More gritty and less pretty than Cusco, Peru’s capital city, Lima, has a depth and a soul that deserves to be celebrated and not overlooked. Here ancient ruins, colonial mansions and modern highrises sit side by side - the sacred and profane combined in a heady, beautifully messy cosmopolis. This city has many activities on offer, and its food is positively exceptional, so volunteers on the IVHQ Peru - Lima Program will have numerous options for their free time, but we’ve listed some suggestions here. If you’re looking to travel further afield while in Peru, take a look at our Cusco Travel and Tours page or speak to our local staff for more tips!
In and Around Lima
There are a great many fantastic museums in Lima, but we would recommend putting The Museo Larco and The National Museum of Archaeology at the top of your list. Both are located in the Peublo Libre area, and both house fantastic collections of ancient ceramics, tools and artwork. Definitely a must see for any archaeological enthusiast!
Parks and Public Spaces
If you find yourself craving a bit of green space while in Lima, head to Parque El Olivar or Parque del Amor. Both are small but perfectly formed, and they’re great places just to relax, eat your lunch and read a book. Alternatively, head out to the charming neighborhood of La Punta, and spend an afternoon nosing around this well-heeled district or relaxing on the pebbled beaches. Also, don’t miss El Circuito Mágico del Agua, a stupendously flamboyant water fountain and light display, located in the Parque de la Reserva in Jesus Maria district.
Cathedrals and Ruins
For some fantastic colonial architecture, take a look at La Catedral de Lima, and the Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Each is a beautifully ornate building, containing curiosities such as sacred relics, vestments, paintings and mosaics. Head to Huaca Pucllana or to Pachacamac to view ruins of ancient Lima, dating back as early as AD 100. Or if you want to take in all the sights of Lima in a day, why not consider a bicycle tour? There are many companies offering affordable bike tours - you’ll see all the best bits of the city with a local to guide you!
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
No trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to the iconic Machu Picchu. Set amid the towering peaks of the Andes, the “lost” city is the high point of many a traveller’s Peruvian experience. Fly to Cusco then train to the city, or take a 4 day hike along the spectacular Inca Trail. As a slightly less crowded and touristy alternative, try a guided hike through the Lares Valley to the ruins. Remember to book your hike, train ride and entrance to the city well in advance, as they tend to book up quickly during the peak season.
The Amazon River
For an incomparable Amazonian experience, head to Iquitos, a mad, vibrant jungle city set on the banks of the Amazaon itself, reachable only by air or river. Check out the markets of Belén, try the delicious local cuisine, or just park yourself at one of the city’s great bars and watch the people pass by. There’s so much to do here, but if you’re still keen for more, take a riverboat trip down the Amazon, or head off to a jungle lodge.
The Nazca Lines
The Nazca lines are a series of inexplicable geometric lines and animal geoglyphs marked in the Nazca desert, possibly dating as far back as 450 AD. If you’re into archaeology, history, mysticism, or if you’re just curious by nature, head out to the desert to check out this incredible site. Your best option to get there from Lima is to take a local bus to Nazca, then take a flight over the lines. On your way south from Lima, you might like to stop at Paracas for a day at the beach, or Huacachina for some sandboarding/dune buggy desert adventure!