Most tourists or vistors that arrive in Lima, have a pretty good idea about the places they need to visit while visiting the city. Although, all their listed places might be the most visited and very well reccomended with no doubt at all, they could be missing on some other, less promoted areas, as well as worth as the others.
The need to visit the most common tourist spots, considering th short time a tourist may have in Lima, is quite logic and undisputable, I personally do the same thing when I travel, but I have found in the last five years that I run Casa Bella Boutique Hotel that there is more and more interest in the deep local staff rather than the tourist spots, people want to know more about the day-to-day staff and experience the Lima life like the locals do.
Recently, I met a nice american guest that was able to spend a little more time in Lima than most common visitors, he was the happiest men on earth, with a big smile all the time and facing life right up front. We became kind of friends and we would spent certain amount of time discussing about different issues, he was the type that wanted to explore everithing, trying to live each day with new exciting experiences. He would wake up early in the morning and would not comeback until late at night with all kinds of urban stories.
So what did this guy do? well, he would go to places or do things I would never think of reccomending a guest, like riding a Combi for example (informal transportation bus) I consider riding a combi lke a wild adventure sport, allowable only for the locals. This type of tranportation is unsafe, irresponsable, with rude and bad behave drivers. They have made out of some parts of Lima a chaotic city with no driving rules at all. But anyways, my guests was really happy that he rode in one of this combis, he found it fascinated and like nothing he experienced before, during the ride he was stear at all the time, with people wondering what the heck is this guy doing here.
Another day he came back all dirty and sweaty, he was able to get into a street soccer match in a tough neighborhood with little and nos spanish at all. I believe his body lenguage said a lot, he had a good energy aurea.
I am not saying people should be looking for this type of adventure or do this type of things, what I am trying to get out there, is that a trip should not be encircled in a tourist-route context, a trip could be more exciting by complementing it with local day-to-day experiences. A well balanced trip with a mix of tourist spots and well-guided local areas could be the best way to go to get the most out of your trip.
Places in Lima I would reccommend besides the famous tourist spots:
The Zoo (Parques de las leyendas, don´t go on a Sunday)
Parque El Olivar (historic park)
Embarcadero 41 (good place for young people to party, starts early in the afternoon)
La posada del Angel (nice bar in Barranco with life music)
La Punta, Callao
Take a bike ride for Miraflores and San Isidro, instead of riding a tourist bus, you will get to know more of the inner city spots than riding a tourist bus.
Enjoy your trip!
En: Travel el 16 September, 2010