Set on the Pacific Ocean, Peru’s capital is a low-slung city of traditional colonial buildings contrasted with a growing cosmopolitan centre of gleaming skyscrapers. Lima is the second-driest capital city in the world, looming above a coastline of crumbling cliffs that often draw a veil of dense fog up into the streets. Despite Peru’s otherwise relaxed pace, the city bustles from dawn to dusk with a soundtrack of pacific waves crashing into the shore and the snarl of noisy traffic.
Like most capital cities, Lima embraces both old and new architectural influences. High-rise apartment blocks in shimmering steel and glass sit alongside pre-Columbian era temples; museums display ancient pottery while contemporary galleries showcase the latest modern art; religious processions fuse with dance clubs reverberating to a Latin beat. Much has been done to restore the city’s colonial centre to its former glory, including reinvigorating museums like the Museo de Oro – the Gold Museum, and the Museo de Antropologia y Arqueologia, which celebrates the country’s people, archaeology and history.
The gastronomic capital of Latin America
In the past, many holidays to the region spent a cursory night in the capital before embarking on a tour of Peru’s more popular sights; today, visitors flock to Lima for its gastronomy alone. The city’s restaurant scene is developing rapidly, with world-class eateries popping up across the revamped districts. Latin America’s best restaurant, Central by chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz, can be found in Miraflores, just 20 minutes from Lima’s historic centre. Miraflores is home to most of the city’s hotels as well as the Parque del Amor on the Malecon, dedicated to romance and decorated with mosaic tiles and the impressive statue ‘The Kiss’.
The new Peru
Reinvention continues in all areas of Lima: the old seaside area of Barranco, once run down, has been sensitively gentrified whilst still retaining its reputation as one of the city’s most romantic and bohemian districts. Home to many of Peru’s leading musicians, photographers and artists, here top-notch restaurants nudge up against fashionable bars and chic boutiques. The new marina offers an upscale yacht club while Barranco’s nearby beaches are renowned in the surfing community.