Sure, Miraflores can't measure up to Central Lima when it comes to baroque architecture or world-class museums. But there’s this: it’s infinitely cooler. This seaside neighborhood, sandwiched between posh San Isidro and bohemian Barranco, strikes the perfect balance of uptown class and downtown charm. Here’s our guide to what you can’t miss.
Go for the breakfast of champions. Celebrate the most important meal of the day, Peruvian style, at the open-air sandwich shop El Enano. Sit at the counter and order chicharron heaped high on a baguette and pair it with a glass of freshly squeezed juice. Another well-reviewed eatery is Rincon Chami, an old Miraflores staple serving hearty, traditional plates.
(Don't) blister in the sun. Spare yourself the sunburn and do your beach bumming in the morning. And don't let the mysterious mist that often shrouds Lima deceive you. The ozone layer is quite thin, and even moderate temperatures call for lots of sunscreen. Walk down Bajada de Balta, a 19th century cobblestoned boulevard flanked with palm trees and benches, then cross the bridge and stairway that lead to Playa Costa Verde. From the beach, take in the views of the soaring cliffs, and the paragliders leaping off of them. Watch the surfers that crowd the sea, or go ahead and join them -- the beach abounds with surfing instructors.
Shop seaside. Seek refuge from the heat at the LarcoMar shopping center. Perched atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, it's one of the prettiest malls you'll ever shop. The outdoor center boasts not only high-end clothing stores, but also restaurants, nightclubs, and even a bowling alley.
Eat a lunch -- or two. Chock full of trendsetting restaurants, featuring everything from traditional fare to Andean fusion to foreign imports, Miraflores is prime territory for gourmands. Central and La Mar are two highly recommended options. If you're in the mood for Andean with a twist (cooked with sustainably sourced ingredients, to boot), go with the former; for ceviche, you can't beat the latter.
Make friends in the park. Take a taxi to the center of Miraflores (just make sure to negotiate the rate before getting in) and hop out at Parque Kennedy. Named after the American president, this scenic space makes for the perfect people-watching -- and cat-watching -- spot. The felines are everywhere, and they have no qualms about lying in the middle of pedestrian paths. Unless you've got a snack to share, in which case they'll happily trot out of the way to sidle up beside you.
Splurge on dinner. There is no better fine dining spot than Fiesta. While the menu is a bit pricey for Peruvian standards, the small dent to the wallet is well worth it. Make sure to order the arroz con pata a la chiclayana, a mouthwatering rice-and-duck dish that hails from Northern Peru. Or, if you're more interested in the view than the food, reserve a table at the beautiful La Rosa Nautica, set on a pier in the Pacific.
Explore the nightlife. Miraflores is known for its wide ranging nightlife that is as much about sipping pisco sours in dignified cafes as it is about getting rowdy in raging discotheques. Go to Haiti for sidewalk seating and cocktails. Take a walk down Pasaje Juan Figari, known as “Pizza Street,” for your pick of clubs, and head to Café Bar Habana for a little trip to Cuba.