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How to Spend 2 Days in Lima – The Best 48-Hour Itinerary

How to Spend 2 Days in Lima – The Best 48-Hour Itinerary

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If you only have a couple of days to explore Lima, you’ve come to the right place!

Lima is an incredible city that can’t be missed on any trip to Peru. With over 10 million residents, it’s a large city with no end of things to do. With so much to see in Peru’s capital city, narrowing down what to fit on your itinerary can feel like an impossible task.

Luckily, we used to live in Lima and know all of the best places to go and things you can’t miss out on. That’s why we’ve created this detailed 2-day itinerary that will help you see the most of this amazing city in a short amount of time!

Day 1

Breakfast – Manolo in Miraflores and Kennedy Park

Having a coffee and churros at Manolo
Coffee and churros!

There’s only one way to start your two-day 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!

A cat relaxes in Kennedy Park in the center of Lima, Peru
I could not believe this park was real at first!

Take a coffee to go and head out to explore your next stop: Kennedy Park! This park is only a 5-minute walk away and is perfect if you love furry friends.

The park used to have a rodent problem, so they introduced 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 activities that even made it onto our list of the best 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

Exploring downtown Lima on a free walking tour
The historical center!

Once you’re feeling fresh after your coffee and walk, it’s time to take in some of the city’s history!

You can hop into a cab to Lima’s historical center, and walk around yourself, but honestly, we prefer doing a city tour instead. Tours are a great way to make the most out of your time as they point out the significant sights and share interesting history and facts that you wouldn’t get to know on your own.

Our favorite is this Lima city sightseeing tour. We did this back when we first arrived in the city and can’t recommend it enough. Over 3.5 hours, you get a great overview of the city and learn lots about Peruvian culture and history from your local guide while seeing highlights such as the Lima Cathedral and Santo Domingo Convent.

The tour is extremely affordable at $59 USD per adult for a group tour, or you can do a private tour which starts at $79 USD per person if you book for four people. The morning tour departs at 9 am and conveniently includes round-trip transfers from Miraflores (where Kennedy Park is) and other districts. 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!

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, which is right next to Kennedy Park.

Lunch – Fiesta Restaurant

Cooking a local dish on a food tour in Lima Peru
Yum!

After all that sightseeing, you will work up quite an appetite, which is why it’s time for lunch!

After the tour, you can get dropped off back in Miraflores, where Fiesta Restaurant is located. We used to live near this restaurant and think it is one of Lima’s hidden gems. If you want to try some delicious traditional Peruvian food, this place is a must-visit!

I recommend trying the ceviche – it is so fresh and flavorful! Some other great main dishes include the clams, duck on rice, and grilled fish. You really can’t go wrong!

It is open every day from 12-6 pm except for Mondays. So it should be open by the time you’re done your sightseeing tour for an afternoon bite!

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

The Larcomar shopping center in Miraflores
The Larcomar shopping center in Miraflores

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

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

Miraflores coastline with views of the bike path on a bike tour in Lima, Peru
The entire coastline has bike paths to enjoy!

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.

Barranco

Street art on a Barranco Graffiti Free Walking Tour
Street art on a Barranco Graffiti Free Walking Tour
A cute street on a Barranco Graffiti Free Walking Tour

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.

Dinner – Gourmet food tour

Plantains on a food tour in Lima, Peru
Cooking!
A selection of Peruvian food on a food tour in Lima, Peru
I think this was my favorite tour!

Did you know that Lima is one of the world’s food capitals? It has emerged as a huge culinary destination, with endless delicious food and restaurants to try!

But with only 2 days here, you can’t possibly try it all, which is why a food tour is a great option. This gourmet food tour will have you trying multiple different culinary delights and is a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine and culture.

The tour will pick you up from your Miraflores hotel around 4/4:30 pm. The first stop is an upscale restaurant on the sea with beautiful ocean views. Here, you’ll enjoy some delicious seafood served along with Peru’s famous cocktail: the Pisco Sour!

Next up, you’ll head to what I think is Lima’s coolest restaurant at Huaca Pucllana. If you’re doing the city tour we mentioned earlier in the day then you would have already seen these ruins, but visiting the restaurant within the archaeological complex is a completely different experience! You will get to enjoy a gourmet Peruvian dinner with a fantastic view of the pre-Incan ruins – along with another Pisco Sour of course!

The final stop is the trendy Barranco neighborhood. Even though this is a food tour, you get to explore the area a bit as well on a walking tour before indulging in some dessert. Even if you have already explored this area earlier in the day, there is a completely different charm at night. Plus, we love exploring with a guide because you learn so much more!

This tour runs daily except for Sundays and lasts about 5 hours. It costs $145 USD which we think is a great deal since it includes all food, beverages, transfers, and a professional guide – if you don’t believe us just check out the hundreds of 5-star reviews here!

Night – Party on Calle Berlin 

Bailey and Daniel have a drink on Calle Berlin in Lima, Peru
Bailey enjoys a drink on Calle Berlin in Lima, Peru

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.

Related Read: If you’re looking for another step-by-step itinerary, check out our guide to spending one day in Cusco, Peru!

Day 2

Breakfast – Café et Chocolat

Hopefully, you didn’t party too hard last night, because day two is full of many more adventures!

Start your day off bright and early with a delicious breakfast at Cafe et Chocolat. This adorable cafe is more than just its Insta-friendly aesthetic – it has delicious food, coffee, and baked goods too! It is also conveniently located in Miraflores, where most people stay during their time in Lima.

I personally love their waffles and all of their homemade baked goods. Oh, and the hot chocolate is to die for! This cafe quickly became a staple in our diets when we lived in Lima, and I still go back every time we visit.

It is open from 7 am to 9:30 pm on Monday-Saturday, and 8 am to 8 pm on Sundays. This will give you plenty of time to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the cafe’s ambiance before heading off on your next adventure!

Morning – Swim with sea lions

A few people swimming with sea lions in Lima, Peru
We loved this experience and never expected it in Lima!

Most people don’t think of the big city of Lima as a place where you can have a close wildlife encounter. But boy are they wrong!

Just 15 minutes from downtown Lima, you can have a unique experience swimming with sea lions! Just off the coast of Lima, the Guarnera Islands are home to over 10,000 sea lions, penguins, and sea birds, making it the perfect place to jump in the water and hang out with these amazing creatures.

The only way to do this is on a tour with a reputable company. This is the tour we did and we can’t recommend it enough!

Once you anchor near the main island, you will be treated to literally hundreds of sea lions sunbathing on the island and swimming in the water. This is where you will jump off the boat and into the ocean to swim with them! 

Sea lions are notoriously playful and curious creatures, and these are no different – they will come very close to you! When I did this tour, sea lions were swimming around my feet and bumping into them under the water. It made me a little nervous, but it was also one of my favorite experiences in Peru

This 2.5-hour tour runs daily and is competitively priced at only $72 USD. We love that they use a speed boat to get you to the islands, so less time is spent traveling and more time is spent in the water. Plus you’ll get a wetsuit, lifejacket, snacks, and bottled water included in the price. It departs at 10 am and you’ll get back around 1 pm – just in time for lunch!

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.

Lunch – Eat fantastic ceviche

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

All of that swimming is definitely going to work up your appetite. And there is nothing more Peruvian than ceviche!

Ceviche is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in either lemon or lime juice. It originated in Peru and thankfully there are heaps of great places to sample this dish in Lima. Some of my favorite places to eat ceviche in Lima are:

La Canta Rana in the Barranco neighborhood, is tucked away down a small side street but you won’t be able to miss it as there are typically long queues outside, expect to wait up to an hour for a table. The service is good, the interior is cozy and casual, and it’s definitely one of the top places to try ceviche in Lima.

La Mar on Avenida La Mar in the Miraflores district is a high-end restaurant that dishes up several different ceviche options, all with a unique twist. You just have to try their Asian/Peruvian fusion ceviche!

Chez Wong is a hidden gem in the center of La Victoria. There are no menus in this modest restaurant and you will simply be served whatever ceviche the talented chef has prepared that day. 

Afternoon – Go paragliding or take a surf lesson

A person paragliding on the cliffs in Lima, Peru
This is the best way to enjoy the rugged coastline of Lima.

Why not keep your adventurous day going with another unique experience? Lima is actually known for paragliding and you’re sure to see people soaring through the sky during your visit here, so you might as well join them!

Paragliding was one of my favorite things to do in Lima. The views over the city and the coastline are incredible. There are many different companies offering flights and you can find them along the Malecon in Miraflores where most paragliders take off from.

We booked this specific paragliding experience because it’s with a well-known and reputable company (just check out all of the 5-star reviews here). The price is super reasonable at $75 USD for a 10-12 minute flight. They also provide full in-flight video of your flight as an added bonus!

They conveniently operate from 10:30 am – 5:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday and from 11 am – 5:30 pm on weekdays, making it easy to fit into your itinerary. Just be sure to book in advance to guarantee your spot!

A man surfs on the beach in Lima, Peru
Be aware, the water is freezing!

When most people think of Lima, they don’t necessarily think of it as a surfing spot, which is a real shame! Situated right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Lima has some great waves for beginner surfers – it’s actually where I learned to surf!

But beware, the water here is quite cold at about 15°C (59°F), so you’ll definitely need a wetsuit. If you don’t have your own don’t worry, there are lots available for rent.

In the Barranco and Miraflores neighborhood (where most tourists stay), you can walk down to the beach and find many companies where you can rent equipment from or even take a surf lesson.

This is the lesson that I took and I highly recommend it. They were so patient and I was riding the waves in no time. The lesson is 90 minutes long and costs only $32 USD which includes all of your equipment, wetsuit, and instructor.

Just note that the latest start time for this specific lesson is 1 pm. So if you are swimming with the sea lions in the morning, you may not make it back in time for this lesson. But it’s a great alternative activity if the sea lions don’t sound like your thing!

Dinner – Eat at one of the best restaurants in the world!

A boa bun at Astrid Y Gaston in Lima, Peru
Photo credit: Astrid Y Gaston
A seafood dish at Astrid Y Gaston Lima, Peru
Photo credit: Astrid Y Gaston

A couple of the world’s 50 best restaurants are located right here in Lima! Astrid y Gaston is one of my personal favorites and it has won countless awards. Set within the 300-year-old Casa Moreyra (a former plantation house) the restaurant serves up a unique tasting menu including Peking-style guinea pig bao, grilled octopus with a pseudo-cereal salad, and lucuma gnocchi. It’s definitely an up-market place and the prices reflect that. 

The restaurant first opened in 1994 and many excellent chefs have taken the helm here including Gaston Acurio, who opened the restaurant. He is known as the patron saint of modern Peruvian cuisine!

Astrid y Gaston is located on Avenida Paz Soldán in the San Isidro district. Advance booking is essential as this is an incredibly popular restaurant.  

Another world-class restaurant in Lima is Central. This restaurant won “Best Restaurant in South America” in 2021 and is overall #4 in the world! Of course, with awards like that, this restaurant is very difficult to visit. We spent over a month in Lima and were never able to snag a booking, so we can’t personally comment on how good the food is. With that said, the waitlist should be enough of a testament!

So, plan in advance and book an incredible culinary experience at one of these top-rated restaurants in Lima!

Night – See the Magic Water Circuit

The Magic Water Circuit in a range of colors in downtown Lima, Peru
How cool is this?!

Did you know that Lima is home to the largest outdoor water fountain complex in the world?

That’s right, in the heart of Lima you’ll find the Magic Water Circuit, a beautiful choreographed light display across 13 fountains, complete with music. This unique spectacle is found next to the National Stadium in Parque de la Reserva.

You can watch the fountains light up every half an hour daily until around 10 pm. In order to visit, tickets can be purchased at the gate when you arrive for 5 sol (approx $1.30 USD), or purchased in advance as part of a tour.

We did this combo tour when we were last in Lima and had a great time. It is especially perfect if you can’t get a reservation at one of the restaurants above because it includes dinner at a local restaurant.

The tour also includes a historical walking tour around the city including a visit to the eerie catacombs which we thought was really neat! It starts at 2 pm, which means you may have to skip out on one of the other afternoon tours, but we think this combo tour is great, especially if you didn’t book the city sightseeing tour mentioned above on day one.

For only $99 USD per person, this tour also includes roundtrip transportation, a local guide, dinner, and entrance fees.

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

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

If you’re spending a couple nights 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 $275 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 $44 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.com or Booking.com.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey in Lima, Peru
Thanks for reading!

There you have it! A complete two-day itinerary in Lima full of our favorite places and activities that can’t be missed! We hope this allows you to get a real feel for the city without being too rushed. We truly love Lima and know you will too!

If you found this guide useful, check out our other blogs about Peru as well as other South American destinations. To get started, just click on one of the links below.

9 Absolute BEST City Tours in Lima

33 EXCITING Things to do in Cusco, Peru

4 BEST Salkantay Trek Tours in Peru (Which One to Choose!)