Lima in One Day

History and food make Peru’s vibrant capital city an essential stop

Go for a nightcap at Picas in Lima, the place to try Peru\’s national drink, the pisco sour.
Lima is rich in culture, history, nightlife, and cutting-edge cuisine. The city has its challenges – it’s not postcard-pretty like Cusco or Arequipas. But its fabulous restaurants alone make up for any shortcomings.

An excellent foundation for your Peru vacation, the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru provides an overview of Peruvian culture and history, with artifacts dating to prehistoric times.

More than 3,000 years of pre-Columbian art is on display at the Museo Larco, including a fascinating collection of early erotic art. Take a coffee break at the café, overlooking gardens blooming with bougainvillea. Later, lunch at La Mar, a restaurant by Lima’s most celebrated chef, Gastón Acurio; it’s legendary for its ceviche.

After lunch, visit the city-center Plaza de Armas, or Plaza Mayor, highlights of which are the presidential palace (Palácio de Gobierno), a 1625 cathedral, and a bronze 17th-century fountain. A haunting tour of the catacombs beneath the lovely, baroque Convent of San Francisco reveals the bones – including thousands of skulls – of an estimated 70,000 or more souls buried here in Lima’s first cemetery.

The ruins of Huaca Pucllana, including a giant reconstructed pyramid, were a center for Quechua politics and religious rituals that predate the Inca by 700 years. Elegantly prepared classic Peruvian fare is served within view of the ruins at Restaurant Huaca Pucllana. Stay for a drink, then head south to one of a wave of innovative new restaurants, Central, which transforms traditional Peruvian flavors into decadent dishes like suckling pig confit with native potatoes in a huacatay emulsion.

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