Old town in Lima, also referred to as the Historical Center, is probably most known for its colorful colonial buildings with their fascinating balconies, but there is certainly much more to see than just the architecture. To make the most of your time in the downtown area and we would suggest starting out at the Plaza Mayor or the Main Square and then exploring out from there. There are palaces, the cathedral, official buildings, and other churches in the area, each uniquely beautiful. It is very walkable and you will also find stores carrying tourist items as well as restaurants in the area. We stayed in the Miraflores district, which is by the beach, but it was only a short taxi ride to the Historical Center.
The architecture is certainly the highlight of the Historical Center and the buildings are either colorful or covered with intricate details. There are several palaces including Government Palace, the Archbishop Palace, and the Justice Palace. Obviously there is the Cathedral Basilica of Lima, but there is also the Church and Convent of San Francisco as well as San Pedro Church. There is also the Palacio Municipal or Town Hall located downtown as well. Even with all of these buildings and monuments, your eyes will be naturally drawn to the intricately carved balconies that are on every street in the Historical Center.
Being the heart of Lima, you can certainly expect to find plenty of crowds walking the streets with you. There are vendors selling food and drinks as well as shops to buy items made by the local people of Peru. Occasionally you will see indigenous people dressed in their authentic clothing with items to sell as well. As with many cities, you will also find an abundance of pigeons making the city center their home as well. During our time in Lima, there were guards and police plainly visible, which did provide an extra sense of security as there can be protests on a semi-regular basis. We’d recommend that you register your trip with the local embassy so that you receive notifications of any travel alerts in the region.
Lima is certainly an interesting city and should not just be a landing place on your way to Machu Picchu or other destinations within the country. With wonderful beaches and a vibrant food scene, there is much to do within Lima, but visiting the Historical Center should definitely be at the top of your itinerary. The architecture, culture, and history make it one of the most interesting old town areas in South America.