Lima

Population: 7,605,742 (2007), Altitude: 154 meters / 502 feet, Phone Code: 1

Metropolitan Lima stretches 60 kilometers (37 miles) from north to south, and 30 kilometers (18 miles) from east to west. It incorporates 43 districts, or suburbs. The neighborhoods most popular with travelers lie south of the Historic Center.

The Plaza de Armas (or Plaza Mayor) in the Centro Histórico has been Peru’s governmental center since 1535, with the Palacio de Goberno (Presidential Palace) and the Archbishop’s Palace around its flanks. The surrounding blocks are full of museums, churches, historic houses, and upscale restaurants and cafés. North of Central Lima, on the other side of the Río Rímac, is the Rímac neighborhood.

The coastal suburbs of Miraflores, San Isidro and Barranco are popular places to stay to avoid Central Lima’s smog and chaos. Many have pre-Columbian ruins, museums and cultural centers. Miraflores and Barranco have the best nightlife. Other important suburbs are San Borja, Chorrillos and Pueblo Libre. Callao has Lima’s maritime and air ports.

Lima is home to Peru’s best museums, notably the Museo de Oro del Peru (Peruvian Gold Museum) and the Museo de la Nación (The National Museum), which is one of the largest museums in South America. Other highlights include colonial architecture and catacombs at Iglesia de San Francisco in Central Lima and pre-Inca pyramids at Pachacámac. Beaches within the city and to the south offer great surfing.