Lima Peru - Beach view

Travel One Day in Lima Peru

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Last Updated on August 13, 2021 by Michelle Moyer

What to do when you travel for one day in Lima Peru

Square and statue in the city of lima on a one day tour in lima peru
Square in Lima Peru: Image by whl.travel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Lima, Peru is the capital, the largest city in Peru, and the most popular first stop for any Peru vacation since this is where the main international airport is. Most travelers use this airport to fly into the country and then hop onto a domestic flight to reach their final destination. HOWEVER, make sure that you make time to spend at least one day in Lima Peru before you jet off to other areas of the country. There is so much to do and experience in this city that it may be difficult to complete your Lima One Day Itinerary!

Do you have a long layover in Lima? Step out into the city and try some Lima Peru day tours since they will be full of culture and great food!

Where is Lima, Peru?

Lima overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has numerous resorts and beaches along its coastline.  Lima is a terrific tourist destination itself and has a lot to offer, so don’t be too quick to board back on that plane for another Peruvian city!

Lima, Peru beachfront view
Lima, Peru beachfront view

About Lima Peru

Lima is the capital and the largest city in Peru.  It has an international airport, Jorge Chávez International Airport, so many Peru travelers pass through Lima for a day before continuing on a domestic flight to visit Machu Picchu or other vacation destinations around Peru. 


Now, let’s get into the Lima Peru Must-See Sites!

Travel 1 day in Lima Peru: Itinerary

What to do in Lima Peru for a day?

Believe it or not, MOST of these are all free things to do in Lima. We didn’t have much time, so we opted to spend a quick and cheap one day in Lima Peru! The only thing we ended up paying for was the Magic Water Circuit tickets. We could have done it without a tour, but we were worried about making it in time for our flight home, so we hired a guide for the Magic Water Circuit! It made it a lot more interesting and he even told us the BEST place to stand for photos!

1 day Itinerary in Lima Peru: Must See sites:

Larcomar Mall

Larcomar Mall overlooking the beach, Lima, Peru

This amazing open-air shopping center opened in 1998 and was built right into the cliff overlooking the beach. It is very commercialized and will have many shops that the tourist will recognize from back home. There are many high-fashion shops, discos, a bowling alley, eateries serving anything from ice cream to crepes, sit-down fancy restaurants, and even a 3-D cinema –all with a spectacular view of the sea! There is even a Peru-Rail office, for those looking for information and tickets to visit this Wonder of the World by traveling from Lima to Machu Picchu in one day.

Ice cream for sale at Larcomar mall in Lima, Peru
Delicious Ice cream options
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FOR A GREAT VIEW OF MACHU PICCHU!


Kennedy Park

Kennedy Park, Lima Peru, Socialite Cat on your itinerary for travel one day in peru
Kennedy Park, Lima Peru, Socialite Cat

Also known as the cat park, Kennedy Park is located in the Miraflores District of Lima and is home to about 100 stray cats.  To the animal lover’s delight, they lay around the grass, perch among the statues and stroll down the sidewalks –cats of every variety, breed, and size.  Most of them love the attention of wandering park sight-seers.  They are fed well and taken care of by a volunteer group that oversees the spaying and neutering of the community.  I saw many bowls of food and water that were still filled to the rim and many fat, lazy cats chilling nearby. 

Food and water bowls for all the cats at Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru
Food and water bowls for all the cats at Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru

There are other sights to see besides the felines.  Kennedy Park is a common gathering place for the locals.  There is often song and dance going on.  When we were there, the locals seemed to be having a singing duel –street style.  We don’t speak Spanish, but still enjoyed the ambiance and energy of the face-off.

Dance-off at Kennedy Park in Lima, Peru

Cats and humans aside, Kennedy Park is still well maintained.  The droppings of both of those species are cleaned up often so the park is free from human trash and pet waste to keep the grounds beautiful.  A walk down the sidewalks takes you past cultured greens, flowers, fountains, and street vendors selling local street food to tempt your palette.  This is a nice spot for an impromptu picnic!

Kennedy Park, Lima Peru
Kennedy Park, Lima Peru
Kennedy Park, Lima Peru

More Shopping in Lima!!

If you have had enough shopping at the chain stores in Larcomar mall, there are plenty of souvenir shops around to get your fix of llamas and other Peruvian merchandise.

standing with a fake llama outside a souvenir shop
Souvenir shopping one day in Lima, Peru

Create the Ultimate Shopping Experience during your 1 day in Lima Peru


Get your hair done

Now I KNOW this isn’t on your must-see list! But we thought, hey, since the rates are low in Peru, why not treat ourselves!!????

Lima Hair Salon
Salon located right next to our El Patio Hostal in Peru
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Get your hair done!

Magic Water Circuit

Magic Water Circuit

The Circuito Magico Del Agua, Magic Water Circuit, is located in the Parque de la Reserva and is the Guinness Book of Records’ largest water fountain complex in the world. This is a definite Lima Peru MUST-SEE! There are 13 water fountains artfully displayed in two park sections with a tunnel under the freeway connecting the halves. The fountains are colorful, musical, interactive for the young kids, and beautiful. Many Peruvian young ladies come to this location for their quinceanera and there are oodles of flower shops lining the adjacent street in just the perfect location for providing the goods for date night.

Magic Water Circuit Fountain
Magic Water Circuit Fountain in Lima Peru
Magic Water Circuit Fountain

The park is popular among the locals since it is free admission until 3 pm in the daylight. The ticketed admission is 4 PEN (approx $1.50) from 3 – 10 pm, so it is still a reasonable cost. It is popular with the kids, especially on hot summers when they can run in the water displays to cool off! But you MUST come at night to see all the lit-up fountains!

Magic Water Circuit Fountain

Another reason to visit the Magic Water Circuit at night —-There is a water show each night at 7:15, 8:15, and 9:30 pm which displays lasers, colorful illuminated fountains, and a presentation of Peruvian pride and local history. Get a good spot to view this show as it often gets crowded.

Magic Water Circuit Show

Book a tour so that you DON’T MISS this amazing site in Lima Peru


Lima Casinos

Travel One Day in Lima Peru 5 roulette 1003120 1920

To satisfy your gambling desires, there are three big casinos in the Miraflores District which are high quality and professionally run.  Gambling is legal in Peru, so Lima has its fair share of it for those 18 and older.  They offer slots, roulette, poker, blackjack, baccarat, and bingo.  They are open all night, but by law, the poker can’t start until 6 pm.  Other gambling action usually starts heating up after 9 pm.  All casinos are smoke-free so that you can breathe easily while you empty your wallet.  They will accept your hard-earned cash in Peruvian or US currency, and they also take credit cards with ID.      

Atlantic City Casino

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This casino is the nicest and largest in Lima and is regarded as the heart of Peruvian Poker.  They also have slots, video gaming, over 50 table games, and a very large poker room.  Karaoke and live shows are also a part of this casino’s entertainment selection.

Majestics Casino

This casino is located inside the JW Marriott Hotel and has many slots and gaming machines that will accept US and Peruvian currency.  It has many other gaming tables as well as VIP rooms that feature Roulette and Texas Hold’em Poker.

Majestic Casino Lima Peru
Majestic Casino in Lima Peru

Fiesta Hotel and Casino

Travel One Day in Lima Peru 7 man riding horse 1462364 scaled

This spacious casino claims to be the Las Vegas-style casino of Peru.  In addition to all the regular slots, video gaming, and table games, it also broadcasts national and international sporting events on its wide array of large-screen TVs.  To make a complete Vegas-style casino, it also offers live shows as entertainment.

Where to stay in Lima

Beach view of Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru

There are 43 different districts in Lima; 30 of these are in the urban area and the remaining 13 are spread out among desert and mountains.  Each municipal district has its own individual character comprising the 10 million citizens of Lima.  There are 5 districts that are considered safe bases for Lima tourists.  These five districts are located near each other, thus making visits among them easy and walkable during your one day in Lima. There are free things to do in Lima that are easily accessible from many of these neighborhoods.

Take a tour of the Lima Peru neighborhoods


Miraflores

Miraflores is the most popular tourist district and where we decided to book our hotel overnight stay.  It is centrally located, full of tourists, bars, cafes, and restaurants, and safe to walk around.

Barranco

Barranco is Lima’s Bohemian district, beginning from the turn of the century when it was full of artistic types.  There are still many bars scattered about the colorful streets offering the best place to listen to live music.

Central Lima

This is the historic downtown area that is full of many attractions and beautiful architecture.  It still has a slightly seedy reputation, so many guidebooks still do not recommend staying in Central Lima.

San Isidro

For upscale restaurants, chic boutiques, San Isidro is the place for you.  It is filled with cocktail bars and swanky hotels and is considered the safest district.

Pueblo Libre

This is the less touristy district and is filled with parks.  It has a relaxed, residential atmosphere.


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Cusco is a short plane ride from Lima and very much worth a trip!

How far is Lima from the airport

Arriving at the Jorge Chávez International Airport is bewildering and scary.  It is crowded with people of every nationality looking for their transportation and millions of taxi drivers hounding you because they want to ‘help you.’  The taxi drivers are hustlers and will do anything to get your business.  It is suggested to arrange your transportation with a reputable company before your arrival for your one day in Lima Peru. 

The airport is only about 12 miles from Lima city center, but this can take as much as 45 minutes to an hour in travel time.  This can cut into your touring time when you only have 24 hours in Lima. Plan to travel at off-peak hours. Gridlock is very common during rush hour.  On the other hand, this allows street performers and vendors to peddle to the stationary drivers and adds to the chaos that is traffic in Lima!

Vendor selling snack in the middle of the freeway at rush hour in Lima, Peru
Local Peruvian vendor selling snack in the middle of the freeway at rush hour in Lima, Peru

Where to stay on a very short layover in Lima

The Airport is located in the Callao district, which is Lima’s most unsafe area.  If you have a short layover and do not wish to venture into the Lima districts, there is a safe hotel on the airport grounds. 

Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport

This hotel is located right onsite at the airport, but it is on the pricey side. We used our Wyndham rewards points so it didn’t actually cost us anything. We had a very early flight the next morning, so we wandered down to the complimentary breakfast buffet –which was very good— and walked across the crosswalk to check-in for our flight. Extremely Convenient!

Breakfast bar at Wyndham Hotel at Lima Peru airport
Delicious breakfast bar at Wyndham Hotel at Lima Peru airport

How to get to Lima from the airport

Arrange a private transport

Arrange for a private transportation pickup and delivery to your hotel for personal service. They will be waiting at the Arrivals Gate at the airport with a sign. This method is SUPER EASY!!

Airport Express Lima

This is a new option for travelers to get to Miraflores.  The large 40-seat bus leaves the airport every hour (every half an hour at rush hours).  The bus is equipped with TVs, toilets, wifi, ample luggage storage, and reclining seats.  Tickets can be purchased online or at the airport for $8 one way or $15 roundtrip.

Licensed Taxi

There are hundreds of taxis operating the route from the airport to Miraflores for a flat rate of 60 – 70 soles (around $20 USD, but you will need to use Peruvian cash currency).   Tips are not necessary unless the driver carries your bags.  Taking an official taxi is relatively safe, however, the drivers usually only speak Spanish.  Make sure it is an official taxi from Taxi Green or Taxi 365.  There are official desks inside the airport at the arrival halls.  Hailing a taxi from the street is not advised and is very dangerous to do in the area that the airport is located in.

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Taxi lineup!

Hotel Shuttle

We booked the El Patio Hostal in Miraflores and the hostal arranged the transport.  We just looked for the guy at the arrival gate with our name on a sign.  Super Easy!  This way, we didn’t have to worry about negotiating with anyone in Spanish because it was all prearranged.

El Patio Hostal, Lima, Peru
El Patio Hostal

Taxidatum

Taxidatum is a very reputable company.  We used them extensively in Peru when we traveled to Cusco and Ollantaytambo.  They also do airport transports in Lima.  Taxidatum can be reserved ahead of time and will be waiting at the airport arrival gate for your transport in the Lima districts.

Lima Airport international arrival hall
Taxidatum drivers will meet you at the airport arrival hall.
Image source: Taxidatum

Do not use UBER

Uber is not licensed in Lima, so any Uber drivers are banned and will not have a permit to get through security to enter the airport for a pickup.

Night shot of Lima freeway system in Peru
Night shot of Lima freeway system

Where to stay with 24 hours in Lima

All our exploring was in the Miraflores section of Lima. We chose a hotel in this district and were able to walk to all the popular destinations. The streets were crowded with locals and tourists and we felt just as safe as we would in any big city.

El Patio Hostal

El Patio is a reasonably priced and safe hostel in Lima. It is decorated really nicely in the courtyard with greenery all around. The desk staff was super helpful in making sure we had breakfast and a taxi ride ready at an early hour so that we could catch the Cruz del Sur bus at 4 am bound for Paracas.

Must-Try Food In Lima Peru

Sadly, because we only had one day in Lima Peru, we had little time to enjoy its culinary delights.  Lima is the food capital of South America and one of the top gastronomic capitals of the world.  Lima plays host to Mistura, the most important food fair in Latin America.  In the city, you can find top restaurants and street vendors with delicious eats that you must try.  Here is a list of some of the unique cuisine and traditional Peruvian dishes.

Ceviche

Ceviche has become the national dish of Peru.  Traditional ceviche is raw fish marinated in citrus, chili, and onions.  This dish is served at any Peruvian restaurant in the country.

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Ceviche

Lomo Saltado

Many foods have an Asian influence due to a very high Asian immigration in the 19th century.  Lomo saltado is a Chinese stirfry of marinated beef (or alpaca meat) and vegetables, mixed with rice and served with thick fries.

Lomo Saltado
Lomo Saltado Image by Jazmin

Cuy

Considered a delicacy by Peruvians, guinea pig is consumed on special occasions.  In rural areas, they are skewered, however, in the fancy restaurants, they are incorporated into fancy dishes.

Cuy (guinea pig) is served as a traditional Peruvian dish
Cuy is served as a traditional Peruvian dish

Coca

Yes, coca can be processed into cocaine, but the coca leaves are quite harmless.  They have been used by Peruvians for years to combat the effects of high altitude.  Drink it boiled in a tea, or chew the leaves like gum. Just make sure to consume all your coca in Peru because it is illegal to bring it back to the US and there are many drug-sniffing dogs checking out the travelers’ bags in customs.

Coca Leaves - great for altitude sickness prevention
Coca Leaves

Pisco Sour

Peru’s national cocktail is a brandy distilled from grapes in the Inca region and consists of a blend of pisco, egg white, lemon juice, and Angostura bitters.  Any bar in Peru will be serving this tart drink.

Pisco Sour drink
Pisco Sour

Don’t leave without putting a taste of Pisco Sour on your 1 day Lima itinerary!


Quinoa

Quinoa is a nutritious grain filled with protein, vitamins, and minerals.  It is a common breakfast food of Peruvians and you will often see many vendors wandering through the streets in the mornings pedaling breakfast quinoa with fresh fruit.

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Quinoa Dish: Photo by Nick Bratanek on Unsplash

Sanguche de chicharron

An unhealthy sandwich choice, but still yummy, the sanguche de cicharron is a warm bread filled with pork and sausage.

Anticucho

This casual snack is grilled beef heart on a skewer like little shish kebabs.  The organs are alternated with slices of potato – of course, it’s Peru, the potato capital – and onion, drizzled with citrus.

Causa

A bright potato specialty layered with chicken, seafood, avocados, and mayo, this delicious tower separates itself from other Peruvian side dishes with its artful presentation.  Yes, another potato dish.  Potatoes are so important in Peruvian cuisine!

causa - peruvian good
Causa Image by Jazmin

Picarones

These delicious fried doughnut sweets were purchased from a cart at the Magic Water Circuit.  I could only eat one since they are super-duper filling.  They are made from mashed sweet potato and squash, topped with cinnamon and sticky syrup and sold by street vendors and shops throughout Lima.

Picarone
Picarone

Inca Kola

This golden yellow carbonated drink is Peru’s most popular soda.  It was created in Peru, has a sweet bubblegum flavor and outsells Coke in the Peruvian nation.

Inca Kola in Peru
Inca Kola

Day Trips from Lima, Peru

Once you are all fueled up with all the yummy Lima culinary delights and you have seen all the sights that this capital city has to offer, only THEN should you venture onward.  There are several day trips that you can take and the next article will highlight two of the most popular.  Lima is a beautiful city that should be explored, so don’t cross it off of your list until you have at least spent at least one day in Lima Peru!

Huacachina

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Lima coast
Lima City view

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Farrah

I’ve never been to Peru but I would so love to go there (+ soon!!)! That ice cream looks delicious and those cats are adorable!

Ishikaa Surana

Hi! I love how informative and great your articles are. Can you recommend any other blogs that share recipes of authentic Indian cuisine? Thanks a lot!

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