marriott Hotel Lima is located in the Miraflores district right behind the Larcomar shopping center, with amazing views of the ocean. The location is perfect! The rooms are luxurious and have everything you’d expect from a Marriott Hotel, including a fitness center, pool, restaurant, and super helpful staff. Guests also rave about the hotel’s breakfast!

Rooms start at around $200 USD, but you can find the best rates on Booking.com.

Mid-range -$$

Larq’a Park Rooms is a beautiful hotel with amazing reviews. The hotel is in a heritage building right next to Parque Kennedy, and the rooms are modern, clean, and comfortable. They have a nice common area where you can enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast.

Although we’ve included it as mid-range, it could easily be considered a budget option because rooms start as low as $41 USD. Click here to snag this awesome deal!

Tierra Viva Miraflores Centro is my top pick in Miraflores, Lima. The hotel has a 9.2 on Booking.com, and it’s no wonder since the staff are so attentive and sweet! It’s perfectly located in a quiet and safe area within walking distance of many restaurants, cafes, and shops. Rooms are super clean and come with either a king bed or two singles.

Stays here include breakfast and cost only $70 USD per night. You can book your stay at Tierra Viva Miraflores Centro online here.

Budget – $

Selina Miraflores is part of the well-established Selina chain. They have hostels all over Latin America, and I’ve personally stayed in lots of them. The Selina in Miraflores is a beautiful hostel with a modern, colorful aesthetic and super clean rooms and bathrooms. The whole place has a nice, easygoing vibe that makes it easy to meet people.

It’s also in a great location, with prices starting at $10 USD for a bunk and $45 USD for a private room. You can book Selina Miraflores on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Pariwana Hostel is the most popular and famous party hostel in Miraflores. It’s the perfect hostel to let loose and meet other travelers. Plus, prices are super reasonable, with dorms costing less than $20 USD and private rooms less than $70 USD.

If you want to party and have fun in Lima, you can book the Pariwana Hostel on Hostelworld. Or, if you’re booking well in advance, you can also do so on Booking.com.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey in Lima, Peru
Thanks for reading!

As you can tell, there is a ton to see in Lima – it’s one of the best places to visit in Peru for a reason! It should come as no surprise that city tours of Lima are so popular! Hopefully, this blog has helped you narrow it down to a few of the best tours for you.

Of course, if you have any questions, leave a comment below!

If you found this blog helpful, I’m sure you’ll like our other blogs about Peru. We lived in Peru for a while, so we have a lot of info to share. Check out some of our favorite blogs below, too:

Things to KNOW Before Visiting Machu Picchu

The BEST Things to do in Cusco

ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Huaraz, Peru