The Perfect Day in Lima

Start your perfect day in Lima steeped pre-Columbian history and artifacts at Larco Museum before a stop at Plaza de Armas in the city’s historic center; from there spend some time exploring the artsy Barranco District, and end your day dining at one of Peru’s three restaurants that have earned a spot on the list of 50 Best Restaurants in the World.

1515 Avenida Simón Bolivar
The Larco Museum is the starting point of your visit to Peru. It has the largest collection of pre-Columbian pieces in the Americas and tells the history of Peru without being tiresome. That’s a feat in itself, because we’re talking about 10.000 years of history! Everything you’ll see in Lima and around the country will make sense after this visit. The quality and beauty of the pieces are amazing, showing all the complexity of the local cultures. It’s a beautiful museum, very well curated, the exhibits are simple and to the point and everything is explained in displays and videos. The museum offers also a super interesting guided visit for families with children. Other famous part of this museum is two private rooms dedicated to erotic pieces, showing the connection between erotic and fertility.
Lima District 15001, Peru
Every day at noon at the Plaza de Armas (also called Plaza Mayor), trumpets blare, drums pound, and cymbals crash as the guard changes outside the presidential palace. Enjoy the Spanish fanfare like a local: from a plaza bench with an ice cream cone. The Plaza is also the site of festivals, concerts, and the much-loved annual National Pisco Day when the fountain spouts free high-proof grape brandy for all.
Barranco District, Peru
Barranco, one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, awash in character, is known for an artsy vibe and gorgeous colonial buildings. Cross the Puente de los Suspiros (Spanish for “Bridge of Sighs”) and follow the Bajada de los Baños to the seaside. Explore the side streets and duck into cute cafés and art venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC). The gallery-shop Dédalo, in particular, is ideal for combining coffee, snacking, shopping, and art viewing. Visiting another Barranco landmark, the belle epoque Hotel B, provides a quick trip back to a time of elegant architecture. Splurge for a smart cocktail on the rooftop bar to linger a little longer.
Lima, Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco 15063, Peru
A few years back, when Lima’s Central Restaurante was closed because of zoning issues, Peru‘s celebrity chef, Gastón Acurio, was one of many who petitioned for it to be reopened. I knew that meant the young chef at Central, Virgilio Martinez, must be doing something truly special. Virgilio’s restaurant is located in Lima’s hip Barranco neighborhood. I stopped in solo one afternoon for lunch and was dazzled by the dishes his servers put in front of me: charred purple corn with scented octopus, lentils, yuzu, and bok choy; “mask of the suckling pig” (or pig face) with tart green apple, baby tomatoes, and galangal; and suckling goat with chickpeas, goat cheese, and lemon verbena. Each course was plated like a work of art and was a beautiful riddle on the palette. My enthusiasm for my food earned me a tour of the open kitchen and the rooftop garden, where servers pluck flowers or clip herbs for dishes like the citrus gelée with edible flowers (pictured above). Chef also gave me a tour of his incredible chocolate cellar, where he shows off his favorite chocolate bars from around the world.
Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro, Lima 15073, Peru
While some say Gastón Acurio’s flagship restaurant may have lost ground to Virgilio Martinez’s Central, Acurio has been instrumental in putting Lima on the map as South America’s culinary capital and has promoted its cuisine throughout the world. Since 2015—following worldwide travels promoting the nation’s gastronomy—he’s back at the helm at Astrid & Gastón. You can order meals à la carte, but to truly experience the master’s touch, try a (short or long) tasting menu. Gastón’s wife and partner, Astrid, is a celebrated pastry chef, so save room for dessert. Pisco cocktails are outstanding, and a superlative wine list offers more than 250 choices.
Calle San Martin 399, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Maido—in testimony to Japanese immigrants’ integration into Lima’s overall culture and, indeed, the positive benefits of a multicultural city—offers Peruvian-Japanese fusion food at its finest in a sleek, stylish dining room. Though renowned for sushi and other surfside delights, turf is also well represented on the menu in the form of steak, duck, chicken, and tofu. First-time visitors, especially seafood lovers, would do well to try the tasting menu, sure to offer unexpected taste sensations, courtesy of Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura. Fusion desserts range widely in taste and style and include such delights as mango-filled cannelloni, the typical arroz con leche as a crumble with passion fruit sorbet, and yucca cake with pineapple in ginger and azuki ice cream. The cocktails here are never boring, either. Reservations recommended, though bar seating can often be snagged at the last minute.
Miraflores, Peru
Many visitors to Peru stay in Miraflores, and for good reason: The neighborhood is where you’ll find most of the better hotels, as well as the top restaurants. Get off main streets to stroll the pretty side streets. Down by the ocean, walk the Malecón seawall and visit the Parque del Amor, or Love Park, to watch paragliders soar and bank overhead. The oceanfront is also home to Larcomar, an open-air shopping mall where you can grab a bite or shop for any items you may have forgotten.
Calle 26A, Bellavista 07011, Peru
For those of us used to seeing chicken cut into parts, wrapped in plastic, and cooling in supermarket refrigerators, a trip to a local Peruvian market is fascinating and a bit daunting. At the biggest market, San Pedro, just up the street from the Plaza de Armas, you’ll find fruits, vegetables, alpaca charqui (the Quechua source of our word jerky), pig’s heads, herbs, fruit juices, weavings, and much, much more. You’ll see a fair number of foreigners wandering here as well, so for an experience that feels more authentic, try San Blas Market or Rosaspata, both off the tourist track.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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