Lima is the capital of Peru and not only the entrance door to the country of Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, Colca Canyon, or Amazon. The Peruvian capital has many treasures to discover. Therefore, with the Machu Travel Peru team, we want to tell you everything about the charms of the Peru capital. The capital has beautiful sunsets on unique beaches, a variety of water sports to practice, catacombs, and beautiful colonial temples. Not to mention that Lima is so famous by the Peruvia gastronomy. Therefore the city was chosen as the gastronomic capital of South America. With restaurants in the top positions worldwide! Join us to discover more in the following article.
Everything you need to know about the Peruvian capital
- Lima the capital of Peru
- What’s mean Lima?
- What to see in Lima
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
- Safety and security
- Some FAQs
Lima the capital of Peru
As we mentioned Lima is the capital of republic of Peru and the main commercial and industrial city in the country. The Peru capital is essentially a historic city with a clear stamp of the colonial era and a modern urban dynamism that permeates the streets. Furthermore, Lima is so popular beacuse at the end of its buildings, streets, and churches, you can appreciate the sea and its waves breaking on the different beaches.
Quiet corners, new streets, and elegant old buildings are characteristics of its beauty. While the night air transforms the city into a new and distinctive place where youth takes over the streets. You will find many things to do in Lima, so you should not miss exploring this city.
What’s mean Lima?
Many schollars affirm that “Lima” comes from a Quechua word that the Incas gave to one of the three main rivers that surrounded the zone. This word was “Rimaq” river, and means “the one who can speak” or “the river who speaks”. Through the years, this word was drifting to another one that replace the “R” with the “L” without the “Q” final letter.
The “Talking River” is because it drags solid stones and these create a sound, like a whisper, when colliding with each other. Moreover, this name does not refer to the inhabitants of Lima.
At the time of Viceroyalty, the city was renamed as “City of Kings”. It was because the day of its foundation coincided with the Christian holiday “Three kings day”. However, over time it took again on the name of Lima.
As you see, the origin of the “Lima” word couldn’t be further from what is commonly known; the fruit that intervenes in the Ceviche preparation.
Lima the capital of peru is located in the northern half of the western South American coast. Exactly in the middle of the coastal desert of Peru. Right at the foot of the western slope of the country’s central Andes. 13 km (08 miles) inland of the Pacific Ocean (Callao port). And It is approximately at sea level (156 meters or 512 ft elevation) and about 12 degrees latitude. On the Rimac River’s south bank. And, even though the original settlement was located in the Rímac river valley, today the city extends over a vast desert region with other different valleys around it. In the middle of an area where plateaus, peaks, and valleys abound.
By the way, Lima is considered the world’s second-largest desert city, just after Cairo, in Egypt!
Moreover, the elevation of Lima gradually increases as one moves away from the coast leading to mountains of more than 5000 feet. For example, the Plaza de Armas is located about 15 kilometers from the coast. And over 161 meters above sea level. While the highest district of the city is Lurigancho, located about 950 meters above sea level. Furthermore, you can feel the altitude difference when you go from Lima to Machu Picchu by bus, or, in other words, from the coast to Sierra. Amazing!
Lima has a figure of about 11 million inhabitants. It is according to estimates by the Peruvian Institute of Statistics and Informatics made in January 2022. And one of its most inhabited areas is the coast, where a large part of the country’s population lives. And exactly where Lima is located. That’s why, Lima is home to around a quarter of the Peruvian population in total. So you can appreciate true cultural diversity and ethnicity. Its millions of inhabitants are the cause of the rural migration to the cities that has occurred in recent decades, especially the one that occurred in the 60s of the 20th century.
At the beginning of independence, a population of Spanish, African, Amerindian, and mestizo origin inhabited the city. But with the start of the Republic, the city became a source of European immigrants. And the vast majority were Italians, Germans, French, and British as well as other Central Europeans. Also, at the end of the 19th century with an influx of Japanese and Chinese immigrants, diversity was further promoted.
Lima’s origins have a lot to do with the Wari culture which was the other great Peruvian culture besides the Incas. Maybe not everyone knows the Wari. But they were the first to inhabit the center zone of the Peruvian coast around 550 and 900 A.C. Years passed and, like other cultures, Wari suffered a decay around 900 A.C. But its descendants created little lordships instead. In this sense, the Ichma Lordship prevailed in the area, as guardians of an ancient Wari vestige, the Pachacamac religious, and adoration center.
Years later, around 1469 a young Incas empire annexed the Ichma lordship, and the Rimac, The Lurin, and the Chillón rivers surrounded the zone. And the Incas took advantage of it as an agricultural production field. After, the Incas moved the harvest to the Inca capital, Cusco. This process continued until the arrival of Spanish conquers in 1532.
In this form, The Spanish conquerors founded the Lima on January 18. Specifically, over the settlement of Curacazgo de Taulichusco by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro in 1535. He chose the site because of its strategic location near the sea where it would form the main port, Callao.
However, other reliable sources assure that Francisco Pizarro was not so popular in recent years just after the conquest. He lived in a politically unstable zone where the majority of the population were Incas (people that he had conquest a short time ago), and fewer Spanish people. Therefore, he wanted a zone with a direct escape to the sea, in case of any revolution or political uprising.
The initial project for the Peruvian capital consisted of about 117 blocks. The Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas of Lima was not located in the center of the map. But rather close to what was the river bank (Again, to have a direct escape to the sea). In this way, it was possible to have access and control of the water that was distributed in the different channels.
Through the years, the “New” Peruvian city served as the axis and center of Spanish power in South America, moreover this was a focal point within the Peruvian coast. And Lima ended up being the political, ecclesiastical, and commercial capital of the Spanish Kingdom in South America. Even during colonial times, the Spanish royalty considered it the most important municipality in Latin America, and it was an example of the new Spanish Renaissance buildings in the region. By superposing its infrastructure over the ancient indigenous buildings.
Also since then, different traditions, ideas, and customs arose due to the overlapping of cultures, and along with local migrations (People who came from the rural and Andean zone to the capital) and international migratory waves of Chinese, Japanese, Italian, even European people contributed to forming the city as a mix of cultures. Nowadays, the visitor can see the result of it in Peruvian gastronomy, customs, and even the lifestyle of Peruvians.
Today, the capital of Peru is an important political and economic center of the country. In addition, it is home to 30% of the total population of Peru. A vast majority of its surviving colonial buildings and temples give the city great architectural aesthetics. And the historic center is where you can enjoy a true fusion of architectural styles to know. Where you will find buildings such as Santo Domingo, San Francisco, La Cathedral, Palacio Torre Tagle, La Iglesia de San Pedro, and Las Nazarenas. In addition to its beautiful 19th-century houses that have impressive balconies. Nor should you miss the markets in Lima, a significant cultural center to visit.
What to see in Lima
- Main Square and Historic center of Lima: The Historic center of Lima is listed as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. Moreover, on its main square, you will find the beautiful Lima Cathedral of Renaissance style, moreover we can mention the Torre Tagle diplomatic palace of Andalusian baroque style. And the San Martin square of French style, the San Francisco Chucrch Catacombs, among others colonial architecture examples.
- Miraflores: This is the Lima middle-class district by excellence. There you will find modern houses, commercial centers, the cosmopolitan Kennedy park (where cats abound). Also the Miraflores pier with a great view of the sea.
- Barranco: Barranco is just in south of Miraflores district. And there, you will find picturesque streets, colorful houses, cozy boulevards, and the “bridge of sighs”. This bright is famous to be mentioned in a song of the most representative Peruvian singer, Chabuca Granda.
- Beaches in Lima: Peru is famous for Machu Picchu. But the amazing Lima beaches are almost unexplored treasures. In Lima, you will find beaches for everyone; Miraflores (surfing, paddle surf), Punta Hermosa (relaxing, Sun tanning), La Herradura (swimming), Asia (boulevards and active nightlife), and more!
- Larco and other museums: The best representative museum in Lima is the Larco Museum that preserves pre columbian art and ceramics from ancient pre-Inca Peruvian cultures. Among other ones like Anthropological museum, the MALI (Lima Art Museum)
- Magic water circuit: Located in a district close to Lima center. This attraction consists of fountains of water that release jets of water incoordination and combined with colorful lights lasers, form attractive figures in the air. We recommend visiting it at night to see better these figures.
- Huaca Pucllana: It is a pre-Inca archaeological site belonging to the ancient Lima human settlement (200-700 B.C). It is located in Miraflores district. We recommend visiting it with a tour guide, to learn about the fascinating history that keeps.
- Pachacamac: Another important archaeological rest belonging to Wari Culture (7th to 13th century BC). It is the other great Peruvian culture, just behind the Incas. You could visit it in the Lurin district and with a local tour guide.
- Catacombs of San Francisco Church: In viceroyalty times, when Peruvian cities were still forming, the inhabitants used to bury their dead in the basement of churches (For lack of cemeteries). The catacombs of San Francisco Church is one of the most demanded tourist sites in Peru. And it is located in Lima Center, still stands, and you can visit it paying a little contribution to San Francisco friars.
Best time to visit
Its climate is quite particular due to its geographical location. Lima’s climate has practically a lack of rainfall. But a high level of humidity accompanied by persistent cloudiness, which is present from June to December until the beginning of summer.
So, it can be said that the climate in the capital of Peru is quite warm. Without presenting excessive heat or extreme cold, despite being in a tropical zone. So you will not require heating at home, except that it is winter. The average annual temperature is about 19 to 18 º C this has an annual maximum of 29 º C.
- Summer: The summers that pass from December to April have temperatures that range between 21 and 28 º C. Only when the “El Niño” phenomenon occurs, the temperature in summer can exceed 31 º C. Also, during this season the clouds are lower, and you can see a sunny and hot climate with recurring humidity.
- Winter: Winters usually occur between June and September. The winter of Lima contains temperatures that range between 12 and 19 º C. Winters are quite mild and cloudy. And the historically proven minimum temperature is about 5 º C.
- Autumn and Spring: While in the autumn and spring seasons, there are temperatures that fluctuate between 17 and 23 º C.
Something to keep in mind in the Peruvian capital is how the rain is almost nil. Regarding the best time to visit Lima, we can say that summer is the best time. Although, the whole year is a good time.
How to get there
There are many ways to get to the Peruvian capital. An advantage of Lima is its high connectivity, in comparison with other South American Capitals. Below, you will have the three ways to get to Lima:
- Flights: The International Airport of Jorge Chavez has a flow of 22 million visitors per year. It is because the airport is one of the principal hubs in South America. It is used as a connection terminal for many international flights. Therefore, finding a flight direct to Lima from different parts of the world is almost sure!
- Bus/Car: The Panamerican is a large highway that begins in Alaska (EE UU) and finishes in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Even so, there is a section that reaches Patagonia and Ushuaia in Argentina. This highway passes throughout all pacific coasts of American countries; Alaska (United States), passing through the cities of Mexico City (Mexico), Guatemala City (Guatemala), San Salvador (El Salvador), Cali (Colombia), Quito (Ecuador), Lima (Peru), Los Andes (Chile) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). So you can take this way if you have a particular car. Or hire a Bus service (Of course, if you want to take your time to get to Lima)
- Cruise: As we mentioned, Callao (A constitutional province of Peru) is one of the most important ports in South America and the principal in the Peru capital. It is not only used for commercial transactions but tourism activities cruises, too. Usually, the international cruises that navigate by the pacific coasts of UU EE, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador arrive at Callao Port, as the final destination, to then start the return. Royal Caribbean, Pacific cruises, Disney, Marvel trademarks are the most significant cruises companies that operate in Peru, already.
Safety and security
Is it safe to visit Lima? This is the principal question of many passengers at the moment to planning a trip to Peru, including Lima. Like any big city around the world, Lima has “red zones” where it is dangerous to take a walk. Fortunately, these are located far from middle-class neighborhoods, where are located the majority of hotels, many attractions, and restaurants. However, not trusting and taking precautions will always be important:
- First, we recommend booking a travel agency services (tourist package) to visit these kinds of big cities. Having a tour guide (A person who knows very well the zone to visit) will be important. And a great company for you.
- If you want to change money, do it in Banks offices or formal money exchanges houses. Never in the streets. Despite working with the highest exchange rate than the money changers street, the security offered by banks and formal houses of money exchange always be an advantage for you and your safety.
- Use credit cards or different payment method apps to buy something or hire services in the capital of Peru. Lima is one of the cities with high-level payment technologies implementation in the region. The majority of restaurants, hotels, and even attractions entrances accept credit cards. You can only carry cash to give tips, an unusual practice in the Peruvian capital. But always important to practice it.
- Lima doesn’t have a coordinated system of taxis (for example, with a taximeter). Happily, Lima Municipality allows the operation of many taxi apps like Uber, Cabify, Didi, In Driver inter alia. Its residents tend to use them very often and these apps mean security in your journeys inside Lima.
- Keeping your cell phone in your pockets, while you take walk by Lima streets will be crucial. There are reports of Raqueteros. They are persons who snatch the cell phone from their distracted victim in the middle of the streets, to begin to run. Of course, using your phone inside hotels, attractions, restaurants, even formal taxis will not mean any problem.
- Regarding health, the Peruvian capital has many particular clinics and hospitals with a good level of attention. Therefore, if you have any discomfort or ailment, we recommend you call your travel insurer. They have conventions with many of these health centers. If you don’t have insurance, the personnel of the hotels and travel agencies are capable to refer you to the best possible health center.
1. What language is spoken in Lima?
The official language of the city is Spanish, occupying 84% of its inhabitants. Castellano is the name of spanish spoken in Peru. And it is the main language used in the Peruvian educational system, the media, and the bulletins of the Peruvian government. In addition, the Human Development Index is very high there and its inhabitants can speak English very well if they need. But this does not mean that these are the only languages, there are other ones; like the official native language Quechua, and the Aymara, too.
2. What religion is commonly professed in Lima?
While the predominant religion in Peru is the Catholic religion. There are other religions both in the country and in the city of Lima. This is due to the great diversification and cultures that exist. Other religions of Peru include Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. Although many indigenous Peruvians also mixed their traditional beliefs with the same Catholicism. And many of its catholic temples are today considered great historical buildings in Lima.
3. What is the local currency coin in Peru and Lima?
The Sol (the sun) is the name of the currency unit in Peru, including Lima. There are bills of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Soles. Yellow coins of 5, 10, and 50 cents of Sol. Silver coins of 1, 2, and 5 Soles.
Remember, 1 American Dollar is equal to 3 Soles with 70 cents of Soles approx. The exchange rates are around 3.50 to 4.00 Soles.
“FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CITIES THAT FEEL LIKE HOME”
As you will see, the capital of Peru is a point as relevant as it is essential to get to know the country. Besides, if you are planning a trip to Peru, you will have to land on this site. So we recommend you not to miss out on this wonderful site. Together with the Machu Travel Peru team, we hope we have been helpful. If you are planning your trip to Peru, we recommend that you consult our other articles. We do them with love and thinking of you. Don’t miss it and start organizing your dream trip!