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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!).
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!
The BEST City Tours in Lima
1. Downtown FREE Walking Tour
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Selina Miraflores – Selina has 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.
Pariwana Hostel – Pariwana 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 have 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.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
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 awhile, so we have a lot of info to share. Check out some of our favorite blogs below, too: