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Once upon a time, we lived in Lima and loved our time in the Peruvian capital – the only South American capital city that faces the sea! Besides this fun fact, Lima is known for its award-winning culinary scene, miles of scenic coastal parks, rich cultural heritage, and stunning colonial architecture.
Since Lima is a large city home to roughly 10 million people, there’s a ton to see and do, which is why it’s one of the best places to visit in Peru. We enjoyed some incredible food tours and day trips from Lima, among many other fun activities. Honestly, if you’re planning a trip to Peru, you really can’t skip Lima!
So naturally, if you’re a first-time visitor with only one day in Lima, you probably have lots to cross off your list. If so, you’re in the right place! Here, you’ll find my comprehensive one-day in Lima itinerary.
To make your planning easy, this itinerary shows you the city’s highlights. I’ve got you covered from breakfast to dinner – and I’ve also picked Lima tours that help you see the best of the city with plenty of time to spare. Trust us, after one day, you’ll be left wanting more of this coastal capital!
Don’t have time to read the full article? If you only have one day in Lima, grab breakfast at Manolos and stroll through Kennedy Park before taking this City Sightseeing Tour. Then, you can explore the Miraflores and Barranco neighborhoods before savoring this Gourmet Food Tour for dinner and partying it up on Berlin Street.
How to Spend 1 Day in Lima
Breakfast – Manolo in Miraflores and Kennedy Park
There’s only one way to start your one-day in Lima itinerary: with coffee and churros at Manolo. Churros for breakfast, you say? Hey, when in Lima!
Established in 1968, Manolo is a cute local cafe in Miraflores that proclaims to have the best churros in town. So, obviously, we had to verify this information firsthand.
And truthfully, we needed more than one taste-testing session! I visited most days while living in Lima, so I recommend the dulce de leche or vanilla-flavored churros. Pair this with a great cup of coffee, and you’ll definitely start your day on the right foot.
Manolo is located in Miraflores and opens at 7 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends. It’s open every day of the week, so if you love this place as much as we did, you can always return if you end up staying a bit longer!
Your next stop of the day should be Kennedy Park, which is just a 5-minute walk away. The park’s claim to fame? Dozens of stray cats!
The park used to have a rodent problem, so they introduced the cats to take care of pest control. Nowadays, the cats are well-fed and taken care of, and visiting them at Kennedy Park is one of the most unique yet popular things to do in Lima.
You’re on a tight schedule today, so I recommend starting early. If you have any spare time after churros, coffee, and cats, you can wander through and around Kennedy Park. There are plenty of cute shops and restaurants surrounding the park.
Morning – Explore the historical center
At this point in the itinerary, you have a couple of options. You can hop in a taxi and head to Lima’s historical center to explore independently. However, with limited time in the city, I recommend taking a city tour of Lima.
My top choice for today is this Lima City Sightseeing Tour. I did this tour when I first arrived in the city and loved it. It’s very comprehensive and gives you a great first impression of Lima. You learn so much about the city’s culture and history in a short amount of time from a local guide.
The 9 am tour conveniently includes round-trip transfers from Miraflores (where Kennedy Park is) and other districts. Hot tip: Enter a hotel near the park as your pick-up destination if yours isn’t close. There are several, including Hotel Las Palmas.
Hop into the air-conditioned vehicle before heading to your first stop, Parque del Amor (Love Park). Just wait until you see the coastal views. It’s known for its Gaudi-influenced mosaic walls and massive kissing sculpture.
Next is San Isidro, a relaxed residential district home to Huaca Pucllana. This ceremonial site dates back to 500 AD and consists of a clay and adobe pyramid. There are many ancient ruins in Peru, but I love how this one is smack dab in the middle of the city! It really shows you how Lima is such a blend of old and new.
Then, it’s onto Plaza de Armas, the best place to see the city’s renowned colonial architecture in buildings like the Municipal and Presidential Palaces.
The tour price also includes entrance to Lima Cathedral (home to Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro’s tomb) and Santo Domingo Convent, a vast monastery complex built in the 16th century. The monastery may have been my favorite stop. The inside of the church had such ornate details, from its wood carvings to stained glass – and the green courtyards felt really peaceful.
You get to see all those Lima attractions in just 3.5 hours. Overall, I can say we left this tour with a solid feel for the history, religious influence, and culture of the city. The tour covers roundtrip transport from Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco. Although you’ll be picked up in Miraflores, it’s worth asking the tour company in advance if you can be dropped off in Barranco – the next stop on this itinerary!
The tour is extremely affordable at $59 USD per adult, so click here to book it today. You can also choose to do the private version of this tour, which costs $69 USD per person when you have 5 or more people. Additionally, you can switch your day around and do the tour at 2:30 pm instead. However, you’ll miss the epic evening food tour we have in store for you!
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.
- 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.
Lunch – Barranco Beer Company
After that tour, you would’ve worked up quite an appetite, which is why it’s time for lunch! Barranco Beer Company is a popular spot with locals. What’s not to love about award-winning craft beer-tasting flights, cocktails, a rooftop terrace, and a menu with pizza, burgers, wings, and nachos?
If you’d prefer traditional Peruvian food for lunch, I suggest returning to Miraflores and heading to Fiesta Restaurant. This was down the street from our apartment, and I think it’s a total hidden gem in Lima. I suggest starting with ceviche, which was super fresh and flavorful here. Then you can enjoy main dishes like clams, duck on rice, or grilled fish … which are all superb too!
Both places are open every day except Monday. They also both open at noon, fitting right into our 1-day Lima itinerary.
Related Read: You can’t visit Peru without exploring the Incan ruins! Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu, Peru.
Afternoon – Explore Miraflores and Barranco
Between lunch and our dinner recommendation, you’ll have around 3 hours spare. So I suggest spending your afternoon exploring Miraflores, Barranco, or both. Here are my favorite things to do in each neighborhood so you can decide.
Miraflores is Lima’s safest neighborhood and where you’ll find most hotels and hostels. I had so much fun here that I created an entire guide featuring things to do in Miraflores. To make things easy, here are my top 3 recommendations:
1. Visit the coolest shopping center
The Larcomar is literally built into a cliff! It hangs over the ocean’s edge for some of the best views in Lima. It’s home to hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants, so you can take your pick. For shoppers, there’s everything from handicraft stores to high-end clothing boutiques.
Otherwise, enjoy a drink with a view from either Mangos or Popular within the shopping center. Even if you don’t feel like shopping, the Larcomar is worth a visit to see the architectural feat alone. Plus, it’s open from 6 am – 10 pm, so it’s easy to fit into your itinerary.
2. Cruise along the Malecon
The Malecon de Miraflores is a 6-mile (9.7-kilometer) coastal path stretching along a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are three connected sections, and you can explore the whole thing on foot or by electric scooter or bike.
Along the way, you’ll see several parks (including Love Park) and sculptures. Other attractions include Faro de la Marina, Lima’s most famous lighthouse, and the Villena Rey Bridge. I love snapping photos from this bridge because it showcases where nature meets the city. Plus, you gotta love those ocean views!
3. Visit a local market
Mercado Municipal Number 1 is a fresh produce market just a 10-minute walk from Kennedy Park. I bet you’ll find several fruits you’ve never heard of before because I sure did!
We loved trying different ones every week when we lived in Miraflores. Some we loved, others we didn’t! But exploring a country’s food is all part of the adventure. The market is open daily from 7 am – 7 pm but closes at 5:30 pm on Sundays.
Meanwhile, Barranco is Lima’s bohemian art district (some even call it Lima’s SoHo). Located next door to Miraflores, you can walk or drive. It’s such a cool place to walk around and take in all the colors. If you want to know where to begin, here are my suggestions for the best things to do in Barranco:
1. Visit the main square
Surrounded by colonial buildings, there’s always something happening at Municipal de Barranco Park. This includes live music and weekend artisan fairs. Weekends are definitely more hopping, but it’s worth a visit any day of the week. You can sit on the bench to rest your feet and people watch or check out the rotating sculptures they often have.
2. Walk across the Bridge of Sighs
Puente de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) was built in 1876 and has become one of Lima’s must-see places. There may not be water underneath these days, but the courtyard is a popular spot for locals to hang out and for artists to find inspiration. I personally love this spot for all the photo ops! You have a nice view of the city below, and there’s loads of street art dotting the surrounding area.
While there, don’t miss taking a photo of Iglesia La Ermita, the bright yellow church, and walking through Federico Villarreal Park.
3. Go to an art gallery
Lima is also known for its art. So, if you’re an artist yourself or simply appreciate beautiful things, you’ll want to see what this city offers – and Barranco is the perfect place to start!
Being the city’s art district, you have lots of choices. The Lima Museum of Contemporary Art is the city’s only museum specializing in modern and contemporary art. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am – 7 pm, and tickets cost roughly $4 USD.
Meanwhile, Jade Rivera Gallery features modern prints and sculptures. I love how this artist captures the human expression and gives you a little window into everyday Peruvian life. The gallery is free to enter and is open daily from 10 am – 7:30 pm. If you can’t get enough of this artist, you can also visit the Jade Rivera Museum up the road, which costs roughly $3 USD to enter, and is open from 10 am – 8 pm.
Related Read: If you’re looking for another step-by-step itinerary, check out our guide to spending one day in Cusco, Peru!
Night/dinner – Gourmet Food Tour
Lima is known as one of the world’s food capitals. In fact, Maxim magazine called Lima “the Kingdom of Heaven” and possibly the world’s best culinary destination. So, it would be criminal to leave without doing a food tour in Lima! It’s a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine with many new and exciting flavors.
We did this Lima Gourmet Food Tour, and it’s the best food tour we’ve ever done. That’s a big claim when we’ve done food tours in several cities worldwide, but we stand by it. The local guide is terrific, sharing many insights into Peru’s history and food culture – and the food is to die for!
The tour includes round-trip hotel transfers from Miraflores, and pick-up will be between 4-4:30 pm. From there, you’ll head to Cala, an upscale restaurant with uninterrupted sea views. Seriously, you won’t soon forget this view.
At Cala, you’ll enjoy a seafood bite (it may or may not be ceviche) alongside Peru’s famous pisco sour cocktail. Who knows, you might even learn some local tips to make them at home and impress your friends.
Next is Huaca Pucllana, which you would’ve visited on the morning tour. But this time, you’ll visit the renowned restaurant within the archaeological complex. Here, you’ll enjoy a gourmet Peruvian dinner with another pisco cocktail. This may have been my highlight of the food tour because it’s not every day you get to dine amongst Pre-Incan ruins!
The final stop on this food tour is Barranco. So, if you decide to stick to Miraflores in the afternoon, you’ll still get a glimpse of this neighborhood during your one day in Lima. You walk through Barranco and see the main sights, including the Bridge of Sighs. Even if you already explored Barranco, you’ll get to witness this area at night, which brings its own special charm.
Finally, it’s time to enjoy a unique signature dish from a local chef and a dessert to die for. It’s the perfect ending to a fabulous foodie experience!
Food tours are one of the best things you can do in Peru. You’re seriously missing out if you don’t do one!
Luckily, this 5-hour tour is available every day but Sunday. It’s well-paced and costs $145 USD per person. This price includes all food and beverages, transfers, and a professional guide. If your mouth is already watering, we don’t blame you, so make a booking online today!
If you want to keep the party going after the food tour, head to Calle Berlin (Berlin Street) in Miraflores. It’s the place to party in Miraflores and Lima in general. The street has bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and even Irish pubs. When we want to bar hop and mingle without a set plan, this is where we go!
My favorite club is Lumma, which is one street over. Head behind the bar to the dancefloor, where you can dance the night away to salsa and bachata music. It’s open from 6 pm on weekdays and 7 pm on weekends until the wee hours.
Molly’s Irish Bar and Restaurant also has good live music and DJs daily. Located right on Berlin Street, this classic pub attracts both locals and tourists and hosts nightly events. It stays open till 1 am most nights and 3 am on Fridays/Saturdays. It’s the ideal place to enjoy easygoing vibes with a pint and some pub food.
However you decide to end your night, you’re sure to have fun in this city!
Related Read: If you’re planning to do some hiking within the country, read our guide to trekking in Peru.
Where to Stay in Lima, Peru
If you’re spending the night 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.
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.
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!
We’ve spent lots of time in Lima and had an absolute blast. So, if you only have one day to spend in Lima, we hope this itinerary comes in handy! We really narrowed it down to our favorite activities and places. This way, you can get a feel for the city and have fun without feeling too rushed.