A Day in Lima, Peru

Lima, a massive city of 8 million people and counting, is a place that deserves one day and one night of exploration. It is city with a troubled recent history, but one that is changing every day. With one day, I'd suggest doing a guided tour of the historic center, with its presidential palace, cathedral where conquistador Francisco Pizzarro is buried, and its glorious South American city square, Plaza de Armas. I'd also tour the Monastery of San Francisco with your guide, a short drive from Plaza de Armas. You cannot miss the stunning historic home, Casa Aliaga, near the main square. The home has been in the same family since 1535, when Pizzaro founded Lima. One of his captains, Jeronimo de Aliaga Ramirez, was able to build his home next to Pizarro's house, and 17 generations of his family have lived in it since. The rooms are filled with original treasures and artwork, and I loved seeing Captain Aliaga's personal sword on display. When I was there, family members were also roaming the home, though their personal living quarters are not open for touring.

Casa AliagaCasa Aliaga EntranceI suggest staying in Miraflores, and this is where you'll have great ocean views, and access to shopping (the mall is called Larcomar). If you eat at one restaurant in Lima, make it Astrid y Gaston. I took myself out to lunch here and had a great time. Chef Gaston Acurio is known for his haute Peruvian cuisine, is sometimes called the "Jamie Oliver" of South America, and has opened restaurants in Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and more.

Astrid y GastonI missed Lima's many museums because of time, but have heard incredible things about the Museo Larco Herrera, with thousands of ancient Peruvian treasures on display.

With each hour in Lima, I felt an incredible buzz of a city on the verge. I know that if and when I return in 5 or 10 years, the city will be completely different. They are completely cleaning up and redeveloping park area near the ocean, and more and more businesses are coming in. I met at least 10 American and British business travelers, all coming to start or support businesses in Lima. There is huge growth opportunity. Peruvian cuisine is one of the hottest trends in restaurants worldwide right now, and much of that is coming out of Lima.

Monastery of San Francisco

The Cathedral of Lima, where Pizarro is buried

Ocean views in MirafloresLarcomar Shopping Center in Miraflores

Miraflores Park Hotel, Lima

The Miraflores Park Hotel, an Orient-Express property, is in an upscale area of Lima overlooking the ocean called Miraflores. I loved the Country Club Hotel Lima but here, you can walk right outside your hotel and be close to many other hotels, restaurants, and shops. The nearby shopping mall, Larcomar, is where I bought 3 pairs of great boots from Paez. Best time to go shopping for boots in Peru is when their summer is coming, and our winter is coming! Everything for cold weather was at least half off.

I loved the rooftop swimming pool, great gym, breakfast area on the roof, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bar, which served my favorite thing, a traditional English afternoon tea. And great pisco sours, of course. I also enjoyed dinner at Mesa 18 - Chef Toshiro Konishi specializes in Japanese infused Peruvian cuisine, and worked alongside the legendary Nobu Matsuhisa. Nobu worked in Lima before going on to establish his famous restaurants around the world.

The best rooms have a small outdoor terrace. Many overlook the hotel's interior so I would definitely suggest requesting a room with a terrace.

Mesa 18

Outdoor space

The Country Club Hotel, Lima

Most visitors to Peru choose to stay in the Miraflores section of Lima, because it's right on the water and it's easy for visitors to navigate. I had the chance to explore the Miraflores section but stayed at The Country Club Hotel in the city's elegant San Isidro neighborhood, surrounded by embassies and right next to the Lima Golf Club, an 18-hole course right in the middle of the city. One night and one day in Lima is enough for a typical visitor to Peru. But you should definitely plan on that one day.

Built in 1927, the hotel naturally feels like a country club, which is what it once was. It is still a meeting place for the Lima elite today. I loved breakfast outside on the patio, listening to a mix of international businessmen prepping for their days in the city and locals catching up.

Hotel Rio Sagrado - Peru's Sacred Valley

I'm usually pretty active while traveling. I like getting up early, and going all day - seeing, discovering, eating, stalking places from my lists, talking, meeting, and so on. But when I got to Hotel Rio Sagrado in Peru's Sacred Valley (more of what I loved from The Sacred Valley here), I wanted to do nothing.

Hotel Rio Sagrado I wanted to do nothing except sit on my terrace and watch the Urubamba River go by. I absolutely adored my time here and managed to muster the energy for a massage in the small but lovely spa (it was tough), to bottle feed the baby alpacas, and to have a fantastic dinner with a British journalist that had incredible stories from decades in the biz.

The shower in the bathroom was one of the coolest I've seen - all the benefits of an outdoor shower without having to actually be outside. I loved it.

I loved this shower!

My room viewFeeding time The spa deck

The waiting area in the spa If I close my eyes I can go back here!

The Lush, Gorgeous Sacred Valley of Peru

The Sacred Valley In Peru, I drove from Cusco to the Sacred Valley to stay at the Hotel Rio Sagrado. Though I wasn't there long, I now know those visiting have to spend at least one night in the landscape that meant so much to the Inca people and surrounds Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Most visitors, especially those from Lima that come for weekend getaways, spend time indulging their sporty, adventurous sides in the valley with hiking, horseback riding, rafting and more. Because of my short time there, the best I did was a long walk. I explored the local culture, which still feels somewhat undiscovered, even in well-traveled small towns like Pisaq, which has a bustling Sunday market. I also loved a 30-minute stop at Awana Kancha, an exhibition center that shows off local weavers, along with the chance to feed adorable and totally weird llamas and alpacas.

Pisaq street

The town of Pisaq from above

Shopping and trying local corn

Sunday market in PisaqLoved this tree in PisaqVisiting Awana KanchaYou have to love this one

So many Peruvian potatoes