Updated on August 4, 2015
Below you will find highlights from my 16 day trip Peru / Machu Picchu trip:
Trip Report Chapters:
• Peru 16 day trip: Itinerary, Points & Miles
• Daily Highlights
• Lima ⌫ (you are reading this)
• Hotel: Sheraton Lima
• Urubamba / Sacred Valley
• Hotel: Tambo del Inka, Resort & Spa (Urubamba)
• Aguas Calientes / Putucusi Mountain
• How to Book Machu Picchu Tickets Online (without pulling your hair out!)
• Machu Picchu & Wayna Picchu (Huayna Picchu)
• Hotel: La Pequeña Casita (Aguas Calientes)
• Amazon Jungle (Puerto Maldonado)
• Hotel: Amazon Planet (Puerto Maldonado)
• Hotel: Palacio del Inka (Cusco)
• Puno / Lake Titicaca
• Hotel: Tierra Viva Puno Plaza (Puno)
• Colca Valley
• Hotel: Killawase Lodge (Yanque, Colca Valley)
• Hotel: Los Tambos (Arequipa)
• Sandboarding in Huacachina
(Note: the first two paragraphs/photos are repeated from the daily highlights post)
Day 1 – Lima
Our flight from NYC was scheduled to arrive in Lima just after midnight. There were some delays and they announced that we must arrive before about 12:30am otherwise the airport will close (and then what? we turn around and go home?). We arrived past this ‘deadline' and everything was fine. Many people decide to wait overnight a few hours in the airport (which would have been fine) and take the first flight out to Cusco but we decided play it safe and spend two nights in Lima. We checked in to the hotel and got some sleep.
Day 2 – Lima
We spent the day exploring Lima's historical sites which are just a short walk away. Check out the Plaza de Armas — which seems to be in every south American country. The hotel offers a free shuttle to Miraflores, so we took it in the evening for dinner and to enjoy the views of the coast. Make sure the driver shows you exactly where the pickup spot is – there is more than 1 Starbucks in the area! Wait at the wrong one and you will need to find a taxi back like we did.
Getting local currency
Tip: Get the local currency you will need here in Lima. Many of the stops on my itinerary are in very rural areas and don't have convenient access to banks, ATMs, and some barely any restaurants or shops. I was nervous about carrying too much cash so I took too little and had a little trouble later on. If you bring US Dollars, don't take anything larger than a $20 and make sure none of the bills are torn. Many places won't take a bill with small tears or they will charge an extra fee for the defect (they say the banks charge them). The larger cities will have banks and ATMs – like Arequipa and Cusco. There are many currency exchange shops (“casas de cambio” in Spanish) on this street (see photo below) a few blocks from the Sheraton Lima (de la Union & Ocoña). Change money here when you can. I passed by thinking “I will go tomorrow morning before we leave” and, of course, when I went back they were all closed. Walk down the block and compare the rates of about 8-10 different shops to find the best price.
Jiron de la Union is a popular pedestrian street with lots of shops – mostly retail and some restaurants (but these streets rarely have good restaurants). This interesting church, Iglesia de La Merced, is near the intersection at Jiron Miro Quesada.
Which has very interesting doors
Library (Casa de la Literatura Peruana)
We walked past what we thought was a government building. Had we looked up near the top of the building, we would have figured out what it was.
It wasn't a government building, it was a public library that you could walk around for free. I found out after I walked inside and asked a woman working there (with my very basic Spanish). They don't speak English. There is a small cafe and patio downstairs in the back…as well as bathrooms.
One block from the library was this popular stop on the tourist map. Many locals were here as well for a religious event. We quickly checked out the church. To the left of the church is an entrance to the catacombs which contains thousands of skulls and bones, but I didnt think it was interesting enough to pay the entrance fee…and I was getting hungry.
So I bought some GIANT street corn called “Choclo” with a Chimichurri type of sauce. Check out this video: Eating Large in Lima. The video mentions “Choclo con queso” but they didnt offer me any cheese. And I didnt know to ask. Its different than American corn — more starchy and filling. The taste wasn't amazing, but I was starving so, I take that back. It was amazing. The vendors also sold a dark quinoa drink – sweet and not so amazing but give it a try!
As mentioned above, we took the free Sheraton shuttle to Miraflores to get dinner.
The driver recommended a restaurant in Miraflores called Alfresco (Tripadvisor review). I didnt have a chance research restaurants so took his word — luckily it was excellent!
The last dinner on the last night
It was our last day and we had nothing planned. After eating at cheaper restaurants and lots of street food, we thought – lets go have a nice dinner at a restaurant I heard much about called Astrid y Gaston (see a photo of the front here)(review). It was closed. When I asked the shop next door, I found out they open late for dinner service (they open at 6:30pm according to Lonely Planet). Also, I didnt have reservations so I probably would have been turned away. Tip: Ask the hotel to call ahead to make sure they are open and will seat you.
How about another highly recommended restaurant called El Pez Amigo (review)? It was about a mile away, doesnt seem that far. It was closed too! There were no other restaurants in this residential area so don't go here thinking you will find something else.
We were getting desperate to eat some non-airport food before heading off to catch our flight, so we went to eat at the mall Larcomar. This mall, by the way, is hidden from the street, unless you know to walk towards it (note the big white towers which will help you find this place). This is where the free Sheraton shuttle picks you up – near the Starbucks. There is another Starbucks at street level (in the JW Marriot Hotel) across from the mall but the shuttle will never find if you waited there like we did the first night.
We found a restaurant at the mall called Vivaldino (review). The best part was the outdoor seating and views of the ocean and coast. The food was good, however, the prices were extremely high (they also charged for “bread service”, if you wanted bread). The waiter also expected New York City style tips, probably because of all the tourists eating there. I would not recommended this restaurant or eating at the mall if you could help it. There are many excellent options in the area.
Many people tend to focus their trips on a quick visit to Machu Picchu and skip Lima. I could easily have cut out 2 of my 3 total nights in Lima by waiting about 5 hours in the airport and going straight to Cusco, but there would be not be much room for error if I was delayed more than a few hours. While I tend minimize visits to big cities, I had the time and was glad I visited Lima. If you don't have much time, my advice is cross Lima off your list.
Camera used to take these photos
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