Lima retains a certain elegance, particularly in its colonial centre. The city still brims with culture and history, though it may not be obvious at first.
Top of its attractions are some excellent museums – the best of which should definitely be visited before setting off for Machu Picchu or any of Peru's other great Inca ruins – as well as fine Spanish churches in the centre, and some distinguished mansions in the wealthy suburbs of Barranco and Miraflores.
First of all, while enjoying your MSC World Cruise, you can visit Lima Centro with all its splendid architectural attractions, the neighbourhood is very much a centre of Limeños’ daily life. The main axis is formed by the parallel streets – Jirón de la Unión and Jirón V Carabaya – connecting the grand squares of the Plaza San Martín and Plaza Mayor. Here the roads are narrow and busy, bringing together many of the city’s office workers with slightly downmarket shops and their workers. There are many fine buildings from the colonial and Republican eras, overhung with ornate balconies, yet apart from a few – notably the Presidential Palace and Torre Tagle – these are in a poor state of repair.
To the north you’ll find the slightly run-down, but fascinating Rimac suburb, home to the city’s bullring. South of the two main plazas, some lavish parks and galleries are within walking distance. South of here, along and just inland from the ocean clifftop, the modern centre of Miraflores, where most tourists stay, buzzes with shoppers by day and partiers by night.
East along the coast a few kilometres, what was once a separate seaside suburb and artists’ quarter, Barranco, still boasts both tradition and a vibrant atmosphere.