Spurred in part by its world-class restaurant scene, the Peruvian capital has undergone a transformation from stopover to tourism hotspot
Author Chris Wilson Photography Jessica Sample
Once a mere stopover on the way to the majestic Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, Lima has established itself as a fascinating destination in its own right. In part, the revival of this chaotic city of 8.6 million people can be summed up in a single word: food. The Peruvian capital is fast becoming the culinary crown jewel of South America, with world-class restaurants now as commonplace as shops selling alpaca scarves.
Peru’s rich biodiversity and plentiful supply of fish, fruits, vegetables and herbs—plus a deep talent pool of local chefs—have made Lima’s ascension to the top of the foodie chain inevitable, and have helped spark a significant surge in tourism. Whether it’s the trendy bars of Miraflores, the chic galleries and shops of Barranco or the thrum of San Isidro’s financial district, Lima has never been livelier.
It wasn’t always this way. Peru’s Shining Path guerrilla movement in the 1980s and ’90s earned Lima an unsavory reputation. But, more recently, the city has been rebranded as a peaceful, accommodating modern metropolis on the rise—deservedly so. Besides its outstanding eats, Lima boasts astounding archaeological sites, top-notch cultural institutions and a vibrant nightlife scene.
That said, it’s still just a short plane ride from here to Cuzco, the mountainous region that’s home to Machu Picchu—perhaps the most stunning place on Earth and, as such, a required visit if you’re nearby.