One of Lima’s “social bubbles”, the bustling district of Miraflores is an upscale neighborhood full of dining, department stores, and nightclubs. The district is situated just south of Lima’s downtown, and also features a strip of its own shoreline; beaches here get busy in the summer months. While it’s full of all this modern entertainment, the streets of this high-end neighborhood hide a wealth of history.
Curious to find out more? Then continue reading: I have been to Lima many times, each one of them staying in Miraflores. So I have explored this part of the city wide and far, and will share everything you need to know about it.
The History Of Miraflores, Peru
People have lived on this part of the Peruvian coast since antiquity. There’s evidence of this in the form of Huaca Pucllana – the ruins of a pyramid that stand to this day. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and Miraflores was first populated as a Spanish colonial town in 1535. By the middle of the 18th century, the district that was then known as San Miguel de Miraflores and was growing in popularity as a place to relax by the coastline. The region’s elite and high-flying businessmen came here to unwind at their summer residences.
A hundred years on, by the 19th century Miraflores had developed into a district of Lima; this was made official in 1857. It was made famous in 1881 for the Battle of Miraflores during the War of the Pacific, in which Chilean invaders sacked and destroyed much of the district. It took decades to recover.
Over the next century, Miraflores, Peru saw increasing urbanization and industrialization, with roads being built and skyscrapers popping up. By the end of the 20th century, there was concern about the changing image of Miraflores, Lima; many of the beautiful streets were altered by the continuing growth. There was a campaign to restore the district to its former glory, cleaning up the area, helping to maintain much of its charm and creating a place that remains enjoyable to visit.
Many vestiges of Miraflores’ past (and its more modern history) lay waiting for visitors to discover them, with plenty of cultural attractions in between too. Finally, continue reading to discover the best things to do in Miraflores, Lima.
The Best Things To Do In Miraflores Peru
Visit Huaca Pucllana
Also known as Huaca Juliana, this large adobe and clay pyramid dates back to 400 AD. You may not expect to find ancient ruins in the middle of the Peruvian capital, but that’s exactly what this stepped pyramid is. Built by the Lima culture that flourished in this region between 200 and 700 AD, the pyramid was constructed at a time when the site that would become Lima was primarily an agricultural settlement, where there were fertile lands laced with canals.
Cleverly, the pyramid was built using a technique called técnica de librero (literally “library technique”), which involves laying adobe bricks with spaces in between so that tremors from any earthquake could be absorbed.
Similar to the structures at Machu Picchu, Huaca Pucllana is built in a trapezoidal shape, with a wider base as a strong foundation. The purpose of this truncated pyramid, however, is thought to have been mainly ceremonial. Banquets would have been held here and rituals took place (including sacrifices). The overall intent of the building, it is theorized, was for the elite clergymen of the Lima culture to showcase their complete control over the people and water resources of the region.
Following the Lima culture’s dominance of this part of the Peruvian coast, in around 800 to 900 AD the Wari culture took over. The Wari used Huaca Pucllana as a burial site for noble people and multiple Wari mummies have been found with burial objects surrounding them. The Ichsma culture then ruled the region from 1000 to 1532 AD; they also used the pyramid as a burial site and for religious purposes.
Huaca Pucllana was left practically abandoned. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when mass development occurred in the area, that excavation took place. Before that, things had been built on top of it. It wasn’t properly excavated until the 1980s, however, and it became a cultural heritage site in 1984.
Today, visitors regularly can explore this timeworn relic up close and learn more about the heritage of the area at the on-site museum.
The site is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (closed Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Tours of Huaca Pucllana are available in English and Spanish.
Pet the cats in Parque Kennedy
This is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Miraflores! Also known as Miraflores Central Park, this large green space was named after American President John F. Kennedy. It was given this moniker due to the bust of the late president that was placed here on the occasion of Miraflores’ twinning with Pensacola, Florida, in 2003.
However, the park is less famed for its connection to Kennedy, more so for its collection of cats. A cat colony has lived in this park for years – specifically when, in 1994, people began to leave cats in the park to control a vermin problem. The cats stayed and have since multiplied. They’re a fun addition to the Miraflores landscape; don’t be surprised to see people stopping to feed or pet the friendly felines here.
There’s actually a cat association that was founded, the Gatos Parque Kennedy, who care for the cats here, making sure they’re fed, get sterilized, and arrange for adoptions for those who want to take them home.
In general, however, Parque Kennedy is just a nice city park. There are plenty of food vendors, locals taking strolls, going for a jog – and you may also spot local artists creating their latest masterpieces in the park, too.
Hang out in the Parque del Amor
As the name suggests, this small park overlooking the coast is dedicated to lovers. Opened on Valentine’s Day, 1993, it was designed by Peruvian artist Victor Delphin. Delphin took inspiration from Antoni Gaudi’s Parque Guell in Barcelona in the creation of this compact park. The evidence of this can be seen in the tile-covered benches of Parque del Amor, and mosaicked sayings such as “amor es como luz” (“love is like light”). At the center of the park there is a gigantic statue of a couple embracing.
Here, visitors to the park can enjoy beautiful views out across the Pacific Ocean. Cross over the bridge here and you can see an impressive sculpture by Fernando de Syszlo, which was inspired by an Inca astronomical clock.
Go shopping in Larcomar
If you like shopping, then don’t miss out on a visit to Larcomar. This seafront shopping center is the destination for all things retail – as well as dining and entertainment. Opening its doors in 1998, Larcomar’s modern aesthetic (and location on top of a cliff) won it an award for innovative design in construction by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Alongside 160 shops and boutiques, there’s also a theater, a bowling alley, an art gallery, arcade, and other places to keep you entertained. It’s a great spot to visit for those traveling to Lima with their family, but the views out across the sea here – as well as the chance to eat affordably on such a beautiful backdrop – make visiting one of the best things to do in Miraflores for just about anybody.
Get a drink in Calle Berlin
My first memories of Miraflores are from Calle Berlin – my friends and I immediately headed there for a drink after dropping our bags at the hotel, and loved the fun, friendly vibe. Calle Berlin is an infamous thoroughfare of Miraflores that connects Parque Kennedy with Parque Grau Miraflores.
This is the place to come to dance the night away in one of its nightclubs, or simply get a drink at one of the many bars situated along here – including Irish pubs. It may not be the most savory place to go after dark (i.e. it’s pretty lively!), but in the early evening you can also find a few nice places to eat along here as well.
Go for a walk on the Malecon
This clifftop promenade is one of the most popular places to visit in Miraflores. Rather than a simple one-trail promenade, the Malecon is a collection of many boardwalks that connects up parks and sights in the area. Along the way, you can stop off at any number of cafes and coffee shops, admire statues of famous Peruvians, and take in views of the sea and watch the surfers down below.
In short, this is a beautiful place to walk and enjoy a slow afternoon in the city. You’ll find locals jogging, walking their dogs, and generally chilling out. It’s no wonder this six-mile-long promenade has become such a symbol of this district.
The location of Miraflores along an unobstructed part of the Pacific Ocean makes it a prime spot for paragliding. This isn’t something you’d expect to be a big draw to any capital city, really, let alone Lima, but here it has become a mainstay of adventurous citizens and visitors alike.
As you walk along the coast here (the Malecon, for example), you’ll be able to spot paragliders floating in the air, enjoying the views out over the city. And if you feel like taking part, it’s certainly possible. The place to go is Raimondi Park, where the paragliding “port” is located (that’s near Parque del Amor). Here, you can join groups of paragliders, led by a professional instructor, who’ll guide you through the process. Don’t worry, beginners usually fly in tandem with an instructor so you won’t be by yourself.
Paragliding next to the cliffs of Miraflores makes for an incredible and unforgettable way to see the city. Flights usually last around 10 minutes. The paragliding port is open during daylight hours, and there are several different operators that use this port. If you don’t want to make the leap yourself, it’s still interesting to watch people doing it themselves.
If you don’t like the idea of floating through the air, but prefer to catch a wave instead, then you’re in luck: surfing is big news in Miraflores. There are many well known surf spots along the coast here where you can join in; the consistent swell throughout the year means consistently good waves, no matter what season you travel. This makes the beaches at Miraflores something of a surfers’ paradise (though mind you: the water is too cold for swimming!).
You don’t have to bring your board with you. If you already know how to surf, you can simply rent a board and get out there. But if you feel like learning the ropes yourself, there are numerous surf schools located along the coast. Remember to do research as not all surf schools are going to be equal.
Of course, if you don’t feel like surfing at all, seeing the groups of surfers that gather on the beach and bob around in the sea waiting for a good wave is pretty fun in itself.
Go to San Isidro to visit Parque Olivar
Parque Olivar may not be in Miraflores exactly – it’s officially just over the border in the neighboring district of San Isidro – but it’s so close to the district that you won’t have to travel far. Also known as Bosque el Olivar (“Olive Grove Woods”), the park is known for its small collection of centuries-old olive trees that grow among the lawns in tangled, dramatic shapes.
The olive trees were first grown here in 1560 when Antonio de Rivera brought saplings with him from Seville in Spain. However, only three of these saplings survived the crossing. They were planted in this area and over the centuries more were added to create a large grove, with almost 1,700 remaining today.
During its peak, there were over 3,000 trees in this park. Sadly, during the Peruvian War of Independence from 1811 to 1826, many of the trees were chopped down by the Spanish and those loyal to the crown. If you look closely at some of the older trees remaining today, you can still see the scars of the attack from the Spanish.
Parque Olivar was declared a Peruvian National Monument in 1959. In 2017, the park was additionally declared an Environmental Conservation Area, which means that the olive grove is now protected from the growing urban development of the city as a whole.
It’s a lovely place to visit on an afternoon. Here, you can sit among the shade of the trees, people-watch, and take note of the various species of bird that also call this park home. For those particularly interested in the olive grove, the municipality of San Isidro offers a tour: Conociendo el Bosque el Olivar (“Getting to know the Olive Grove Woods”). This is free of charge.
Eat at Mayta
If you’re looking for a special place to enjoy dinner, Mayta is the place to go. We were really curious to try it out, and I must say that we were impressed with the food, the ambience and the service.
Dubbed one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2022 (one of several in Lima), the food at Mayta focuses on contemporary Peruvian cuisine. The dishes here are based on native products but use modern culinary techniques to serve up sophisticated yet traditional eats.
Mayta translates to “Noble Land” in the Aymara language. Its founder Jaime Pesaque was born and raised in Peru, and trained in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, before coming back to start up his own restaurant in 2008.
It’s open every day for lunch (12:00 pm – 4:00 pm) and 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm for dinner. You really need to book in advance – if it’s fully booked, put your name on the waiting list. That’s how we managed to get a table!
Gorge on Ceviche at La Red
There’s no better place to try ceviche in Lima than at La Red. This mid-range upscale eatery serves up its very own ultra-fresh take on the Peruvian dish, resulting in possibly the best ceviche in town. There are a variety of other dishes on offer if you’re not in the mood for seafood cooked only with the power of citrus fruits – even vegans will find something appetizing on the hearty menu boasted by this Lima establishment. The criolla fish soup is mouthwatering! It’s open from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm every day.
Visit San Martin Market
For more in the realm of food, but at more affordable prices, hungry travelers should pay a visit to San Martin Market. This public market is a bustling place where you can browse colorful stalls, eating and drinking as you go; you’ll find everything here from traditional Peruvian cuisine to burgers and Texas barbeque. Sundays are particularly vibrant – see families enjoying the market and friends meeting up, as well as traditional dancers adding extra liveliness to the proceedings.
Enjoy a magnificent sunset!
Sunsets are amazing in Miraflores for obvious reasons – facing west over the Pacific Ocean, here you’ll have an unobstructed view of the sun as it dips below the horizon. It seems to take forever (in a good way!).
One of the best sunset spots in the city is the Parque del Amor, but then again, you could grab a good seat at one of the eateries in Larcomar and watch the show with food. Then again, you could simply sit on the beach with some snacks for a more tranquil vibe. Either way, you’re in for a treat!
Looking to explore outside of Lima? Head over to my post The Best Day Trips From Lima.
Guided tours of Miraflores
The best way to get your whereabouts once you arrive in Miraflores, Peru, is to join one of the many guided tours that will take you to the main places of interest. We did one, and we were super happy with the guide, the pace of the tour and what we learned about the city.
For a guided tour of Miraflores that also goes to Barranco and San Isidro, click here. It’s the one we did and I can highly recommend it.
For a bike tour of Barranco and Miraflores, click here.
Make sure to also read my post What To See And Do In Barranco, Lima.
Where to sleep in Miraflores, Lima
Miraflores has it all. This high-end neighborhood is an enigmatic mix of historic sights, green spaces, entertainment, and good food – all set along the coast. From here, it’s easy to reach other districts in the city; it has beaches, it has promenades, it has malls.
Everything you could want for a trip to Lima. And on top of all of that, there are some great accommodation options that can suit different travel types and different budgets. In fact, this is where I stay whenever I visit Lima. Below is a selection of places to stay.
Make sure to also read my post Where To Stay In Lima.
Luxury: Pullman Lima Miraflores
Boasting a selection of 230 rooms and suites, this high-end property has a long list of amenities to match its upscale credentials. Guests can take a break from their sightseeing by dining at one of the two on-site restaurants, hitting the gym, or taking a swim in at the hotel’s pool – this is located on the rooftop overlooking the sea, so you won’t even need to find a sunset spot elsewhere if you don’t want to!
It’s located just a kilometer from Playa la Estrella, and very close to the beautiful Larcomar Mall and the waterfront.
Mid-range: Hotel Boulevard
Hotel Boulevard is a fantastic mid-range accommodation choice in Miraflores. Located just a 10-minute walk from Parque Kennedy (and its cats), and close to the cliffside Malecon walkway, there are also a whole lot of restaurants on the doorstep.
The hotel itself features modern rooms with large, comfortable beds and polished bathrooms. Amenities here include a year-round outdoor pool (situated on the rooftop) as well as a fitness center; there’s also an on-site restaurant and a buffet breakfast on offer each morning.
Budget: Ayenda El Patio Miraflores
This down-to-earth property is the place to stay in Miraflores if you want a cozy, welcoming and affordable place to stay. Set inside a comfortable house in the center of the district, guests staying here will be welcomed by a colorful patio overflowing with flowers and a bright color palette of decor.
Rooms at Ayenda El Patio Miraflores feel calm and feature traditional interiors and antique wood furnishings; some even come with small kitchenettes. Being a bed-and-breakfast, there’s also delicious breakfast included in the price so you can start your day the right way (not hungry).
How to get to Miraflores from the airport
Jorge Chavez International Airport is located in the northern portion of the city, specifically in the Callao district, and is around 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Miraflores. There are a few different ways to get from the city’s airport to Miraflores. Here are all your options.
Getting the taxi from the airport to Miraflores was previously the only sensible way. Today, it is one of several ways, but I would say it is still the easiest option. There are three taxi companies to choose from, all offering a flat rate. It should be between $15 and $18; don’t pay any more than this.
Another option that relieves much of the stress around arriving in a new country is to arrange a private transfer from the airport to Miraflores. This can usually be done in advance through your accommodation, or via one of the many transfer booking sites. It means you’ll have a driver waiting for you when you arrive, taking out the hassle of having to deal with taxis or bus timetables.
Book your transfer from Lima Airport to Miraflores here.
Airport Express Bus
Another fairly straightforward option is to get the Airport Express Bus. This connects the airport with the Miraflores and San Isidro districts. Tickets can be purchased for these 40-seater coaches at the official desk within the airport arrivals area, or online in advance of your visit. They have room for your luggage to be stored below and there’s even wi-fi.