How to Spend a Layover in Lima

If arriving by air, Lima is a natural starting point for your Peruvian adventure. When planning for our trip I was talking to some friends about their experience in Lima and I got such mixed reviews. Some people loved it, others hated it, and some were neutral. We originally had planned to spend 2 nights / 1 full day in Lima but we were able to bump up our flight a day so we spent 3 nights / 2 full days in Lima. This was nice because it allowed Marin to rest up after the travel days. (We went from Costa Rica to Atlanta to Lima! Backwards I know!) And we had more time to explore the capital!

Funny story: Both of our dads work for the airlines so sometimes we get lucky and can land first class seats on international flights…before Baby Marin came along. There is an age limit so Marin can’t sit up front, meaning one of us had to sit coach with the baby and the other lay down in a nice bed in first class. We decided with a coin toss and I won! Woop woop! This way especially nice because on our layover in Atlanta we had some bad BBQ and got food poisoning!

I had fairly low expectations for Lima. Aside from Buenos Aires, I’m not a huge fan of South American capital cities. They are fine for a day or two, but in my opinion unremarkable (looking at you Santiago, Bogota, and Quito). However, we had a great time in Lima. If you have a day or two to spend, we recommend the following:

What to do in Lima

1. Eat Ceviche

We are so lucky to live in Costa Rica where the ceviche is fresh and delicious and some of the best ceviche I’ve had was in Mexico. I had heard the Peru ceviche hype but we were some tough critics going in…and OMG it is as incredible as everyone says.

Our top two picks for ceviche in Lima: La Mar and Canta Rana

These two couldn’t be more different. La Mar, located in Miraflores, is trendy and gourmet while Canta Rana, located in Barranco, is more of a hole in the wall. Both places had delicious Pisco Sours too.

Overall traveling with a baby is amazing, but my heart died a little each evening when we had to order room service or Rappi for an early bedtime rather than wine and dine in the gastronomic metropolis that is Lima!

2. Explore Barranco

We loved this hipster neighborhood. Barranco is filled with trendy coffeeshops like Alanya Repostería and vibrant street art!

We also stumbled upon an evening market with craft beer, great clothes, and live music!

3. Hang out on the Malecón de Miraflores

This is what you see when you Google Image Miraflores. We love a good Malecón (see: Cuba) and the one is Miraflores is like a boardwalk with stunning vistas. It reminded us a bit of San Diego with the weather being cooler on the coast. It was perfect for Baby Marin. We played in the parks and watched the surfers. Grant, being spoiled with Costa Rica’s warm waters decided watching was better than surfing in Lima! Head to Parque María Reiche and walk around from there.

4. Watch the Magic Water Circuit

Okay, so this one is kind of a recommendation. I thought Marin would love this water and lights show, but he was less than unimpressed. Perhaps older kiddos wound enjoy it more. It was more of a movie being projected than fountains and lights. We were hoping for it to be more similar to the Bellagio in Vegas or Magic Fountain in Barcelona. Grant and I were baffled at show. It was like a hybrid of Incan heritage and colonialism propaganda! (Kind of like the time we thought we were watching Christmas lights in Bogota.) The COVID distancing measures made it less cool than usual too. Aside from the actual show there are other light structures you can walk through which were pretty.

Where to stay in Lima

One thing was consistent when I was getting Lima recommendations. Everyone (online and in real life) said to stay in Miraflores. We were unimpressed with Miraflores. Aside from the stunning cliff vistas and public parks, it was all chains and seemed to cater to tourists who were stopping over on their way to Machu Picchu. Our hotel itself was nice! We stayed at El Pardo DoubleTree by Hilton. After visiting Barranco we think it would be a better spot to stay, however I didn’t see many hotels there so perhaps an Airbnb is your best bet!

What we didn’t do in Lima

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore downtown Lima. I would have liked to see the main plaza and visit a museum. Maybe next time!

Getting around Lima

We walked everywhere in Miraflores. When visiting other areas we used Uber. It was super cheap and easily available. Exception: On the way from the airport to our hotel I reserved using Taxi Datum. I had read that Ubers are not allowed to pick up at the Lima Airport. We had a great experience with Taxi Datum. They were waiting with our name on a sign when we arrived and quoted the price ahead of time (a must-do with taxis!).

Lima was a great start to our Peruvian vacay. If you have a day or two, get out and explore.

Liking Lima,


Note: We visited Peru in August 2021

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