Situated about 31km southeast of the city center, the archaeological complex of Pachacamac is a pre-Columbian citadel made up of adobe and stone palaces and temple pyramids. If you’ve been to Machu Picchu, it may not look like much, but this was an important Inca site and a major city when the Spanish arrived.
The Carretera Central (Central Hwy) heads directly east from Lima, following the Rímac valley into the foothills of the Andes and on to La Oroya in Peru’s central highlands. Minibuses to Chosica leave frequently from Arica at the Plaza Bolognesi. These can be used to travel to Puruchuco (S2 to S3, 50 minutes) and Chosica (S3 to S4, two hours).
Another pre-Columbian site, Cajamarquilla is a crumbling adobe city that was built up by the Wari culture (AD 700–1100) on the site of a settlement originally developed by people of the Lima culture. A road to the left from Lima at about Km 10 (18km from Central Lima) goes to the Cajamarquilla zinc refinery, almost 5km from the highway.
Every summer, limeños make a beeline for the beaches clustered along the Panamericana to the south. The exodus peaks on weekends, when, occasionally, the road is so congested that it becomes temporarily one way. The principal beach towns include El Silencio, Señoritas, Caballeros, Punta Hermosa, Punta Negra, San Bartolo, Santa María, Naplo and Pucusana.
The site of Puruchuco hit the news in 2002 when about 2000 well-preserved mummy bundles were unearthed from the enormous Inca cemetery. It’s one of the biggest finds of its kind, and the multitude of grave goods included a number of well-preserved quipu. The site has a highly reconstructed chief’s house, with one room identified as a guinea-pig ranch.
About 40km from Lima lies the rustic mountain town of Chosica, which sits at 860m above sea level, above the fog line. In the early half of the 20th century, it was a popular weekend getaway spot for limeños intent on soaking up sun in winter. Today its popularity has declined, though some visitors still arrive for day trips.