To be honest, I had no interest in Lima. Even though I’ve lived in capital cities before, I’m not very fond of visiting them unless absolutely necessary. But all roads in Peru lead to Lima, so I decided to park myself in the poshest of places, Miraflores.
I will warn you, Miraflores is not a true representation of Lima. It took three hours for me to get from the outskirts of Lima to Miraflores. In that time, I saw a lot that scared me including a plethora of barely-lit roads, dark alleyways, and people who were hustling around. Then, I arrived in Miraflores with a Porsche dealership right next to the bus station.
1. Huaca Pucllana
It seems weird that a mud-brick temple can be found in a posh neighborhood like Miraflores. But in 1981, Huaca Pucllana was discovered after uncovering numerous layers of dirt from motocross. Huaca means “temple” in Inca and dates back to the 4th century. This site is still being excavated, so some areas are off-limits. I went at night because the site is lit up making it feel more magical, but I couldn’t get access to the top of the pyramid. Day sessions are 15 PEN and night sessions are 17 PEN, and you must go with a guide. Also, at night, you can watch people eat at the really fancy restaurant right next to the archaeological site.
2. Cat-watching in Parque John F. Kennedy
Located in the center of Miraflores, this tranquil and spacious park has a lot going on. The city really takes care of this place with its well-maintained trees and manicured lawns. Public exhibitions often happen during the weekends. But for cat lovers, the park boasts a huge cat population. According to legend, the large explosion of cats is the result of the city’s efforts to fend off rats. Volunteers take care of these cats, and generally, these furry creatures are friendly.
3. Walk on Miraflores’ boardwalk
Miraflores’ malecón (boardwalk) stretches almost 10 km (6 miles) and offers views of Lima’s shoreline. It may not be the prettiest of beaches to look at, but there’s plenty to see. Playa Makala’s calm waves make it a great place to learn to surf. According to “Taylor”, a Peruvian surf instructor, anyone can surf, including me. Hahaha…
If surfing isn’t your thing, then maybe paragliding is. I’m a bit of a wimp, so I just like watching. Lima just installed benches with roof coverings along the boardwalk making it easy to watch people soaring from above.
4. Good Eats in Lima
Many people may not know this, but Lima has three restaurants listed in the top 50 restaurants in the world. Unfortunately, I can’t pre-plan 3-4 months in advance and pay $200 for one meal. But there are plenty of great CHEAP eats to be found in Miraflores. I heard many good things about Mercado 28, but sadly, they were not open when I was in Lima. [How dare they take Christmas off?!]
But thanks to a huge Asian population who calls Miraflores home, I was able to dine on proper Japanese ramen at Tanuki, which reminded me a lot of my mad dash through Osaka. The ramen was amazing and only 23 PEN ($6.87).
5. Exercising on Sundays
If you happen to be in Miraflores on a Sunday, you can enjoy a car-free Calle Arequipa from 07:00 to 13:00 on what locals call Ciclodía (Cycle Day). People bike, rollerblade, and run without any worries. If you want to join them, the “Municipalidad de Lima” offers bicycle rentals all along the street for a small fee.
Near the Miraflores town hall, there was a massive Zumba class taking place on the street. My two-left-feet joined in the fun, and nobody cared that we all were not very coordinated.