Peru travel often revolves around the country’s most famous landmark; the ancient city of Machu Picchu. This place has long been mystifying travelers who arrive there by the busload (or as brave, sweaty-faced hikers!). Though we fully endorse a visit to this marvel, we want to point out just how much more there is to discover within Peru’s borders.
Let’s turn our attention, first, to the country’s capital city, where most international travelers begin their Peru adventure.
Lima greets you with vibrancy; locals meet your gaze with welcoming dark eyes, drawing you into a sense of community evident down each historic street and in the outdoor markets. Color will continuously catch your eye, signaling the city’s prideful celebration of beauty and stressing the local importance of expression. There will be no doubt you have entered a place that is as unique as it is enticing. Like the first bite of a new fruit, this place is tangy - and sure to leave you wanting more.
Traveling in Lima does not come without its challenges. This part of the world is no stranger to poverty, and travelers can expect to have their heartstrings tugged when witnessing this lifestyle. Housing developments are built onto hillsides without leveling or foundation and are often destroyed by natural disasters like mudslides. Despite these hardships (or perhaps because of them), the locals will impress you with their adaptability and cheeriness.
Safety & Transportation
Some parts of Lima are more dangerous than others, and wandering around on foot isn’t always a safe option. Unmarked taxis are legitimized by the queue they form outside the airport door. From then on, it’s best to reserve private cars directly through your hotel.
Pro Tip: When you order a taxi, ask the concierge what is a fair price for your ride. When the driver names their price, you now have an accredited counteroffer.
Petty theft can happen anywhere, but Lima is no exception. Carrying a Sherpani Anti-Theft bag will provide solutions for every common type of bag theft, so you can experience the city without the worry of being targeted. If you carry an Anti-Theft bag and practice personal safety, we are confident your time in Lima will invigorate your senses and ultimately, leave you feeling the same zest for life so openly displayed by the people who call Lima home.
Shopping in Lima is a delight; you should plan on saving room in your suitcase for souvenirs. You’ll find handcrafted jewelry that showcases the land’s natural riches and tons of super soft alpaca wool. Adornments like shawls, hats and scarves are everywhere; impossible to miss due to their bright colors. Though Lima’s warm and humid climate isn’t encouraging for dressing in wool, it’s a great place to stock up on your cozy goods (especially if you’re heading toward the country’s colder climates like Cusco).
Locals will be eager to engage you, hopeful to make a sale. Haggling over the cost of goods is a predominant practice in many areas of the world. This can cause discomfort in those who aren’t used to doing it. Tourists, especially women, often feel obligated to support the seller and opt to give themselves the short end of a deal.
While these intentions are good, they perpetuate the behavior of aggressive selling that targets women. At the same time, putting your dollars into the local community is an essential part of sustainable tourism. It’s a complex issue with no perfect solution.
Our motto for when we run into these complicated cultural shifts? Respect, don’t project.
In other words, rather than assuming anything about the person you are buying from, simply engage with how they have chosen to conduct their business. Mirror their behavior; if they are haggling with others, you can engage with them in the same way.
The flavors of Lima are as vibrant as the rest of the city, especially when you indulge in Peru’s national dish, ceviche. This flavorful blend of seafood and citrus is available on nearly every menu. In a word, ceviche is fresh - we couldn’t get enough.
Pro Tip: Along with your ceviche, sip on Peru’s national drink, the Pisco Sour. Pisco is a liquor best described as the love child between wine and tequila. Yum.
With lots to rave about when it comes to Peru, we are here to choose one experience, above all others, as truly unmissable. Ready to know what it is?
The Sherpani Unmissable recommendation for visiting Peru: The Public Art Scene in Barranco!
Barranco is considered one of Lima’s safer neighborhoods, where exploring on foot will prove exciting and easy. Reading up on Barranco, you will see the same word appear everywhere: bohemian. Within minutes of exploring the place yourself, you’ll see this ringing true. While the ocean views are a nice touch, the real character of the place lies in the many tucked-away boutiques, cafes and galleries.
This brings us to Barranco’s staple attraction - its impeccable art scene. This place captured our hearts because it has been so thoroughly decorated by Peru’s most influential creatives. Everywhere you turn there is a striking display that will make you wonder why you didn’t have to pay an entrance fee to walk these colorful streets.
Home to some of the world’s most influential artists, Barranco is a hotspot for museums and galleries. And though the gutted-out-mansions turned art galleries are worthy of your time, they aren’t the only way to enjoy Barranco’s art.
Solo travelers rejoice in the company of public murals. Every painted wall tells its own story and contributes to the larger narrative of creative expression. These displays showcase the richness of Peru’s history, culture and belief that art is for everyone.
One of the most hauntingly beautiful truths about these particular murals is that they are temporary.
It’s no secret that public art is, well, in public. Exposed to the elements, murals just don’t last forever. Some get covered in graffiti, and others are simply worn down by time, but the street murals of Barranco get painted over again and again.
There is something about the temporary nature of these murals that makes them all the more beautiful. Knowing that on your trip, you will see different murals than those who have visited Lima before you. This is all part of the experience; your walk around Barranco is promised to be unique.
By painting over the old with the new, Barranco is sending us a clear message: it is determined to remain beautiful until the end of time. Fresh paint leads to fresh inspiration, so the entire neighborhood is rejuvenated on a regular basis.
The public art scene does not begin and end with street murals. Nearby, you’ll find Love Park (or Parque del Amor), which is famous for its sculpture of lovers in each other’s arms. The sculpture is worth a gander, but this park showcases more than a single piece. Intricate mosaic designs decorate the walls throughout the park, and colorful flowers pop out from curated gardens.
It’s not only the public spaces that are designed with such artistry. As you walk by residences, you’ll notice many colorful flower beds and exotic yard decorations. With the way Barranco locals display their homes, it’s easy to believe that everyone living there is an artist (which isn’t that big of a stretch).
If you’re a fan of art, Barranco will invoke a sense of wonder. If you’re an artist yourself, it’s sure to unlock fresh inspiration. With a stunning mural around every corner, the public art scene in Barranco is a Peru must-do!
Traveling in Peru is an extraordinary experience all around. From the ancient history of the Inca Empire to the colorful culture of today, Peru will surely capture the imagination of anyone who visits!
Ready to go?
Is this beautiful country on your travel bucket list? Have you witnessed the public art scene in Barranco? Has a street mural ever made your jaw drop? We’d love to hear from art fans and travel bugs in the comment section below.
The above post is part of an ongoing segment of the Sherpani Travel Blog. We want to give travelers a singular, tangible recommendation for destinations; something we deem truly unmissable. These recommendations are carefully chosen from the personal travels of the Sherpani team.