The city’s historic heart, Lima Centro (Central Lima) is a grid of crowded streets laid out in the 16th-century days of Francisco Pizarro, and home to most of the city’s surviving colonial architecture.
Bustling narrow streets are lined with ornate baroque churches in Lima's historic and commercial center, located on the south bank of the Río Rímac. Few colonial mansions remain, as many have been lost to expansion, earthquakes and the perennially moist weather. The best access to the Plaza de Armas is the pedestrian-only street Jirón de la Unión.
Rímac can be a rough neighborhood. Taxis or organized tours are the best options for most sights.
The city begins to rise into the foothills of the Andes as you turn east. It's an area strewn with government buildings and teeming with residential districts.
San Isidro & Points West
Well-to-do San Isidro is Lima’s banking center and one of its most affluent areas. Its residential neighborhoods offer some important sights.
The seaside neighborhood of Miraflores, which serves as Lima’s contemporary core, bustles with commerce, restaurants and nightlife. A long greenbelt overlooks the Pacific from a set of ragged cliffs.
A tiny resort back at the turn of the 20th century, Barranco is lined with grand old casonas (large houses), many of which have been turned into galleries and boutique hotels. With some rough edges, this hip bohemian center has hopping bars and nice areas to stroll.
West Lima & Callao
To the west of downtown, cluttered lower-middle-class and poor neighborhoods eventually give way to the port city of Callao, where the Spanish once shipped gold. Travelers should approach Callao with caution, since some areas are dangerous, even during the day.
A narrow peninsula that extends west into the Pacific Ocean, La Punta was once a fishing hamlet, and later, in the 19th century, an upscale summer beach resort. Today this pleasant neighborhood, graced with neocolonial and art-deco homes, is a great spot to stroll by the ocean and enjoy a seafood lunch.
You can take a taxi from Miraflores. In Lima Centro, combis (minibuses) traveling to Callao run west along Av Colonial from the Plaza 2 de Mayo. Take the ones labeled ‘La Punta.’ A good spot to get out is Plaza Gálvez; from here, you can head west along the waterside Malecón Figueredo, which offers magnificent views of craggy Isla San Lorenzo, just off the coast.