Although still some guidebooks and websites discourage you to stay in Lima, you can actually spend easily a couple of very pleasurable days here, mixing archeology, architecture and history with gastronomy and music. Some ideas on what to do and where to go.
Historical Center of Lima - one day
Apart of course of the four different walking tours of LIMA WALKS in the historical centre, you can visit several museums, free ones are the Afroperuvian Museum in Jr. Ancash 542 (open daily except Sundays from 9 am till 5 pm, closed at the moment, supposed to reopen June 4th 2014), in a beautiful restored rococo style colonial house, and the art collection of Banco Central de Reserva in Jr. Ucayali. Visit Casa Aliaga, the only house in both the Americas where the same family lives for almost 500 years. The restaurant in Parque de la Muralla serves a great lomo saltado, but their ceviche is excellent as well. Behind the Municipality is a T´anta, a Pardo´s Chicken and several other restaurants, or a chifa in Lima´s Chinatown. You can take a coffee at San Antonio in the recently opened Urban Hall, or a pisco sour in the afternoon in the English Bar of Hotel Maury, Jr. Ucayali 201. Another good museum, the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) is at the Plaza Grau at the start of the historic center. At night you can go to Brisas de Titicaca for the best folcloric dances in Lima.
Pachacamac and Barranco - one day
In the morning you can visit the archeological site of Pachacamac, the most important oracle in the time of the Inca Empire. This half an hour by car from Miraflores. After that have lunch in Barranco, for instance in Canta Rana or the Posada del Mirador, a great location for a beer, fried squid and a view of the Pacific. A walking tour of LIMA WALKS of course in Barranco. Afterwards you can visit the Museo Pedro de Osma with its great collection of religious colonial art. Barranco is rich in design shops and art galleries. After all that shopping happy hour in Bar Santos, next to the Puente de Suspiros, but be careful, four pisco sours do have an effect. If you're in the mood upscale dinner in Amoramar, Chala or Cala down the Bajada at the seaside, or drinks with piqueos in Ayahuasca Bar or Picas. Then to the music: authentic Afroperuvian peñas Don Porfirio (Manuel Segura 115, only Fridays) and Rompe y Raja, or contemporary rock in La Noche.
San Miguel and Pueblo Libre - one day
Lima existed already long before the Spanish arrived, the main urban center of the prehispanic period is Maranga, now located in the Parque de las Leyendas in San Miguel, more than 50 huacas (temples), located in a nicely landscaped zoo, with an instructive site museum. From there it is a short distance to Pueblo Libre, possible as a LIMA WALK, to the former 16th century village where you find the two most important archeological museums; private Museo Larco, located in an old hacienda on top of a prehispanic temple, with a beautiful collection mainly focussed on the cultures of the north coast (Moche and Chimu) and the Museo de Arqueologia, Antropología y Historia in the former summer palace of the last Viceroys gives a good overview of all Peruvian cultures including the present one. Taberna Queirolo is the last remaining bodega and still produces its own pisco and wine; a great lunch location.
Miraflores - half day
Miraflores is the main touristic center of Lima where you find hotels, restaurants and nightlife.The most important cultural attraction is the Huaca Pucllana, a 2,000 year old temple, which organizes very instructive tours (in the morning). The site hosts also one of the most unique restaurants of Lima, called as well Huaca Pucllana. But the most famous (upmarket) restaurants of Lima are located in this district as well; Astrid y Gastón, Rafael, La Gloria, La Mar, Pescados Capitales, El Mercado. And of course a stroll along the green parks of the malecón, seeing the sun set over the Pacific is a treat in itself.
Taxis, Spanish and distances
Lima is a large city, parts can be walked, but for the large distances you need transportation. The two most extreme options are either hiring a car with driver through an agency, or go around in a combi, although the latter option takes a lot of time. The first a lot of money. If you´re not speaking Spanish (too well) taking a taxi in the street can be daunting. In that case ask your hotel to call you a taxi. Almost always you can make a deal with the driver that he picks you up after you have visited an area and brings you back, you pay at the end. If you take a taxi in the street remember to agree on the price before getting in. To get back to your hotel it also works good if you let the driver drop you off in a bigger known street close to the hotel, not every driver knows every side street.