Miraflores – The Most Popular District of Lima

Though some would insist that the best Lima district for tourists is the artsy Barraco with its colonial architecture, I would support the majority that says it´s Miraflores, an upscale suburban district located about 10 kilometres away from the city centre, which features some stunning coastal views, great restaurants, and even an option of paragliding!

I spoke about Lima in my article HERE. This one focuses exclusively on Miraflores, my favourite district which I find extremely safe, environmentally friendly, laced with great restaurants and historical as well as entertainment attractions.

The residents located in Miraflores are in general rich and educated (the same is true for San Isidro district and some parts of Barranco) – as Peruvians would say, belonging to sector A (there are four sectors in Peru, D being the poorest and most populous). That fact obviously reflects itself in the cleanliness of the area, in the usage of city bikes, in the way people spend their Sundays (jogging and cycling along the beach or doing other sports) etc.

The district is interweaved with top star hotels and some of Lima´s best restaurants. Of the lavish choice, I have opted for the 5-Star, luxurious J&A Pardo Hotel (the Junior King Suite) in the end of summer (March 2021) and for the mid-range 3-Star Hotel Santa Cruz during my recent stay during the Fiestas Patrias (national celebrations of Peru’s independence from the Spanish Empire which consist of two days: July 28, in commemoration of Peru’s Independence won by José de San Martín, and July 29, in honor of the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru). Both are located just about a ten-minute walk from the famous Love Park and both well-correspond to their official ranking with the extra facilities provided, so the choice merely depends on your budget. 

1. J&A Pardo Hotel – 5-Star Luxurious

I made this choice especially since I was travelling with my partner and he was going to celebrate his birthday in Lima, so I was looking for privacy, comfort and a lively yet chilled atmosphere of the hotel quarter. Situated right in the heart of Miraflores, J&A Pardo Hotel enables you to go jogging along the beaches and enjoy some cool restaurants of international cuisine in the neighbourhood without the need to use a taxi. I loved the hotel gym which offers a view right over the Huaca Pucllana ruins and the adjacent lobby overlooking (with a 360° view) Miraflores where my partner and I enjoyed some evening drinks. The hotel provides a sauna too which offers perfect privacy and the terrace right next to it enables you to walk out for the relaxing time in between your sauning sessions to enjoy some fresh air. Our Junior King Suite was spacious, had a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, a perfect, fast Wi-Fi connection and some essentials (cutlery etc.) in the dining part. The beds and beddings were extremely comfy so I slept like a baby, with no sound from the streets below disturbing. The hotel surprised us with a cake on the day of my partner’s birthday, which was truly thoughtful.

To see the video from the hotel and its surroundings, please click HERE.

2. Hotel Santa Cruz – 3-Star Mid-Range

Though just a 3-Star hotel with a double room available for 150 soles (so merely 75 soles per person), the rooms are cosy, the blankets warm, there is hot water both in the shower and in the sink tap in the bathroom (which is not always so in Peru in mid-range hotels), air-con and heater are present (so you can use any depending on the season you arrive in) and the hotel provides a restaurant with a bar where we enjoyed some chilcanos one night which were really good (the bar is open until 1 am which is great as it allows you to have a late night cap). I really enjoyed the fact that there is a room-service breakfast available, so the breakfast is brought by the hotel staff upon a phone call (and is included in the price of the room). Both my partner and I found the staff extremely helpful in every single respect, when we needed more clothes hangers (I do not always travel light), a bulb change, a help with a personal item delivery which arrived when we were having lunch out, and much more. The staff was always ready to help out. I could practise yoga in the room as it was big enough and the hotel staff also allowed me to practise in the hotel lobby in the evenings which they cleaned spic and span just so I would feel comfortable with placing my mat down on the floor. We were allowed to park our car at the hotel premises free of charge.

To see the video from the hotel and its surroundings, please click HERE.

Where to Eat in Lima

As a yogini, of course, I enjoy the dishes of Indian cuisine. One of my favourite Indian restaurants in Lima is Zaika, situated about a five-minute walk from J&A Pardo Hotel. Another good one is Dhaasu in Barranco.

If you enjoy eating good quality meat, make your way to San Isidro (another lovely district in Lima, see below) and the Carniceria Osso. They also have amazing artisanal salads (in case you´re a vegetarian but want to be nice to your company who simply loves meat). There is just one minus – the portions should be bigger as the amount of food you get (especially the salad) by no means corresponds to the price (sometimes overrated).

Lima is renowned for its Nikkei, the Japanese-Peruvian fusion food which is starting to sweep the globe. I honestly love the Hanzo restaurant at San Isidro. Just a few blocks away from the restaurant, you find the Super Nikkei food shop where you can get the ingredients to cook your own nikkei (or just Japanese) food which is healthy and tasty. 

In the district of San Borja you encounter (except for a lot of Chinese restaurants and interesting street food bistrots) a little gem: a Vietnamese food restaurant simply called Viet – A Taste of Vietnam. They might not have any webpage (just a very basic Facebook page), but their food is amazing and compares well to what I know from Hanoi (where I lived for some time, years ago).

What to Do and See in Miraflores

The stylish district of Miraflores offers the Huaca Pucllana ruins, the renowned boardwalk (malecón) which hugs the coast for almost 10 kilometres and opens up to stunning cliffside views overlooking the ocean, the Love Park, the Lighthouse, and paragliding. Yes! Walking along the promenade, you might end up seeing the city from above.

The pre-Inca clay and adobe pyramid of Huaca Pucllana represents an interesting contrast to the sleek, modern buildings which surround it. This site served as an important ceremonial centre for the Lima culture who lived in Peru’s coastal region between the years 200 and 700 AD.

The Love Park – Parque del Amor – is running along the beach promenade (which is truly splendid, as it is situated atop the cliffs, so you get some marvellous views over the bay of Lima) becomes packed on Sundays and at sunset. There is a strip of mosaic wall which might remind you of Gaudí Park in Barcelona and a famous statue called “El Beso” (The Kiss) by Victor Delfín. You can enjoy a pancake and juice in the small café right next to the statue.

Located at the promenade, Larcomar shopping centre is one of the most popular attractions that travellers visit when they are in Lima. Built into the side of the cliff and mostly underground, this mall makes for quite the sight. It has incredible views of the Pacific Ocean (and the paragliders) and is perfect to spend an afternoon shopping and enjoying the food offered in the many restaurants there, e.g. in the Ko Asian Kitchen.

Miraflores Central Park and Kennedy Park are two urban greens with paths and playgrounds where you can chill, people-watch, read a book or enjoy a picnic.

The Inca Market (products from the communities in the Andes mountains) and the Indian Market (products from the communities in the jungle) – a two-minute walk one from the other – are totally worth your attention if you like handmade, artisanal products and crafts. Here, you can get traditional textiles, jewellery, alpaca and llama scarves, shawls and clothes, handcrafted shoes, bags, the traditional music instruments, dream catchers and even Pisco, all for reasonable prices.

There are two surfer-friendly beaches (and several surfing schools) in the area: Makaha beach and Waikiki beach, both allegedly good for beginners.

Where Else to Go

From Larcomar, it is pretty close to continue walking to Bohemian Barranco, a quarter filled with street art and colourful buildings, colonial mansions which were turned into cool cafés and boutique bars. Barranco has been home to some of Peru’s and Latin America’s finest artists. It has gained a reputation of the Bohemian or hipster part of Lima, and it is in Barranco where you find the Bridge of Sighs and MATE museum that was founded by famous Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino. Located in a restored 19th century mansion, the museum exhibits the best of national and international contemporary art and photography. Sadly, due to the pandemic, the museum is (just like many other museums and galleries) closed.

If shopping at Larcomar does not satisfy you and you wish for a bigger mall, of all Lima´s malls I would recommend Jockey Plaza located between the University of Lima and the Hipódromo de Monterrico, in the district of Santiago de Surco. You can get an Uber from Larcomar to Jockey Plaza for approx. 13 soles.

While Miraflores is the heart of tourism in Lima, San Isidro is where you’ll likely stay if visiting on business as it is the financial hub of Lima and the home to the country’s top banks and largest companies’ headquarters. Amongst the quiet enclave of upper-class residential neighbourhoods (the district was designed on the American model of suburban-style houses featuring lawns and gardens), you find the Lima Golf Club, the Olive Grove Park – Bosque El Olivar (one of Lima’s largest green spaces featuring quiet ponds and 3, 000 olive trees) – and some luxuries shopping on Avenida Conquistadores. Just like in Miraflores, the public parks are litter-free, all spic and span, welcoming you to sit down on the manicured lawns.

Just as Miraflores features Huaca Pucllana, San Isidro offers the charming (especially at night) Huaca Huallamarca ruin, also known as Pan de Azúcar (Bread of Sugar). The pyramid served as a shrine and burial site 200 AD.

Some would say San Isidro is the only district which could threaten Miraflores in the dining category, but others disagree and claim it would more likely be Barranco; well, each to their own, but the famous Central Restaurante (which was also featured in Zac Efron´s Down to Earth) of the hot and sexy Virgilio Martínez Véliz is located in Barranco…

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