10 Things to Do in Lima on Your Next South American Cruise

A full day's trip to Lima, Peru, on your South American cruise will boast a dizzying display of ancient cultures, colonial times, and a thriving modern culture.

Most visitors to Peru treat Lima as a landing spot for land excursions to Machu Picchu, but this metropolis, home to nearly nine million people, has its own rich history and a food renaissance not to be missed. On your next South American cruise, explore some of these things to do in Lima, Peru.

1. Plaza Mayor: Lima's Main Square

The oldest public place in all of Lima, the main square was built on a preexisting indigenous settlement ceremonial center by conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Today, the plaza contains some of the most important historical buildings of colonial times, including the Palacio de Gobierno, the Archbishop's Palace, and the Cathedral of Lima.

2. Palacio Gobierno: Presidential Palace

Now the central seat of the government, the Government Palace of Peru was originally a palace for Spanish viceroys. Today, the only remaining part of the original palace is a tree believed to have been planted by Pizarro.

3. Convento de San Francisco: Franciscan Monastery

Set beside the Cathedral of Lima — one of Lima's most impressive examples of colonial architecture — the Convento de San Francisco offers insight into monastic life during colonial times, including an up-close tour of the catacombs and a library of 25,000 books.

4. Parque de la Reserva: Park of the Reserve

One of the most-visited sites in Lima, this park boasts an evening water-and-light show called the Circuito Magico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit). The show holds the world record for the largest fountain complex — a must-see spectacle if you're out at night.

5. Huaca Pucllana: Pucllana Temple the Adobe Pyramid

Built around 500 CE, this is one of the most important historical monuments in Lima. The pyramid is thought to have served as a ceremonial center for ancient Peruvians. A small museum located on the premises showcases ancient Peruvian life.

6. Municipalidad de Miraflores: the Miraflores District

Considered one of Lima's nicest coastal suburbs, this area is rich in modern culture, including high-end restaurants, markets, and bars. Here, ex-pats and tourists enjoy the vibrant local food culture that makes Lima a foodie's paradise.

7. Mercado Surquillo: Surquillo Market

Located just outside the Miraflores District, this food market is frequented by locals finding their favorite fresh Peruvian fruits, vegetables, meats, and spices.

8. Parque de las Leyendas: Park of Legends (Zoo)

This traditional zoo has a very nontraditional foundation. Built on the ruins of an ancient Peruvian city, the Parque de las Leyendas features archaeological wonders and, of course, beloved animals.

9. National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History

Lima is a city built on a city, with a rich cultural history that is well documented at the National Museum. Find ancient Peruvian artifacts, discover the history of colonial times, and learn how Peru became a republic.

10. Puente de los Suspiros: The Bridge of Sighs

Take a romantic walk on the Bridge of Sighs crossing the Bajada de Baños, a stone walkway running through the artsy district of Barranco toward the Pacific. Stop at one of the many cafés to end your perfect day in Lima.