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The Do’s and Don’ts of Lima

November 10, 2015

There’s no doubt that Lima has a lot to offer. It is a vast city with something to discover at every corner you turn.

I’ve recently told you about the wonderful food selection in the city. And it’s true, the food is great and definitely a selling point. But, Lima has more to offer than just delicious dishes and mouth watering meals. There is a lot more to it than indulging in the food.

The city itself is full of activities to partake in and sites to see. Much of these eye-catching experiences are excellent excursions. However we do warn that Lima can be a bit of a hit or miss city. Despite its remarkable attractions, there’s also a lot you should be aware of too.

You’ll hear all kinds of things about Lima, some good, some bad. Admittedly, some of it can be a little dangerous. I have been given many warnings about places you should avoid and situations you should make sure you stay out of. I want to share those with you because it is also very beautiful and has a lot of ‘must see’ tourist attractions that you won’t want to skip.

For starters, two areas you can feel fairly safe are Miraflores and Barranco.

So, what are the general do’s and don’ts when in Lima? I thought I would break down a few ideas for you should you be toying with the idea of making the venture to this wonderful city.

Alternatively, joining a custom Evolve Tours trip is a hassle free way to enjoy the beauty of the city while ensuring your safety. Our leaders are more than familiar with the territory and know where to go, and where to stay away from. The ‘Peru School Trip’ is offered as a trip dedicated towards groups of classmates that are ready to embark on the adventure together.



Stay in the safe districts

Lima is large and there are several districts which are certainly not very safe, no matter what time of day. Lima boasts to have made the city far safer over the years, but there are still a few places you should be aware of. Here is a map of areas to avoid.




Visit the Historical Centre

This is where Lima’s central Plaza (Plaza de Armas) can be found and is right in the middle of their historic, colonial centre – their old city. This is a fantastic spot to check out, especially as many of the tourist attractions worth seeing can all be found here. Until the 18th century this was the capital and most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America.

This is where all the old government buildings are including the Monastery of San Francisco, Lima Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Government Palace.

Just be warned that this area is fine during the day (although be wary of pick-pocketers), but it is not considered safe at night, so avoid after dark.

Historical Centre.Peru.Lima.Evolve.Tourism.Explore Lima.Peru.Do's.Don'ts.Tourism.Evolve.EvolveTours.Travel.Explore

Eat as much of the food as possible

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the food in Lima is amazing. You must make sure to eat as much of the fresh fish as possible, especially ceviche. If you need some pointers on where to go then have a look here.


Get used to the greetings!

The custom in Peru is to kiss the person you are greeting once on the cheek, so don’t be alarmed if someone you’ve just met leans in for one! This is really quite a pleasant tradition in Peru and goes a long way to break down awkward first meeting barriers. But, everyone will do this, from adults to small children!



Don’t use unregistered taxis or public transport

No matter where you go in Peru there are a lot of dodgy taxis and buses. I would be very careful about which ones you choose to use as you do hear about people being robbed, overcharged etc. To be honest, I would avoid the buses all together if you can and only ride in taxis with their registered badge in the front window. It’s a good idea to speak with the driver about cost etc before getting in the car.

This goes for the airport as well. Although the cabs in the airport will try and charge you a lot, don’t risk walking outside of the airport to get a cheaper one. The area around the airport is known for being unsafe, so it’s just not worth the risk.


Don’t be too flippant about the food/water

When in restaurants etc, even if the place has been recommended to you, it’s always wise to be cautious of the drinking water. I have been sick intermittently here in Peru and I’ve never been able to pin point exactly what’s causing it. But, I have been told that it may be because I’m not keeping an eye on the water I’m drinking.

Many tourists I’ve met here have brushed their teeth with the tap water and even drank it and never had an issue. And I have been of the belief that it’s not something to stress over too much. But, it is a good idea to avoid it as much as you can. This includes using it to brush your teeth, ice in drinks etc. In restaurants you will likely be given a free drink, especially in places that serve set menus which are common, so be cautious about these also.

Lima. Peru. Food. Evolve Tours

Don’t be a target when out drinking

On a student trip, this clearly is not an issue. However if you are an older traveler braving the city on your own, though obvious, this is an important one. Be aware of your surroundings and who you’re with at all times when out drinking in Lima, especially if you’re a woman and alone. There are many stories of women being targeted for theft and planted drugs if they leave bags unattended, and so on.


Don’t take photos of people without asking

This is an important one and something I learnt as I went along. Of course, it’s just good manners to ask someone if you can take their photos in a busy market setting etc, but the likelihood is you will be told no. The indigenous population are certainly not fans of having their photos taken. I have heard they are of the belief that evil spirits possess the cameras and they become very suspicious of you if you have one out. If not that, then they expect you to pay for the privilege and can become deeply offended if you refuse.

On the other hand, a lot of people are more than happy for you to take their photos, the people tend to be delightful everywhere you go! It’s just a good idea to ask first!



Are you thinking about visiting Peru? Do you need some advice on where to go and what to do? Then give Evolve Tours a call!


Alanna Byrne is a writer and NGO coordinator currently living in deepest, darkest Peru. Originally from London, UK, she has traveled from a young age and lived for two years in Toronto. She’s about to embark on more backpacking adventures, first across South America and then onto New Zealand and Australia. When she’s not racing around the world, she can usually be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or in a crowd listening to loud music. Follow her adventures here: www.awritetoroam.com.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alannadunabyrne Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/awritetoroam?ref=hl Instagram: https://instagram.com/awritetoroam/
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