Know that while many travellers rush off to Machu Picchu when they land in Lima – it’s worth staying for more than for just a stopover. Lima is Peru's largest city, home to more than a quarter of Peru's roughly 30 million people, and is truly an extraordinary city.The capital has one of the best food scenes in the world ( the birthplace of ceviche and the inspiration behind Nobu’s fusion concept), and according to most gastronomy guides, Lima is currently hands-down the best place in the world to try the highest-ranking restaurant cooking globally. The proof is in the numbers - if you use the World’s 50 Best Restaurantsas a guide. No city on its list has more than three restaurants in the top 50. The four that have this honour are New York, London, Mexico City, and Lima. But if looking closer at the rankings, Lima beats NYC by eight points. All that said; do dedicate a few days in Lima to really grasp contemporary Peruvian culture before you head off to see ancient Cuzco and the ruins.
WHERE TO STAY
Second Home Peru Living up to its name, the former home of Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfín is a tranquil, art-filled and inviting mansion situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Surrounded by lush lawns and cooled by the Pacific breeze, it’s the perfect antidote to downtown Lima’s frenzy.
In the heart of the always-fashionable Miraflores neighbourhood, the recently refurbished Belmond does the area proud with its stunning glass-enclosed rooftop pool overlooking the Pacific. Here, every room is a suite, with king-size beds and marble bathrooms, Peruvian art, and light, neutral hues. The Presidential Pool category comes complete with private plunge pool.
WHAT TO DO
MATE – Museo Mario Testino
Museo MATE houses a permanent collection of work by renowned photographer Mario Testino, in a restored 19th century mansion located in Barranco. A non-profit institution, the museum also showcases temporary exhibitions of local and international artists from a variety of art disciplines; and offers a variety of artistic, cultural and educational programs.
Parque del Amor, MirafloresOf all the parks along Lima’s pretty coastal strip, the Gaudi-inspired Parque del Amor is arguably the best. And with its seaside views, flowerbeds, colourful mosaics, and a giant embracing couple, it’s certainly the most romantic - and very photo-worthy.
WHERE TO EAT
Run by Pedro Schiaffino, the most pioneering chef in Peru right now, Amaz focuses entirely on Amazonian food. Try the cocktail with gin actually made from 100% Amazonian botanicals, the local fish and prawns, as well as the Arroz Palillo con Castañas (sticky rice flavored with brazil nuts.)
Open only for lunch, this colourful casual always-packed spot is a masterclass in how to eat like a local. Start with a soup (you really don’t want to miss the soup), order a daytime pisco sour, and choose your fish so they can prepare your custom ceviche.
WHAT TO DRINK
Ayahuasca No trip to Lima is complete without a drink at Ayahuasca. An old colonial-style mansion turned into a fun house of sorts, the venue is broken up into several rooms, which makes wandering around a large part of its charm. There’s also a terrace to enjoy drinks al-fresco. Try the Maracuya (Passion Fruit) Sour.
Hotel B Bar
With its unique interiors and artefacts, the ambience felt at this charming arts hotel is truly singular. The cocktails and snacks on their rooftop bar are excellent – it’s the kind of place you end up staying at for hours and skipping dinner altogether.
Of course, the serenity and majesty of Machu Picchu is the perfect pairing for Lima’s hustle and bustle. We’ll have this guide coming up - stay tuned.