Grab a sandwich from a gourmet fast-food joint and head into the historic centre.
Peru's superior coffee franchise Cafe Verde uses only high-grade native-grown beans, which provide the best way to wake up in Lima (www.cafeverdeperu.com, $10). In pleasant, leafy Miraflores you can rent a bike (biketoursoflima.com, $20) and ride the Malecon, the six-mile stretch of coastal parks that run along the sheer green cliffs where the city meets the Pacific. Then grab a sandwich from Pasquale Hermanos – the gourmet fast-food joint operated by world-famous local chef Gaston Acurio (various locations, www.pasquale.com.pe, $20), and head into the historic centre.
Around the Plaza De Armes you can see the Government Palace, the breathtaking religious paintings in the cathedral (entry $2), and the Peruvian House of Literature inside the restored central train station (www.casadelaliteratura.gob.pe, free). Then walk down to the Plaza San Martin for a pisco sour at the old Gran Hotel Bolivar (www.granhotelbolivar.com.pe $5). You'll get a superb dinner of low-cost high-quality local cuisine at the neighbourhood restaurant LA 73 (www.restaurantela73.com $25) and a cheap but cosy private room nearby at the Open Guest House (www.openguesthouselima.com/en, $40)
Easy Does It
Line your stomach with oats and honey at Lima's most old-school Swiss cafe La Tiendecita Blanca (www.latiendecitablanca.com.pe $20) before sailing out to tour the nearby Callao Islands, where you suit up and swim with the affable sealions (www.enlima.com, $45). Back on shore, head to La Mar for the best ceviche in the city – locals claim the classic native seafood dish should be eaten only at lunchtime, for digestive reasons (lamarcebicheria.com $20). Then absorb a few thousand years of local history through the artefacts at the private Larco museum, including the must-see "Erotic Gallery" of sexually explicit ancient pottery (www.museolarco.org, $15). More recent history is written on the walls of Juanito's, a family-run bodega bar that long precedes the modern bohemian trendiness of the surrounding Barranco district (www.facebook.com/eljuanitodebarranco, $10 for a jug of beer). It's a short walk to the superb fusion restaurant Chala with its terrace just beneath the famous Bridge of Sighs (www.chala.com.pe , $20), and the Casa Inca Hotel is another family-owned institution nestled into the cliffs of Miraflores (www.casaincaperu.com, rooms from $100).
Start by jumping off the cliff at Miraflores, with an early morning tandem paraglide from the Extreme Sports Cafe (www.extremesportscafe.com/brochure/content/paragliding-peru-courses $110). Then take a half-day gastronomic tour of the city's foodie highlights with the Lima Gourmet Company, which includes a class in making perfect ceviche and pisco, and a haute cuisine lunch at the 1500-year-old ruins of Huaca Pucllana (www.limagourmetcompany.com, $125). After, you can shop for authentic folk art and craftworks at the atmospheric Mercado Indio on Avenida Petit Thouras, or the more boutique specialist Artesanias Las Pallas (no website, Cajamarca 212, Barranco). Then take a seat at the beautiful Teatro Segura (www.limacultura.pe, premium seating from $70) for a night of ballet or opera, followed by a leisurely late dinner at Malabar, among the finest restaurants in a city with high standards (www.malabar.com.pe, 10-course tasting menu for $100). Though barely a year old Hotel B has established itself as Lima's premier boutique hotel – the former summer home of two prominent local families it has been exquisitely renovated and decorated with world-class art from the current owner's private collection. Hotel B, (www.hotelb.pe, rooms from $340).
Total: $745 plus shopping
The writer was the guest of Casa Inca and Hotel B