Lima is comprised of several sprawling districts, but budget travelers are most likely to be based in the historic area. This is part of Lima Centro, founded by the Spaniards in 1535, and recent restoration projects are making the area safer and more inviting than ever.
In past decades, the most popular hotels in Lima have been in the outer suburbs. However, there is an increasing selection of accommodation in the historic area, with a great selection of atmospheric inns and guesthouses in restored heritage buildings. This area is especially popular with backpackers, who spend days sightseeing and evenings drinking and dining close to their hostales.
Throughout the historic area of Lima, old-world alleys lead into grand plazas populated with bohemian cafés, churches and museums. Plaza Mayor is the most prominent. Nearby is Casa de Osambela Oquendo, a house from the 1800s with an impressive lookout tower that’s open to the public. Other noteworthy sites include the 16th-century Monastery of San Francisco with its impressive catacombs and library, or the Palacio de Torre Tagle, one of the finest colonial-era mansions in Lima.
The culture scene in the historic area is first rate. By day, the Museum of Art is a popular venue. It features four centuries’ worth of Peruvian art. In the evening, there are a few popular pubs in Lima Centro, along with Brisas del Titicaca, which is one of the best places to watch a cultural exhibition. Hotels in the historic area can offer up-to-date information on shows and schedules.