Destination Information - Lima, Peru
Nicknamed the "City of Kings", Lima was the one time capital of the Spanish empire, but its history goes back much further. This is evident in the pre-Columbian pyramids that are scattered across the city and rise spectacularly beside modern skyscrapers.
Most visitors go to Lima for a day before setting off for Peru's tourist centre of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but Peru's capital city of more than 8 million residents offers a sophistication you can't find in the Incan capital. The bustling South American city is set in the arid coastal desert and is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The best museums and cultural centres in the country are found in Lima. Some of the finest collections of pre-Columbian artefacts in the world are held here. The gastronomic scene is considered one of the best in the Americas and is full of both five star restaurants and quaint cevicherias. Complementing the food, the city has a vibrant nightlife that continues until the early hours of the morning. Live music venues, called peñas, will give you a glimpse into criollo culture and be one of the most authentic music and dance experiences you'll ever find in Latin America.
The majority of sights lie within Lima's colonial area. Everything from cathedrals and catacombs to Chinatown are here. Miraflores is famous for its shopping, dining, nightlife, and where most tourists end up, while nearby San Isidiro is its more posh cousin. The seaside districts of Barranco and Chorillos exhibit bohemian culture and seafood; great diversions if you come on a weekend. The Costa Verde, also known as the green coast, is the crowded, crazy, and active stretch of land that defines the city scene during summer months of January to March.
Once you've exhausted all the possibilities of Lima proper, several major destinations are within a short drive. The oldest pyramids in the Americas sit at Caral to the north, and to the south, Pachacamac, another major pyramid complex that was the loci of pre-Columbian cult. If you come in the summer and the city beaches don't suit your fancy, head to Asia beach where Lima's wealthy go to enjoy their beach houses on the weekends.