After 22 hours on a bus, we got to Lima. While we only spent 3 nights in Lima, plenty of interesting things happened here – we got to stay in a place with peacocks, parrots and turtle freely roaming around and we randomly saw the Pope outside our hostel!
But let’s go in order.
Things to see and do in Lima:
- Take a walk through the Centro Historico;
- Visit the Basílica y Convento de San Francisco and its Catacombs;
- Take a trip to the modern district of Miraflores;
- Stay in Hostel Espana; and
- Try the local food.
We didn’t visit much outside of the Centro Historico, which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage spot since 1991.
Make sure you pay a visit to one of the most iconic spots in this area of Lima – Plaza de Armas.
Plaza de Armas has a lot of unique buildings and balconies that represent the best architecture examples in the city. Here you can see the President’s home and the Government palace, which is the first Spanish-made palace in all of Peru. All around the square, you can see a lot of house and buildings that also date back to the Spanish time, including the Aliaga House, the oldest house in all of the Americas.
Another great landmark in the Centro Historico is the Iglesia de Santo Domingo and its convent.
We also decided to visit the Basílica y Convento de San Francisco. The entrance fee is of 15 soles (or 8 soles for students). Besides visiting the convent and look at its paintings, you can also visit its catacombs. Our guide told us that these catacombs were re-discovered only in the 40s and that over 25,000 bodies were laid in the catacombs. This building is one of the few in Lima that didn’t collapse during various earthquakes, due to its solid construction.
Miraflores is the modern and upscale district of Lima, about 10km away from the Centro Historico. This is where tourists usually decide to stay, as there are plenty of restaurants and hotels and a great view of the sea. We were staying in Centro Historico, but decided to explore this area to say hello to a friend we met in Colombia who was staying here. We took a walk along the Malecon and spent some time in Kennedy Park. Other popular things to do here are water sports, like surfing or paragliding on one of the two main beaches of Lima, Makaha beach and Waikiki beach.
One of my favourite memories from Lima was the place we stayed in, Hotel Espana. Since it was far from the main tourist area (Miraflores), it had a very authentic feeling. Breakfast was delicious and you could choose from a lot of fresh food and juices. In the terrace/gardens there were parrots, peacocks and turtles. One of the days, we walked outside the hotel and…the Pope was there!
Finally, Peruvian food is famous all over the world and there was not one restaurant where we had bad food. If you want inspiration of what food to try, click here.
Getting from Lima to Cuzco
Like I said here, we thought that it wasn’t possible to visit Machu Picchu in February, so we decided to do this first, before visiting the rest of Peru.
While it is true that some parts of the trail might be closed in February because of the rainy season, you can still visit the place and your guide will find an alternative route.
Even though, we want to travel green and we were planning to only get buses from Ecuador onwards, we decided to fly from Lima to Cuzco for three reasons:
- The bus route between Lima and Cuzco is very dangerous and bandits and terrorists attacks are extremely frequent. The owner of our hostel in Mancora, for example, told us he was caught in one of these attacks and got shot in the hand;
- The bus from Lima to Cuzco takes 20 hours, while flying only takes 1; and
- A return flight with Viva Peru was 140 dollars, whereas the Cruz del Sur bus was 150 dollars one way!
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