Though some would insist that the best Lima district for tourists is the artsy Barraco with its colonial architecture, I would support the majority that says it´s Miraflores, an upscale suburban district located about 10 kilometres away from the city centre, which features some stunning coastal views, great restaurants, and even an option of paragliding!
I spoke about Lima in my article HERE. This one focuses exclusively on Miraflores, my favourite district which I find extremely safe, environmentally friendly, laced with great restaurants and historical as well as entertainment attractions.
The residents located in Miraflores are in general rich and educated (the same is true for San Isidro district and some parts of Barranco) – as Peruvians would say, belonging to sector A (there are four sectors in Peru, D being the poorest and most populous). That fact obviously reflects itself in the cleanliness of the area, in the usage of city bikes, in the way people spend their Sundays (jogging and cycling along the beach or doing other sports) etc.
No wonder that the district is interweaved with top star hotels and some of Lima´s best restaurants. Of the lavish choice, for my latest visit to Lima, I have opted to stay in the Junior King Suite at J&A Pardo Hotel which is located just about a ten-minute walk from the famous Love Park.
I made this choice especially since I was travelling with my partner and he was going to celebrate his birthday in Lima, so I was looking for privacy, comfort and a lively yet chilled atmosphere of the hotel quarter. Situated right in the heart of Miraflores, J&A Pardo Hotel enables you to go jogging along the beaches and enjoy some cool restaurants of international cuisine in the neighbourhood without the need to use a taxi. I loved the hotel gym which offers a view right over the Huaca Pucllana ruins and the adjacent lobby overlooking (with a 360° view) Miraflores where my partner and I enjoyed some evening drinks. The hotel is provided with a sauna too which offers perfect privacy and the terrace right next to it enables you to walk out for the relaxing time in between your sauning sessions to enjoy some fresh air. Our Junior King Suite was spacious, had a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, a perfect, fast Wi-Fi connection and some essentials (cutlery etc.) in the dining part. The beds and beddings were extremely comfy so I slept like a baby, with no sound from the streets below disturbing. The hotel surprised us with a cake on the day of my partner’s birthday, which was truly thoughtful.
As a yogini, of course, I enjoy the dishes of Indian cuisine. One of my favourite Indian restaurants in Lima is Zaika, situated about a five-minute walk from J&A Pardo Hotel. Another good one is Dhaasu in Barranco.
If you enjoy eating good quality meat, make your way (less than ten minutes in an Uber from J&A Pardo Hotel) to San Isidro (another lovely district in Lima, see below) and the Carniceria Osso. They also have amazing artisanal salads (in case you´re a vegetarian but want to be nice to your company who simply loves meat). There is just one minus – the portions should be bigger as the amount of food you get (especially the salad) by no means corresponds with the price (sometimes overrated).
What to Do and See in Miraflores
The stylish district of Miraflores offers the Huaca Pucllana ruins, the renowned boardwalk (malecón) which hugs the coast for almost 10 kilometres and opens up to stunning cliffside views overlooking the ocean, the Love Park, the Lighthouse, and paragliding. Yes! Walking along the promenade, you might end up seeing the city from above.
The pre-Inca clay and adobe pyramid of Huaca Pucllana represents an interesting contrast to the sleek, modern buildings which surround it. This site served as an important ceremonial centre for the Lima culture who lived in Peru’s coastal region between the years 200 and 700 AD.
The Love Park – Parque del Amor – is running along the beach promenade (which is truly splendid, as it is situated atop the cliffs, so you get some marvellous views over the bay of Lima) becomes packed on Sundays and at sunset. There is a strip of mosaic wall which might remind you of Gaudí Park in Barcelona and a famous statue called “El Beso” (The Kiss) by Victor Delfín. You can enjoy a pancake and juice in the small café right next to the statue.
Located at the promenade, Larcomar shopping centre is one of the most popular attractions that travellers visit when they are in Lima. Built into the side of the cliff and mostly underground, this mall makes for quite the sight. It has incredible views of the Pacific Ocean (and the paragliders) and is perfect to spend an afternoon shopping and enjoying the food offered in the many restaurants there, e.g. in the Ko Asian Kitchen.
Miraflores Central Park and Kennedy Park are two urban greens with paths and playgrounds where you can chill, people-watch, read a book or enjoy a picnic.
The Inca Market (products from the communities in the Andes mountains) and the Indian Market (products from the communities in the jungle) – a two-minute walk one from the other – are totally worth your attention if you like handmade, artisanal products and crafts. Here, you can get traditional textiles, jewellery, alpaca and llama scarves, shawls and clothes, handcrafted shoes, bags, the traditional music instruments, dream catchers and even Pisco, all for reasonable prices.
There are two surfer-friendly beaches (and several surfing schools) in the area: Makaha beach and Waikiki beach, both allegedly good for beginners.
Where Else to Go
From Larcomar, it is pretty close to continue walking to Bohemian Barranco, a quarter filled with street art and colourful buildings, colonial mansions which were turned into cool cafés and boutique bars. Barranco has been home to some of Peru’s and Latin America’s finest artists. It has gained a reputation of the Bohemian or hipster part of Lima, and it is in Barranco where you find the Bridge of Sighs and MATE museum that was founded by famous Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino. Located in a restored 19th century mansion, the museum exhibits the best of national and international contemporary art and photography.
If shopping at Larcomar does not satisfy you and you wish for a bigger mall, of all Lima´s malls I would recommend Jockey Plaza located between the University of Lima and the Hipódromo de Monterrico, in the district of Santiago de Surco. You can get an Uber from Larcomar to Jockey Plaza for approx. 13 soles.
While Miraflores is the heart of tourism in Lima, San Isidro is where you’ll likely stay if visiting on business as it is the financial hub of Lima and the home to the country’s top banks and largest companies’ headquarters. Amongst the quiet enclave of upper-class residential neighbourhoods (the district was designed on the American model of suburban-style houses featuring lawns and gardens), you find the Lima Golf Club, the Olive Grove Park – Bosque El Olivar (one of Lima’s largest green spaces featuring quiet ponds and 3, 000 olive trees) – and some luxuries shopping on Avenida Conquistadores. Just like in Miraflores, the public parks are litter-free, all spic and span, welcoming you to sit down on the manicured lawns.
Just as Miraflores features Huaca Pucllana, San Isidro offers the charming (especially at night) Huaca Huallamarca ruin, also known as Pan de Azúcar (Bread of Sugar). The pyramid served as a shrine and burial site 200 AD.
Some would say San Isidro is the only district which could threaten Miraflores in the dining category, but others disagree and claim it would more likely be Barranco; well, each to their own, but the famous Central Restaurante (which was also featured in Zac Efron´s Down to Earth) of the hot and sexy Virgilio Martínez Véliz is located in Barranco…
A video from Miraflores and the J&A Pardo Hotel is available HERE.