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Lima is a beautiful city to visit on a trip to Peru. It’s the capital of Peru and is a HUGE place packed with incredible activities, amazing food, and equally great culture. We loved this city so much that we actually moved here for a few months!
Because Lima is so big (the population is around 10 million people!) and you may not have weeks or months to spend here, a tour is a great way to discover what makes Lima special. But with so many tours to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s where we come in with our recommendations to help you narrow it down.
You also make have heard of Lima getting a bad reputation for being dangerous – which it can be, just like any other big city. Tours are a great way to experience everything Lima has to offer, while still feeling really safe. You’ll be traveling with a group and have an experienced guide who knows which areas are safe and which to avoid.
After exploring the city and taking our fair share of tours in Lima, we’ve narrowed it down to the 13 best Lima tours. From free walking tours to discover downtown Lima, to swimming with sea lions and a colorful light show complete with fountains, these are the tours you won’t want to miss!
Getting around Peru and Lima
Traveling to different places around Peru can be an amazing experience! But, let me tell you, it’s not always rainbows and sunshine! After spending three months exploring Peru and later living in Lima, I’ve had some pretty rough times traveling by bus. We’ve seen it all, from crazy drivers and no bathrooms onboard to dirty seats that make you cringe!
That’s why we always recommend traveling with a trustworthy company like Peru Hop when you’re planning your Peru (and even Bolivia) bus adventures. Companies like Peru Hop know how to take care of tourists and provide a safer and more comfortable experience. Things like not stopping at random destinations or actually sticking to their bus schedule (a common problem in Peru!) Both of which can have you spending lots of extra hours sitting on a bus.
This is also the case when arriving in Lima, the capital. It can be daunting so for the cheapest and most convenient way of getting from the airport to your hotel, use Airport Express Lima. The one-way tickets cost around $6 USD per person so they are fantastic value and include luggage.
So, if you want to avoid the hassle and make the most of your trip, choose a reputable bus company like Peru Hop or Airport Express Lima. Your adventure will be a lot smoother and more enjoyable, trust me!
The BEST Tours in Lima
1. Barranco Graffiti Free Walking Tour
Barranco is one of our favorite areas in Lima because it’s a really trendy and artsy neighborhood. This free walking tour is perfect because it takes you to see tons of really cool pieces of graffiti in the neighborhood, while also giving you the chance to explore the area and get a feel for it.
We loved doing this tour because of the mix of art and culture, and it was a great way for us to get to know the neighborhood with an experienced guide. It was also a good way to scout out spots that we wanted to come back to on our own.
One of our favorite stops on the tour was the Bridge of Sighs, which is one of the most famous landmarks in Barranco. Legend has it that if you make a wish and then hold your breath while you walk the length of the bridge (don’t worry, it’s only 144 feet/44 meters!) your wish will come true!
The tour is offered Monday-Saturday at 4 pm. It meets at Parque Municipal de Barranco in front of the library and lasts for two hours. You can book online ahead of time so your guides are expecting you!
While it is “free” the guides make money from tips, so it’s highly recommended to tip your guide. With free walking tours like this one, we usually recommend tipping between $5-$20 USD per person, depending on the length and quality of the tour.
2. Lima Gourmet Food Tour: Evening Experience
This gourmet food tour is one of our favorite tours we have ever done. And I don’t just mean in Peru, I mean in THE WORLD. Lima is home to some of the world’s best restaurants, so you can be sure that this city is an incredible culinary destination (there is even an episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table that features a Michelin-star restaurant in Lima!). If you want to really get a taste for Lima, book this tour and thank us later.
This tour isn’t just your average street food tour that you can find in most cities. This is an upscale gourmet food tour, fit to impress any foodie! It’s five hours long and takes you to some amazing spots.
The first stop is an upscale cocktail bar right on the beach. The appetizers and drinks were somehow even more beautiful than the view! Of course, you’ll taste the iconic pisco sour (SO good!) while you take in the stellar views of the Lima coastline.
Then, you head to a restaurant that is in an archeological complex that dates back to 500 A.D! The prestigious Huaca Pucllana Restaurant. I’m not lying when I say this restaurant had some of the best dishes we have ever tasted. It’s no wonder even the King of Spain has eaten here!
We loved that the tour didn’t just end there – they also take you on a walk around the Barranco neighborhood before finishing off with a yummy dessert. In total, there are four stops, and none of them disappoint! Another thing that we really appreciated was that everything was included in the ticket price – we weren’t surprised with additional fees and there was no upselling. This really made the tour feel high-end.
The tour costs $145 USD per person and includes all your food and transportation from Miraflores, San Isidro, or Barranco. It’s a small group with a maximum of 10 people and can accommodate dietary restrictions as long as you let them know when booking. So taste some of the best food in Lima by booking a spot on this gourmet food tour here!
3. Swim with Sea Lions in the Palomino Islands
For something completely different from other Lima tours, this tour to swim with sea lions was one of our favorites!
You meet at the port in Callao which is around a half-hour drive from Miraflores if there’s some traffic. The boat leaves at 10 am and takes you to the Palomino Islands. These islands are just off the coast of Callao where you can see penguins, sea birds, and of course sea lions!
There are actually thousands of sea lions here, so it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll see them and more importantly, get to swim with them! We first noticed all the sea lions hanging around the island grabbing some sun and playing in the water. Then we got to put on our wetsuits and jump in!
The sea lions are really curious and playful creatures, so they actually swim over to check you out. I had sea lions swimming around my feet and bumping into them under the water!
While there are a few different companies that offer the experience, we booked this exact tour with Viator and highly recommend it. This tour uses a speed boat which is faster and means less rocking around on the water. That’s good news if you’re like me and get easily seasick – I didn’t feel queasy at all! Tickets are $72 USD along with an 11 soles/$4 USD conservation fee.
4. Huacachina and Ballestas Islands Tour from Lima
For one of the best experiences in Peru, look no further than this full-day tour that includes a boat ride and a trip to an amazing desert oasis! At first glance it can look a little intimidating because of the long duration (18 hours!), but don’t let that deter you, this really is a tour of a lifetime!
The tour leaves from Lima around 6 am and heads for Paracas to board a boat to the Ballestas Islands, which are like a mini version of the Galapagos Islands. There are even penguins and sea lions! This was such a cool experience and is something that we would have never thought to do on our own.
After the boat tour was another one of our favorite parts – the dune buggies! This was one of the most fun things I think I have ever done. They go SO fast and I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time! By the time we were done, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much! You can also sandboard down the dunes, which seems scary at first, but I’m so glad that we did it.
If you’re using Lima as the home base for part of your trip and you don’t have time to stay in Huacachina or Paracas, then this is a great way to get to experience this amazing desert oasis with limited time. You an book this full-day tour for $139 USD. It’s a popular option and tends to sell out, so make sure to grab a spot here!
Related Read: Another incredible experience in Peru (and why many people visit in the first place!) is to hike Machu Picchu. Before you go read up on all the things you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu so you’re prepared!
5. Lima City Walking Tour
While we mentioned the free walking tour earlier, this walking tour in downtown Lima lasts almost twice as long and includes hotel transfers which is a nice perk! This is so much history in this part of the city, so it’s really nice to have a bit more time with a guide who can share some of the stories behind what you’re seeing.
Having a guide also ensures you feel safe. The downtown core of Lima can feel a bit unsafe at times, so this is a great opportunity to see central Lima while feeling totally comfortable.
One of our favorite parts of the tour was the Monastery of San Francisco and the catacombs! This was such a cool experience. While it might sound kind of spooky to go down and see thousands of human bones arranged like art all around you (and, actually, it kind of is), this was such a unique experience and we got to learn a lot about the history and culture of the colonial era in Peru.
Another cool stop was walking by the Presidential Palace to Restaurante Cordano next door which is the oldest bar in Peru! Many former presidents and even writers like Ernest Hemingway have stopped in here.
All of the destinations on this tour are great, but we also appreciated the fact that the tour ends in the Plaza de Armas, where they have the Happy Inka Market. This market is the perfect place to see lots of art and local goods, as well as to pick up some souvenirs for yourself and loved ones back home!
This walking tour is really affordable at $38 USD per person and you can choose to leave at either 9 am or 2 pm depending on what else you have planned that day. Check availability and book a spot on this walking tour online through Viator!
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.
Check out the Viator website here!
So you want to do something kind of crazy? This is the one for you! Paragliding over Lima is the best – and most exciting – way to see the Lima coastline.
What we love about this paragliding experience is that you are paragliding with a really experienced pilot, so you can just enjoy the ride! You’ll be flying with the company Aeroxtreme which is led by Peruvian-American pilot, Michael Fernández, who has been paragliding for more than 30 years.
The flight takes place on a paratrike which is kind of what it sounds like – a trike and paraglider mashed together. It’s a light vehicle with three wheels that is designed to fly through the air. You’ll take off from the beach and then soar over the coast taking in some pretty amazing views.
The flight lasts around 10-12 minutes, so it really “flies” by! You may even want to book another flight after you’re done. You’ll be between 262-984 feet (80-300 meters) in the air and luckily a HD video recording is included so you can have a memory of the epic views you see!
This is an epic way to see Lima, and you will never forget the view. The flight is $75 USD per person and includes all the equipment you need for a safe flight. It doesn’t include transportation though, so you’ll need to get yourself to the meeting point on the beach yourself. If you’re up for an adrenaline rush and incredible views, combine the two and book a paragliding flight online before your trip!
7. Learn to Surf
If you’ve ever watched surfing movies like Blue Crush and Point Break and thought “I wish I could do that”, then we definitely recommend taking surfing lessons in Lima!
This surfing lesson won’t give you the techniques to be able to surf pipe in Hawaii, but it will teach you the basics so that you can stand up on some beginner waves. It’s only $32 USD and includes the surf lesson, wetsuit, and surfboard. And believe me, the water is chilly, so you’ll be happy to have a wetsuit!
A nice perk about this lesson is that the group sizes are small, so each person gets all the help that they need from the instructor. Speaking of which, the instructors are really friendly and know exactly how to explain things so that a beginner who has never been on a board can understand. They somehow are able to teach you all of the basics that you need, while also not feeling rushed!
The entire lesson is about 90 minutes and most of that is spent in the water. You’ll have a 5-10 minute lesson on the beach depending on your skill level and then it’s all about applying those tips on the water. The instructors here are really highly-rated and get you actually riding the waves right away – which is what you want!
It’s not everywhere that you travel that you can take surf lessons, so we think it’s worth taking advantage of this one and booking this surf lesson in Lima!
8. Pachacamac’s Inka Pyramids Tour
This Pachacamac’s Inka Pyramids tour is perfect for anyone who is interested in Peruvian history. Not far from Lima lies the ruins of the ancient city of Pachacamac. Some of these structures were built back in 200 AD and construction of the entire city took place over 1,000 years!
This site was a spot where advanced studies of astronomy and architecture took place along with ancient rituals and large festivals to honor the gods. The most impressive structures are the huge Temples of the Sun and the Moon. These pyramids are constructed completely out of clay with around 50 million clay bricks used to build the Temple of the Sun!
While it’s not far from Lima, it isn’t nearly as busy as some of the other famous ruins in Peru. So if you’re planning to go to Cusco or Machu Picchu while you’re in Peru, we recommend doing this tour first! This will give you a good foundation of knowledge so that you can appreciate those sites even more.
This tour will pick you up from your hotel in Miraflores, San Isidro, or Barranco for free, or elsewhere in Lima for a small additional fee. It’s about an hour’s drive to Pachacamac along the longest international highway in the world! The drive is scenic too with sand dunes and colorful towns you’ll pass by.
Once you arrive, you’ll have three hours to explore the archaeological complex of Pachacamac and the museum. The tour also includes your admission to the museum which is full of interesting objects on display. Perhaps the most famous is the Pachacamac Idol which was uncovered in the 1930s and survived the Spanish conquest – even though it was ordered to be destroyed. It’s a really significant archaeological find that’s pretty amazing to see in person.
The tour is $54 USD each if you’re booking for two people, but drops if you have a larger group – so $46 per person for a group of six for example. There’s a morning and afternoon tour option and it runs every day except Monday. For a real-life history lesson on ancient Peru, book this tour online before you go!
Related Read: Another incredible attraction in Peru is the deepest canyon in the world. Compare Colca Canyon tours here so you can take in this natural wonder for yourself!
9. Lima Bike Tour
We love biking around a new place because it’s such a fun way to see the city! This bike tour around Lima takes you through the neighborhoods of Miraflores and Barranco. You’ll be biking along the coast with amazing ocean views and stop at famous landmarks including the Huaca Pucllana Pyramid and the Bridge of Sighs.
This tour is great because the groups are small (maximum 8 people), which means that you can ask the guide questions and also get to know the other people on your tour a little better! The bike ride lasts 3-4 hours, which we have found is the sweet spot for a bike tour. It gives you enough time to really see everything but isn’t too long that it leaves you exhausted after.
One of the best parts of doing a bike tour is that it gives you a good idea of places that you want to see more of after the tour. And because you’re not just looking out of a car window, you tend to get a better sense of where everything is in comparison to each other, so that it is easier to navigate later on when you’re sightseeing on your own! It really is one of the best city tours in Lima.
There are a few different departure times to choose from in the morning or afternoon and the entire tour is $31 USD per person which includes the bike, helmet, bottle of water, and your guide. Reserve your bike online here!
10. Marcahuasi Stone Forest
We wanted to include this tour of the Marcahuasi Stone Forest as this isn’t usually a stop that many travelers have heard of, but we think it is so worth checking out! The stone forest is made up of rocks that almost look like sculptures. This site has a lot of mystery around it and the rocks are supposedly around 10,000 years old.
This tour is around 10 hours, so it will definitely take up a full day, but if you have an interest in nature, we absolutely recommend doing this! It’s also a private tour, which is really nice so you won’t feel rushed as you explore this unique landscape.
We hadn’t really looked into this ahead of time, so arriving here was such an incredible surprise. Even just driving up the mountain was a great experience, as the views are absolutely stunning. But getting time to explore the stone forest was really an unforgettable experience.
We don’t recommend this tour for anyone with mobility issues, as there is a lot of hiking involved. But for those who are willing and able, the hike has stellar views and is 100% worth it in our opinion!
11. Magic Water Circuit Tour
The Magic Water Circuit is a large water fountain (in fact, it’s the largest outdoor water fountain park in the world!) right in the heart of Lima. It’s essentially a choreographed light display across 13 fountains, complete with music and it’s really cool! It’s located in Parque de la Reserva, near the National Stadium.
The light show happens every night from Tuesday to Sunday once it gets dark. You can expect the show every 30 minutes with the last one typically around 10 pm, although this can be earlier depending on the season. You can purchase tickets at the gate when you arrive or book online ahead of time with tickets costing 4 soles each – equivalent to about $1 USD. There’s also the option to include a visit to the fountains as part of a tour.
If you want to join a guided tour to the Magic Water Circuit then this one is highly recommended. It starts with a comprehensive walking tour around the historical center of Lima including stops at the Monastery of San Francisco to see the catacombs, the Presidential Palace, and time to wander around Plaza de Armas.
Once the evening hits, you’ll head to a local restaurant for a yummy dinner. The finale of your tour is the incredible light show! Everything including transportation is included if you book this tour online for $95 USD, although the price drops a bit if you’re booking for a larger group.
12. 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.
13. Fountains and Folkloric Show Evening Lima Tour
As we already mentioned above, 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!
Related Read: Want to get out of the city? Consider one of these fun day trips from Lima!
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.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. 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!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
Lima is a huge city with so much to explore and if you don’t have long here, a tour of Lima is a great option! Whether you stick around the city or do a day trip like swimming with sea lions or seeing ancient ruins, these tours of Lima will ensure you bring back some amazing memories.
I hope this list of all the best tours in Lima has helped you plan your trip here! If touring Peru and other nearby countries nearby is on your wishlist, have a peek around our other South American blogs for more ideas and inspiration.