While almost every visitor to Peru is anxious to see the spectacular Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, we advocate strongly in favor of taking the time to savor the sights, sounds and flavors of Lima, Peru's vibrant capital.
We've found three guilty pleasures that will leave you wanting to linger longer.
Home to some of Lima's best known musicians, designers, photographers and artists, this bohemian neighborhood is enjoying a renaissance with trendy art galleries, hip music spots and artsy boutiques. You'll find Lima's contemporary art museum MAC, as well as Museo Pedro de Osma, housing one of the best collections of colonial art.
The name Barranco itself means ravine, which aptly describes the topography. Spanning the ravine is the Puente de los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs. Running underneath this bridge and along the ravine is the Bajada de los Baños, which leads through Barranco, past numerous cafés, galleries and nightclubs down to the beach, home to the local surfing scene.
If you really want to get a glimpse of the modern face of Lima, Barranco is a great place to start. At the heart of it lies the trendy Arts Hotel B, where all INCA guests will enjoy exemplary service, comfort and hospitality.
Founded at a time when unscrupulous collectors were plundering Peru's pre-Columbian treasures, Rafael Larco Hoyle inherited his family's collection of clay pottery and artifacts and together with his uncle, established a museum in 1926 to safeguard the collection. Now one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of pre-Columbian art, the museum represents more than 10,000 years of Peruvian history.
Considered one of the fathers of Peruvian archeology, Larco Hoyle started collecting pieces of pre-Columbian erotic pottery in the 1960s, which is now one of the most popular permanent exhibits.
Unlike most museums, visitors are invited back into the storage galleries to view pieces not currently on display.
Combining classic cooking techniques with fresh Peruvian ingredients, chef Virgilio Martinéz Véliz is enjoying well deserved celebrity. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London and apprenticing at Lutèce in New York, Martinéz Véliz returned to Lima's hot new culinary scene and set the city on fire when he opened Central Restaurante.
Debuting at the No. 35 spot of the World's Top 50 Restaurants in 2008, Central had jumped to the No. 15 spot in 2014, and moved up to No. 4 in 2015. Central is rated the top restaurant in Latin America.
Combining little known indigenous ingredients from the Andes highlands, coastal lowlands and Amazon forest into a new Contemporary Peruvian cuisine has become the recipe for Martinéz Véliz' phenomenal success.
Reservations for dinner at Central are often sold out weeks in advance. Even a lunch table may require significant advance planning. Guests on any INCA Peru itinerary will receive the assistance of INCA staff in obtaining reservations at Central or any of the other hot dining spots in Lima.