A few weeks ago I posted an article listing 5 Free Things To Do in Cusco. Now I thought it would be good to bring the free party to our home city, Lima!
Our fair city always seems to get knocked for not being “Peru” enough or not having much to offer. I suppose for all of those people who are looking for an Incan experience filled with ancient ruins and colorful markets their first thought is not Lima. But why not?! Did you know that Lima has not one, but two PRE-INCA pyramids that are right in the middle of two of the most populous areas? Not to mention the many ruins located within the zoo in San Miguel. And there is the great Inca Market that sells all kinds of handicrafts from local artisans. I would wager to say that it is the same quality as the oft mentioned Pisac Market outside of Cusco.
But really, Lima is not a destination for those looking for stepped farming and idyllic country green pastures; It is first and foremost a city. It is the capital of the country and the main financial and business center. And that, I believe, is the what people who don’t enjoy Lima are forgetting. It would be like going to New York City for the fall foliage colors and being disappointed that there were barely any trees outside of Central Park. Granted, up until about 10 years ago, Lima was a little lacking in the cleanliness factor and poorly mismanaged the abundance of history it has to offer. Today, however, is a whole different story! The central historical section of town (a UNESCO Heritage Site) is clean as a whistle and bustling with Peruvians and foreigners alike, marveling at the colonial architecture and the many (some say thousands) famed balconies of Lima. And the sudden rise of Peruvian cuisine has made Lima a must-see destination for foodies the world over.
So, without further ado, allow me to present to you 10 free things to do in Lima. But remember, there are plenty more things to see and do that won’t cost you too much, so it is well worth the investment!
1. Join A Free Tour
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 12.30pm you can join Lucid Lima on a 90-minute tour of the UNESCO-listed colonial town. No booking required, just show up at Plaza Peru by the small fountain.
2. Peer Around A Palace
The super-organized can join a free 45-minute tour of the Palacio de Gobierno, which includes watching the daily changing of the guard (12 noon); register with the Departmento de Actividades at least 48 hours in advance. www.presidencia.gob.pe/index.asp
3. Stroll Through the Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas)
Strolling is the best way for a South American tourist to have a closer look at the city center of Lima. You will spend less because sightseeing is definitely free in this area, where you will find innumerable historical buildings such as the Cathedral, the various government ministries and even the Gran Hotel Bolivar. And don’t forget to check out the changing of the guards at the Government Palace in case you don’t make the tour mentioned above.
4. Walk Around Torre Tagle Palace
One of the main Lima tourist attractions is the Torre Tagle Palace which is now the Minister of Foreign Affairs building. Though it’s restricted for visitors to see the inside of the building, the overwhelming beauty of the palace from the outside will be worth the visit. The baroque doorway is spectacular and its carved wooden balconies one of the best preserved. The building is an exemplary architectural work of the 18th century.
5. Window Shop at Mercado Central
While the Inca Market I mentioned earlier is a good spot to pick up souvenirs, it is pretty much a tourists market. If you are looking to shop like a local, a visit to the vibrant Mercado Central is a must. Here you will also find great gifts to take back home, but also clothes, shoes; there is even a food market. Caution: Choose your food carefully and watch out for your belongings because this market is filled with many people.
6. Spy the Best View in Town
Casa de Osambela, Lima’s tallest colonial building, was originally built so its owner could see over the countryside to the port to spy on merchant ships. A free tour is available from the Casa’s current caretaker (tip appreciated); ask to see the roof terrace, from where the sea can still be seen… just.
7. Loll In the Love Garden
Parque del Amor sits on the cliffs of Miraflores and is famed for its massive sculpture of a kissing couple. Sit with your sweetheart on one of the winding mosaic benches, which are littered with hearts and romantic writings all over looking the Pacific.
8. Hike the Cliff-Top
It takes 45 minutes to walk along the coast from Miraflores to Barranco; from up here the surfers braving the cold Costa Verde waters look small indeed. At the Iglesia de la Ermita (Church of the Hermit) in Barranco, wander across the secluded Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) to the ocean lookout.
9. Hike in Los Pantanos de Villa
Apart from the beauty of the city center, Lima has its wonderful wildlife preserve at los Pantanos de Villa. Be with nature and hike the trails; watch the birds as they fly above and be stunned by the colorful flora. There are also swamps and lagoons in Pantanos de Villa; if you want to take a closer look you can take a boat ride into the marshes.
10. Catch A Performance
The well-tended Parque Kennedy in Miraflores has a small open-air theatre that often holds free entertainment, Thursdays to Sundays. There’s also a craft market most evenings for a bit of browsing.
Adapted from lifethroughmy4eyes