When heading to Lima, many tourists end up staying in an area called Miraflores meaning that they want to explore this area and not the greater city of Lima – which is huge. Miraflores is set near the beach but also in a trendy area boasting many parks, bars, restaurants, and cafes, making it a great area to explore without ever having to actually go into the “city centre”.
If you are like us and ended up staying in Miraflores, and wanted to find things just in that area to do for the day then this post is for you. It seemed quite difficult to find things JUST for this area, with a lot of tourist activities being up to 45 minutes away by car (let alone public transport). Lima is a massive city and boasts many different bustling areas, however we will focus solely on Miraflores, with a bonus couple of spots in the actual city centre for you if you feel like roaming about!
Here are 11 things you can do in Miraflores, whilst staying in Lima, Peru:
1. Take the (Original) Free Walking Tour
There are a few options for free walking tours in Miraflores, but none can compare with the original team running the tours from here. Wearing green vests, these guys have had to put up with copy-cats coming into the market and even stealing their clientele, all whilst still running a fantastic tour of Lima.
The tour itself will take you out of Miraflores and into the city centre of Lima, wondering around the streets surrounding the famous Plaza de Armas. In addition to your standard walking tour fare, you will also be able to experience many different tastings including traditional Peruvian food, coffee, and pisco (alcohol) along the way.
In addition to all of the added extras, the guide will give you a complete history of the city (ours was fantastic), and take you around to some great sights along the way. If you would like to do the tour, you can book it online here though please be aware that there are different meeting places for different tours so make sure you only book the tour and turn up for the proper times for Miraflores!
2. See the Cats at Parque Kennedy
Named after John F. Kennedy after he sent through aid money to Peru when he was president, Parque Kennedy has something beyond its beautiful gardens and street merchants. Look between the flowers and on the grass and you will start to see dozens of cats lazing about in the sun and generally going about their day.
We had a great time exploring the park and finding the cats, with most being very friendly and loving a good pat. And whilst these cats are homeless, they are well looked after by the city with food and water bowls scattered throughout the parks, as well as a program allowing members of the public to adopt the cats if they like.
It was great to see such hospitality towards animals that are out on the street, especially in this part of the world. Traveling through Central and South America we constantly see dogs and cats on the streets, some beyond the point of saving and most treated by the locals as if they were nothing. A bit of support towards our furry friends goes a long way and we must applaud the government of Miraflores and Lima for this initiative.
3. Try Some Craft Beer at Barbarian
If you end up doing the free walking tour, chances are your meeting place will be at the Barbarian Bar. Situated around the corner from Parque Kennedy (and all the cats!). Join the free walking tour and if you are among the first to arrive you will be given a taster beer from the wide menu of craft beers on tap at Barbarian – I recommend the wheat beer (delicious)!
With so many beers on the menu it would be rude not to return after the walking tour and try some of the others on offer, with a 10% off card given to those on the walking tour. You can also sample some of the great burgers they have on the menu and make a meal of it!
4. Head to the Inka and Indian Markets
With Peru known for its alpaca sweaters and anything else they can make out of the wool, there are of course some great markets to shop in Miraflores to take some of these great souvenirs back to your own country.
Just around the corner from the main parks in Miraflores lay the Inka and Indian markets, which have hundreds of little stalls selling pretty much the same thing (sweaters or llama key rings anyone?), though all with their own individual flare and of course pricing!
Even the streets in-between these 2 markets seem to have some souvenirs on offer, and we ended up spending a good couple of hours searching through all of the different shops and buying some great items along the way. This included the prize possession of any backpacker – the alpaca sweater with alpacas strewn across it!
If you are heading here, make sure you negotiate as they are tourist markets after all and they will try and rip you off.
5. Raw Cafe
Whenever we enter into a new town, Rach always attempts to find some healthy food options or really just anything that contains vegetables or salad. It becomes increasingly difficult to find places like this, especially with the street-food mentality of most places in South America (why must they deep fry everything?), but Raw Cafe in Miraflores was certainly a great exception to this.
Offering up some great organic food (with a slightly higher price tag, but why not splurge for healthy food?) and fruit and vegetable smoothies, Rach was ecstatic and promptly ordered a salad bowl, which was huge, alongside an immunity smoothie to help raise her up a bit.
6. Parque del Amor
The Park of the Love is located next to the Miraflores Mirador and offers up a really great view of the cliffs leading down to the ocean, as well as of the paragliders that move back and forth in the wind.
The main aspect of the park though is the massive clay-like sculpture which sits atop a rotunda, which depicts a man holding a woman in an embrace about to kiss her. Surrounding this are some nice grassy areas and a number of tile mosaics created on park benches.
It’s a great little spot to check out if you walking along the cliff tops, perhaps with that someone special!
7. Miraflores Mirador
Wondering away from Parque del Amor, you can continue walking along the cliff side on a walking path known as the mirador of the area. Many locals come here to either go for a run, walk the dog (or the kids), and just generally relax. It is a good spot to relax yourself and watch the people go past, or walk along the mirador itself.
A highlight for us was seeing the tribute to the navy which is depicted on a smaller rendition of a lighthouse with tributary plaques surrounding it on four sides.
In the very same area as Parque del Amor and the Mirador is the area where flyers take off for a session of paragliding. You will easily see the fenced off grassy green area where daredevils fling themselves off of the cliff and out towards the ocean, and if you are game you can be a partner to one of them and go on the flight of a lifetime.
Having already done this activity over the city of Medellin in Colombia, we decided to give this one a miss and just enjoy watching the flyers take off and wheel about. However, if you would like to give it a go (and why not over the ocean) you can easily organise it for around $60US for a 10-minute flight.
9. Surfing at the Beach
Whilst we never thought of Lima as a surfing destination, the waves on the beaches below the cliffs are actually pretty decent for a beginner to intermediate surfer and many hostels in the Miraflores area offer up either board rental or the ability to book lessons.
Coming in at around $25-30US for an hour lesson including board rental and a wetsuit (the ocean is COLD in Lima), you cannot really go wrong and there are some really experienced surfers waiting for you down on the beach for you to give it a try. The cheaper pricing is more easily found if you just turn up to the beach instead of booking in advance, so walk on down the many stairs and see what you can negotiate!
10. Larcomar Shopping Centre
Larcomar Shopping Centre is literally built into the side of the cliff overlooking the beach, so even if you do not want to shop you can easily just go here for the view and perhaps a drink for sunset.
However, Larcomar offers up way more than this including many up-market shops we had not seen since our last visit to a major city, a true 100% alpaca store where you can compare your dodgy market purchases too (named Kuna), and even a cinema where you can watch subtitled movies in English!
I’m not sure what it is about big shopping centres but Rach and I seem to flock to them; maybe it gives us a reminder of home where we have plenty of them, or maybe we just want a change from the smaller towns we visit in-between – who knows.
11. Gamarra Textile Market
Gamarra market is known as the largest textile market in all of Latin America, and also known as probably the largest market in Latin America that contains illegal vendors. You see, this market has thousands of vendors all selling knock-off versions of clothing, shoes, and other products to mostly locals at extremely cheap prices.
Once we heard about it and had heeded the warnings of how dangerous the outlying areas were, we knew we had to visit and try and find some great deals on winter clothing (as we head into the colder months and mountainous areas).
The thing about Gamarra is that the streets that the market are on are really safe (within reason – always look after your belongings and keep a close eye on them). But what we were constantly told was not to stray outside the boundaries of the market as the areas outside of them were not places tourists should hang around for long. The “market” itself is really just many outdoor stalls situated on around a 5-block radius of streets within Gamarra the suburb, which is how it has grown so big. This does make it quite easy to find what you are looking for as you stroll between the big avenues with much more space than confined warehouse-type market.
We eventually were able to find some knock-off Adidas tracksuit pants to help us through the colder months, though if we were heading home from Lima we probably could have bought a suitcase full of clothes and shoes to take home with us!
We found our way here from the centre of Lima by taking a bus marked with “Gamarra” on the side, and taking a taxi back to the hostel. From Miraflores it is a around a 10-15 minute ride in a taxi, and you should not pay more than 12 soles for the trip each way. Do not stay here after dark!
As a bonus to things to do in Miraflores, we also were able to fit in some extra activities within central Lima. The 2 best ones that we did included the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace, and visiting the catacombs at the Church of San Francisco:
Changing of the Guard (Presidential Palace)
The changing of the guard happens once a day at the Presidential Palace which sits on one side of the Plaza de Armas in central Lima. If you take the original free walking tour you will be taken here by your guide to watch the mini-show!
Think of it as a smaller version of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, with all of the same flare with music playing and swords out. On the day that we watched the orchestra even put on a little Simon and Garfunkel, which was weird but a nice twist to the occasion.
Catacombs at the Church of San Francisco
If you go and visit the Church of San Francisco around the corner from the Plaza de Armas, you can pay to enter and have a tour of the catacombs located underneath. With the cost only being 10 soles, it really is a bargain as you wind your way through the church itself and follow this with a guided tour of the catacombs.
This was the original church that you could be buried under in Lima and thus there are thousands of human remains underneath. You truly do get to see just about everything whilst you are underground, with the only disappointing aspect being that you are not allowed to take photos. These catacombs in our opinion are only rivaled by those in Paris, France which is a high accolade to give given the size of those in Paris.
So there you go – some suggestions for things to do and see in Miraflores, and some bonus ones for the centre of Lima. We hope you have enough time to do it all, and that you have a great time in Lima.