You read that title right, Lit in Lima! I drank so much pisco, the national beverage of Peru and Chile with an average 48% alcohol content, so I may or may not have been tipsy the entire trip.
In May of 2019, my two travel companions and I decided we wanted to visit Machu Picchu for the views and history. With little knowledge of Peruvian culture, which I am ashamed to admit, I started reading various blogs to get information such as the best city to fly into, things to do, the average spend per day, etc.
We pretty much knew our dates of travel, and though I typically preach flexibility in times to save money, we got lucky. A Scott’s Cheap Flights deal alerted us of deals to Peru from the east coast (United States) for 500 USD RT via Copa Airlines. My flight had a layover in Panama City, Panama, where I was able to spend a few hours visiting the Panama Canal. Read more on that trip HERE or check my saved Instagram stories (@fitflyflournoy), to see pictures/videos. After 7 hrs in Panama, my journey continued to Lima, Peru. Lima was the best and cheapest city to fly into when compared to other airports in Peru. As Machu Picchu in Cusco is the main draw for tourists to Peru; there were not a lot of blogs that highlighted the fantastic experience that was Lima.
Our flight was with Copa Airlines. It was my first time flying with Copa, and I would fly with them again. My only complaint was the lack of onboard entertainment. Luckily I had my iPad and the first book of The Fire and Ice Series (Hey, GoT fans) to keep me preoccupied, but a lot of other folks were bored out of their mind during our 6-hour journey. We also received two meals, beverages(alcoholic/non-alcoholic), and snacks.
We arrived at 1:04 am and due to this odd check-in time, opted for a hotel versus booking with Airbnb. Booking through Expedia, I reserved our stay at the Courtyard Marriot Lima Peru. I give this hotel five stars and recommend that anyone staying in Lima stay here. The hotel, located in the Miraflores area of the city, which is known to be safe and optimal for tourists, it still has a neighborhood feel, which is a plus. Our stay was 393 USD total, for three nights, split between three people. The Courtyard graciously organized an airport pick up for us at 1:00 am upon our arrival. If you had to arrange your ride at the airport, it would be relatively easy to hail a cab or call an Uber. My only wish is that the hotel had a pool, but it wasn’t a big deal, and the listing clearly stated that there was not a pool. Not included with the hotel room, we found a great spot to grab breakfast at, The Secret Forest Cafe, located 4 minutes from the hotel. Read that review HERE.
Getting around Lima was a bit more complicated than navigating Cusco as the city is more spread out. We were able to walk to a few places, but for the most part, took advantage of Uber.
Itinerary: We had three days total in Lima. Despite Cusco being our main destination in Peru, we still wanted to make sure to maximize our time in Lima. Our friends (located in Lima) made sure we made the most of our visit and had a great time.
Day 1: We ate breakfast at the Secret Forest Cafe, less than a 5-minute walk from our hotel. As I wrote in that article, the owner was so sweet and gave us a list of recommendations of sites to see and places to visit. We did quite a bit of shopping this first day, which I now regret as everything we purchased was 1/2 the price in Cusco and double the quality. We walked to the Parque Central de Miraflores, where several vendors and artists showcasing their art and merchandise for sale.
After browsing for a little over an hour, we visited the Museo de Pisco, located next to the Plaza de Armas, for a private pisco tasting. The pisco tasting is 37 soles, and I highly recommend it, only two of us were tasting, so the third was not required to pay. After an in-depth lesson on what pisco is, the origin and, how it’s made, we learned the proper etiquette for pisco tasting and sampled six flavors. By the end of the tasting, I was pretty tipsy. We then ate at the Museo del Pisco, which doubles as a resto-bar to sober up.
Day 2: We ate breakfast at El Parquetito, which was good, but I wanted to go back to the Secret Forest Cafe. We found a few charming shops near this restaurant, so we decided to browse before heading back toward the hotel, purchasing a few alpaca ponchos. We bought coca candy, thinking it was the same potency of the coca leaves used to combat the altitude sickness we were anticipating in Cusco, but it was a waste.
This day, we met up with our new friends, where we went to Barranco, a trendy neighborhood in Lima. We ate at Qincha, and this might be my favorite restaurant ever, not necessarily for the food but for the views, their pisco sour, and the entertainment. You can either opt for the 3-course buffet or order an individual meal. Our group decided on the buffet, which comes with a complimentary pisco sour, to taste a little bit of everything, including ceviche. Peru is known for its cuisine, and the ceviche did not disappoint. There were also several performances between a cultural dance battle and couples salsa dancing. In the early morning, Peru experienced a magnitude eight earthquake, and Qincha is a beachfront restaurant, so it was pretty empty as locals were nervous for tsunamis/flooding.
After stuffing our faces, we caught an uber back to the city, near the Parque Central de Miraflores for chocolate making classes at the Museo de Choco. Yes, Peru is known for its pisco, their cuisine, ceviche, and chocolate! The chocolate making class was 39 soles, but it came with unlimited samples. I also made about 18 pieces of chocolate, and not a single one of them made it back the states with me. Aside from all of the chocolate we got to eat, we also received a lesson on cocoa. From the many forms, uses, and understanding why the Peruvian chocolate tastes exponentially better than that in the US. We also got to eat chocolate-infused Piscos, liquors, and tea.
After chocolate making, we called another Uber and went to the Huaca Pucllana ruins in Miraflores. Huaca Pucclana is a pre-Incan temple where you can take a tour for $17 soles and get an in-depth history lesson. If you are into history and understanding cultures, definitely take this tour, it was super informative.
Day 3: A travel day, to head to Cusco, we had the morning to relax and do any last-minute sight-seeing in Lima. Though we knew we’d have a half-day on the back end of our trip before departing to the US to get in more last-minute views. I convinced my friends, though it didn’t take much, to go back to the Secret Forest Cafe and order more waffles and fruit! We walked back to the markets near El Parquetito before strolling the streets once more and calling our Uber to head to the airport. The Uber was about 15 USD. We flew via Latam Air to get to Cusco.
Other Notes: The Peruvian currency is the Sol. The current exchange rate for USD is 1USD=3.29 Sol; it’s easy to exchange money at the airport or to even take cash out of the ATM. I don’t recommend exchanging money at your hotel as they usually tack on additional fees.
The city was relatively inexpensive, from transportation to food and even the activities that we did (chocolate making/ pisco tasting). I would budget about 50 USD a day.
Don’t drink the water. Buy bottles of water and ensure that they are sealed/new. Also, don’t order drinks with ice unless you’re sure the ice is not from the local tap water.
Wear sunscreen! The sun is no joke.
I did not get any vaccines for my trip to Peru. I’m caught up with my Hep A shots and decided against the malaria shot/pills as we weren’t visiting the jungle.