Information & Facts
Lima has a mild climate, although it is situated in the tropics, and rain in the city is almost unheard of. The weather in Lima is influenced by the cold offshore Humboldt Current, which ensures that summer temperatures hover in the low to mid 60's Fahrenheit (16-18ºC), and only a few degrees lower in June and July. Humidity in the city is very high, and as a result fog is often present, especially between May and November.
Lima is divided into four quarters, which are small enough to explore on foot. Travelling from one section to another is best done in a bus or taxi, however. The regular buses serving the city consist of microbus vans and larger 'school bus' vehicles. These are plentiful and inexpensive, although uncomfortable and frequently involved in accidents. These 'micros' and 'combis' can be flagged down in the street. Destinations are usually not marked so ask the driver before boarding. Taxicabs are also plentiful and cheap, of no particular make or model, but recognisable by plastic signs on the windshield. Taxis are not metered and the fare should be agreed before departure. Driving in Lima is hazardous: not only are the roads in generally bad condition, but local drivers are reckless and aggressive. Car rental is therefore best avoided.
Spanish and Quechua are the official languages, but many other dialects are spoken. English is spoken only in major tourist centres and hotels.
The official currency is Nuevo Sol (PEN) divided into 100 céntimos. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, but all major international credit cards, including Diners Club and MasterCard, are accepted in many, but not all, establishments. Outside Lima facilities may be more limited. Travellers cheques may also be difficult to exchange in small towns and villages, and travellers are advised to have cash on hand. US Dollars are the easiest currency to exchange and plenty of restaurants, hotels and shops in the main cities accept dollars for payment. Casas de cambio(exchange bureaux) often give better rates than hotels and banks and can be found in any town on the tourist circuit. ATMs are available in the main cities.
Shopping in Lima is a very rewarding experience, with a vast selection of both local and international goods on offer; alpaca wool garments are a prized souvenir from Lima. The most popular shopping areas are Miraflores and Lima Centro, and most shops are open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 12:30pm, and from 3pm to 8pm. There is no tourist rebate on the 18 percent sales tax charged in Peru.
Alpaca sweaters, ponchos, rugs, coats, blankets, and other popular Peru souvenirs are available from Alpaca III in Miraflores. Other handicrafts, including woven items and ceramics, can be found at markets in the main squares of Miraflores and Barranco, in the shops on Avenida Ricardo Palma, and in Centro Comercial El Suche. There's a good selection of silver jewellery and antique stores on Avenida La Paz in Miraflores, while La Casa Azul on Alfonso Ugarte specializes in colonial furniture and religious art. Those looking for traditional Peruvian instruments like quenas or charangos will find good stores on Calle Cantuarias near Astrid y Gastón. Several will even help you find someone to teach you!
There are a number of markets and malls to browse for bargains in Lima. The Feria Artesanal (Artisans' Market) has a great selection of local handicrafts, and Mercado Central and the Río Rímac flower market are also worth visiting. The Jockey Plaza Shopping Center in Surco and the Larco Mar mall in Miraflores offer a vast array of high-end shops, restaurants, cinemas and entertainment. Good supermarkets in Lima include Metro, in Lima Centro, and the Vivanda supermarket chain.