Lima Travel Guide

Lima, Peru

Airport & Visa

Arriving at Lima airport, it seemed quite small. We went through security and we had to talk to an agent separately. Jeremie went first and I heard them asking him if he has family or friends here, what his job was, how long he wanted to stay and a couple of other questions along with taking a photograph.

Then it was my turn and my agent didn’t ask me the same questions. She asked how long I wanted to stay and I said 90 days, same as Jeremie. They didn’t stamp our passports, which Jeremie later found out was due to Covid. They take your passport and scan it, but don’t stamp it. Which is fine, but it means that we don’t have anything saying when we arrived in Peru, or how long we could stay.

A couple of days later, we checked on the Peru website to check our visas as I wasn’t sure if she said 80 or 90 days to me.. well Jeremie’s information was there and it said 90 days, but mine said the information was invalid.

Basically meaning, I’m not technically in Peru? We went to the British Embassy but were told at the door that they don’t let people in and everyone is working from home.

So we sent an email and they said that it’s up to Peru to give information about visas.. so we left it like that. I’m sure it will be fine, but it is strange.

So learn the lesson from my mistake, and make sure that you know how long you can stay in Peru. If you're not sure what they say, ask again.

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Taxi to Miraflores

Before leaving the airport, there are 5 or 6 taxi companies that I recommend you use.

We looked online before coming and everyone said to book in a taxi there to get to your hotel/airbnb. We went with a company called Taxi 365, we paid at the desk (60 soles) and the taxi arrived within 10 mins.

When we stepped outside to go into the taxi, we left the airport doors and across the road was lots of “taxi” drivers, and I put it in quotations as they are just people with cars willing to drive you somewhere. They aren’t registered or anything.

We had read online before coming that it can be unsafe to travel in these taxis as they sometimes drive too fast, or take you somewhere else and take your belongings, so I would recommend paying for a real taxi company.

The driving was a little crazy, but I think that was made worse by having just spend 11.5 hours on a flight plus jet-lag! But we got to Miraflores in about 45 minutes and got settled into our airbnb. 

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Airbnb in Miraflores

We spend 10 days in this apartment (linked here) which was really good value for money. It cost us around $13 per night for a private room with a shared bathroom & kitchen. The bed was comfortable, we had enough space to unpack and it was safe. The apartment is 5 minutes walk to the waters edge and shopping mall, where we liked to watch the sunsets. Plus it is close to lots of restaurants, cafes, shops & amenities.

It’s not a 5 star hotel, the kitchen does get messy, the paint is peeling from the walls, the bedroom doesn’t have double glazed windows which can be noisy to sleep.. but it’s safe and we had our own space to relax, work, keep our things, without the risk of them being stolen.

The other place we stayed (linked here) was a little more expensive (around $20 per night) but was different. The first place was large, nicely decorated but it was noisy at night time to sleep. This second place was smaller, darker and the furniture was cheap. But we slept so much better as the bed was comfy, the room was dark & it was quiet.

The apartment next door does dance classes which gets noisy when they're teaching but apart from that it was great. The location was good too as it was 1 block up from the first place - so pretty central to the beach, shops, restaurants etc.

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SIM card at Claro

The first day we decided to go to the local Claro shop to set up our sim card.

We will be spending around 3 months in Peru and don’t want to rely solely on wifi connection. Jeremie had read lots of articles online about which company was best to use and we went for Claro in the end as it was affordable and had good connection in most places.

We went with our passports, phones and money and were told to wait outside as the shop was already full. We were here during Covid (Nov 2021) so had to wear 2 masks inside and have our temperature taken on the back of our hands, and also used hand sanitizer when entering the store.

We spoke to them in broken Spanish but we understood each other and got our sim cards. We paid 50 soles (10 euro) in total for 2 sim cards, plus 2 months credit. The sim card itself cost 5 soles (1 euro) each, then 4GB data, unlimited calls, texts, WhatsApp for 20 soles (4 euro) each.

It has been great so far and we always find 4G. It’s been practical to be able to use google maps, Uber and other apps whilst exploring different parts of Peru.

Safety in Lima

I'll be honest, I felt unsafe for the first 2 days. I felt uneasy and like I was in danger.. I wasn’t and nothing bad happened, but it was just a feeling.

And I think it’s the same whenever you go somewhere new. It takes a couple of days to get to know your new neighborhood, to get to understand the vibe of the city, and to feel ok.

But with that being said, we cooked meals at our airbnb every night and didn’t go outside after dark. We would watch the sunset, then go home. We didn’t want to take the risk of being outside after dark. Which is a shame as you miss out on another side of the city, in terms of bars, restaurants, clubs, dancing, drinking etc. But for us it wasn’t worth the risk.

Another way we keep safe is to keep an eye on each others bags, pockets, people around us. I would take a photo or video then straight away put my camera or phone away and zip it up. I didn’t walk around with my camera in my hand or my phone in an open pocket. It’s just about being aware of your surrounding, people looking at you, that kind of thing.

And something I try to do is to look confident, even if I don’t know where we are or where we are going. We would stop, huddle together to look on google maps, then walk confidently in the direction we wanted to go.

I think if you look lost or uncertain, you can become a target. A lot of this is true for any big city.

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Money

The money in Peru is soles. We have figured out that 10 soles is about 2 euro. Near enough. So when we purchase something, we always spend some time trying to figure out how much that would cost in euro.

Meals in Lima are often around 20 soles to 50 soles, which sounds expensive, but in reality its only 4 euro to 10 euro.

It took us a couple of days to get used to the conversion rate but now we seem to have grasped the general prices of things.

In terms of getting money out, we went to 1 bank first but it charged us 25 soles to withdraw money, so Jeremie did some research and found that BCP bank doesn’t charge to withdraw so we have used that bank since.

We read online to always take money out during the day and inside an actual bank, not at a store or hole in the wall machine. You need to be safe with your money and we have had no problem keeping to these rules. 

Uber & Taxi

I spoke about the taxi from the airport to Miraflores, but whilst in Lima, we actually used Uber.

When we went from Miraflores to the Historical District, we asked a taxi company and it would cost 38 soles, but Uber cost only 13 soles. So we went with Uber a couple of times and never had a bad experience. It was 3 times cheaper than the taxi company and we never had any problems. I know this might not be the case for everyone, so do what feels safest to you.

We also like with Uber that you don’t have to negotiate the price, and you can track your journey on the app. It feels safer to me that trusting a taxi company.

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Miraflores

We stayed in Miraflores because when we looked online, it seemed like the safest and most tourist friendly neighborhood in Lima.

It has lots of shops, businesses and restaurants, plus a large shopping mall overlooking the ocean. It is a nice part of town but probably not the most beautiful.

Barranco & the Historical District have more beautiful buildings and history, but we chose safety over beauty.

We are happy we stayed in this area and recommend it to fellow tourists who want to see Lima but also stay safe.

Lima Travel Guide

Barranco

We spent 1 afternoon in Barranco and really enjoyed the vibe of the area. It’s the artsy/bohemian area of Lima full of galleries, street art, musicians and restaurants. But I think it is worth a visit for a couple of hours, just to see a different part of Lima.

Its also worth mentioning that Barranco is walking distance from Miraflores if you’re staying in that part of town. It took us maybe 30 mins to walk there, so it’s a convenient place for an afternoon walk.

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Historical District

The Historical District is the old part of town, it’s where the important buildings of Peru are. There is the Palacio de Gobierno del Perú (Peru Palace), Palacio de Justice (Palace of Justice) and Catedral de Lima (Lima Cathedral) to name a few. It’s a beautiful part of town with lovely, brightly colored colonial buildings.

The Plaza des Armas was impressive with the cathedral, yellow buildings and the orchestra playing outside the palace at 12pm everyday for the changing of the guards. There is lots to see in this part of town and worth a visit for an afternoon.

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Huaca Pucllana

This is an ancient pyramid built in the year 400. It has been used by different peoples including the Incas for many different reasons over the years. It was used for ceremonies, burials, human sacrifices and more.

But, restoration only started to take place 40 years ago, and only half of the area has been excavated and preserved. Scientists say that it will take another 40 - 50 years to fully restore the pyramid and preserve all the artefacts. It was such an interesting tour and I filmed the whole thing for YouTube (linked here).

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Malecon

The Malecon is a beautiful path along the top of the cliffs in Miraflores. It’s a lovely place to see the locals and explore the area. You will see people cycling, running, doing yoga, walking their dogs, having picnics and more.

There are a couple of things to see along the way including the Parque del Amor which has a statue of a couple kissing. There is also the Faro La Marina lighthouse which is quite photogenic as it is black and white striped.

Plus you will see people taking off on their paraglides and floating along the coast - especially at sunset! There are also tennis courts, dog parks and play grounds so there is a lot going on here.

I recommend walking along the Malecon from Parque del Amor to Puente Peatonal Issac Rabin, then going down the steps and walking along the beach to watch the surfers in the water. Then walk up Makaha beach bridge, back up to Parque del Amor and along to Larcomar Shopping Mall to watch the sunset whilst maybe listening to some live music or sipping Pisco Sour in 1 of the many bars or restaurants.

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Lima Beaches & Surfers

There are lots of beaches in Lima, and something I didn’t know before coming here, is that it is a very popular location for surfers.

I think many of the surfers at Miraflores beach are tourists - and of course locals teaching the tourists how to surf. I imagine the real locals go somewhere else to avoid the crowds.

But this beach has waves for all ages & abilities so is a great place to test the waters *pun intended* and have a go at surfing! There are lots of people on the beach offering lessons, so the best thing to do is walk along the beach and talk to someone about prices and lessons whilst there.

There are also shops in town where you can book lessons, and I guess websites online too, but I think its nice to book in person.

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Food Shopping

For our food shopping, we either went to Wong or Vivanda. Wong is like a Walmart or Target selling food but also toys, stationary etc. There is a small Wong at the shopping mall in Miraflores and we also went to a bigger one at Balta Shopping, Mal. Balta 626, Miraflores.

Otherwise, we went to Vivanda a couple of times and this is just a regular food supermarket. We also went to small shops in our area for little items like avocados, bread, eggs, that kind of thing, but bags of rice or pasta sauce we bought from the bigger shops.

Our diet consisted of a banana & some pineapple for breakfast, then avocado, toast & eggs for lunch and a big meal of pasta or rice with vegetables in the evening for dinner. This was both affordable and easy to maintain.

Covid in Lima

I realize this information might get outdated quickly, or maybe not.. who knows how long this will last. But from my experience, currently in Dec 2021, everyone wears at least 1 mask in the streets. And when I say everyone, I mean every single person. I maybe saw 5 people without masks in 12 days we were there.

You will need 2 masks to enter anywhere inside such as shops, airport, taxi, restaurants, shopping mall etc. And a lot of places take your temperature on the back of your hand before letting you in. This didn’t happen everywhere, but just watch to see the person in front of you and see if they do that.

Sometimes you might also be asked to prove you have been vaccinated to be allowed into certain places like shopping malls.

It seems pretty safe here and it seems like everyone is making an effort to keep each other safe.

Watch my YouTube video

If you prefer video content, I recorded a video with Jeremie talking about our Lima Travel Advice which covers the same topics but in video format!

https://youtu.be/WOEZoEpjtEw

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Lima Travel Guide