While most travellers visit Lima as a stopping point on their way to other Peru cities, the serious traveller knows that booking a flight to Lima means experiencing one of the greatest treasures of Peru.
At one time, Lima was considered one of the wealthiest countries and one of the most beautiful countries in North and South America. Founded in 1535 by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Lima once stood as the center of power and trade in South America. Lima boasted baroque and Renaissance churches, palaces, and mansions, and served as the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition. Today, Lima continues to thrive as Peru’s centre for political and government affairs. Tourists flying to Lima will visit some of the best museums, finest restaurants and nightlife of Peru.
Warm and humid with little rainfall, Lima’s climate is influenced by the cold offshore Humboldt Current. The city is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the foothills of the Andes mountain range on the other. Fog can linger in the city even when areas outside Lima are clear and sunny. Lima has two seasons: summer (December to April) and winter (May to November). March is the warmest month with temperatures in the 40s Celsius. Winter is wet and chilly. August is typically the coolest month, and winter temperatures can drop to 12 degrees. January to March is warm and very humid. March to April the humidity lifts a bit in the afternoon and the sun shines through. April to December the city is cloaked in the garua (fog), and it frequently drizzles.
When to fly to Lima
Many travellers book flights to Lima in addition to booking local Peru flights. It's worth noting, however, that Lima and Peru experience the same high tourist seasons so Lima flights and accommodations should be made well in advance.
Lima’s peak season coincides with Peru’s peak season from June to September. Make your Lima flights and hotel reservations in advance and, when you are in the city, be prepared for the damp, chilly air.
Although summer is the off season, this is when many of major fiestas are held, so check ahead for accommodations.
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Getting around Lima
Lima’s neighbourhoods are best explored on foot. You’ll want to take a taxi or bus to get between neighbourhoods. The bus routes are cheap and extensive, but can be uncomfortable and crowded. Flag down one of the large micros and combis and ask where they’re going. Many of the vehicles don’t display their destinations. The combis are known for having bad drivers and lots of accidents. The taxis are also cheap, but they aren’t regulated and don’t have meters. They’re designated by a marked plastic sign on the windshield. Make sure you agree on a fare before you get in. If you call ahead for a registered cab, you won’t be able to negotiate the fare. You’ll also want to bring a map, as many drivers are new to the area. You’re better off not driving your own car – the roads are in poor condition and local drivers are aggressive. If you are driving, make sure you carry your documents. The police and military make routine spot checks.
Lima insider information
- The Cathedral dates from the 1500s and has some interesting carvings and mosaics as well as beautiful side chapels. It is possible to take a guided tour of the cathedral and there is a small museum. Other things to see include the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who founded the city. The Cathedral lies in the Plaza de Armas, a nice square to stroll around. Look out for the bronze fountain, the Archbishop's Palace and the Government Palace.
- The Church of Saint Francis is very popular. It dates from the late 16th century and has catacombs that hold the remains of more than 70,000 people. There is also an art museum and a 17th-century library.
- The Pachacamac - this extensive archaeological complex of palaces and temple-pyramids about 40 kilometres southeast of Lima was considered one of the most important religious monuments by the indigenous people.
- Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, a private museum, showcases an internationally renowned collection of pre-Hispanic Peruvian art. During his life, Rafael Larco collected metals, pottery and textiles. The museum also has a famous collection of ancient erotic pottery.
- The Parque del Amor (Love Park) in the upmarket district of Miraflores. Watch out for the giant statue of two lovers kissing. The park is on the cliffs of Chorrillos and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. South of Miraflores, Barranco is a bohemian area, home to writers and artists.
- Museo de la Nacion or National Museum tells the story of Peru's history from prehistoric times and ancient civilizations to the advanced civilizations of Huari, Chimu and Paracas and the Inca Empire.
- Tour the Government Palace (House of Pizarro) or watch the changing of the guard outside at 11.45am each day.