High on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, where Limeños surf year-round, perches the eclectic district of Barranco. Located 20–25 minutes by taxi from Lima’s historic center, Barranco is known for its artist studios, galleries, street art, a trendy restaurant and bar scene and lovely residential streets. Many of Barranco’s larger houses date from the 1920s, when wealthy Peruvians living in central Lima built summer homes near the breezy coastline.
Visitors to Barranco typically stay at one of several excellent hotels or at the equally upscale properties in nearby Miraflores, a larger commercial district a mile up the coast. Barranco, however, offers a slower pace, with quiet, shaded squares often surrounded by colorfully painted colonial-style homes. From both neighborhoods views of the Pacific abound.
One of the first activities many visitors undertake is walking across the Puente de Los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs — no doubt because legend says if you make a wish and hold your breath across the 100-foot bridge, your wish will come true. Visitors can also view street art and, of course, the exhibits at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Lima, opened in 2013 with its collection of modern and contemporary Latin American art.
Fashionistas will enjoy MATE museum, founded in 2012 by Mario Testino, a native of Lima and one of the most influential fashion and portrait photographers in the world. The museum occupies a beautifully restored, 19th-century mansion filled with floor-to-ceiling portraits: Think Princess Diana, Madonna, Gisele Bündchen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss and other famous subjects. The 80M2 Livia Benavides art gallery specializes in Latin American conceptual art. The gallery, opened in 2012, developed critical discourses on contemporary topics, focusing on political, environmental and social issues.
Ceviche, a seafood dish made from fresh, raw fish cured in citrus juices and seasoned with spices, salt and onions, is popular in Peru, and both Barranco and Miraflores boast dozens of great cevicherías. At laid-back El Muelle in Barranco, locals sit on the shaded, outdoor patio enjoying fresh ceviche.
The restaurant Mérito opened in Barranco three years ago, with local design firm Ghezzi Novack renovating an older, two-story building to reveal original walls lined with adobe bricks. Paper lamps soften the interior light, and the large wooden doorway provides an entrance that is hard to miss. Serving local cuisine prepared by Chef Juan Luis Martínez, Mérito exudes a rustic feel that creates a wonderful, subdued Latino atmosphere.
Stay in the heart of Barranco at Hotel B, a 20-room, beautifully renovated Belle Époque mansion. This arts-boutique hotel also houses the Lucia de la Puente Gallery, a private collection of Latin American and Peruvian artists. The Hotel B earned South America’s “Leading Design Hotel 2020” in the World Travel Awards.
Easily explore Barranco and Miraflores while walking or biking, especially along the clifftop Malecón promenade, always bustling with bikers, skateboarders, joggers and strolling locals. Pause along the way to watch colorful paragliders zipping above the Pacific.
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