Lima is by far one of the coolest cities in South America. Whether you’re looking for culture, history, wild parties, or good food (read: the best food in South America) this city has something for you!
The city of Lima is massive and home to over 10 million people! It’s great because there are so many places to explore, but its size can make finding a place to stay super overwhelming.
That’s why I created this no-stress guide about where to stay in Lima!
With the help of this guide, you’ll get a feel for the different neighborhoods, and based on your style of travel, we’ll make recommendations for exactly where to stay in Lima.
So whether you are traveling to Lima solo or as a family, are looking to stay in a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb, our ultimate guide will show you the best spots – eliminating any guesswork for you!
This way you can focus on what matters – eating all the Aji de Gallina (my personal favorite) and chasing cats in Parque Kennedy.
Let’s take a look at Lima’s neighborhoods and the best places to stay in Lima.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips -Where to stay in Lima
- Where to Stay in Lima – Our Top Picks for Best Places to Stay
- Lima Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Lima
- 1. Miraflores Neighborhood: Where to Stay in Lima for the First Time
- 2. Historic Center: Where to stay in Lima on a Budget
- 3. Barranco Neighborhood: The Coolest ‘Hood and Best Nightlife
- 4. Pueblo Libre/San Isidro Neighborhood: Where to stay in Lima with Family
Quick Tips -Where to stay in Lima
- Where to stay in Lima the first time – Miraflores
- Where to stay in Lima on a budget – Historic Center
- Where to stay in Lima for nightlife and Coolest place to stay – Barranco
- Best neighborhood in Lima for families – Pueblo Libre/San Isidro
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Enjoy the sunset from the terrace at Larcomar
- Visit the ancient pyramid at Huaca Pucllana, the only remaining pre-Inca ruins
- Explore the area on two wheels as a solo adventure or with a bicycle tour
Where to Stay in Lima – Our Top Picks for Best Places to Stay
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Lima. If you know you want to stay in a hostel in Lima, don’t do any guesswork and check out our post on the 20 Best Hostels in Lima instead!
Best Hostel in Lima: Pariwana Hostel Lima
Located in the heart of Miraflores, the Pariwana Hostel has everything to make backpackers and other travelers feel right at home.
They offer a delicious free breakfast, clean dorms, and private rooms, a bar with a daily happy hour, free lockers, and an incredible staff. The atmosphere is very social, making it easy to meet other travelers. Plus, it’s a 10-minute walk from the ocean.
Best Hotel in Lima: Casa Republica Barranco
Set in a newly renovated 1920s mansion, this is a gem in Barranco. All the rooms come with free WiFi, a buffet breakfast is included, and there’s a bar onsite. The perfect location and charming staff will have you returning for years to come.
The neighborhood of Barranco is by far the coolest neighborhood in Lima and you’ll love walking around soaking up the culture.
Best Airbnb in Lima: Piso in Barranco
This modern, stylish apartment is located in the bohemian seaside district of Barranco. It’s has one bedroom with a pull-out couch in the living room, making it big enough for 3 guests.
The kitchen is full equipped with everything you’d need to whip up a meal and it has a balcony. Plus, the building has a gym, a pool, a beautiful garden, and a laundry room. It’s our top Airbnb recommendation for where to stay in Lima!
If you decide to book an Airbnb, check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!
Lima Neighborhood Guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Lima
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Pueblo Libre/San Isidro
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Lima is a sprawling city split up into 43 districts, each with their own city hall and mayor. They all have their own selling points and appeal to different people. In fact, it’s the second largest city in the Americas.
Lima does not have a metro system, but there are lots of buses that go between districts. The El Metropolitano is an extensive rapid bus transport system that connects all the districts along the main highway. It was adopted to save people time during commute as it has its own lane and isn’t prone to traffic jams.
The center of town is the Lima District or “El Centro” as it’s known locally. The entire district is a UNESCO Heritage Site and it’s where you’ll find all of Lima’s old architecture: Plaza de Armas, Government Palace, Convent of San Francisco, and lots of colonial mansions.
Miraflores is the district most frequented by travelers as it has the highest concentration of hostels and a range of hotel options. It’s one of the safest areas in the city too.
Miraflores has lots of shopping malls with Larcomar being the most popular due to its interesting location on the side of the cliff. The ocean and sunset views are pretty incredible. There are more than enough breweries, restaurants, and museums to keep you occupied for the duration of your trip.
Barranco is Lima’s bohemian district. This is where you’ll find writers, musicians, poets, and playwrights hanging out, perfecting their craft over a cup of coffee. The nightlife scene is lively and there’s always something going on.
Barranco is also a great place to stroll during the day. The entire district is dotted with fabulous street art and plenty of cute little cafes to stop in for a rest. In fact, some of the best cafes in Lima are located in Barranco. It’s a great option for where to stay in Lima.
San Isidro is the swanky district and the financial center where Lima’s elite reside. This neighborhood has country clubs with world-class golf courses, fancy cocktail bars, and high-end boutique shops. This is where to stay in Lima if your taste leans more towards high class.
You’ll be close to some of the city’s best restaurants, art galleries, and chic cafes in San Isidro. The district is also known for its parks, such as the Bosque del Olivar with its colonial-era olive trees. It’s also home to two archaeological sites, Huaca Huallamarca and Huaca Santa Cruz.
Pueblo Libre is a sleepy residential district with a much slower pace of life than Miraflores or the Historic Center. It still has its own charms, such as the former home of Simon Bolivar – the liberator of South America – which has been turned into the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru. This district is also home to the oldest tavern in Lima, the Taverna Quierolo.
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Lima
Lima doesn’t have the best public transportation system. There isn’t a metro system and local taxis do not have meters, so prices must be negotiated before the ride. Uber is there, however, and makes getting around slightly easier. Rush hour traffic can be insane, though.
Because it is difficult to get around this massive city, it’s important to choose the best neighborhoods based on your interests. Of the 43 districts in Lima, only a handful of them are good for travelers and visitors to the city as they have a good balance of safety, nearby attractions, restaurants, and bars.
Below are some of the best neighborhoods in Lima for your stay.
Miraflores is the traveler hub of Lima. That’s why it’s our recommendation for where to stay in Lima for the first time. It’s one of the safest areas in the city as it’s a more upscale district.
Miraflores is famous for its location right on the coast. There are plenty of restaurants both trendy and inexpensive, street-side cafes serving great coffee with a side of people watching, and shopping. This is where you’ll find the highest concentration of hostels in the city.
There’s also a massive park called Parque Kennedy aka Cat Park as its famous for its feline inhabitants. It’s a popular place where people congregate as it’s surrounded by restaurants, bars, hostels, coffee shops, and a movie theater.
Top things to do in Miraflores Lima
– Play with the cats in Parque Kennedy.
– Take in the ocean views while strolling along the Boardwalk.
– Steal a kiss at the Parque del Amor (Park of Love).
– Shop til you drop at Larcomar – an open-air shopping mall built into the cliff overlooking the sea.
– Enjoy the sunset from the terrace at Larcomar.
– Watch the paragliders flying around over the Malecon and join them if you dare.
– Grab a board and ride some waves at one of two surfing friendly beaches, Makaha beach and Waikiki beach.
– Visit the ancient pyramid at Huaca Pucllana, the only remaining pre-Inca ruins,
– Impress your friends and family with your gifts of amazing souvenirs from the artisan markets.
– Eat to your heart’s content at the numerous restaurants on offer – Peruvian food is truly the best.
– Get some culture by attending a play or art opening at The Centro Cultural PUCP.
– Visit a museum:
- The Place of Memory, Tolerance, and Social Inclusion
- Ricardo Palma Museum
- Amano Pre-Columbian Textile Museum
– Explore the area on two wheels as a solo adventure or with a bicycle tour.
– Put on your dancing shoes, grab a cocktail, and party til the sun comes up.
– Taste the delicious, Peruvian craft beers on tap at BarBarian Brewery and Lupulo.
Best Hostel in Miraflores: Pariwana Hostel Lima
The Pariwana Hostel is our top hostel recommendation for where to stay in Lima. They have everything a traveler could need. The location is within walking distance to the coast and all the best things to do in Miraflores.
In addition to all the freebies, they also have a restaurant onsite serving up the best Peruvian dishes as well as a funky bar with daily happy hours. You’ll be ready to come back before you even leave! This is defintely where to stay in Miraflores Lima for backpackers.
Best Hotel in Miraflores: Tierra Viva Miraflores Mendiburu
The Tierra Viva Miraflore Mendiburu is brand new as of 2018 so everything is perfect here. They serve a delicious breakfast for free on the top floor in a beautiful garden room.
It’s the best place to stay for foodies as it’s right around the corner from the gastronomic area of Miraflores. Even better is the proximity to Costa Verde, the oceanview sidewalk that makes Miraflores such a great place to go for a walk. It’s one of the best hotels in Miraflores Lima.
This is right at the heart of the city’s historic core and it’s where you’ll find the more important places in Peru. The most famous places are the Plaza de Armas, Government Palace, Convent of San Francisco, and various mansions from colonial times.
Thanks to these historical landmarks, the center of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re a history buff then this is the area of town for you. It’s also our recommendation for where to stay in Lima on a budget as the accommodation options are less than other areas of the city.
There are also cheap restaurants serving lunchtime menus for travelers on a budget. The restaurants nextdoor in China town have Peruvian-Chinese buffets that are so large, you won’t need to eat again for the rest of the day.
Note: It’s important to note that this isn’t the safest area of Lima. At night, it’s best to stick to the main square and the streets immediately surrounding it.
Top things to do in the Historic Center
– Admire the historical architecture surrounding the Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor).
– Join a free walking tour and explore all the sites while learning about the history.
– Watch the changing of the guard at the Government Palace where the president lives.
– Visit the San Francisco Monastery to take the tour of the Catacombs where the remains of 25,000 human skeletons are arranged in an artistic fashion.
– Take photos of the baroque-style architecture and gilded alters at these historic churches and convents:
- Cathedral Basilica of Lima
- Basilica and Convent of Santo Domingo
- Archbishop’s Palace of Lima
- Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Senora de la Merced
– See how the fabulous people lived by checking out the numerous mansions or casas:
- Casa Aliaga
- Casa de Osambela
- Casa de la Riva
– Revel in the faded glory of the Central Post Office.
– Learn about torture devices at the Museum of the Inquisition.
– Delight your tastebuds in Chinatown by trying Chifa – a combination of Chinese and Peruvian food – a favorite cuisine amongst locals.
– Pull up a bench and people watch at Plaza San Martin.
– Learn the history of Peru’s delicious cuisine at the Museum of Peruvian Gastronomy.
Best Hostel in the Historic Center: Orchid Hostels
Opened in October 2017, this new hostel has a super welcoming staff, fun decorations, and a free continental breakfast. The rooms are super clean and the WiFi is quite fast.
It’s in a great location as you can walk to all the different museums, squares, churches, and other places of interest in the Historic Center. It comes highly recommended and you’ll probably end up wishing you were staying longer.
Best Hotel in the Historic Center: La Quinta de Amat
Located in the heart of Lima, this is where to stay in Lima if you want to be within walking distance to the center of the city. It has the best location as a quick 5-minute walk across the bridge will bring you to the Plaza Mayor.
In addition to the amazing location, there’s also a sun terrace looking over downtown. There’s also a restaurant onsite. Each room has a desk, flat screen TV, and free WiFi.
Barranco is by far the coolest place to stay in Lima. It’s also our top choice for where to stay in Lima for the nightlife.
From the early 1900’s to the 1960’s, Barranco was the hangout for Lima’s artists, musicians, poets, and writers and that bohemian vibe can still be felt today.
Just wandering the streets of Barranco delights all the senses with the street art murals, incredible restaurants, cozy cafes, and plenty of live music.
Aside from the nightlife, Barranco is a great place for an afternoon stroll. The district is centered around the central square and it’s a great place to watch artists and creative-types hard at work on their craft. Once you’ve had your fill, follow the Bajada de los Banos to the beach below.
Top things to do in Barranco
– Head to the Plaza de Armas in the center of Barranco and watch artists painting, writers writing, musicians busking, and friends hanging out.
– Try to hold your breath while you cross the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros).
– Join one of the many walking tours and learn the history and the stories behind some of the street murals.
– Enjoy a slow-brew coffee and slice of white chocolate & passion fruit mousse pie at Tostaduria Bisetti.
– Sip on the delicious beers at Barranco Beer Co.
– Wander down the Bajada do los Banos towards the beach stopping at the bars and cafes along the way.
– Take in the personal collection of Mario Testino at his museum – the most accomplished fashion photographer in South America.
– Enjoy a delightfully healthy farm-to-table meal at Las Vecinas.
– Grab a tasty cocktail in one of the many colonial mansions turned into a boutique bar. Ayahuasca is a personal favorite and comes highly recommended by locals.
– Admire the impressive collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Best Hostel in Barranco: Passion Barranco
Located on a quiet side street overlooking the ocean, the Passion Barranco hostel is the ideal place for all travelers. With a BBQ, fully equipped kitchen, TV room, courtyard, fast Wifi and computers, they have everything you could possibly need.
They offer both private rooms and dorm rooms and they have free breakfast. Plus, they often host BBQ’s and other events on the terrace so travelers have a place to mingle.
Best Hotel in Barraco: Casa Republica Barranco
This is our top recommended hotel for where to stay in Lima. The newly renovated Casa Republica Barranco is the kind of place that keep guests returning again and again.
Set in a 1920s mansion, they offer private rooms with a desk and free WiFi. There’s a delicious buffet breakfast and the staff will make you feel more than welcome for the duration of your stay.
These two districts are where to stay in Lima with a family as they are both very quiet and safe.
San Isidro is just north of Miraflores. It’s a very upscale district where most of Lima’s elite reside. There are plenty of upscale shopping malls, restaurants, golf clubs, and tennis courts.
Posh travelers will feel right at home amongst the classy cocktail bars serving classic Pisco cocktails and boutique clothing shops selling threads you can’t find anywhere else.
San Isidro also boasts some lovely parks, such as Bosque del Olivar and two archaeological sites, Huaca Huallamarca and Huaca Santa Cruz.
Pueblo Libre is a relaxed residential district that is just as safe and quiet as San Isidro, but without the expensive price tag. Simon Bolivar, the man who liberated much of South America, lived in Pueblo Libreand.
His colonial mansion is now home to the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru. Pueblo Libre is also home to the Larco Museum which is famous for its erotic pottery exhibition representing every sex act you can imagine.
The colonia houses the most parks in the city. It has a much slower pace of life compared to Miraflores or Centro. It’s perfect for those looking to relax and take in the sights and sounds.
Top things to do in Pueblo Libre and San Isidro
– Wander through the Magic Water Circuit at Parque de la Reserva and marvel at the dazzling display of lights, water, and sound
– Try not to giggle like a middle school student when you visit the erotic pottery exhibition at the Larco Museum.
– Sip on a cocktail and chow down a delicious pork belly sandwich at the historic Antigua Taberna Queirolo – a tavern built in 1880.
– Browse the impressive collection at the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru – the oldest museum in Peru.
– Stroll amongst the multitude of olive trees that grew from only 3 saplings brought over by the Spanish in Forest el Olivar.
– Take a trip back in time by visiting the Huaca Huallamarca archaeological site.
– Enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal in an old, beautifully restored manor house at El Bolivariano.
– Admire the Cruz del Viejero (cross) placed by Franciscan monks in 1672.
– Spend an afternoon in Surquillo District playing in the Ghost Train Park – a playground made of recycled materials in the ruins of an abandoned project for an electric train/
– Marvel at the interactive exhibitions plus learn something new about time travel, evolution, and the human body at the Parque de la Imaginacion.
– Visit the zoo and botanical gardens inside Parque de las Leyendas.
Best Hotel in Pueblo Libre: Casa Aika
Perfectly located in Pueblo Libre, Casa Aika is walking distance from the Larco Museum and La Reserva Magic Water Circuit Park is 5 km from the hotel. There are many restaurants nearby and the owner is very outgoing and helpful to guests. The rooms have a very chic decor and come with minbars. It is easily reached from the airport.
Best Hotel in San Isidro: Aku Hotels
Aku Hotels provide spacious, comfortable rooms at a reasonable rate considering the price of most other hotels around it. The value is great as a buffet breakfast is also included in the room price.
They have a terrace perfect for relaxing after a long day of sightseeing. Plus, they have a fitness center where you can work off all that amazing Peruvian food!
Best Bed & Breakfast in San Isidro: Bed and Breakfast Loft en Olivar de San Isidro
This is a great option for those travelers looking for a slightly different experience. The Loft is above a local family’s home and they cook breakfast for their guests every morning.
It’s a great way to learn things from a local’s perspective and get insider tips on the best things to do. Furthermore, their home is walking distance to the Forest el Olivar!
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Lima
Lima can be overwhelming. This is a massive city and it’s not easy to get around, but with the help of this guide, it doesn’t have to be difficult to figure out where to stay in Lima.
To reduce travel time and save a few extra travel-bucks, use this guide to help you pick the neighborhood that best suits your travel needs. Should you need more inspiration, here are 10 cool things to do in Lima!
Just to recap, our top hostel recommendation is Pariwana Hostel Lima due to their delicious free breakfast, clean dorms and private rooms, a bar with a daily happy hour, free lockers, and an incredible staff.
For the best hotel in Lima, you’ll want to book a room at Casa Republica Barranco so you can see what it’s like to stay in a newly renovated 1920s mansion.
Have you been to Lima and think we missed something? Let us know in the comments below! Cheers!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
If you’re still a bit worried about security in Peru, then check out our separate safety guide here!
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Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Peru Travel Guide
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- Backpacking Lima Travel Guide
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