Lima is the gateway to Peru for most visitors flying from overseas, and many of them overlook it it as they continue on to places like Machu Picchu. However, it’s well worth spending a few days in the area to explore the capital. While you’re there, if you want to get out of town, one of these 5 day trips from Lima may be for you. Ranging from just outside the city to a few hours away, these day trips give you a chance to see plenty of wildlife, relax in the Pacific Ocean, or see ruins and creations left behind by ancient civilizations.
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Visit the Pachacamac archaeological site
The Pachacamac ruins are situated about 30km southeast of Barranco/Miraflores, Lima’s most touristic neighborhoods. Taking a taxi or an Uber is the most practical way to get there, especially if you’re not alone. Expect to pay 50-60 soles one-way (US $15-18) when hailing a taxi in the street. Taking a bus which says “Lurín” or “Panamericana” is the alternative. It won’t take you directly to the archaeological site, you’ll have to take a (shared) taxi or colectivo for the last 3-4 km. If possible, go on a weekend, you’ll then need about 45-60 minutes from Barranco/Miraflores.
Pachacamac was built around 200 AD and was an important religious center for pre-Incan cultures like the Wari and the Ychma people. The Incas took over around 1470 and a few decades later, the Spaniards arrived. Apart from the actual archaeological site, there’s a museum which displays artefacts from thousands of years of Peruvian history and which I found much more interesting than the ruins themselves. There’s also a shop and a small cafeteria with reasonable prices. However, I’d suggest eating something in the village of Pachacamac. It’s situated about 5 km away from the archaeological site and a really chilled place with a nice Plaza de Armas and tasty local food.
If you haven’t visited Barranco yet, do it on your way back as you’ll pass through anyway. It’s Lima’s most Bohemian neighborhood with great cafés and restaurants and lots of street vendors near the Plaza and Puente de Suspiros. Visiting the archaeological site of Pachacamac, the village of Pachacamac and Barranco will take you 5-6 hours, so you’ll still have time to explore more of Lima.
By Daniela from Andes and Beyond
Go swimming at Punta Hermosa
Punta Hermosa is a beach near Lima – you can be there in only one hour with normal traffic. To get here, you can take a tour, hire a taxi driver or take a bus on the highway that connects Lima with this spot. Punta Hermosa is the favorite beach of locals to spend their weekends and holidays and has tons of beach spots to enjoy, which makes it perfect for every taste and need; no matter if you are traveling alone or as a family with small kids.
During summer it can get really crowded but given that there are different beaches to chill out on, you can always find a nice spot to relax. The water is calmer at some beaches and has big waves on others that make the place popular between surfers too. All year long, you can see surfers and bodyboarders riding the waves. You can also find lots of restaurants to eat delicious Peruvian food and taste fresh plates like ceviche, tacu tacu, fish and much more. Most of them open only during weekends and high season (December to April), so we recommend you visit Punta Hermosa during these months, when you will also be able to have a swim in the Pacific sea.
By Alejandra from Universo Viajero
Swim with sea lions at Palomino Island
An awesome day trip from Lima for nature-lovers is an excursion to Palomino Island to swim with wild sea lions. Not far off the coast from Peru’s sprawling capital lies a rugged island that is home to thousands of sea lions! Out in the open waters, it all feels worlds away from the busy streets of Lima. And you’ll find more than just sea lions here. Additional wildlife sightings in this area include colonies of Humboldt penguins. It’s all led this area to be nicknamed the “Little Galapagos of Lima.”
Eco-excursions with boats to Palomino Island allow visitors to actually swim with the sea lions. This is the highlight of the 3 to 4-hour oceanic adventure through the offshore islands. The sea lions here are a playful bunch and will curiously approach those who brave the frigid waters to partake in this magical experience.
Palomino Island is accessed from the port town of Callao. It’s located approximately 30-60 minutes by taxi or Uber from central Lima or Miraflores, depending on traffic, of course. Once in Callao, visitors can find boats to voyage the remainder of the distance to Palomino Island itself, which takes an additional hour or so ride to reach from the port. There are a few different tour operators, which offer this boat service from Callao.
It all adds up to about a five to six-hour trip total from Lima and back. And an excursion to Palomino Island also adds up to one incredible day trip from Lima.
By John from Roaming Around the World
See the wildlife of the Islas Ballestas
Paracas is a great beach town about 200 kilometers south of Lima. It’s a popular spot to take a break. Here you’ll find great sunsets, cold beer and some incredible wildlife spotting opportunities. It’s more famous as the launching spot for trips to the Islas Ballestas, known as the Poor Man’s Galapagos. Here you’ll be able to view the famous Candelabra, carved into the headland as you head out towards the Islands, which are a haven for wildlife in the area. You’ll be able to spot huge numbers of sea lions and bird life as you circumnavigate the islands on this budget wildlife trip.
An area is also a popular place for jeep trips, which you can organize in any of the tour agencies in town. Most trips visit the Paracas National Reserve – a vast expanse of desert, created to protect the biodiversity of the area. The visitor center is well worth an hour of your time to understand the local area. It’s easy to reach Paracas from Lima – most southbound buses will pass through here – for comfort we recommend Cruz Del Sur – and the trip takes around 3 hours. When you’re done exploring, there are some great waterfront bars for a cold beer before heading back to Lima.
By Sarah from A Social Nomad
Fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are one of the world’s unsolved mysteries. The desert around Nazca in the southern half of Peru is covered in enormous drawings of animals and birds, as well as lines and geometric shapes that can only be seen from the air or very tall towers. The designs were created by removing darkened oxidized rocks, exposing the lighter colored sand below. Designs include a monkey, a hummingbird, a tree, a parrot, a spider and an ‘astronaut.’
No one knows for sure why – or even by whom – they were made, but it is believed that they date from between 500 BC and 500 AD. There are many theories as to their creation, including a widely-held belief that they were created by aliens. It is certainly mind blowing that pictures designed to be seen from the air were created long before humans could fly, but there are other, perhaps more credible, theories too. The area suffered a terrible drought around the time of their creation, which eventually saw the end of the Nazca peoples. A popular theory is that the designs were intended to draw the Gods’ attention, as many of the designs point to water sources. Whatever the truth is, seeing the Nazca Lines is an incredible experience.
Although it is a long day, it is possible to see the Nazca lines as a day trip from Lima, and there are organized tours to do this. The day includes a bus trip to Ica or Paracas (about 4 hours by bus or minivan) and then a 1.5-hour flight over the Nazca lines, then a road trip back to Lima. It’s definitely one of the longer day trips from Lima, but totally worth it!
By James Ian from Travel Collecting
Check out these other great things to do in Peru:
- Everything You Need to Know About the New Rules for Visiting Machu Picchu
- Ten Reasons Not to Miss the Parque de la Reserva’s Circuito Mágico del Agua in Lima
- Visit the Pre-Incan Ruins of Huaca Pucllana in Lima
- Relax at the Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes, Peru
- Inca Rail vs. PeruRail: Picking the Best Train to Machu Picchu
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I had no idea you do do the Nazca Lines as a day trip from Lima! It does sound like a long day though.
Love these trips near Lima. I always hear about Machu Picchu but never the area around it. Saving this for a future visit to Peru.
I’ve been 3 times in Lima and didn’t know you could go to the Nazca Lines on a day trip :(((((