Top destinations in Lima, Peru: San Francisco church and its monastery are most famous for their catacombs containing the bones of about 10,000 people interred here when this was Lima’s first cemetery. Below the church is a maze of narrow hallways, each lined on both sides with bones. In one area, a large round hole is filled with bones and skulls arranged in a geometrical pattern, like a piece of art. If Mass is in progress upstairs, the sound reverberates eerily through the catacombs. Visiting these is not for those who are claustrophobic, as ceilings are low and doorways between chambers are even lower, requiring people to duck when entering. But the catacombs are at the end of a tour of the church, so you can skip them. There is much more to see here. The library, on the upper level, has thousands of antique books, and the monastery has an impressive collection of religious art. It is best known for a mural of the Last Supper showing the apostles dining on guinea pig, with a devil standing next to Judas. The San Francisco church and monastery were consecrated in 1673 and it is one of the city’s best preserved colonial churches, having withstood the earthquakes of 1687 and 1746, although it did suffer extensive damage in a quake in 1970.
Head to Museo Larco for, of all things, some erotic pre-Columbian pottery. The museum is located in an 18th-century building and has a large archaeological collection, including a lot of Peru’s pre-Colombian art, but it is most famous for its collection of erotic pottery. There are also changing temporary exhibitions. At the Miraflores boardwalk you can paraglide over the upscale beach city and the Pacific Ocean. If the sun is out, you’ll have a beautiful view of the Pacific and of Lima’s beach neighborhoods. It cost around $70 for 10 minutes.
You don’t have to leave Lima to begin your exploration of Peru’s historic sites. Built by the Lima culture sometime between 300 and 700 AD and constructed from millions of adobe bricks, the Huaca Pucllana is a giant pyramid located in Miraflores. After taking a tour of the ruins (don’t forget your sunscreen—the sun can be fierce), head to the site’s restaurant, Restaurant Huaca Pucllana, for some outstanding (but expensive) regional dishes. Nothing quite says Peruvian cuisine like a plate of practically straight-from-the-sea ceviche, and a visit to one of the capital’s top cevicherias should be high on your list of things to do in Lima. A mix of fish, red onions, chili peppers and sweet potato marinated in lemon, you can indulge in this simple yet delicious dish in practically any of the city’s restaurants, but for guaranteed quality, seek out Punto Azul, which is known for its delicate flavors, freshness of its ingredients and accessible price (expect to pay around 32 soles).
Visit metal artist Mario Torres Sanchez at his shop El Quijote (Av. Sucre 1198 – you can’t miss the whimsical front gate). Torres Sanchez has been making fantastical junk sculptures (go browse those photos a minute—we’ll wait) since the sixties. His store is stuffed full of sculptures both small and large, and he’ll take a break from grinding and welding new fantasies to come show you around. The sculptures are affordable, though a splurge on a backpacker’s budget. This would be a great place to visit right before you get on that plane—you don’t want to lug something that heavy all around Peru. If you go nowhere else in Lima, go here! Discover extra images of this amazing ocean view penthouse on Facebook. Need a place to stay in Lima, Peru? See even more details at Amazing penthouse in Lima, Peru with full ocean view.
The Plaza de Armas is where the city of Lima was born. Also known as the Plaza Mayor, it is the heart of the city, located in its historic district, with streets radiating out in a grid. The location was picked by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Though not one original building remains, at the center of the plaza is an impressive bronze fountain erected in 1650. Today the plaza is flanked by the cathedral and several palaces including Palacio Arzobispal, which boasts some of the most exquisite Moorish-style balconies in the city.