So you may be thinking: in a land of such extraordinary historic and natural wonders, why bother spending time in Lima? Well, this is why.
Our answer is that Lima does not possess the elegance of Buenos Aires, the raw beauty of Rio or even the improbable setting of La Paz. But look through the veneer of mist (“garua”) that rolls down from the Andean plains, and you’ll discover that Lima is an extraordinary wonder in itself.
Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a compelling historic city. There are archaeological gems ranging from Pre-Columbian temples to conquistador relics to faded colonial mansions. A smorgasbord of cultural curiosities, museums and galleries pepper the city. And maybe it’s the mist, but exploring the streets for hidden treasure can feel almost dreamlike.
Put the modern façade back in place for a moment – and there are lots of perks to a luxury holiday in Lima. Upscale hotels overlook the ocean, or occupy colonial or Art Deco buildings. There are designer boutiques, exclusive golf courses and an unmistakably vibrant Latin American nightlife. Just south of the city lie perfect white beaches on the Pacific coast. Since it was named “Gastronomic Capital of the Americas” in 2006, there’s been a culinary revolution resulting in an internationally recognised restaurant scene.
It’s nickname, “City of the Kings”, stems from the time when Lima was the most important imperial city in South America, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. And beneath the glossy modern skyscrapers lies one of the South America’s most intriguing old quarters, which achieved Unesco World Heritage status in 1988.
The stunning baroque Convent of San Francisco (the largest on the continent) is the star of the Historical Centre. You can explore its atmospheric underground vaults and celebrated library, full of musky ancient texts. It’s best known, however, for the spooky catacombs that house the timeworn skeletons of an estimated 70,000 early-Lima citizens.
As “City of the Kings” does not display its treasures openly, you may need an experienced guide! Which is where a tailor-made luxury holiday from Lightfoot Travel comes in; our Peru experts travel here regularly and will use their own knowledge and a concierge-style service to create your perfect itinerary.
- Capital: Lima
- Main Language: Spanish
- Population: 29.4m (2011)
- Time Zone: GMT -5
- Currency: Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN)
- Best time to go: Peru’s climate has two main seasons – wet and dry – though the weather varies greatly depending on the geographical region. The peak tourist season is from June to August.