There’s more to Peru than tourist traps and ancient ruins. Explore the hidden gems of a vibrant and living Lima, Peru with tips and secrets from these pro travel photographers.
As Peru’s largest city, Lima offers a wealth of experiences for all the senses, from the historic colonial architecture to the world-famous foods and the cool sea breeze. Once overlooked as a stop on the way to Machu Picchu, Lima has proved itself time and again as the destination of a lifetime.
As any photographer who’s been here will tell you, this city is a paradise of color and flavor, whether you find yourself taking in a concert at a club in Barranco or dining in one of the restaurants of Miraflores.
We asked a more than fifteen travel and lifestyle photographers from around the world to tell us where in Lima they’ve made some of their best pictures. Use this as your own personal travel guide, and feel free to think outside the box. You’ll find there is a bit of overlap in these locations; some are larger swaths of land, while others are specific landmarks within those areas.
We encourage you to see both the famous points of interest and the general, encompassing regions that surround them. You never know what you might find when you explore! As the photographer Paolo Costa advises, “Take the time to ride for miles and miles as you seek magical locations to shoot.”
1. The Historic Centre of Lima
Image by Milton Rodriguez. Gear: Canon 5D Mark II camera, Canon 16-35 f / 2.8 lens. Settings: Focal length 19mm; exposure 4.0 sec; f22; ISO 800.
Lima is a city with a lot of history and cultural traditions. I like to go into the center of the city and walk through its streets to admire the colonial architecture. One of the buildings is the Lima Cathedral. I made this photo very late, past midnight, expecting there would be fewer people walking around.
Since I was looking to compose a photo that incorporated the lights from the parked cars and the lanterns in the square, I used a long exposure to capture the light trails from the cars in motion. I think this effect gives a touch of modernity to a scene that dates back to the colonial era.
Image by Jose Napuri (Peruphotart). Gear: Nikon d7000 camera, Nikon 18-105mm lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f3.8; ISO 400.
Juan Jose Napuri (Peruphotart):
Lately, one of the places I’ve liked the most has been a bar hidden in the historic center of Lima, from which you have a breathtaking view of the main square of Lima. Here, you can also try some incredible drinks, like the one I captured here: the flagship drink of Peru, the pisco sour.
Image by mehdi33300. Gear: Sony RX100 III camera. HDR photo from 5 different exposure brackets, -4 -2 0 +2 and +4 EV.
Mehdi Galiere (mehdi33300):
The Plaza de Armas, the center of Colonial Lima, was the most photogenic place I could find. In the sunshine, the colorful buildings from different time periods made a beautiful whole.
2. Basílica y Convento de San Francisco
Image by Jersson Tello. Gear: Canon EOS 7D camera, Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. Settings: Focal length 10mm; exposure 2.5 sec; f8; ISO 100.
The most photogenic place in Lima that I have photographed is the center of the city. That’s where the history and customs of my country are centered. The colors, the food, the people, and the architecture are varied and very special. This is the Basílica y Convento de San Francisco, situated a block from The Plaza de Armas.
3. Cerro San Cristóbal
Image by Oliver Foerstner. Gear: Canon EOS 6D camera, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 5.0 sec; f11; ISO 100.
For me, the most unique spot to take photos is Cerro San Cristóbal, a hill close to the city center with a lookout. From the top of the hill, you have a great view over Lima and you really get an idea of how far the city stretches out. To get there, you can catch a bus tour from Plaza de Armas. To get the best photos, I timed the bus tour so that I would be there during sunset. I didn’t have a tripod with me during the trip, so I just found a rock, where I put my camera for some long exposure shots.
Image by EdithFotografeert. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, 24-70mm lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 1/500 sec; f11; ISO 125.
What I loved the most about Lima were the colorful houses everywhere you looked. I think these colors made everybody just a bit happier. This photo is from Cerro San Cristóbal, a beautiful sight.
4. Huaca Pucllana
Image by saiko3p. Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, Canon EF 17-40 4.0L lens. Settings: Focal length 19mm; exposure 1/40 sec; f8; ISO 100.
The most interesting place that I saw and photographed in Lima is the Huaca Pucllana. This is an archaeological complex whose main object is a huge clay pyramid, dating back to 200 AD. It was built from clay by a local coastal civilization that existed even before the Inca era, right in the desert. It’s an amazing place with interesting energy.
Image by lulu and isabelle. Gear: Canon EOS 750D camera, 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. Settings: Focal length 35mm; exposure 1/200 sec; f8; ISO 200.
Oanh Tran (lulu and isabelle):
During my short time in Lima, I got to visit and was very impressed by Huaca Pucllana, a great adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores district of central Lima. It was built by the pre-Inca civilization who occupied the region from 200 to 700 AD. One of the reasons that this clay structure has stayed here for thousands of years without melting into a mushy mess is the extremely low rainfall in Lima. It almost never rains here!
5. El Malecon
Image by Javier Pierini. Gear: Canon 5D Mark II camera, Canon 70-200mm F/2.8L IS lens. Settings: Focal length 70mm; exposure 1/400 sec; f3.2; ISO 160.
The Lima coast facing the Pacific Ocean is always magical. The sea is dark blue, and the waves seem to move in a choreographed rhythm. The weather is moody, clear, and a bit mysterious, as, for most of the year, a light fog embraces the city. The combination of the dark blue of the ocean and the light and clear fog causes the horizon to be lost in the distance. Every day, you can see surfers catching the big waves along the craggy coast of Miraflores and El Malecon.
Image by Juan Jose Napuri (Peruphotart). Gear: Nikon d7000 camera, Nikon 18–105mm lens. Settings: Focal length 105mm; exposure 1/3200 sec; f5.6; ISO 320.
Juan Jose Napuri (Peruphotart):
The Malecon or cliff that surrounds all of Lima is one of my favorite places. Here, you can enjoy the view and see beautiful sunsets during the summer.
Image by DFLC Prints. Gear: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7 camera. Settings: Focal length 33mm; exposure 1/500 sec; f8; ISO 800.
Daniel Ferreira-Leites Ciccarino (DFLC Prints):
Lima is a very interesting city with lots to see and do. One of the places I loved was the Malecon, a beautiful outdoor walk with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean to the West and elegant waterfront neighborhoods like Miraflores and Barranco to the East.
Image by Ijfke Ridgley. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, Sigma 35mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/2000 sec; f4; ISO 400.
I would say the most photogenic places in Lima are the neighborhood of Barranco and the cliffs overlooking the ocean at sunset. Barranco is a hip area with cute bars and restaurants, cobblestone streets, and colorful colonial buildings. While the rest of Lima can be congested with traffic, Barranco is pleasant to walk around in, and the views of the water add to the peaceful atmosphere.
The presence of the ocean sets this capital apart from others, and the influence of surf culture reminds me of my hometown of Honolulu. The cliffs overlooking the Pacific on the western half of the city make for a great late-afternoon stroll, especially between the neighborhoods of Barranco and Miraflores.
Image by Samson K. Hatae. Gear: Sony A7 camera, 35mm f2.8 Sonnar Zeiss lens. Settings: Exposure 1/1000 sec; f4; ISO 200.
Samson K. Hatae:
One of my favorite locations in Lima would be the Miraflores neighborhood, which is right along the coastline. On a nice sunny day, you can see many people out and about, from paragliding to surfing. On this particular day, it was cloudy and gave the pier an ominous feeling of sitting at the end of the world.
Image by Marentze. Gear: Nikon d7100 camera, 85mm 1.8G lens. Settings: Exposure 1/640 sec; f8; ISO 200.
A bit of background on this photo: I was hired to shoot portraits on top of a hospital in Miraflores in Lima. For the first time in my life, I was photographing on an emergency landing helipad. It was huge. Most people don’t get a chance to see Lima from this perspective, as everybody is usually so busy on the ground. Remember to always take a look around you, wherever you are.
Image by Marentze. Gear: Huawei Mate 9. Settings: Focal length 27mm; exposure 1/1718 sec; f2.2; ISO 50.
This second photo is also from Miraflores. My wife and I saw this beautiful sunset while out walking. As we passed, I spotted this couple enjoying the view, and I immediately knew it would make for an amazing silhouette. I did not have a camera with me, so I took the photo with my phone. After a bit of enhancing and color correcting, I ended up having this photo. It just goes to show that you don’t need expensive gear to be a good photographer.
Image by Scott Biales. Gear: Sony a6500 camera, Sony 35mm Prime F1.8 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/125 sec; f3.5; ISO 100.
The up-scale Miraflores district of Lima has a park called Parque Central de Miraflores. This park, also known as Parque Kennedy, is home to hundreds of friendly and well-fed abandoned cats. This park provided the unique experience of photographing cats in an outdoor urban environment.
8. Paragliding on the Coast (Miraflores)
Image by Kristian Peetz. Gear: Canon 350D camera. Settings: Unknown.
I was born in Lima, and it is an interesting and vivid city. It’s like a pumping heart composed of more than 9 million inhabitants—very noisy and full of life! In the center of the city, you’ll find a mix of historic buildings and modern architecture. And lots of tasty restaurants! One of my favorite spots in Lima is the district of Miraflores, where you can sit in front of the ocean and enjoy a fantastic ceviche, drinking a pisco sour, watching the sun go down… or, if you’re brave enough, you can go paragliding.
Image by Christian Vinces. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III camera, Canon 17-40 F4L 17mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/250 sec; f8; ISO 100 (Panoramic image stitching).
With almost 10 million inhabitants, Lima is the only capital city in South America with direct access to the Pacific coast. That’s why Miraflores is the ideal place for practicing paragliding, a beautiful spectacle for visitors and locals during most of the year.
Image by Christian Vinces. Gear: Inspire 1 PRO drone, Zenmuse X5 camera, Zuiko 12 F2 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/500 sec; f5.6; ISO 100.
9. La Costa Verde
Image by Paolo Costa. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, Sigma 24-35 f/2 lens. Settings: Focal length 24 mm; exposure 30 sec; f/9, ISO 200.
Lima has a lot to offer tourists and photographers: historic buildings, monuments, museums, street markets, renowned restaurants, and even the largest fountain complex in the world. But the place I liked the most when I visited Lima was the coastal area, with its huge number of beautiful parks and unique views. The city has a particular geography, being located on elevated flat terrain, with miles and miles of cliffs overlooking the Pacific coast.
I rented a bike and rode for almost three miles along the Costa Verde, visiting more than ten parks and enjoying the view of the Pacific Ocean along the way. I loved the view from the Villena Rey Bridge in Miraflores, and I set up my tripod and took a panoramic picture so that I could fit everything in, capturing the contrast between nature (the grass, the flowers, the palms, the sea), and the modern architecture (the bridge, the roads, the buildings).
Image by Paolo Costa. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, Sigma 24-35 f/2 lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 1/200 sec; f/11, ISO 200.
The Peruvian capital is located in the tropics and in a desert, and its proximity to the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean produces very high humidity, generating lots of fog and gray skies throughout the year. When shooting, cloudy skies may give you better illumination and soften the shadows, but they may produce some boring, lifeless pictures.
In order to avoid this, I kept visiting the parks day after day until I got some nice blue skies to go along with the green of the parks’ lawns. I also visited the area at nightfall, when the misty atmosphere produced some incredible colors, and went on shooting until it was completely dark, enjoying the lovely coastal views with the city lights reflecting on the ocean.
Image by Paolo Costa. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, Sigma 24-35 f/2 lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 1 sec; f/4, ISO 1600.
To find the most beautiful and unique places in a large city like Lima, you should hire a car or a bicycle. Don’t just visit the well-known spots. Write down a list of all the most beautiful places you discover and revisit them at night; this will allow for better long-exposure photography, which can be very useful in crowded places.
10. The Surquillo Market
Image by Javier Pierini. Gear: Canon 5D Mark II camera, Canon 50mm Macro 1.4 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/80 sec; f2.5; ISO 100.
The Surquillo market in Lima is the place to find all the ingredients to make world-renowned Peruvian food. Here, you can find an incredible variety of exotic herbs, vegetables and fruits, as well as amazing fish and seafood.
11. Cerro San Francisco
Image by Olivier Steiner (Oliclimb). Gear: Canon EOS 5d Mark II camera, Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS USM lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 1/10 sec; f8; ISO 100.
Olivier Steiner (Oliclimb):
Cerro San Francisco is an unusual place that I loved. It is almost on the east edge of the city, and, from those hills, we can see the Pacific Coast. From those “small Andes,” a real eagle’s nest, you get quite the aerial view of this huge city.
There is no sign and no real trail to get there, but the reward is great: you will understand Lima right away. If you sit at this cross, you might be amazed by the disappearing sun’s light over the ocean or by the dense fog slowly covering Miraflores and San Isidro. Right under your feet, the Casuarinas neighborhood offers a luxury view over swimming pools and green gardens.
But on the left, this wall seems a bit unusual. On the other side, you suddenly realize there is another world. Life there is different here; the daily routine is hard, without piped water or electricity. This is Lima, a wonderful city, full of contrasts and history, that has a lot to offer, even humility.
12. La Piquanteria (Miraflores)
Image by Ijfke Ridgley. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, Sigma 35mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/50 sec; f4; ISO 400.
The most interesting part of Lima is definitely the food, which is the most flavorful and has the most variety of all of South America. I did a self-guided food tour in the city, trying to sample local cuisine at different price points.
The beautiful thing about Lima is that there are examples of cuisine from all over the country—the coast to the Andean highlands to the Amazon—and the best chefs know how to combine these unique ingredients. I especially liked La Piquanteria, a seafood restaurant in Miraflores, that served this whole fried fish at communal tables.
13. Mercado Central
Image by Scott Biales. Gear: Sony a6500 camera, Sony 35mm Prime F1.8 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/60 sec; f2.5; ISO 100.
No matter where I am, I find markets to be the most interesting places to take photographs. Lima’s Central Mercado was no exception—locals and tourists provided an energetic and frenetic shooting environment.
14. El Salto del Fraile (Chorrillos District)
Image by Alberto Seminario. Gear: Canon 50D camera, Sigma 18-125mm lens. Settings: Focal length 18mm; exposure 6 sec; f22; ISO 100.
The city of Lima has many emblematic and beautiful places to visit, and one location that fascinates me is El Salto del Fraile, a restaurant located on Playa La Herradura in the district of Chorrillos. This place has a kind of magical atmosphere, and it’s very nice to relax with the view of the ocean and enjoy the sunset.
15. La Rosa Nautica (Miraflores)
Image by Milton Rodriguez. Gear: Canon Eos 40 D camera, Canon 28-105 lens. Settings: Focal length 28mm; exposure 1/125 sec; f7.1; ISO 200.
La Rosa Nautica is a very traditional Peruvian restaurant, where, in addition to enjoying the famous food, you can take in wonderful views of the sea. The restaurant is within the capital and can be reached in a few minutes. I made this photograph one afternoon, and I like it because you can appreciate the rocks on which it was built. The space is unique and different from any other restaurant in the city.
Top Image by Paolo Costa