This 2 days itinerary in Lima will help you discover that Lima is not only the point of arrival and departure of your international flight, but an alive city where you can confront a South American reality rich in history and a culture full of traditions.
How many days to spend in Lima was one of the first questions I asked myself while building our 2 weeks itinerary in Peru, maybe one day in Lima might be enough, but surely seeing all the Lima highlights with kids wasn’t realistic. In the end I found a lot of things to do in Lima, so much so that I couldn’t put them all in 2 days.
In this itinerary we will cover the historical center, Miraflores and Barranco and at the end I also added some practical advice about where to stay in Lima, where to eat and how to move around.
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If you only have one day in Lima and you still want to do a similar itinerary to the one we have done and that I suggest below, I recommend you book an organized tour like this one so you can maximize your time. This tour works with local guides so you will go around with people who know their stuff.
Day 1 Miraflores to Barranco by bike and Huaca Pullana
We decided to dedicate the first day in Lima to the famous waterfront by renting bicycles. If you have read some of my travel itineraries, you know that I really enjoy cycling around cities whenever possible. It is also a very practical way to move small children, as an alternative to a stroller or a baby carrier.
I wanted to rent an electric bike (an extra 18kg to carry I think justifies my desire!!!) but online I could only find a super expensive site (most tourist activities are priced in US dollars) so the first day we went to a shop not far from our hotel that rents normal bikes. There are a few bike rental places in Miraflores but if you have more than one child, ask your hotel first to phone a couple of them because they often only have 1 child seat available. In fact we eventually had to go to two different places.
The promenade is almost entirely flat and most of it is equipped with cycle paths.
You can also rent bicycles at the entrance of the Larcomar shopping center (ask your hotel to check for child seats though because I haven’t seen any there)
In the map below you can see the itinerary to follow along the sea front with the most scenic spots to see. You can download it and save it on your phone to use when around!
If you reach the waterfront from Miraflores you can start your journey from near the lighthouse, where your children can stretch their legs immediately in a beautiful playground in one of the various public gardens. (Depending where you start probably the first stop could even be the Indian Market, before you reach the waterfront)
From there it doesn’t take much by bicycle to get to the Larcomar shopping center, stopping for the usual photos at the Park of Love.
Larcomar is a totally European shopping center that clashes a little with everything you see in the following days, but even for just a short stop it is worth a visit for the fantastic oceanfront location.
Putting in my architect’s hat I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by the perfect integration into the coastal landscape.
At this point you can decide to eat something in Larcomar (by the way there is another little playground just near the entrance), or to explore some of the best Peruvian restaurants. I would have liked to stay in Lima longer just to try more of them!!!
Anyway, my suggestion is to go to Amaz or Maido. Amaz has a very interesting menu with dishes that mainly use products from the Amazon. The portions are very generous and the design of the restaurant decidedly appealing. Maido is famous for its excellent Nikkei cuisine where Peruvian and Chinese traditions blend together to create unexpected flavors.
After a delicious lunch you can continue pedalling up to Barranco. Barranco is a vibrant and more alternative area than Miraflores. On the way there between Miraflores and Barranco you will pass by a cliff that is used to do paragliding, we stopped to watch only…but in case you feel adventurous we have seen 2 places along the coast where you can do it. Wind is usually better in the afternoon so you have some time to reflect if you are brave enough!!! (it costs around US 100, but I didn’t deeply investigate it)
When you arrive in the area of the murals park your bike because to go down to the mirador on the ocean there are terraces.
At this point it is probably time to return the bikes (if you have walked you can take a taxi or a bus) and if your hotel has a rooftop pool, relax and enjoy the sunset.
But the day is not over, if the Jet lag (or your children) allow it, my suggestion is to take advantage of the evening opening of Huaca Pullana and go around the ruins when they are lit up. If your hotel is in Miraflores and it’s a nice evening you can have a leisurely walk there and back!
Day 2: Historic Centre of Lima and the Water Magic Circuit
You can dedicate the second day in Lima to the Historic Centre of Lima (inscripted in the World Heritage List)
You can take an Uber and in 20-40 minutes (depends on the traffic) you will be there. I’m a big fan of free walking tours, so in fact this is how we started the day. I find them an excellent way to become familiar with a new place and to receive some important information from local people.
The tour of Lima was quite interesting, in two hours we covered a good area and finished the tour near the monastery of San Francisco.
After the tour we stopped to visit the crypt. The cost is only 15 peruvian sol (free for kids) and includes a guided tour of the whole complex that lasts more or less 1 hour. Even with kids it is absolutely worthwhile, the groups are reduced and they have room to move while you listen to the stories. The catacombs are interesting, but maybe prepare the kids in advance because they will see a lot of bones and skulls and could be scared… Liam and Santiago are still little so no effect on them.
The last Sunday of the month in Plaza de Armas the changing of the guard happens like a major show, it is good to be there around 11am to see it.
If you want a peaceful spot where to have lunch you can stop in Passaje Santa Rosa (on the opposite side from the cathedral). This is a peatonal area with several restaurants. We stopped in Tanta (a Peruvian chain) and it was really good.
As a dessert a fun activity to do with kids while you are around the city centre is to do one of the chocolate workshops at the Choco museum. They offer workshops of different lengths, for really small kids there is a 45 minute mini workshop to make your own chocolate with filling in different flavours. (you need to be around another hour after you finish so they can settle and you can pick them up).
Our lunch was more of a snack in the afternoon, so after having rested for a while it was time to start walking. My itinerary plan was to go to the magic circuit of the reserve park, where every night you can admire the countless fountains in a show of water, lights, and music. The first show is at 7:15pm (check the site for any changes). We walked there in around 40 minutes (To be honest the walk was fine, but definitely not interesting, so if you are tired just jump in a taxi).
When we arrived, there were not many people, but by 8 pm it had filled up enough. The cost is negligible only 4 peruvian sol (children enter free up to 4 years). Another 5 soles (including children) are paid if you want to go around on the little train (which we obviously did !!!)
From there to return to the hotel in Miraflores we had no problems calling an Uber, only the meeting point may be a bit confused because at the exit there are plenty of taxis parked.
On the way back to Miraflores you can stop in one of the most famous restaurants in Peru: Atrid and Gaston (but book in advance)
Where to stay in Lima
Most tourists stay in Miraflores or San Isidro and we also opted for Miraflores without regretting it. Before leaving, looking for information on where to stay in Lima, I found many articles that recommended these places for safety. Having spent only two days in Lima, I can’t comment too much, but I’ve actually always felt safe walking even in the evening and with two small children (could it be the big, former rugby player I always have by my side?).
There is a large variety of hotels in Miraflores, everything depends on the budget. We have been to El Pardo Double Tree by Hilton and found it amazing value for money.
OUR CHOICE: El pardo Double tree by Hilton
In Booking.com we found a very competitive rate, and even though I had enough Hilton honors points for a reward room (among other things I am an avid miles and hotel points collector :)), I preferred to take advantage of the good price.
The location is great for exploring Miraflores, the hotel is big with two restaurants where to have breakfast, a small heated pool on the roof and a great, Mark approved, gym, which he used in the early wake-up mornings due to jet lag!Being gold members we were upgraded from a twin room to a large suite with a living room and kitchenette, twin bedroom, and two bathrooms (practically as big as my apartment in London !!!!)
This trip was the first that Liam and Santiago did not sleep in traveling cots, by choosing the twin room we were able to combine the two double beds creating a large bed with them sleeping in the center to avoid falls, which worked perfectly.
The rooftop pool I have to say is tiny, and definitely disappointing for anyone thinking of doing some swimming exercise, but it’s perfect for a family to relax with kids (It is only a meter or less deep)
other of my favourite options:
Other hotels I had spotted were the JW Marriott, with a fantastic waterfront location, ocean view rooms and heated pool (this was my first choice, but a bit out of budget), as well as the Casa Andina Premium Miraflores, a Peruvian chain of very beautiful and comfortable hotels. Also a Peruvian chain but with lower prices was Tierra Viva Miraflores Larco, initially I was a bit skeptical because the rooms seem quite basic, but we stayed 5 days in their hotel in the Sacred Valley and we had a great time. The standard looks the same even in their Lima hotel.
What is great is that all the hotels I mentioned let young kids stay for free when using existing beds, so if you can get a twin room (they usually provide 2 double beds) you will not have to pay extra!
where to eat in Lima
My only regret of not being able to spend more time in Lima was the impossibility of trying all the restaurants I had selected.
Lima is considered the gastronomic capital of South America, but I feel I have not had the chance to test enough to confirm it personally. However if you download the map that is there at the beginning, in the legend you will find the list of restaurants that should be tried, both for their fame and because they are innovative and clearly representative of the trends of the capital.
I have previously listed my favorites: Maido and Amaz and one of the most famous Astrid and Gaston.
In Barranco I was very intrigued by Isolina (perhaps the most rustic and economical of all the selected restaurants) and Central. Central receives excellent reviews and I contacted them because it’s in an excellent position for a stop during the bike ride, but they only do a tasting menu and in this case I thought it would be too long a stop. Rafael was the other one I wanted to try in Miraflores, a Peruvian Italian with Nikkei influence.
In the map there are more options you can investigate but out of the Miraflores district
Arriving in Lima
Unless you are entering Peru from one of the neighbouring countries, you will probably arrive in Lima international airport. To get to the city you have 2 possibility:
If you are a solo traveler this could be your cheaper option, it costs only US $8 and stops near some of the major hotels in Miraflores
Or by taxi:
When you arrive you will see that there are three counters for the official licensed taxi (taxi 365, taxi directo, and taxi green). Usually they also have people going around the airport with promoting signage. If you see one of the three names on their board feel safe to ask because they will tell you the price and if you accept they will bring you to the counter to pay and give you a receipt, then the driver will escort you to the car.
A taxi to Miraflores with them is between 60 or 70 Peruvian soles.
Another option is to pre-book a transfer with Taxidatum it cost $20 (66 peruvian soles atm). I went for this option because the first time you arrive in a new country with kids it can be overwhelming starting looking for transport while moving around with luggage and managing the kids.
We used Taxidatum again in our Lima to Huacachina transfer and they were really professional and accommodating
From Lima to….
Considering the initial low expectation Lima has been a pleasant surprise and many things to do to fill 2 days. From here you can continue your Peru adventure jumping on a flight Lima-Cusco and immersing yourself in the Inca culture exploring Cusco, the sacred Valley, and of course Machu Picchu
For us the adventure continued first to Huacachina with a 24 hours sandboarding experience and only after that we moved to high altitude renting a car and driving in the Sacred Valley.
There are a lot of day trips from Lima, if you are travelling with kids it is probably easier to join an organized tour, where they can help you to make the best use of the day and you don’t need to be bothered organising transfers or catching buses. We organized our trip to Huacachina in a slightly different way with a private transfer, have a look how to organize a family trip to Huacachina if you want to know more.
I hope I haven’t forgotten anything, if I did let me know in the comments please!