Lima, Peru is a large city with tons for families to do. You’ll find museums of all sorts, a beautiful manicured Malecon running beside the ocean, green parks, and even opportunities to surf! We’ve covered all the best things to do in Lima, including where to stay, and where to eat while visiting this modern city.
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A Bit About Lima, Peru
Lima is a big cosmopolitan city, built in the desert alongside the ocean. There you’ll find many beautiful parks and manicured green spaces, but those are watered (often by hand) daily so that it’s easy to forget you are in a desert climate.
The main neighborhoods frequented by tourists are the historic Centro, upscale Miraflores, and trendy Barranco. In these neighborhoods, you can find just about anything- including imported brands in the grocery stores.
Lima, Peru is not only the capital of Peru, but it is also the main transit hub for the country. If you are exploring different parts of Peru, you’ll probably find yourself coming through Lima more than once.
Things to Do in Lima with Kids
There are a lot of things to do in Lima with kids, from ancient ruins to modern museums, playgrounds, parks, and more. Here are our best suggestions for keeping the kids and adults entertained in Lima, Peru.
Walk the Malecon
The Malecon is a beautiful pedestrian walkway along the coastline in Lima, Peru. Running along the top of the cliffs, with views of the ocean below, it’s a great place to take a stroll with your kids, as there are plenty of things to see along the way. The path is smooth and wide, so it’s easy to push a stroller or wagon. There are also plenty of benches as well as exercise equipment. And of course, the views are stunning – you can see the ocean, the city, and even some nearby islands.
The Parque de Amor is a great place to visit- this plaza is highlighted by a large statue of a couple kissing.
Just north of this, you’ll find an area where paragliders practice their moves. We watched for a while as they lifted and dropped their sails, but never actually saw anyone take off.
On the south end of the Malecon, you’ll find the Larcomar mall. It has upscale stores and restaurants, including many names you’ll recognize from the US. Next to the mall, you’ll find a Mirabici bike rental stand.
You’ll also find playgrounds along the Malecon. Our kids’ favorite was across from the Chinese Pagoda, which is also worth a visit.
Miraflores is a clean, upscale neighborhood anchored by Parque Kennedy and Parque 7 de Junio. In these parks, you’ll find cultural events, artists displaying work for sale, and some very well-cared-for stray cats.
The main street heads down to the Malecon and the popular Playa Waikiki. From department and large grocery stores with three floors of goods to small cafes, you’ll find everything you could want within this neighborhood.
Don’t miss the outdoor Mercado San Ramon which is part of an open-air pedestrian strip of bars and restaurants. This covered area is a great place to watch a televised futbol game.
Pro Tip: The bookstore Librerias Crisol, across the street from La Lucha Sangucheria, has some books in English, including a few children’s books. We were able to pick up the first Harry Potter book to read aloud. Books in Peru usually come shrink-wrapped closed and are expensive compared to US standards.
Considered Lima’s artsy neighborhood, explore the streets of this part of town, including the Plaza de Armas, and the famous La Puente de Los Suspiros, or “Bridge of Sighs”. You’ll find independent shops, and street art as well as MATE which features contemporary artists and photographers.
Barranco is known for it’s cuisine- consider taking a food tour to get a taste of the best Peruvian food in the neighborhood. This tour includes everything from chocolate to ceviche, and takes you through some of the highlights of the area.
Check Details: Barranco Food Tour
Ruins of Huaca Pucllana
This Pre-Inca site was used by several pre-Columbian cultures. You’ll learn about how the clay bricks of this pyramid structure were handmade, see examples of how the dead were mummified, and more while climbing this large structure in the middle of the city.
The site was built between 450 and 650 AD, and used by the Lima, the Wari and then the Ychsma people. You can only visit via guided tour, which includes a visit to the small garden and animals that live here including alpacas and Peruvian hairless dogs. The groups are small, and the tour guide is quite good- our kids were kept engaged the whole time.
You must pre-book tickets to visit this site. We tried to walk up and had to return the following day. Make sure to bring water and a hat- there is no shade and the complex can get quite hot.
Circuito Magico del Agua
I was skeptical about visiting this water park– but it was pretty magical. You can either visit during a hot day to cool off, splashing in the fountains, or at night to focus on the colors and the main media show.
Time your evening visit to start around one of the “media shows” that currently run at 6:50, 7:30, 8:10, and 8:50. This show is the centerpiece of the park- lighting, video projections, and dancing water combine to create a spectacle promoting Lima and greater Peru.
After watching the main show, you can follow the circuit of fountains, all numbered. Some are colored, some allow you to run through them, some form strange shapes. Follow the tunnel under the road to find the last of the numbered fountains.
At 4 soles per person, we spent more taking an Uber to the park than in admission fees. This is a great deal for a fun night out. The kids loved running from fountain to fountain.
Take Surfing Lessons
Surfing lessons in Lima? Yes! This seaside city has a huge contingent of surfers. We didn’t personally take lessons but know people who have. These lessons include theory, practice, boards, and wetsuits.
If you’re not up for hitting the waves yourself, spend some time watching the surfers below you from the Malecon.
Get Details: Surf Lessons in Lima
Explore the Historic Center
The historic center of Lima feels like a world away from the parks and plazas of Miraflores. You’ll find grand colonial buildings, large wooden box balconies built by the Spanish, and even horse drawn carriages. The Plaza de Armas is the center of the area, but be sure to check out the pedestrian walkways leading down to Plaza San Martin.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
Every day the changing of the guard begins around 11:45 in front of the Government Palace of Lima, on the north side of the Plaza de Armas. The ceremony begins with music, but turns into quite the choerographed presentation. The whole ceremony lasts about an hour, and is worth working into your schedule.
Catacombs of Convento de San Francisco
The catacombs of the Convento de San Francisco are pretty cool- we all enjoyed the bones displayed underneath the church. Overall, the above ground tour of the church was tough- our group was over 30 people, making it hard to hear our guide, and it was only given in Spanish. No photos are allowed inside the convent.
We would still recommend this tour for families, as the bones at the end make up for the slower start to the tour.
Tour Iglesia Santo Domingo
This church is covered in tiles imported from Spain, some of the oldest in South America. You can only visit on a guided tour, but the guide kept it interesting, focusing on three saints that are buried at the church. There are still monks that live and work at this church, so you may hear the bells ring to call them to meeting.
Kids (under 18) are not allowed to climb the bell tower, but they were able to wait downstairs while one adult went up to the top. The climb is steep, but the views are impressive.
Visit the Larco Museum
We didn’t make it to this museum focused on ancient Peru, but we hear great things about it. The Larco Museum has an impressive collection that is educational and entertaining for adults and kids alike. Sections on gold and jewelry would be a hit with our kids, while the parents can take turns viewing the gallery dedicated to pre-Columbian erotica.
Where to Stay in Lima with Kids
We recommend staying in the Miraflores or Barranco neighborhoods. Both are pleasant, walkable neighborhoods with lots of restaurants and cafes that are close to the main tourist attractions.
We stayed at Estelar Apartments in Miraflores and highly recommend it. We had a family suite with two large beds, a seating area with a sofa, coffee table, and chair, as well as a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave, counter, and two bar stools. Breakfast is provided in the lobby each morning, and it is just a few blocks from Parque Kennedy.
Where to Eat in Lima with Kids
Lima is a large city, comparable to many in the US, and prices are high. However, you can also find a lot of variety, from traditional Peruvian dishes to pizza, falafel, and bao buns. We’ve marked each restaurant with its nieghborhood.
Lima 141- Historic Centro
This restaurant has a lovely outdoor seating area, which we much prefer to the large second-floor indoor area. The food is beautifully presented, with traditional foods like Papas Huancaina (half pieces of potato in a yellow sauce) and Causas (stacked sandwiches using potato and egg instead of bread), as well as a good range of soups and salads.
Churros Virgen de las Nieves- Historic Centro
You’ll see lines down the sidewalk on Jr. Lampa street waiting for “Churros Espanoles”. These churros are four times as thick as a Mexican churro, with a wrapped appearance almost like a straight croissant. They are served warm, filled with dulce de leche. The most popular store is “Churros San Francisco Sac”.
Rather than wait in these long lines, head to Jr. Junin 296- just as you turn toward the plaza, you’ll see this small shop with little signage. Take a seat at one of the small tables, they have juices, smoothies, and fresh, hot churros Espanoles.
R18 Restaurant- Historic Centro
When you are looking for a low-key meal, this is a great, easy stop. With TVs playing futbol games, there’s a more upscale dinner menu, and a sandwiches and hamburgers menu (which you may need to request). The kids shared Salchipapas (French fries, sliced hot dog, and plantain), while the adults shared a burger and a salad.
La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla- Miraflores
This sandwich place is so famous, that they now have a location at the Lima airport. There is often a line outside this restaurant. They have a simple menu of sandwiches- they do one thing and they do it well. Located on Diagonal 308, Miraflores, with a second location on José Larco.
This Arabic restaurant is the place to go for hummus, falafel, and shawarma. We got our food to go and enjoyed it while having a movie night in our hotel room.
Quattro Pizzeria- Miraflores
They were closed the night we tried to order from here, but we are told they have some of the best pizzas in Lima…
Kaldi’s Coffee and Tea- Miraflores
Coffee in Peru is often a thick syrup that you have to add water to before you drink it. For a good espresso, you’ll need to find a true coffee shop. Kaldi’s is a great stop for an espresso and a treat. We loved their lemon pie with a meringue top.
How Long Should I Stay in Lima with Kids?
We stayed in Lima for a week and still didn’t have time to see everything. For most families, 3-4 days would let you see the highlights of Miraflores and the Historic Centre.
Is Lima with Kids Safe?
Lima is a big city- some neighborhoods are safe, while others are not. If you stay in the main three neighborhoods that most tourists visit (Centro, Miraflores, and Barranco), and take normal precautions, you should not have any trouble.
Is there Uber in Lima?
Yes, there is Uber in Lima, and it works quite efficiently. Traffic in Lima can be intense, so plan extra time to get to where you are going. Uber is great in that you don’t need to worry about communicating where you are going or negotiating a rate with the driver.
Can you Drink the Water in Lima?
No, you should not drink the water in Lima without first filtering or purifying it. We like to use a Steripen to purify our water before we leave the hotel for the day.
Check Prices: Steripen UV Water Purifier
Tips for Navigating the Lima Airport
-Get There Early. There are often long lines for check-in, and many airlines request that you arrive at the Lima airport three hours before domestic flights.
-You will need to show a boarding pass to enter the airport. Doors are monitored, and documents are checked before you enter to check your bags.
-If you have a connecting flight through Lima, you must exit the airport via baggage claim, then renter and go back through security for your connecting flights. Your bags will be checked all the way through to your final destination.
-Families with children under 8 can join the “Preferred Line” to go through immigration and security.
-When leaving the airport it’s easiest to negotiate a standard airport taxi. We paid 70 soles to go to Miraflores.
-When heading to the airport it is easiest to either pre-schedule a car with Taxidatum or call an Uber.
There You Have It
Lima, Peru is the perfect destination for family vacations. You’ll find tons of things to do in Lima from museums for all ages to historical sites, and even surfing! We’ve given you tips on what attractions are best, as well as where to eat and where to stay when visiting Lima with kids.