Our main destination in Peru was, of course, Machu Picchu. But we couldn’t visit Peru without a stop in the capital. Actually, a short vacation in Lima with a toddler was a great idea; it has reasonable prices, great parks and delicious food.
Where to stay in Lima
The most recommended area in Lima for tourists is Miraflores, on the southern side of the city, on the coast. It combines old buildings with modern skyscrapers in a very unusual setup. You can see tiny houses next to 20+ floors luxurious office buildings or condo towers. Miraflores urban planning is not at all smart or beautiful. But it is compensated by the great infrastructure and lots of parks. The highway crosses the whole city, bordering Miraflores right on the coast. The traffic is quite crowded, but reasonable for a city with almost 10 million citizens.
Other areas recommended to us as safe and tourist-friendly are Barranco and San Isidro; unfortunately we did not have enough time to explore them this time.
We enjoyed our stay in Miraflores and never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. But Lima requires you to be a bit more careful than other cities. We were recommended many times by the locals not to visit downtown Lima alone, as it is not really safe. Also, we were told not to go alone in harbour area neither, in case we plan a boat ride.
Expect the taxi drivers in the airport to be very pushy! I think it is the most aggressive approach I have ever seen in my whole travels (much more annoying than in Colombia or Turkey, if you know what I mean). I hate this type of things so we preferred Uber, where we had no issues. We even found English speaking Uber drivers, which is a big plus in South America.
Miraflores with kids
If you visit Lima with kids, Miraflores is the perfect destination. It has lots of parks, all very well maintained, with perfectly cut green grass and lots of flowers. In each larger park there is a kids playground, smartly organised and very well maintained. So you can imagine we spent a lot of time in the parks while walking around Miraflores with a toddler. We loved the most Parque Kennedy, in the middle of the city, and Parque del Amore, on Malecon de Miraflores.
Other activities to spend your time in Lima with a toddler include:
We found two different companies, Turibus and Mirabus, organising tours on various routes, through the historical city, through Miraflores or night tours to admire the lights of the city. We opted just for a short Mirabus ride through Miraflores. The others were too long or at inconvenient times for our little one.
For one hour we passed across beautiful parks and drove through the Malecon. We could observe elegant 5 star hotels, but also small old buildings, in a very contrasting setup. The buss also passed by Huaca Pucllana, pre-incan clay pyramid, built between 400-700 AD.
Cost: 10 sol
Time: 1 hour
This is more of a specialised chocolate shop, where you can try various flavours and combinations. They also organise all kind of chocolate workshops which sound wonderful for older kids, but Eric was not that interested in that (yet).
We tried at the Chocolate Museum organic Peruvian chocolate, caramelised cocoa nibs and chocolate glazed coffee beans. Cocoa tea was great too, perfect as a warm up on a windy spring morning.
Time: 15 minutes
Bike ride on Miraflores Malecon
Miraflores coast is one of the most impressive sights in Lima. The city is located at almost 100 m above sea level, with the highway right beneath it. The area is very nicely arranged, with green parks, pedestrian trails and bike lanes. During the weekend, we could see lots of people jogging or walking there dogs around.
If you want to admire the whole coast line but do not fancy a long walk, renting a bike is the perfect idea. I’m not at all a bike lover, but Andrei took a ride together with Eric and they enjoyed a lot their time together. You can find bikes for rent at Mirabici, close to Larcomar Shopping Mall.
Cost: 10 sol
Time: 1 hour
The Magic Water Circuit
The best surprise we had in Lima was the Circuito Magico del Agua. We thought these are just some illuminated fountains, but we thought to give it a try anyway. What we found was a huge domain, the world’s largest water fountain complex in a public park at the time it was built, back in 2007. In the evening, one of the largest fountains hosts a water, laster and music show which is quite impressive. Eric was mesmerised by the lights, patiently watching almost the whole show. He even mentioned the magic fountains a few days after our visit.
Cost: 4 sol
Time: 1-2 hours
To sum up, Lima did not impressed us with extraordinary sights or activities. But it was a pleasant stay to relax before heading to the Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu. If you plan a visit to these famous landmarks, it is worth to spend at least 2-3 days in Lima, to get used to the country, time zone and recharge your batteries with delicious Peruvian food.
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