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Lima is a vibrant Latin American capital city with great food, culture, and plenty to do, but there are a few things you need to know before you go! For example, did you know that it could actually be summer or winter depending on when you go? Or that locals don’t actually drink Pisco Sour? Here are the top 10 things you need to know about Lima before you visit.

The food in Lima is amazing

There’s no denying that Peruvian cuisine is making a name worldwide and there are some amazing spots to try. Dinner at the world famous Astrid & Gastón is something to add to your bucket list. But for something a bit more low key check out Isolina and Canta Ranita. Or if you want to learn how to make the food, take a Peruvian cooking class. Overall Lima is the ultimate foodie destination.


Lima is safe

For a Latin American capital city, Lima is extremely safe. Especially because as a visitor you are probably staying in Miraflores, San Isidro, or Barranco which are extremely safe neighborhoods even in the middle of the night. I constantly walked home from the bars in Barranco without ever feeling in danger. The historic center is totally fine during the day but is a place to be careful at night. But like any big city, always pay attention to your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.


Locals don’t drink Pisco Sours

For the most part, you aren’t going to find locals sipping on Pisco Sours all day as this has become a touristy drink. Instead, order a Chilcano which is normally pisco with ginger ale and lime and you’ll fit right in with the locals (but you should try a few Pisco Sours while in Lima because they are delicious). Visit Bar Piselli, which is over 100 years old for a classic Chilcano cocktail.


Get a Visa Credit/Debit Card

Most places in Lima accept credit or debit cards but 90% of the time it’s VISA ONLY. If you only have MasterCard or American Express, I recommend getting a Visa affiliated card so that you don’t run into trouble. It also goes for most of Peru that Visa is the card of choice. For traveling, I use a Capital One Visa Credit Card and a Capital One Debit MasterCard so that I always have both options covered. I also like that the debit card from them doesn’t charge ATM fees and refunds any fees that I get charged.


The currency is Soles

The official currency in Peru is called Soles and normally $1 = S/. 3.27 Soles. I normally just divide the amount of Soles by 3 to get a quick estimate of what I’m spending. So if something costs 30 Soles, it’s a little less than $10.


Lima in the Summer vs Winter

Lima basically has opposite seasons from the U.S. When it’s cold in the U.S. it’s warm in Lima. When it’s warm in Lima it’s cold in the U.S.

Summer in Lima is bliss. The sun shines every day, the beaches are crowded with sunbathers, and the ceviche and cerveza is flowing. My first trip to Lima was during their summer months (December – April) and I loved it.

Then I decided to visit Lima in the winter months (May – November) and I was not prepared. Lima has the nickname Lima La Gris and after visiting in the winter I understood why. I didn’t see the sun for almost a month. In the winter the average temperature is 55 ℉ (13 ℃) which isn’t that bad but If you don’t bring a really warm jacket you’re going to freeze. Luckily the climate in Peru is extremely diverse and you can be in the hot desert in about 5 hours. 

If you’re visiting Peru in Lima’s winter months, I recommend just doing 2-3 days in Lima and spending more time in other places. If you’ll be here in the summer, spend more time in Lima because it’s actually cold and rainy in Cusco. 


Don’t drink the water in Peru

I hate to pay for water and waste plastic bottles so I try to drink tap water whenever I can. However, drinking the water in Lima and the rest of Peru isn’t recommended. Most restaurants and households use a water filter which is fine to drink but just be sure not to drink unfiltered water from the tap. Or if you want to be extra safe stick with bottled water. 


Stay in Barranco

Most people stay in Miraflores when they visit Lima and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is safe, modern, and you have plenty of things to do. I stayed in Miraflores during my first visit to Lima and enjoyed it, but like many people, after I visited Barranco I wish I had stayed there instead. 

Barranco is touted as the bohemian area of the city and you’ll find charming streets filled with colorful murals, trendy cafes, art galleries, and historic mansions that are now home to cocktail bars and restaurants. What I love about it is that it’s not quite on the tourist radar yet so you’ll be among Lima’s local trendsetters. You also have access to the beach to enjoy during the summer months. 

If you’re looking to stay in a fashionable boutique hotel, Villa Barranco and Hotel B are the places to be. Or if you want something more budget-friendly then Casa Nuestra is a great option! Also be sure to check out Airbnb for amazing apartments and local hosts to stay with. 


Uber works in Lima 

Yes, Uber works in Lima and it’s a great way to get around and not get ripped off by one of the taxi drivers. If you have phone service you can get it right from the airport when you land. It’s also very affordable and you can expect to pay $4 to most places within the city. 


Download Moovit for public transit

If you’re more adventurous and want to try using the public transit in Lima, Moovit is the only app that seems to be able to make a complicated bus system make sense. It integrates all of the city buses as well as the super-efficient Metropolitano system. The inner city buses cost 1 Sole paid in cash and the Metropolitano costs 2.50 soles paid with a refillable card. 

*Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español

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I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 7+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!

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