Once renowned as South America's richest city, Lima was hailed as the City of Kings by Spanish conquistadors. Today, that reputation has faltered slightly, but not because Lima got worse, but because other cities in South America got better. Lima is still a city dipped in wealth and bathed in history. The wealth it has collected overtime has been put to good use building luxury hotels and 5-star restaurants to attract the world's most elite visitors to enjoy it's collection of beautiful architecture and it's overall urban sprawl.
Peru's capital has the greatest variety of shopping in the country, from artisan shops to haute couture boutiques, shoppers will be able to find all things Peruvian and beyond while in Lima.
While most shoppers go to Lima expecting the limits of their fashion scene to be alpaca shawls and woolen sweaters, Lima has been called the secret hipster hangout of South America by the New York Times. The city even has its own Fashion Week for home grown designers like Andrea Llosa and internationally famous labels. Boutiques can be found throughout the city, but none more concentrated than in the uber-hip district of Barranco that is a bastion for elite shopping during the day before transforming into Lima's beating nightclub heart at night.
For those not interesting in Lima's surprising fashion scene, it is also a fine place to shop for Peruvian antiques and artisan handicrafts. While only a few handicrafts are actually made in Lima, the most are brought in from surrounding communities like Lake Titicaca, Cusco, or Puno and sold at prices as low as where they were originally crafted with a vastly superior collection. The Miraflores neighbourhood has the lion's share of Lima's well-stock handicraft shops and their antique markets are absolutely legendary. Unfortunately, shoppers will have to be diligent in their plan making to get the items back home, especially those too big to fit in a suitcase.
Take to the Skies and Paraglide
What's Lima's favourite pastime? Due to the number of high rocky cliffs around the city, Lima's favourite activity is paragliding, something that is apparent just by walking around the city. Visitors are likely to see paragliders surfing the skies on a sunny day as soon as they get off the plane. It is something that any visitor simply has to try before they leave.
While there several companies that offer tandem flights and paragliding lessons throughout the city, those who don't want to put in the research for it need only to head down to Lima's "paragliding port" at Raymondi Park located by the cliffs next to el Parque del Amor. Although flights will cost around CA $50, the experience is well worth it since the flight provides panoramic views of the city as well as Lima's beaches and cliffs. Paragliding flights usually take visitors over the coastal areas of Chorrillos, Barranco, Miraflores, Magdalena and San Miguel.
Lima provides the most cosmopolitan dining experience in all of Peru with a wide variety of cuisine for all budgets. From international cooking to Peruvian comida criolla cuisine, Lima is a true spot to sample creative gastronomy in the country.
Peru, with Lima in particular, is famous for its ceviche. While visitors have sampled it on beaches in Mexico or resorts in the Caribbean, they won't find this lime-marinated seafood dish quite as frequently or as well made as it is done in Peru. Lima is packed with little cevicherias (sometimes called cabicherias) that specialize in serving up the tantalizing raw fish and shellfish dish. The discerning visitor will want to check out La Mar Cebicheria and Pescados Capitales down by the Malecon. These two ceviche joints had their special ceviche and other seafood treats designed by Lima's most famous culinary mind Gaston Acurio, who guarantees the quality of ingredients and flavour in what can occasionally be a sketchy way to dine.
For those who would like a more eclectic taste of Peruvian food, visitors will need to traverse the hidden residential streets south of Lacomar shopping centre for Central Restaurante, one of the hottest restaurants in Lima. Once the childhood home of chef-owner Virgilio Martinez, it is now a chic and airy venue for his culinary talents. After years of working in the best kitchens in Europe and Asia, Martinez brought his talents home to put an upscale twist on classic Peruvian ingredients like Arapaima and Corvina.
Hotel rates in Lima are some of the highest in the country. Even the budget visitor will have to shell out 4-to-5-star hotel bucks for a 2-to-3-star hotel. The top end hotels are even worse, but the discerning visitor who picks the luxury options will be privileged to some of the best service and centrally located buildings for what they spend.
With ocean-view rooms that overlook verdant parks and Lima's coastline, Belmond Miraflores Park hotel is Lima's grand dame. Guest rooms are conservatively decorated, with the view saying much about the space as it is accented by giant windows. The panorama is complemented by a rooftop pool, spa and a world class restaurant on the top floor. Guests will have to pay more for the ocean-view rooms, but it is vastly worth the money compared to the city views.
For those seeking a more outstanding design in their hotel room, Hotel B provides it. The Hotel B is part boutique hotel and part art gallery as it meld contemporary design with classic art in the refurbish turn-of-the-century mansion building located in the heart of hip Barranco. The rooftop deck provides stunning views of the coast while each of the 17 rooms holds a collection of art by Latin American artists in their high-ceilinged, hardwood-floor-clad space. With individual room designs and spacious balconies, the Hotel B is a true feast for the senses.