Published on October 18th, 2015 | by Mark Chesnut
“My Lima” — Travel Tips from TourGuidePeru’s Aaron Paiva Leyton
Lima is one of my favorite cities in South America. Its wonderful combination of history, culture and big-city excitement never fails to excite — and oh, the cuisine! There’s a reason why Peru‘s capital has become one of the world’s culinary capitals.
During my most recent visit to Lima (where I covered and moderated two panels at SAHIC, the South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference), I had the good fortune to join Aaron Paiva Leyton on a day tour through Lima’s historic center, as well as the hip and Bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. He’s a great guide, and his company, TourGuide Peru, is an excellent resource for any traveler looking for group or individual tours of the capital city, as well as other hotspots like Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Aaron agreed to share some of his insider Peru travel tips about Lima.
What are the biggest reasons why travelers should spend several days in Lima?
After arrival to the city of Lima, since usally flights arrive in the middle of the night, I suggest staying at least one full day. The city offers not just a culinary variety but gives you the chance to decompress after all those hours in a plane. The historical center, Barranco and Miraflores offer different activities, from cultural to paragliding.
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Which of your tours in Lima are most popular with your clients?
In our case the best-selling tour is our “Lima Tour + Culinary Experience.” Travelers usually ask me if I am tired of delivering the same tour … for me each tour is different; every person has a different perspective of life and with that, a different way to enjoy vacation. I try to [get to] know most of my clients and tailor those seven-hour tours into a completely unique moment. Plus, our Culinary Experience is the cherry of the tour, we open our home, I mix pisco sours, and [travelers] have the chance to see how we prepare the traditional recipes from Peru such as lomo saltado and ceviche.
What Peruvian food is an absolute must-try for any first-time visitor to Peru?
As a Peruvian, I will say ceviche is a must, but if you are not thrilled about fish, I will say lomo saltado or arroz con pollo. For vegetarians, try the salad called solterito, and if you are up to be more adventurous, go to a typical pollería and order a roasted chicken and eat it with your hands. The aromas from the door of any of these restaurants will be calling you.
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What are your best recommendations for shopping in Lima?
Crafts and souvenirs are in Lima and Cuzco, and you might feel that everybody sells the same thing. My favorite place to buy a real, sophisticated and unique [gift] — not just arts and crafts, but textiles, pima cotton from Peru or a nice vase — is Dedalo, located in the district of Barranco. Dedalo has a large collection of art by independent artists. Most of my interior designer clients spend at least three hours at this store.
For you personally, when you have a day off and can do what ever you want, what’s your idea of a perfect day in Lima?
The real Lima guy, the one born in this city, loves his eight months of overcast [weather]. On a perfect day I take the bus to the Lima center and make a stop in the Bolivar hotel for a pisco sour. Then I jump in the Metro Bus to Barranco, where I know a nice Key Lime pie is awaiting me at MATE Museum. When I am with friends, I do like to go to the Barranco Beer Company for some beers and good peruvian tapas, such as salchipapas (potatoes, sausages and hot rocoto cream).