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Written by Kieran Proctor

Where To Stay In Lima: Accommodation Options & Neighborhoods

In this locals guide to the different neighborhoods and accommodation options in Lima, I’m going to dispel some of the ...

In this locals guide to the different neighborhoods and accommodation options in Lima, I’m going to dispel some of the myths regarding this huge and diverse city. And I’ll be aiming to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes, that I see so many travelers make when booking their accommodation here in Lima.

This guide is a long one. And it’s necessarily long. Contrary to what you may have previously read about Lima, there’s more than three neighborhoods. And as you’ll see in my own list of the best neighborhoods for tourists, each district within Lima has its own unique tourist attractions, positives, negatives, vibe and charm!

Where To Stay In Lima Peru

If you’re planning your first trip to Lima Peru and you’re doing research, you’ve no doubt heard about Miraflores and Barranco. Virtually every article on the internet is going to focus on those two suburbs. But what if I told you, as a local, neither Miraflores nor Barranco would be my first choice!

Miraflores and Barranco have the highest density of hotels, Airbnb accommodations and backpacker hostels. That’s why everyone pumps up those two neighborhoods. It’s simply easier to go with the flow than it is to swim against a veritable tide of articles, that are all listing those two neighborhoods as the top spots to stay.

20 Years ago when I first visited Lima, the ratio of regular tourists to backpackers was not what it is today. There were far more backpackers visiting Lima than conventional tourists. And all the backpacker spots were in Miraflores and Barranco. So, guess which suburbs they all wrote about? And then it snowballed and everyone else just followed suit.

Now, I don’t want to have you thinking that you shouldn’t stay in Miraflores, Barranco or even San Isidro. All three of these common tourist spots do make it onto my own list. They have the infrastructure to accommodate large numbers of foreign tourists.

Yet, what they don’t have, is the history, culture and local flavor of Peru. Wandering around in Miraflores, is like walking around in a smaller and more chaotic version of Miami. With the major difference being the horrible traffic and a lot of car horns blaring at all hours of the day and night.

I cringe every time I see another blog article or Youtube video, appear online. They’re always trying to be unique, while focusing exclusively on Miraflores or Barranco.

And I’ll tell you now, that damn lighthouse in Miraflores (Faro de la Marina) is not a ‘tourist attraction’. The lighthouse was only built in 1972. And Larcomar, well, it’s actually just a shopping mall. Albeit Larcomar is a shopping mall, with a better than average ocean view.

What about the malecon, you might well be thinking? Well, it’s not really a malecon like you’ll find in Havana or even Montevideo. It’s just a bike path along a hill top, that’s nice in summer on sunset.

Where to Stay in Lima Accommodation in Peru
Lima from above the ocean in front of the Larcomar shopping mall, in Miraflores.

Where Would I Stay In Lima?

Well, I actually bought my own place in Pueblo Libre and it’s where I live. So, that should tell you a lot. Pueblo Libre is a tiny district that measures no more than 4.38km² (1.69 sq mi). Yet, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in atmosphere and real tourist attractions.

Pueblo Libre is the second most historically significant neighborhood in Lima. In Pueblo Libre, you’ll find multiple museums, archeological sites, historical restaurants, colonial houses and of course, the cervecerias.

Just a small selection of ‘tourist attractions’ in Pueblo Libre, that are all much older than the Miraflores lighthouse, include:

  • Larco Museum
  • National Museum of the Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru
  • Zona Arqueologica Monumental Mateo Salado (huge archeological complex)
  • Quinta de los Libertadores (Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin lived here)
  • Santa María Magdalena (Franciscan church built in 1557)
  • Cruz del Viajero – The ‘Cross of the Traveler’ (Placed by Francisco Pizarro)
  • Antigua Taberna Queirolo (The oldest bar in Lima)
  • Santiago Queirolo (making Pisco since 1877)
  • Boulevard del Criollismo

Now, I could go on and on. I could continue to list more and more tourist attractions in Pueblo Libre, and I will in another article. Because Pueblo Libre has so many things for tourists visiting Lima to see and do, that it deserves it’s own article. As do the neighboring districts of Jesus Maria and Magdalena del Mar, which are only a short walk from Pueblo Libre.

Yet, for the purposes of this article it’s simply enough for me to say, Pueblo Libre is my number one recommendation for first time travelers visiting Lima. I would always choose to stay in Pueblo Libre and it’s surrounds, over Miraflores or Barranco.

Travel Tip: If you want to see what some of the neighborhoods in Lima look like before visiting, check out my YouTube channel. I’m filming the various neighborhoods from both the air with a drone and from street level with my GoPro. And it’s all in 4K.

Where to stay in Lima Peru? Pueblo Libre!
Plaza Bolivar in Pueblo Libre

Things To Consider When Booking Accommodation In Lima

No matter whether you book a hotel, backpacker hostel or an Airbnb, there’s a few things you should always consider when reserving accommodation in Lima Peru. And they are:

  • Location
  • Safety
  • Hidden costs

Lima is a huge, sprawling city. Yet, it hasn’t completed it’s metro mass transit system. And while getting from one place to another is easy with InDrive or Uber, it is time consuming. Particularly during the morning and evening rush hours, when the traffic is gridlocked.

Between the hours of 7am and 10am in the morning, plus 4pm and 7pm in the evening, getting around in Lima can be a hassle. You will get stuck in traffic jams. But, of more importance when choosing to reserve accommodation in Lima, you should avoid booking anything that’s on or near a main road.

Double grazing is almost non-existent in Peru. And any building that has natural gas is required to have vents that can’t be closed off. You can’t block out the sounds of traffic, if you’re staying on a main thoroughfare.

Plus, if you are on a main avenue, expect to hear car horns blaring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And this is because the unofficial taxis and buses run along the main avenues. And they will beep at anyone and everyone that they see on the street. So, avoid anything that’s on a busy street if you value your sleep and sanity!

Your next major consideration when booking accommodation in Lima, should be safety. Personally, another gripe I have with both Miraflores and Lince, where a lot of Airbnb’s are located, is the crime. Now, the crime in areas more often frequented by tourists, isn’t anywhere near the same level as it is in cities like Bogotá.

Lima is a safer city. You’re far less likely to be a victim of armed robbery in Lima than you are in Bogotá. But in Lima you will be more frequently accosted by individuals looking to sell drugs, pimp women, scam you or steal from you.

The individuals who are looking to engage in these types of activities typically concentrate themselves where there are the largest numbers of tourists, such as Miraflores. Don’t fret over them, but do be aware that they’re lurking around and always keep an eye on your personal belongings.

The final thing you should consider when booking accommodation in Lima is the hidden costs associated with more touristic areas. In places with a more affluent transient population, like tourists, you will pay 30-50% more for everything.

Now, I don’t mean to say that you’ll only pay more for just your accommodation, no. But instead, you will pay more for your accommodation, food, water, groceries, drinks and everything and anything, you spend money on each day. Everything you pay for will be 30-50% more expensive in locations like Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro.

Safety Tip: When exploring Lima or going for a night out, leave your passport and bank cards locked away in your accommodation. Have a photo of your passport on your phone. And use a Wise Digital Debit Card with ‘tap and go’ payments to avoid having your card stolen, scanned or cloned.

Areas To Avoid When Booking Accommodation In Lima

I’m going to keep this short, but don’t be silly and book accommodation in Callao, San Juan de Miraflores or any of the other ‘San’s’ other than San Borja, Villa el Salvador or any of the other ‘villas’. Just don’t.

These locations, no matter how cheap you might be able to get accommodation, are so far away from anything that you’ll want to see, that you’ll spend your entire vacation stuck in traffic. Plus, some of these areas are riddled with crime.

Note: San Borja is a lovely upper middle class suburb. And so is La Molina. Both are very safe and nice neighborhoods to visit. So, if you get a really good accommodation deal in San Borja or La Molina, go for it.

The 7 Best Neighbourhoods In Lima For Tourists

Without any further ado, below is my list of what I consider to be the best neighborhoods for tourists visiting Lima to book accommodation and short or long stays. Each suburb has its own unique advantages, disadvantages, lifestyle and vibe. And each neighborhood has a different set of accommodation options.

In creating this list of neighborhoods that I recommend, as a local expat living in Lima, I’ve taken into consideration the level of safety, hidden costs and how well each location can cater to tourists. And I’ve ranked the suburbs in the order that I believe they’re worth considering:

  1. Pueblo Libre
  2. Jesus Maria
  3. Magdalena Del Mar
  4. Barranco
  5. Miraflores
  6. San Isidro
  7. Centro Historico

Pueblo Libre – History, Culture, Cuisine & Cocktails!

For those first time visitors to Peru, who want to experience the history and culture of the Peruvian capital, Pueblo Libre is the ideal spot to stay. Pueblo Libre is where I recommend anyone interested in Peru’s history or culture, consider booking their accommodation.

On a short trip, you’re unlikely to run out of things to see and do in Pueblo Libre itself. Yet, it’s also conveniently located only a short 15 minute Uber ride in either direction from the historic center of Lima, or Miraflores. Plus, it’s an easy 15-20 minute walk to Jesus Maria, San Isidro and Magdalena del Mar.

No matter where you end up staying in Lima, be sure to visit the Larco Museum with it’s more than ten thousand years of pre-columbian history on display. Particularly, if you’re planning on later visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu. As the archeological finds from Machu Picchu are in the Larco Museum, in Pueblo Libre.

Then, once you’ve visited the Larco Museum, visit both the NMAAHP (National Museum of the Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru) and the Quinta de los Libertadores, which are both situated right on the iconic Plaza Bolivar, also in Pueblo Libre.

The NMAAHP was the first museum in Peru. It’s the oldest and most representative of Peru. It was the museum that Peru had in the first hundred years of it’s Republic and its importance lies in the valuable cultural heritage that it guards in its deposits and repositories, which houses approximately 300,000 pieces.

Nextdoor to the NMAAHP is the Quinta de los Libertadores, also called the Magdalena Palace. Its where the penultimate viceroy of Peru lived. It was taken over by both Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín. And it later served as the seat of government for Peru, during the War of the Pacific.

For those of you who are both history lovers and foodies, or craft beer and wine connoisseurs, visit Antigua Taberna Queirolo the oldest bar in Lima, that was established in 1880. And visit Santiago Queirolo (1887) next door to see how Pisco is made and to pick up the ultimate Peruvian souvenir, a boutique bottle of Pisco.

If you’re visiting Pueblo Libre on a weekend, wander into the Boulevard del Criollismo, just off Plaza Bolivar, and watch the criollos practicing their craft, before competing for local and international fame.

Or, if criol music isn’t your thing, head to the other end of the plaza and visit the Bolívar convention center, where every weekend the locals party the night away to swinging Salsa music.

On your way home as the sun rises, stop past either Santa María Magdalena (1557) which is the oldest rural church in Lima. Or the Cruz del Viajero, that was placed by Francisco Pizarro and prayed to by both Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín. Where in either location you can ask for forgiveness, after a night of debauchery and drinking far too many craft beers and boutique piscos.

Local Tip: There’s also a number of ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ cocktail bars in Pueblo Libre. Such as La Chacalea. Which is a 2 minute walk from Plaza Bolivar.

Plaza Bolivar in Pueblo Libre, Lima Peru

Where To Stay In Pueblo Libre

This is where it gets a little bit more difficult. Because Pueblo Libre is such a small and historic district, it has fewer accommodation options than most other places in Lima. Pueblo Libre has strict height and building requirements, so a lot of Pueblo Libre is still colonial era houses and art deco complexes. Which adds to its charm and appeal for tourists.

You won’t find any large chain hotels or backpacker hostels in Pueblo Libre. And like I said at the beginning of this article, that’s why everyone recommends Miraflores and Barranco.

Yet, what Pueblo Libre does have is small boutique hotels and private apartments at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in Miraflores or Barranco. But because I own my own apartment in Pueblo Libre and I haven’t stayed in any of these rentals myself, I can’t make a specific recommendation here.

What I would suggest is using the widget below and checking out all the available accommodation options for your prefered dates. And checking on the map it provides, to also look at neighboring Jesus Maria and Magdalena del Mar, which are only a short walk away.

Jesus Maria – Coffee, Cakes & Tranquility

Jesus Maria borders both Pueblo Libre and San Isidro. It’s like a more tranquil version of San Isidro. Basically, it’s San Isidro without all the traffic. It’s a leafy green suburb filled with parks and colonial houses, but also large modern apartment buildings.

In Jesus Maria you’ll find a large selection of restaurants and a better shopping mall than Larcomar. But, for me it’s the relaxed vibe, large number of cafes and bakeries, and the neighborhoods central location with easy access to both Pueblo Libre and the Historic Center that makes Jesus Maria a top choice for tourists visiting Lima.

Jesus Maria is a very safe district for tourists. And it has a sizeable Japanese and Korean population. It’s where you’ll find some of the best universities and healthcare options in Lima. And with all the university students in the area, it probably explains why the best cafes are to be found in Jesus Maria.

Local Tip: Check out the Gothic style cathedral called Parroquia San Jose. And watch the old men play chess, late into the night, in San Jose Park across the street!

Jesus Maria in Lima Peru.

Where To Stay In Jesus Maria

I’ve stayed in numerous private apartments in the southern part of Jesus Maria. In the area around San Felipe avenue and the Real Plaza Salaverry shopping mall. And I highly recommend this area for tourists visiting Lima.

For the backpackers looking to keep their costs down, there are two primary options in Jesus Maria. There is the Quinoa Backpackers Hostel and the Samanai Wasi Hostel.

Magdalena Del Mar – A Taste Of Peru By The Sea!

Magdalena del Mar is not only where you’ll find the tallest church in Lima. It’s also where you’ll find some of the best local cevicherias and street food vendors. If you’re a lover of street food and you’re looking for a convenient location to stay, you should definitely consider staying in Magdalena del Mar.

Magdalena del Mar sits between Pueblo Libre and the ocean. It’s got easy access to both Pueblo Libre and up into the Historic Center. And also south to Miraflores and Barranco for a night out, via Costa Verde. Yet, you can also go north via Costa Verde and up to La Punta for a day trip or if you simply have a hankering for some amazing Italian food.

When staying in Magdalena del Mar, be sure to visit Plaza Tupac Amaru and stroll along the walking street that is a block back from the plaza, called Jirón José Gálvez.

The tallest church in Lima – Magdalena

Where To Stay In Magdalena Del Mar

When it comes to accommodation in Magdalena del Mar, you have plenty of apartment rentals to choose from and most of them have rooftop pools with ocean views. Yet, if you’re looking for a hotel stay in Magdalena del Mar, you can’t go past the Surya Lima.

Barranco – Art & Tranquility

As far as the main tourist traps go, Barranco is by far my favorite. I would always choose to stay in Barranco if given the choice between Barranco and Miraflores or San Isidro. There’s just something about Barranco’s more laid back vibe that resonates with me.

Barranco is often referred to as the ‘bohemian’ district. And while I’m yet to see anything or anyone I’d actually label as ‘bohemian’ in Barranco, it does have quite a lot of fantastic galleries, restaurants and architecture. And Barranco is one spot in Lima that I’d advise all tourists to visit while in town.

Now, quite a lot of Barranco is actually modern high rise apartment buildings. Yet, the more colonial zone is in the southern quarter, and that’s the part of Barranco you really need to visit.

Start around the Federico Villarreal Park and meander south across the ‘bridge of sighs’. And no, ‘sigh’, I’m not going to repeat the same old ‘hold your breath’ when crossing the bridge rumor, that’s on every other travel blog.

Just walk across the bridge without holding your breath. And then go and explore the little cobblestone alleyways. Visit the galleries, museums and restaurants. Stop for a coffee and just relax in this neighborhood.

Where To Stay In Barranco

Just kick a can in Barranco and you’ll hit a boutique apartment rental, hotel or backpacker hostel. There’s an absolute overflow of accommodation options. Just avoid anything in Barranco that is on one of the main thoroughfares. Barranco is beautiful in all directions, once you’re a block back from the main roads.

Starting with the hostels, because Barranco is a perennial favorite among backpackers, you have Kokopelli and Ancestral. But my preference would always be Kokopelli because it’s one of the best backpacker hostels in Lima and it’s a fun spot to hangout at night.

Next up, we have the hotels. Barranco is awash with boutique hotel offerings. And Casa Republica Barranco is my prefered choice. It’s in a renovated colonial mansion, on a quiet leafy street, and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the main tourist zone in Barranco.

As for apartment rentals in Barranco, there is literally thousands to choose from. With the bulk of them located in the northern half of Barranco. Set your dates in the widget below and use the map function to screen out apartments that are on or near a main road.

Local Tip: Don’t rent any accommodation that is on Avenue Almte. Miguel Grau in Barranco. The traffic noise at peak hours will drive you absolutely bonkers. And in the early hours of the morning (2am-4am), the police will often setup roadside checkpoints on the street and start using megaphones.

Miraflores – Fine Dining, Cocktails & Luxury

Miraflores is the most touristic and commercial of all the neighborhoods on this list. Basically, Miraflores is set up as a kind of miniature tourist town within Lima. With the exception of the Huaca Pucllana archeological site, you won’t find a lot of history and culture in Miraflores.

What you will find in Miraflores, is some of the best restaurants and cocktail bars in the city. Plus the Larcomar shopping mall. And if fine dining, cocktails and shopping is your primary aim in Lima, then Miraflores is for you.

Local Tip: Far too often I see large groups of backpackers wandering out late to look for food, only for them to end up at Mcdonalds. If you’re looking for something to eat late at night, visit Siete Sopas which is open 24 hours a day. It’s an institution in Lima and has 3 locations, one of which is in Miraflores. And pro tip, try the Shambar (from Trujillo) which is only available on Mondays.

La Rosa Nautica in Miraflores Lima
La Rosa Nautica in Miraflores

Where To Stay In Miraflores

Miraflores has the largest selection of chain hotels in Lima. In Miraflores, you’ll find everything from a Hilton, to a Mercure and Marriott. But my recommendation to you, would be to aim for a more boutique stay. In Miraflores, you’re already going to get fleeced for every dollar you have. So why not go for something a little more luxurious?

For a unique and memorable stay in Miraflores, you can’t go past The Pullman or the Iberostar Selection. Both hotels provide absolute luxury and have rooms with stunning ocean views. Both have absolutely amazing cocktail bars and rooftop pools. I’ve stayed in both and I loved them. Though I have a loyalty card and get discounts with Iberostar, so it’s my own go to hotel.

Now, for the backpacker hostels, you have many to choose from in Miraflores. My own favorite hostel is The Point. And I’ve been staying in Point Hostels all over Peru, for the better part of 2 decades. The Point Hostel will always be my recommendation for the budget hostel crowd.

Black Lama is a newcomer to the Hostel scene in Lima. And I’m not a fan. The Black Lama has a great location in Calle Berlin, but it tries to be both a hostel and kind of nightclub on weekends. And in doing so, its mediocre at both.

Local Tip: For the 18 year olds traveling to Lima for the first time, you need to know that the pablo escobar mustaches aren’t a good look. Don’t grow one for your trip to Peru, you’ll look out of place here.

Miraflores in Lima Peru
Miraflores and Larcomar shopping mall in Lima Peru

San Isidro – Business, Banking, City Lights & Golf

San Isidro has everything you’ll find in Miraflores and more. The absolute best cocktail bar in Lima, currently rated at number 43 in the world, is Carnaval in San Isidro. Which should be no surprise, as San Isidro is the business heart of Lima.

In San Isidro you’ll find most of Lima’s main corporate offices, convention centers, foreign diplomatic missions and it’s main golf course. Yet, you’ll also find archeological sites like Huaca Huallamarca and centuries old olive groves in Bosque El Olivar. Plus, San Isidro boasts dozens of small bespoke art galleries and museums.

If you’re looking for a stay that’s in an area with a slightly older and more refined crowd, San Isidro is definitely a neighborhood to consider. You’ll have all of the cities fine dining and drinking options at your fingertips, after a round or two of golf on Lima’s premier golf course.

San Isidro - Where to stay in Lima Peru?
San Isidro in Lima Peru

Where To Stay In San Isidro

Just like Miraflores, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to large chain hotels. In San Isidro you will find the typical Ibis, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Novotel and Wyndham, along with all the other big names.

But my recommendation would be to stay in either The Westin, for it’s stunning panoramic city views. Or the Hotel Melia, for it’s ‘Level’ inclusions. The ‘Level’ by Melia has exclusive access to everything including food and an open bar, included in the price.

Now, due to the more upscale and business oriented nature of San Isidro, there are no major backpacker hostels in the area. Yet, there is hundreds of luxury private apartment rentals, if you want something other than a hotel for a longer stay.

Remember to avoid main roads when booking accommodation in Lima!

Centro Historico – History At Its Peak (but not much else)!

Centro Historico is the most important area for tourists to visit while in Lima. But it’s at the bottom of my own list of places to stay, because it’s far from a liveable area. Yet, if you have less than two full days in Lima, it’s worth considering a stay that’s closer to these important historical sites.

In the historic center of Lima you’ll find the city’s main plaza, the Plaza Mayor, bordered by historic palaces. It’s beautiful by both day and night.

You’ll also find centuries old churches, from both the Franciscan and Jesuit orders. Under these churches is where you’ll find the cities catacombs. Yes, Lima too, has catacombs. And the ‘Basílica and Convent of San Francisco’ should be on your list of places to visit.

Once you get sick of visiting the literally dozens of historic churches, palaces, centuries old houses and museums covering the history of everything from literature to transport, a stop at the Pisco Museum is worth a try. The Museo del Pisco covers the history of Peru’s national drink in both an informative and tasty way.

Where To Stay In The Historic Center Of Lima

In the Historic Center of Lima, you really only have two options when it comes to accommodation. They are The Sheraton and the Hotel Diamond. With the Sheraton being my prefered choice.

There are other options for more bespoke accommodation and private apartments. But these will be in older style buildings that are frequently lacking elevators. And if you don’t mind dragging your suitcase up 3-5 flights of stairs, then they are worth considering. Just use the widget below to see what they look like.

Local Tip: My strong recommendation to you, is unless you’re squeezed for time, to go back up this list and pick a different neighborhood to book accommodation. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

Conclusions

Whenever I tell someone I live in Lima Peru, it’s like they immediately picture something out of an old Clint Eastwood movie. Hopefully, by providing this detailed guide on accommodation options and where to stay in Lima, I’ve shown you some of the diversity present in this huge city!

Yet, moreover, I hope I’ve dispelled some of the common myths and was able to dissuade you from making some of the common mistakes, that I see so many travelers make when booking their Peruvian holiday. At the very least, I hope I won’t see you standing around in Miraflores, taking pictures of the shopping mall or the lighthouse.

Safe travels!