Three full days in Lima afford you plenty of time to soak up the city’s atmosphere, see its most famous sights, taste its culinary delights, behold sites of ancient history, and venture out of town and down the coast. Here are a few ways to experience the very best of Lima in three days.
Day 1: Explore the City
Start your visit in the UNESCO World Heritage–listed historic center of Lima, filled with interesting colonial-era architecture and cultural history. Private and group city sightseeing tours by bus or by foot visit such sights as Exposition Park (Parque de la Exposición), the Palace of Justice (Palacio de Justicia), the Plaza de Armas, and the Monastery of San Francisco.
Alternatively, travel around the city on a hop-on hop-on sightseeing tour. You can create a personalized itinerary by disembarking at sights of interest and spending as long as you’d like at each.
After exploring the colonial center, head for Lima’s buzzing neighborhoods. Walking and bicycle tours through the bohemian Barranco district take you to see colorful street art and galleries, as well as the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros), a wooden structure spanning the Bajada de los Baños, a stone walkway that runs down to the Pacific. Some Barranco tours are specifically focused on the area’s excellent restaurants.
Day 2: See Ancient Ruins
Around 20 miles south of downtown Lima, Pachacamac Temple makes for an easy half-day excursion. The vast archaeological site dates from AD 200 and is home to temples dedicated to the sun and the moon.
Another option for those with an interest in pre-Columbian history is a full-day tour to Caral, the oldest known city in the Americas. Private and group tours take you three and a half hours north of Lima to discover the well-preserved pyramids and temples of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, believed to have been built in 5,000 BC. Tours typically include lunch.
In the evening, if time allows, get a taste of Lima’s highly rated culinary scene on a food tour. Your options include visiting some of the city’s best restaurants, bar-hopping downtown, or taking a cooking class, which begins with a tour of a local market.
Day 3: Experience the Peruvian Galapagos
Limeños looking to escape into nature flock to Paracas, an area rich with wildlife, culture, and history about a 3-hour drive south of the capital. Guided full-day tours typically include time for sandboarding and dune-buggy riding around the sand dunes of Huacachina. They also explore the Ballestas Islands, known as the Peruvian Galapagos for their diversity of wildlife, which includes Peruvian boobies, pelicans, sea lions, and Humboldt penguins.
Alternatively, you can combine a cruise around the Ballestas Islands with a flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of huge geoglyphs in the desert that experts believe were created more than 1,000 years ago, on a full-day tour from Lima.