Peru’s capital is a bit of a riddle. Lima’s main oceanside road feels strikingly similar to LA’s famous Pacific Coast Highway. Head inland, and the rows of colorful colonial homes feel reminiscent of Havana. But slip into one of the city’s famed cevicherías, and you’re in for an experience that feels distinctly Peruvian. With most visitors making a beeline straight for Machu Picchu and the sky-high city of Cusco, Lima is often overlooked by the tourist boom the country is currently experiencing. Coming in at a whopping 1,032 square miles, Lima is also huge, so don’t try to don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you only have a few days to take in Lima, start by exploring the ultra-trendy neighborhood of Barranco (the city’s famed bohemian district). With the help of tour company Chimu Adventures, we did just that. Teeming with street art, live music, and ultra-trendy shops, this hip pocket of Lima is the perfect place to round out your Peruvian adventure.
Where to Stay
Casa Republica: Travel back in time to Peru’s Republican era with a stay in this 22-room converted 1920s mansion. Casa Republica is situated directly across from a pristine plaza (a great place to spot local doggos out for a walk or young lovers enjoying the afternoon). It’s also just a half-block away from some pretty epic ocean videos. Grab one of the hotel’s free bikes and explore the neighborhood’s stunning architecture, or hang back and take in the scenery from the rooftop lounge. (Photo via Casa Republica)
Av. Sáenz Peña 208, Barranco 15063, Peru
Where to Eat
Canta Rana: If you’re a local in Barranco at lunchtime, you’re probably eating at Canta Rana. The famed cevichería is one of the most beloved haunts amongst neighborhood residents. You may find a few tourists, but mainly this place is packed with Peruvians enjoying their favorite lunchtime meal: ceviche. In addition to the house specialty, we recommend ordering some chicharrón de pescado (assorted fried fish), and a pitcher of chicha morada (a sweetened purple corn drink with spices) for the full experience. (Photo via Cortney Clift)
Genova 101, Barranco 15063, Peru
Twins Cafe GF: Gluten-free friends, listen up: Twins will likely be your oasis during your stay in Barranco. Whether you’re looking for a quick coffee and pastry situation or a heartier lunch, this charming and centrally located spot has your back (and your belly).
Colina 108, Barranco 15063, Peru
Colonia & Co: Should you find yourself in need of a midday pick-me-up, the folks at Colonia & Co can sort you out. Expand beyond your usual afternoon latte and try the espresso tonic, a surprisingly refreshing blend of espresso and tonic water. Just remember to ask for it without ice if you’re not accustomed to the country’s tap water. (Photo via Cortney Clift)
Av. San Martin 131, Lima 15063, Peru
Bosco Magico: In the same building as Colonia & Co you’ll find this charming shop with gelato waiting to be scooped out from under opulent golden lids. The shop prides itself on combining organic ingredients into unusual flavor combinations.
San Martín Prolongacion 131, Barranco 15063, Peru
Where to Drink
Microteatro Lima: Soak up some of the district’s artistic spirit at this bar and performance space that features multiple 15-minute shows a night. If you don’t speak Spanish, you may be a little lost during some of it, but, hey, that’s part of the experience!
Ayacucho 271, Lima 15063, Peru
Barra 55: Sidle up to the bar at Barra 55 to find yourself in one of the hippest spots in Lima. The decor is slightly Nordic-inspired, but not so much that it loses its Peruvian flair. Barra 55 is known for its gin selection, but if your time in Lima is limited, a refreshing pisco sour is a must-have.
28 De Julio 206, Barranco 15063, Peru
La Noche de Barranco: If you’re itching for an evening of live music, La Noche’s where it’s at. Almost every night of the week, all kinds of bands play at this beloved local haunt.
Sanchez Carrion 199, Barranco 15063, Peru
Where to Explore
Bridge of Sighs: Find the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros), and you’ll also find yourself in the most picturesque parts of Barranco. The eponymous Bridge of Sighs is a famous landmark that’s inspired many a folk song. In this general vicinity, you’ll also find dozens of street art murals. Head up to the start of the Bajada de Banos walkway to see a handful of them, then wander in almost any direction to find more around every corner. (Photo via Cortney Clift)
Jr. Batallón, Ayacucho 271, Barranco 15063, Peru
Plaza de Armas Barranco: This stunning plaza is the beating heart of the city’s most vibrant neighborhood. On any given day, it’s filled with people. On the weekends, you may even run the risk of not finding a seat. If the gastronomy fair is open while you’re there (in the east end of the park), grab a local snack, find a seat, and watch the citizens of Barranco enjoy their communal living room. (Photo via Cortney Clift)
Plaza de Armas Barranco, Barranco 15063, Peru
Miraflores Bioferia: Okay, technically this organic market is in the neighboring district of Miraflores, but it’s so close to the Barranco action, we’re including it anyway. Consider this Lima’s version of the farmers’ market. Here you’ll find dozens of small stalls stocked with organic and natural goods. (Photo via Cortney Clift)
Parque Reducto Nro. 2, Av. Benavides y Via Expresa, Miraflores 15047, Peru
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(Featured photo via Cortney Clift)