There's a reason why the Lima neighborhood of Barranco is so aesthetically pleasing. The area wasn't always part of the city: Barranco was originally a getaway for Lima residents, and its rambling colorful houses—many which have been converted into cafés, bars, and restaurants—still feel like a refuge from the bustle of central Lima.
Today, the neighborhood exudes art and color. Murals brighten public spaces, many buildings are boldly painted, and the gallery scene is a draw for first-time visitors and locals alike. There's creativity in Barranco's kitchens, too: the neighborhood's dining and drinking scene is rightfully celebrated. Read on for ideas and inspiration for what to see, do, eat, and drink in Lima's most bohemian district.
Planning Your Visit
Generally speaking, the neighborhood is small enough to explore on foot. Nearly all of the sights, as well as most of the best places to eat and drink, are within five or six blocks of each other. Barranco is, in fact, one of the best areas in the city for just walking, checking out street art and stopping in cafés and bars when the mood strikes. If you do need a lift from one place to another, whether in or out of Barranco take a city bus, or save time and hail a taxi: it's the quickest and easiest way to get where you're going.
Many style-minded travelers choose to base themselves in Barranco, thanks to the neighborhood's growing number of cool boutique hotels. But it's an easy day-trip destination even if you're staying elsewhere in the city.
Barranco is one of the city's safer neighborhoods. Still, use caution with valuables, and leave your passport locked up in your hotel room: pickpocketing is relatively commonplace, and foreigners (especially those in a relaxed state of mind, as you're likely to be in Barranco) make easy targets.
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Highlights & Things to Do
Walk across the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs)
The ornate wooden bridge known as Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) is the most photographed sight in the neighborhood. Locals and visitors congregate here for photo ops and relaxing walks, often continuing down the road that leads down to Barranco's beach (which is easily accessible via stairs from Parque Municipal, Barranco's central square). On the way, stop into Barranco's prettiest church, the mustard-yellow Iglesia La Ermita.
Catch sunset views by the beach
The road beneath the bridge slopes steeply down to one of Lima's best beaches, Playa Barranco. As you walk under the bridge, look for some of the district's most vibrant street art on the walls. Time your visit for the end of the day: you'll enjoy wonderful sea views as the sun goes down.
Check out the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
Founded in 2013, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) displays an impressive collection of modern Latin American art from the 1950s onwards. It includes works by abstract Peruvian plastic artists Fernando de Szyszlo and Emilio Rodríguez Larraín. Take a break from art appreciation with a drink in the café or a stroll around the gardens.
Visit a historic mansion at the Museo Pedro de Osma
Museo Pedro de Osma is a turn-of-the-century mansion surrounded by lovely gardens; inside, find a great collection of colonial furniture and art. Some of the exhibits date back to the first centuries CE, and the collection of paintings from the celebrated Cuzco School of Art are outstanding.
Shop for souvenirs at Dédalo Arte y Artesanías
An art and handicrafts outlet, Dédalo Arte y Artesanías is one of the best bets in Lima for quality locally made souvenirs, including jewelry, sculpture, and ceramics. Among the most interesting items are retablos, boxed folk art scenes full of minute figures engaged in traditional activities.
Where to Eat & Drink
Barranco's eating and drinking options are some of the best Lima has to offer. Ranging from low-key traditional eateries to sophisticated boho restaurants located inside casonas, the rambling turn-of-the-century vacation houses constructed by Lima residents, there's something for everyone here.
Touristy, but worth it for the fabulous views, are the restaurants and bars on the west side of the Puente de los Suspiros. Head to Restaurant-Bar Posada del Mirador for a drink or a bite while the sun sinks lower and lower in the sky. Cala, on Playa Las Cascadas, is one of the best places to eat and drink on the beachfront. Go for excellent ceviche and grilled octopus with Pisco sours, enjoying the waves crashing by the pebbles right alongside your table.
Away from the beach, most of the neighborhood's best restaurants, bars, and cafés are clustered within a few blocks of Parque Municipal. For a daytime coffee break with a mouthwatering slice of cake, try Tostaduria Bisetti on the plaza: dating back to the 1950s, this cheerful café offers great espresso and a peaceful garden where you can linger over it.
Isolina Taberna Peruana, set in one of Barranco's historic casonas, recently was chosen for the list of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants. Serving up unusual takes on Peruvian comfort food, such as octopus prepared in the style of traditional chicharrónes (fried pork rinds).
Ayahuasca is a legendary restaurant-bar-lounge set in a sprawling mansion. Specialties include generous sharing plates of crispy prawns, tequeños (cheese sticks), and skewered meats; pair your snacks with a quirky cocktail concocted with ingredients like aguaymento (Peruvian ground cherry) and coca leaves. And if you're in the mood for a beer, check out BarBarian. One of the neighborhood's best craft beer bars, the owners are spearheading the city's resurgent artisan beer scene.
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Where to Stay
Barranco doesn't have as many accommodation choices as the neighboring area of Miraflores. But Barranco is home to one of the city's best boutique hotels: Hotel B, a sophisticated Belle Époque mansion with original art decorating the walls and 17 uniquely furnished rooms. Another fantastic option with sublime views over the Lima coastline is Second Home, where just eight rooms are available in the former home of famous Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin, whose sculptures decorate the peaceful gardens.