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Unlike some world capitals, whose beauty is extolled in poems, songs and gushing social media posts, the attraction and charms of Lima, Peru aren’t always immediately apparent. In fact, many visitors to this South American city of 10 million view it mainly as a layover on the way to bucket list sites like Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. But with its stunning colonial architecture, authentic artisan goods, first-class dining scene and historic squares, there are plenty of reasons to stay a few days before heading over the Andes. Here are seven reasons to linger in Lima.

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Larco Museum

Larco Museum | Photo courtesy of iPeru

1. Erotic pottery… and torture chambers

Lima has world-class museums. After admiring the exquisite gardens of the Larco Museum, housed in an 18th-century building, and viewing artifacts from 4,000 years of Peruvian history, enter a courtyard for the Gallery of pre-Columbian Erotic Pottery. It seems the ancient Peruvians depicted everything they did in clay. Other museums include the Museum of the Inquisition, featuring torture chambers with poor mannequins suffering horrific punishments. (Leave the kids at home.) The charming Museum MATE showcases the work of photographer Mario Testino (Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ), while the Lima Art Museum features 3,000 years of Peruvian art.

Lima Country Club Hotel

Lima Country Club Hotel | Photo courtesy of Lima Country Club Hotel

2. A Dom Perignon hotel suite

Get a taste of authentic Peru at the 5-star, 83-room Country Club Lima Hotel, a Peruvian Cultural Monument built in 1927 and filled with Peruvian décor and art. The hotel has 70 rooms and 13 suites, including the new Dom Perignon suite, one of only six in the world, where guests enjoy butler service and a bottle of the famous bubbly every night. Other highlights include the Perroquet Restaurant, specializing in Peruvian cuisine and the English Bar, famous for its Pisco Sours, the delicious national drink of Peru.

Inca Market

Inca Market | Photo by Jan Schroder

3. Scarves made of alpaca wool

The Inca Market has hundreds of stalls with Peruvian-made goods like jewelry, traditional textiles and the country’s famous alpaca scarves. Within walking distance are several other similar markets, such as the Indian Market, a good place for souvenirs. For a food market, try the Surquilla Market to dine on fresh seafood dishes served in small kiosks. For more contemporary decorative items, art, jewelry and clothing by young Peruvian designers, visit the lesser-known Dedalo Art & Handicraft Store.

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paragliding in Lima

Paragliding in Lima | Photo courtesy of iPeru

4. Paragliding (in the middle of the city)

While the city center may be clogged with cars and people, the city landscape opens wide in the residential district of Miraflores where locals and tourists stroll and cycle along a cliff-hugging boardwalk with stunning views of the Pacific Coast. Paragliders sail off the cliffs, catching sea breezes as they descend to the ocean. A highlight is Love Park, which appropriately opened on Valentine’s Day in 1993 with the unveiling of a giant sculpture of embracing lovers and a kissing contest.

ceviche

Ceviche | Photo courtesy of iPeru

5. Elevated cuisine (literally)

Lima has gained a reputation as a world-class food city, with several of its restaurants making lists of the best in the world. These include Astrid y Gastón, credited with starting the city’s gastronomic rise to the top, the Japanese restaurant Maido, and Central, famous for its 17-course tasting menu gathered at different elevations in Peru. At Maras Restaurant we were blown away by the cuisine and its presentation. For the freshest seafood, try local favorite Costanera 700. And don’t miss the beloved national dish—ceviche—which was invented in Peru during the Colonial era. For an authentic Peruvian pairing, try it with a Pisco Sour.

club in Lima

Local musicians perform in a club in Lima. | Photo courtesy of iPeru

6. Party until dawn… in a colonial mansion

Lima is a party-all-night city with much of the nightlife centered in two districts: Miraflores attracts travelers from around the world to clubs that include Aura and Gotica, while the bars in boho and artsy Barranco are cheaper and you’ll find live music. One of the more popular places is Ayahuasca, housed in a large converted colonial mansion like so many of the city’s establishments.

Plaza Mayor in Lima (Photo by Jan Schroder)

7. Flower-filled plazas

Most tours of Lima start at Plaza Mayor, the birthplace of Lima and still the gathering spot of residents and tourists alike. This main square was founded by Pizarro in 1535 and is surrounded by historic buildings that include the Government Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Archbishop’s palace. The fountain was built in 1651. The newer, flower-filled San Martine Plaza was built in 1921 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Peru’s independence. The monument in the center is of José de San Martín, the liberator of Peru.

Tagged: Latin America, Peru

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Jan Schroder
An award-winner writer based in Atlanta, Jan Schroder is an editor, book author, publisher of Girl on the Go and a really pathetic packer for a travel writer. She is also editorial director of The 100 Companies, a publishing platform with 100-word stories and 100-second videos.
Jan Schroder
Jan Schroder
Jan Schroder

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