So you’re visiting Lima and you want to see a bit more of the country, but you don’t quite have enough time to venture off to the Amazon, Machu Picchu or Puno – where do you go and what do you do?
This was one of the challenges of my time in Lima. Technically, I was there to complete an internship in the capital, but I also wanted to make the most of my weekends. My problem was that 2-3 days wasn’t enough to venture very far, so I had to plan weekend trips from Lima that were a bit closer to home. Here’s a look at some of the trips I was able to take, and a few additional ones that I didn’t have time for but that you may want to consider:
If you’re looking for thrills and spills, then Huacachina is the place for you! Picture a little emerald lagoon surrounded by palm trees, and then towering sand dunes as far as the eye can see. There’s a rip-roaring in the distance and the sound of screams and laughter spilling in. The dunes look menacing but curiosity gets the best of you and you sign up for the ride of your life; a dune buggy that feels more like a roller coaster on wheels, and then the option to go sandboarding down these sandy beasts headfirst. This place is a lot of fun and it would be my top choice for an easy weekend trip from Lima.
Distance from Lima: 312 kilometres
Travel time: 4 hours
I personally didn’t find the city of Ica itself all that alluring, but what Ica does have to offer are great vineyards. Better yet, some of these vineyards have hotels where you can spend the whole weekend sampling wine, hiking, sampling some more wine, swimming, enjoying another glass of wine…you get the picture.
I stayed at Viñas Queirolo and it was one of the most relaxing weekends I had in the country. Not only was it a beautiful property, but it was a magical setting. On our first afternoon there we toured the vineyard and walked through the plantation. Then we drove up to a lookout point where we enjoyed the sunset with drinks in hand, and this was followed by a delicious dinner in the hotel’s very own restaurant. I was blown away by the warm service, the bright yet rustic rooms, and the high-quality ingredients used in the cuisine. It’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for a relaxing weekend trip from Lima.
Distance from Lima: 294 kilometres
Travel time: 3 hours 37 minutes
Astronomical calendar, sacred ceremonial site, message to the gods, map of an underground water source, UFO runway? There have been a lot of different theories surrounding the Nazca lines, some more plausible than others, yet the mystery still remains. Why are these lines here and what is their message? While the jury is still out on what these ancient geoglyphs mean, we do know that they were of importance to the people who once inhabited this area.
While some of the Nazca lines can be enjoyed from atop the surrounding hills, the best way to see them is by taking a flight in a little avioneta. That being said, it is a white-knuckle ride that may or may not require the use of a barf bag.
Distance from Lima: 425 kilometres
Travel time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Paracas & Islas Ballestas
This is a great destination if you want to spot some of the local wildlife. Paracas is a small part town that caters to tourists and it is also the jump off point for exploring the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reservation. The town’s main avenue is lined with tour operators so it’s easy to find an excursion to suit your travel style. Since I was passing through I opted for the 2 hour tour of Islas Ballestas. During the outing we were able to spot seals, penguins, cormorants, red-footed terns, and countless starfish and sunfish.
Distance from Lima: 267 kilometres
Travel time: 3 hours 19 minutes
And now here’s a look at a few destinations that I didn’t have time to visit, but that you could easily turn into weekend trips from Lima:
Asia and Southern Beaches
Asia is a district located in the province of Cañete and it has long been a favourite summer hot spot for Limeños looking to get out of the city. Asia is made up of a series of beaches that sit on the shores of the Pacific and the area has seen plenty of development in recent years. Expect luxury condos, restaurants, shopping centres, and clubs, as well beaches!
Distance from Lima: 115 kilometres
Travel time: 1 hour 24 minutes
Flickr image by Martin Garcia via CC BY 2.0
This is a destination for those who love adventure and the outdoors. Lunahuaná may be a small village but don’t for a minute think you’ll get bored there. The landscape lends itself well to trekking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, rapeling, four wheel driving, horseback riding, valley tours and more.
Distance from Lima: 188 kilometres
Travel time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Pachacámac is an archaelogical site that’s just a short drive outside of Lima. It was a sacred city and pilgrimage site for the creator god, Pachacámac, who was believed to be responsible for earthquakes and wars. The site is home to many ancient structures including the Temple of the Sun and the Mamacuña, a housing complex where selected maidens served the Inca.
Distance from Lima: 49 kilometres
Travel time: 1 hour
Flickr image by Martin Garcia via CC BY 2.0
Caral is another archaeological site and it is one of the oldest settlements that has been discovered in the Americas. The site contains a series of pyramids, temples, houses, and even an amphitheatre. It is believed that at its peak it held around 3000 inhabitants.
Distance from Lima: 172 kilometres
Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes
So there you have it! A few easy weekend trips from Lima that are easily accessible from the capital. Just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to experience a different side of Peru!
Do you know of any other easy weekend trips from Lima?
Let us know in the comments below.