The capital city of Peru is typically considered a jump-off point to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Despite its rough reputation for traffic, pollution, and beggars, Lima offers plenty of fitness-focused cultural experiences and sightseeing.
I lived in the city for a year; here are my favorite things to do in Lima that promote fitness.
Sightseeing While Jogging
Ditch the tour bus, go outside, and get a hands-on feel for the city by sightseeing while jogging.
Lima is laid out so you can easily follow jogging paths to see most of the major attractions. There are two ways to do it: with a group or on your own.
Several companies in Lima Center and Miraflores offer sight jogging tours. If you’re a budget traveler, a cheaper alternative is to make friends with a local who enjoys jogging and can show you around the city.
You can also go sightseeing while jogging on your own. Here are the three most popular neighborhoods from north to south and some of the attractions that you will pass:
- Begin at the San Francisco Church (Basílica y Convento de San Francisco), which is home to a monastery and catacombs
- Government Palace of Peru (Palacio de Gobierno)
- Cathedral of Lima (Catedral de Lima)
- Main Square (Plaza de Armas)
- San Martin Square (Plaza San Martin)
- Exposition Park (Parque de la Exposición), which features the following:
- Palace of Justice (Palacio de Justicia)
- Italian Art Museum (Museo de Arte Italiano)
- Independence Monument (Monumento de la Independencia)
- MALI: Museum of Art from Lima (Museo de Arte de Lima)
- Begin jogging south from the malecón or oceanside jogging path at the Place of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion (LUM: Lugar de la Memoria)
- Tres Picos Park (Parque Tres Picos)
- La Marina Lighthouse (Faro la Marina)
- Antonio Raimondi Park (Parque Antonio Raimondi)
- Love Park (Parque del Amor)
- You can either continue on the malecón to Barranco or follow the jogging path north to see the following in the center of Miraflores:
- Kennedy Park (Parque Kennedy)
- Central Park of Miraflores (Parque Central de Miraflores)
- City Hall (Municipalidad de Miraflores)
- Begin at Larcomar and jog south on the malecón to enter the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco
- Modern Art Museum
- Heroes Park (Parque de los Héroes)
- Diez Canseco Park (Parque Diez Canseco)
- La Ermita Church (Iglesia La Ermita)
- Bridge of Sighs (Puente de Los Suspiros)
- Main Square of Barranco (Plaza Barranco)
- Once you reach the main square, you have two options:
- You can turn around and jog through residential Barranco as the entire neighborhood is covered with street art
- You can make a right at the Starbucks and follow the tourist path down to the beach
I recommend bookmarking these attractions in an offline map on your phone so you can always look them up later even if you don’t have a Peruvian SIM card.
While you won’t find mountains as large and as impressive as Rainbow Mountain or the Salkantay Trail, there are several valleys with their own microclimates and foliage just outside of Lima.
Below, I’ve listed several hiking spots with well-marked paths.
I’ve listed them according to how far they are from Miraflores, since this is where most tourists stay.
You might have to take two buses to get to these places, so I recommend gathering a few friends and splitting a cab. It won’t cost more than a few dollars per person.
Lomas de Lucumo
A well-kept hiking path that is maintained by the local residents and ideal for beginning hikers. On weekends, you can find group rock-climbing excursions.
This is a beautiful three-hour hike through vegetation and wildlife. At the end of your hike, you’ll find a waterfall as your reward.
Lomas de Lachay
Located less than two hours outside of Lima, Lomas de Lachay is a protected reserve that hosts a number of rock formations and rare birds. You also have the option of camping here.
The Incans considered mountains as gods, and when you hike at Marcahuasi, it’s easy to see why: many say they can see faces in the sides of the ruins.
Las Cataratas de Songos
This is an excellent spot during the hotter months because you can swim and slide down rocks like a kid at a water park.
Take a Salsa Dancing Class
Salsa dancing is a fun workout that improves your coordination and boosts cognitive function.
You can also make salsa dancing a part of your fitness routine, especially if you’re not a fan of the traditional gym scene.
If you’re backpacking through South and Central America, knowing how to dance salsa – even if it’s only a few simple steps and basic turns – will significantly open up your social circle.
I learned salsa dancing in South Korea, but my love for it continued after I left. When I arrived in Lima, I was able to confidently get on the dance floor much to the surprise of the locals.
You’ll find salsa classes throughout Miraflores, Barranco, and Lima Center that are taught in English.
If you speak a bit of Spanish, you can save money and take salsa classes in the nearby neighborhoods of Lince, Jesus Maria, or San Miguel where the locals go.
Surfing is the full-body workout that you don’t know you’re doing because you’re having so much fun.
Although Lima isn’t as popular for surfing as Mancora or Punta Hermosa, there are still decent waves to catch.
Lima is ideal for beginning surfers because there are several schools along the coast, the waves aren’t overwhelming, and you can pick up the skills you need to take on more challenging surf destinations later.
The most popular spots to surf in Lima with schools and rentals nearby are Makaha Beach in Miraflores and Barranco Beach.
Prices will vary depending on the season and school, but the average cost of a rental is $10 for two hours and surfing lessons start at $20.
You can also rent a stand-up paddleboard if the water is calm.
Walk the Malecón
The malecón is a cliffside ocean path that runs from the Magdalena Del Mar neighborhood to the north to the tourist hotspot, Barranco, to the south.
It’s a great way to go sightseeing while jogging, but it’s also ideal for a peaceful stroll or power walk with incredible ocean views.
Bike Ride Through a Historic Neighborhood
Barranco is a hipster neighborhood that has been home to famous writers and artists such as Manuel Gonzáles Prada, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Víctor Delfín.
I lived in Barranco for several months, and I would often rent a bike from the vendor on the malecón and ride through the neighborhood, looking at all of the street art and old houses.
Afterward, I’d stop for a healthy lunch at the weekend food fair in Plaza Barranco.
Try a Cooking Class
Lima is home to some of the most famous chefs in Peru, most notably Gastón Acurio, and it’s said to have some of the best food in all of South America (and I agree).
When you take a cooking class in Lima, not only will you learn how to prepare several Peruvian dishes, you’ll make new friends, have plenty of laughs, and get a mini-workout as you run around the kitchen. Best of all, you can show off your new culinary skills once you return home.
Most cooking classes are found in Miraflores, but you’ll find some in Barranco and Lima Center as well.
In Peru, everything is negotiable. If you and several friends want to take a cooking class, use that to your advantage to lower the price and get a discounted group rate.
Which Fit Things Will You Try in Lima, Peru?
Are you a surfer who wants to ride the waves of Peru? Want to learn to cook some healthy Peruvian favorites? Can’t wait to walk the entire malecón? Let me know in the comments below.