If you’d like to experience Lima on a low budget, then check out these 10 places in the Historic Center that you can visit absolutely free of charge.
In Lima’s historic center, you can wander through the Plaza Mayor, Plaza San Martin and the surrounding narrow streets, making sure to look up as often as possible so you won’t miss a church, balcony or restored mansion. And as you wander through the center, you can visit the 10 places featured below, absolutely free of charge.
Casa de la Literatura: On the site of the old Desemperados train station, the wonderful “House of Literature” is contained in an impeccably restored republican-era mansion. The architecture features immense staircases and a reading room, and free exhibitions are held regularly.
Jr. Ancash 207, Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., casadelaliteratura.gob.pe
Museo Bodega y Cuadras: Beneath the building that now holds this museum, thousands of objects from the Inca, colonial and republican periods were unearthed. These objects can now be viewed by the public, and the foundations and walls of earlier structures can also be seen. This museum offers a journey through the entire history of Peru. It is situated next door to the House of Literature.
Jr. Ancash 213, Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Changing of the Guard: Every day at noon the changing of the guard ceremony can be seen through the railings of Peru’s presidential palace (just like at Britain’s Buckingham Palace). The ceremony includes a marching band and offers the chance to observe the Peruvian government’s protocol in action.
Plaza Mayor, Presidential Palace, every day at noon
Pancho Fierro Municipal Art Gallery: This modern gallery is situated next door to the Municipal Palace and offers a varied calendar of exhibitions. Its mission is to showcase contemporary Peruvian artists. Outside, along the Santa Rosa alley, you’ll find street artists working in the open air.
Pasaje Santa Rosa 114, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Casa de las Trece Puertas: Situated opposite San Francisco church is the Lima Caja Metropolitana Building, where visitors can enjoy reproductions of the works of Pancho Fierro, the great 19 th century Peruvian watercolorist. The gallery also hosts temporary cultural exhibitions.
Jr. Ancash 299, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Centro Cultural Inca Garcilaso [Inca Garcilaso Cultural Center]: This cultural center run by the Ministry of Foreign Relations is housed in an elegant republican-era mansion decorated with marble and tiled floors. It organizes exhibitions of photography and painting, as well as hosting concerts, recitals and film showings.
Jr. Ucayali 391, www.ccincagarcilaso.gob.pe
Museo de la Inquisición [Museum of the Inquisition]: Adjacent to the Congress, the Museum of the Inquisition’s exhibition features the audience chamber with its decorated ceiling and the cells where prisoners were tortured in the name of the Catholic faith. Check to see if it’s open, as it has been closed to the public recently for refurbishment.
Jr. Junín 548, Plaza Bolívar, daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., www.congreso.gob.pe/museo
Mercado Central [Central Market]: The Central Market is composed of a labyrinth of stalls where an incredible range of goods are bought and sold. The market is filled with life and reveals a different side of Peruvian culture to visitors: a vibrant Creole way of life. While you should remain vigilant in the market, you will find it fascinating.
Barrio Chino [Chinese Town]: Right next to the Central Market, a small detour will take you into Lima’s Chinatown. There, you’ll find the best Chinese restaurants. The fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cooking is packed with many of the diverse flavors that define Peru’s modern culinary identity.
Churches: While an entrance fee is charged to visit the cathedral, other Lima churches open their doors to everyone. For example, if you are in town on a Saturday afternoon all the churches are open to the public, making this the perfect time to see San Francisco or Santa Domingo or La Merced.