In our “24 Hours In” series, we would like to give travelers a good idea of what there is to do in a certain city if one has 24 hours to spend there. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in. These cities often act as international flight hubs, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!
Lima is many things to many people. Peru’s capital, the country’s largest, most dense urban area, and its main hub for international flights. If you’re thinking of hiking the Inca Trail, exploring the Peruvian Amazon, or taking a flight over the Nazca Lines, you absolutely will spend time in and around Lima’s international airport. (That is, until Peru opens its new international airport near Cusco.) The most likely place you will spend this time, especially if you arrive in the city on a late flight, is the Ramada hotel directly adjacent to the airport.
There are probably two things that keep many travelers from exploring further into Lima during their time here. One is the 45 minutes it takes to reach the city driving from the airport, the other is that the city is not all that visually appealing on first sight, (which is usually from a plane approaching the airport over the city’s less wealthy district.) Trust us though, Lima can be a trip highlight, alongside Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
Varied cultures come together here, from Inca, to Spanish, to American and uniquely Peruvian, to create what Lonely Planet calls a “cultural phantasmagoria.” To the modern traveler, it almost seems like someone forgot to ask Peru to cleanly separate these cultures into defined eras, the result being a chaotic mixture that manages to sound, taste and feel uniquely Peruvian. Catholic processions are observed by people drinking the ubiquitous Inca Cola, world-class gourmet eateries do business in 17th century colonial buildings. In the past half century, Peru has experienced a mass migration of people from the mountainous countryside to the urban sprawl seeking opportunity, creating a density of people that cities in every developing country struggle to adapt to. The result of this influx, unfortunately, is mass poverty in most of the city. Lima’s historic district, as well as its touristic Miraflores district and residential San Isidro district, are unique for their upscale shopping and dining as well as wide, beautiful boulevards and clean parks.