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5 BEST Day Trips from Lima, Peru (2024 Guide!)

5 BEST Day Trips from Lima, Peru (2024 Guide!)

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Lima is such an exciting city! There is so much to see and do in Lima that you could easily spend weeks here (trust us, we lived here for a few months and never ran out of things to do!).

But the truth is, some of the best attractions in Peru are located just outside of the city limits and easily reached on a day trip! That’s right – don’t just hang out in Miraflores the whole time you’re in Lima, get out and explore!

In fact, a couple of our favorite experiences in Peru were day trips from Lima. Which is why we want to share them with you! In this blog, we will tell you about the best day trips from Lima that you really don’t want to miss.

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our favorite day trips from Lima are:

  1. Palomino Islands – We loved swimming with wild sea lions on this specific tour
  2. Huacachina and Ica – Visit 3 popular destinations on this full-day tour
  3. Nazca Lines – Enjoy a flight over this epic site, dune buggy rides, and sandboarding on this full-day adventure

The BEST Day Trips from Lima

1. Palomino Islands and swimming with Sea Lions 

sea lion photo bomb in the ocean near lima
Me, with a sea lion!

This is one of my personal favorite day trips in Lima! I absolutely loved this experience simply because it was so different than anything other tours that Lima has to offer – an incredible wildlife encounter right on the outskirts of the city! 

On this day trip, you will head to the port at Callao (about a 30-minute drive from Miraflores with traffic.) Here, you will board a boat and cruise out to the Palomino Islands.

These islands are located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) 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 same company that we did the tour with 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 here!

2. Huacachina and Ica Day Trip from Lima

Bailey poses with the dune buggy and sandboard in Huacachina after using Peru Hop to get around!
We loved sandboarding in Huacachina!
view of the Oasis lagoon in Huacachina, Peru
The Oasis lake in Huacachina!

I love Huacachina, Peru! If you’ve done any research on Peru, then this little paradise (or “Oasis” as it is affectionately 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 on this particular tour. 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 activities are sandboarding and a 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. With that said, you won’t see the Oasis, Ica, or the Ballestas Islands.

Related Read: Heading to Cusco? Be sure to learn about all the best things to do in Cusco and popular day trips before you go!

3. Ballestas Island (Poor Man’s Galapagos) and Paracas Nature Reserve Tour 

Three seals sit on a rock on our Ballestas Island tour from Lima
The wildlife you’ll see is amazing, although it’s still not as good as the real Galapagos Islands!

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 Huacachina. They are located within the Paracas Nature Reserve and are home to tons of wildlife!

If fact, so much wildlife lives 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 day trip from Lima to the Ballestas Islands 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. This particular tour also includes a dune buggy ride from Huacachina as well as free time to explore the lake. It’s a great full-day trip from Lima and is super affordable, too at $139 USD per person.

You can book your day trip to the Ballstas Island and Huacachina online in advance here!

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.

4. Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines on a tour from Lima
The Nazca Lines are one of those places that makes you go wow!

If you’ve always wanted to see the Nazca Lines then you’re in luck; you can go on a day trip 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! 

This particular day trip starts early, at 4 am in Lima! Don’t let the early wake-up call put you off, though. You’ll get picked up in a comfortable air-conditioned van where you can snooze while your expert driver does all the work.

Once you arrive, it’ll be time to jump on your scenic flight to view the Nazca Lines. You can only appreciate this marvel from the air, so a flight really is necessary.

The fun doesn’t end here either, as you’ll stop in Huacachina for a dune buggy tour on your way back to Lima. This really is a full-day trip from Lima and one that’s super unique. You can book this Nazca Lines experience online in advance (only small groups are allowed, so be sure to book well in advance!)

Related Read: For other bucket-list activities in Peru, be sure to visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley – both iconic attractions in Peru!

5. Pachacamac Ruins 

Pachacamac Ruins near lima
The Pachacamac Ruins are very impressive and completely different from Machu Picchu! Photo Credit – Bigstock

Only a short 30-minute drive from Miraflores is the Pachacamac Ruins of Lima. This is one of the best day trips 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!

Where to Stay in Lima, Peru

view from above of the outside of the JW Marriott Hotel Lima
Photo Credit: JW Marriott Hotel Lima

Whether you’re spending one day in Lima or several weeks, 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 and I hang out of our dune buggy in Huaccahina
Thanks for reading!

I hope this blog has helped you plan some epic day trips from Lima. These experiences should inspire you to get out of the city and see what all Lima has to offer outside the city limits.

If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our other blogs about Peru including a few related reads below:

The BEST City Tours in Lima

5 Best Food Tours in Lima + 8 Things to Know BEFORE Booking

The BEST Things to do in Arequipa

ULITMATE Guide to Hiking in Peru

Sayeh Fesharaki

Friday 3rd of November 2023

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