It is true that Lima is a big, noisy, disorganized city and many people avoid it completely. This is a shame in our opinion, as the city has a long history, is a center of gastronomy and has a lot to offer visitors.
Our Culture & Contrasts tour is a special, full-day tour that helps you appreciate this city and the role it has played in South American history for hundreds of years and where it stands today. Feel free to ask us to add this tour to your schedule, but only if you have a full day in Lima. Those with a half day free can do some of these elements of course but there is not time for everything.
This city of some 10 million people is the social and economic heart of Peru, and its environmental and economic extremes will surprise and shock you somewhat as you travel around.
Lima, a developing city
You will enjoy a full day spent visiting the capital accompanied by an English-speaking guide, private vehicle and driver. You have a buffet lunch included so you can learn a little more about excellent Peruvian cuisine.
Departing from your hotel at around 9am, you will start by passing through some of the city’s poorer neighborhoods (not the most poor or dangerous, so dont worry!), such as the La Victoria and Gamarra areas, so you can witness how 70% of the inhabitants of Lima live. Most people already know how lucky they are living where they do in the “developed world” and to have had the life chances they have had, but a little peek into this world rams the message home. You will drive around a few of the main streets in these areas to get an idea of what most people here have to deal with.
Plaza de Armas – Old Colonial City
Then its off to the lovely Plaza de Armas in the old colonial heart of the city, where you will see the Presidential Palace and the beautiful Cathedral, among other colonial structures with ornate wooden balconies and doors. The construction of the impressive Cathedral was commenced in 1635 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who is indeed buried in the vault. After the Plaza de Armas walk-around we will enter the convent of San Francisco.
Bones and more bones!
The church and convent of San Francisco were constructed in the seventeenth century and are made up of the church, the convent, and two chapels. The building is noted for its architecture, a fine example of Spanish Neoclassicism.
Catacombs were built under the monastery, and are said to connect to other catacombs beneath the Cathedral and other churches in the area. These catacombs are filled with bones and skulls, of maybe 25,000 people, arranged in circular patterns.
The convent’s library is world-renowned. It is also the headquarters of the Museum of Religious Art. NB. Depending on local conditions and factors, some visits may be altered slightly in the colonial center.
Modern San Isidro
You will then continue to the modern, business area of San Isidro which has grown up around two pre-Inca pyramids, the most famous being the Huaca Pucllana. We cruise around this wealthy, boutique and restaurant-filled neighborhood. San Isidro is frequented by the economic elite, and people who live here pay western prices for their apartments, shopping and entertainment. You will see the ancient mud pyramid from the outside and enjoy a stroll through the old olive tree park in the heart of the district. At the end of this walk you will arrive at your restaurant for lunch.
We will have lunch in San Isidro at “La Bistecca” restaurant, this is a great, high-end buffet restaurant allowing you to try seemingly endless Peruvian food with international twists. After this lunch you will need a walk in Barranco for the food to go down.
You will head to the bohemian district of Barranco now, an attractive area with fine architecture which has been gentrified over recent years, with many old buildings being saved from falling to pieces.
You will explore Barranco on foot, crossing the “Bridge of Sighs” and wandering the neighborhood and the plaza. You will stop off at the famous, traditional bar of Juanitos or Pisellis to see that not a lot has changed in these places since they were opened. You will then walk down, under the famous bridge, to the beach front (be warned, its not South Beach Miami!), and after witnessing the Pacific its on the bus again to move along the coast to Miraflores.
The last visits on the capital of Peru tour are in Miraflores, where your hotel is located. You will pay a walking visit to the Parque de Amor (Park of Love) and the lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and the recently very much-improved park in between, before being taken back to your hotel to recover from a full and eye-opening day out. You will pass by the focus of the district, the Miraflores park area, where you are sure to return to later.
This comprehensive tour of the city allows you to see and experience more than on standard tours and gives you a real feel for the city.
If you have a whole day to spare, this is the tour to do in our opinion. If you wish to see a museum as well as this tour, you will need a few hours extra on another day. Please ask us for all the options that can be included in our Peru tour packages.