As the largest city in the country, with a population of immigrants from around the country and the most international flavor, Lima certainly has Peru's most varied nightlife scene. Whether you're into jazz, criollo, Latin, or rock music, you'll find it here. The best after-dark scenes are in Miraflores and particularly Barranco, which transforms from a sleepy artists' and writers' community during the day to party central at night. Although it has a number of high-octane clubs and discos, it also has some of the city's best peñas and bars, especially those with ocean views just past the Puente de los Suspiros, or "Bridge of Sighs."
Bars open at about 8pm, but discos and live-music clubs don't generally get started until 10pm or later. Many are open very late, until 3 or 4am or even later.
Theater & Performing Arts
Lima’s Teatro Municipal (tel. 01/632-1300), the pride of the local performing-arts scene and the primary locale for theater, ballet, opera, and symphony performances, burned to the ground in 1998 and sat vacant for years, but was finally resurrected in late 2010 (with updated fireproofing and anti-seismic technology). It was been restored in dramatic fashion, with Juan Diego Flórez performing The Barber of Seville. Once again it is home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the municipal ballet (http://balletmunicipal.com). The 1940s-era Teatro Segura, Huancavelica 265 (tel. 01/426-7206), has mostly theater and dance performances, as well as opera and music concerts. Frequent cultural events, including films and music recitals, are held every week at the Centro Cultural Ricardo Palma, Larco Herrera 770, Miraflores (tel. 01/446-3959) and the British Council, Calle Alberto Lynch 110, San Isidro (tel. 01/221-7552). The Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano, at the corner of Angamos and Arequipa in Miraflores (tel. 01/446-0381), hosts theater, jazz, classical, and folk music. See the daily newspaper “El Comercio” (www.elcomercio.pe) for updated lists of live performing-arts events in Lima (in Spanish only).
Lima has a good theater scene, although, as one might expect, nearly all plays are in Spanish. Two of Lima’s best theaters are Teatro Canout, Av. Petit Thouars 4550, Miraflores (www.teatrocanout.pe; tel. 01/422-5373) and Teatro Auditorio Miraflores, Av. Larco 1036, Miraflores (tel. 01/447-9378). Tickets are available at the box offices.
Bars & Pubs
Barranco—The delightful area around the Puente de los Suspiros in Barranco has some of the coolest watering holes in Lima. There’s Santos, Jr. Zepita 203 (tel. 01/247-4609), a hip joint with an inventive decor, easygoing vibe, and slender balcony with views out to the ocean; the place is packed on weekend nights. Right across the bridge is the slick upscale bar and restaurant Picas, Bajada de Baños 340 (www.picas.com.pe; tel. 01/252-8095), serving great (if pricey) cocktails to a well-dressed crowd. Nearby, La Posada del Mirador, Pasaje La Ermita 104 (tel. 01/477-1120) occupies an old house overlooking the ocean in a verdant setting with indoor and outdoor garden seating. Posada del Angel, Av. Pedro de Osma 164 and 222 (tel. 01/247-0341) is a baroque cafe-bar with two locations on the same street and occasional live jazz and folk music. Ayahuasca, Prolongación San Martín 130 (tel. 9810-44745), is one of Barranco’s hottest—and biggest—nightspots, a stylish and usually packed bar in a stately colonial mansion with swank furnishings, art exhibits, and great cocktails, including an impressive array of pisco sours. Brewpub Barranco Beer Company, at Av. Almirante Miguel Grau 308 (www.barrancobeer.com; tel. 01/247-6211), just off the plaza, has a long list of artisanal beers, available in pints or flights, made in the back of the bar. Find more local craft beers nearby at Wick’s pub (tel. 01/247-4507; Av. Pedro de Osma 201) and the BarBarian Bar (tel. 01/987-261-942; Av. Pedro de Osma 144), both a short walk from Barranco’s plaza.
Lima Centro—There are two good pubs downtown owned by the same folks. One is Rincón Cervecero, a German-style bier hall, at Jr. de la Unión 1045 (www.rinconcervecero.com.pe; tel. 01/428-1422). The other, next door, is Estadio Fútbol Club, Jr. de la Unión 1047 (www.estadio.com.pe; tel. 01/428-8866), and strictly for fútbol fans: It’s a three-level bar (and disco on weekends) that amounts to a museum of the sport, and with dozens of big-screen TVs, it can get pretty rowdy when a big Peruvian or international game is on. Just beyond Lima Centro, in Pueblo Libre, is Antigua Taberna Queirolo, Av. San Martín 1090 (at Av. Vivanco) (www.antiguatabernaqueirolo.com; tel. 01/460-0441), a local institution. The atmospheric pisco bar and winery, with a long marble-topped bar, is one of the oldest in Peru, now into its second century. Taste one of the house piscos, accompanied by good snacks (piqueos) and more substantial Peruvian specialties such as rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper).
Miraflores and San Isidro—Huaringas, Bolognesi 472 (tel. 01/243-8151), the elegant upstairs at the restaurant Brujas de Cachiche, is one of the top spots in the country for a pisco sour, the national cocktail. The list of piscos is impressive, and the mixologists pour perfect variations, beginning with a coca or maracuyá sour. The very best cocktails in the city, also the most expensive, can be found at Carnaval (no phone), at Av. Pardo y Aliaga 662 in San Isidro, from star bartender Aarón Díaz. Other spots for top-notch cocktails are several restaurant bars, such Amaz, which uses Amazonian fruits and herbs to mix with pisco, or Central, with one of the most varied collections of liquor in the city. For craft beer, look no further than Lúpulo Draft Bar (www.lupulodraftbar.com; tel. 01/249-5268), at Av. Larco 421 near Parque Kennedy, though the beers of other artisanal Peruvian brewers are on its nine taps, too. It’s open until 3am on the weekends. Art Déco Lounge, Manuel Bonilla 227 (www.artdecolima.com; tel. 01/242-3969), a handsome conversion of an older home in Miraflores, takes its colorful and detailed Deco interiors very seriously, as it does the menu of cocktails and nicely selected wine list. La Esquina Winebar, Berlín 920 (www.laesquina.com.pe; tel. 01/242-2456) is a nice little wine bar/restaurant in a city that has very few of them. Murphy’s Irish Pub, Shell 619 (tel. 01/242-1212) is a longtime favorite drinking hole with a small menu of pub grub. Expect a pool table, darts, Guinness on tap, and Brits and Irishmen hoisting it. Murphy’s also hosts live music on Thursday.
Live Music Clubs
Barranco—My vote for best live-music club in Lima is La Noche, Bolognesi 307 (www.lanoche.com.pe; tel. 01/477-1012). Despite its prosaic name, this sprawling multilevel club feels like a swank treehouse, with a great stage and sound system and good bands every night that run the gamut of styles (although it’s frequently jazz), plus a hip, mixed crowd of Limeños and internationals. Monday-night jam sessions (no cover charge) are particularly good; otherwise, cover charges range from S/5 to S/40. There’s also a La Noche outpost in Lima Centro, at the corner of Jirón Camaná and Jirón Quilca. La Estación de Barranco, Pedro de Osma 112 (www.laestaciondebarranco.com; tel. 01/247-0344) is another nice place, housed in an old train station, with live music Tuesday through Saturday and a slightly more mature crowd (both locals and tourists); the music on tap is often criolla. Covers vary from S/5 to S/20. El Dragón, Av. Nicolás De Pierola 168 (www.eldragon.com.pe; tel. 01/221-4112), is a cool late-night music and dance spot with live reggae, Latin jazz, and electronic music, depending on the night. There’s not always a cover, but when there is it’s usually from S/20 to S/40.
Miraflores—A great spot for live jazz (as well as bossa nova and Afro-Peruvian evenings) is Jazz Zone, Av. La Paz 656, Pasaje El Suche (www.jazzzoneperu.com; tel. 01/241-8139); covers from S/10 to S/35. Cocodrilo Verde, Francisca de Paula 226 (www.cocodriloverde.com; tel. 01/445-7583), has jazz on Wednesday and a variable program of live music on weekends, with cover charges ranging from S/10 to S/30.
The classic Limeño night outing is a peña, a performance at a criolla music club that quite often inspires rousing vocal and dance participation. A visit to Lima really isn’t complete until you’ve seen one.
Barranco—Peña del Carajo!, Calle Catalino Miranda 158 (www.delcarajo.com.pe; tel. 01/247-7023), is a cool peña with good live music, percussion, and dance shows Tuesday through Saturday starting at 10pm. Covers range from S/20 to S/40. La Candelaria, Bolognesi 292 (www.lacandelariaperu.com; tel. 01/247-1314), is a comfortable club celebrating Peruvian folklore. It’s open Friday and Saturday from 9pm onward; the cover is normally around S/40. Don Porfirio, Manuel Segura 115 (tel. 01/477-3119), is a bit more downscale than most peñas and preferred by locals, an amiable, hidden-away spot invites participation in its good-quality music-and-dance shows. Cover is generally S/20.
Lima Centro—Brisas del Titicaca, Jr. Tarapaca 168, the first block of Avenida Brasil, near Plaza Bolognesi (www.brisasdeltiticaca.com; tel. 01/332-1901), is a cultural institution featuring noches folclóricas—indigenous music-and-dance shows—that are some of the finest in Lima. Shows are Tuesday and Wednesday at 8pm, Thursday at 9:15pm, and Friday and Saturday at 10:15pm. You can even catch a dance show with lunch, Friday and Saturday from noon to 6pm. Covers range from S/40 to S/70.
Miraflores—Sachún, Av. del Ejército 657 (tel. 01/441-4465), is favored by tourists and middle-class Limeños who aren’t shy about participating with their feet and vocal cords. The cover ranges from S/25 to S/50.
Many of Lima’s discos are predominantly young and wild affairs. Cover charges range from S/15 to S/50. The main drags in Barranco, Avenida Grau and Pasaje Sánchez Carrión (a pedestrian alley off the main square), are lined with raucous clubs that go late into the evening and annoy Barranco residents.
One popular disco is Lima Bar (no phone) in the Larcomar shopping center, Malecón de la Reserva 610 in Miraflores, with great sea views, and dance music ranging from electronica to the Latin specialty, pachanga. On the weekends they’ll stay open until 6am. Also check out Bizarro, at Calle Francisco De Paula Camino 220 in Miraflores (www.bizarrobar.com; tel. 01/446-3508), another late-night dance spot with top DJs that attracts pretty 20- to 30-somethings with money to spare on bottle service. At Deja-Vu, Av. Grau 294 (www.dejavu.com.pe; tel. 01/247-6989), the decor is based on TV commercials, and “waitress shows” tease horny patrons. It’s a dancefest from Monday to Saturday; the music trips from techno to trance. El New Kitsch, Bolognesi 743, Barranco (tel. 01/947-298-157) is one of Lima’s hottest bars—literally, sometimes it turns into a sweatbox—with over-the-top decor and recorded tunes that range from 1970s and 1980s pop to Latin and techno.
Gay & Lesbian
Although Peru as a whole remains fervently Catholic, and many gay and lesbian Peruvians feel constricted in the expression of their lifestyle, Lima is the most progressive city in the country, with the most facilities and resources for gays and lesbians, including a significant number of nightclubs. Among the most popular is Downtown Vale Todo, Pasaje los Pinos 160, Miraflores (www.mundovaletodo.com; tel. 01/444-6433), which has closed down a couple of times but always seem to open back up. It puts on occasional shows with strippers. Then there’s Legandaris, Calle Berlin 363 in Miraflores (tel. 01/446-3435), with drag shows and strippers. La Cueva, Av. Aviación 2514, San Borja (tel. 01/224-3731), is a lively disco with an eclectic soundtrack and large dance floor. All are generally open Wednesday through Saturday; cover charges range from S/15 to S/40.
Most foreign movies in Lima are shown in their original language with subtitles. Commercial movie houses worth checking out include Multicines Larcomar, Malecón de la Reserva 610, Miraflores (tel. 01/446-7336); Cinerama El Pacífico, Av. José Pardo 121, near the roundabout at Parque Central, Miraflores (tel. 01/243-0541); and Cinemark Perú Jockey Plaza, Av. Javier Prado 4200 (tel. 01/435-9262). Art and classic films are shown at the Filmoteca de Lima in the Lima Museo de Arte, Paseo Colón 125, Lima Cercado (tel. 01/423-4732), and El Cinematógrafo, Pérez Roca 196, Barranco (tel. 01/477-1961). Most theaters in the suburbs cost more than the ones in Lima Centro, but they’re more modern and better equipped. Several have matinee prices and discounts on Tuesday. For a list of films subtituladas (with subtitles), consult the Friday edition of “El Comercio” (www.elcomercio.pe). The term doblada means “dubbed.” Tickets run from S/12 to S/30.
Peruvians are big on casinos, and many of the larger upscale hotels in Lima have casinos attached. Some of the better ones are the Stellaris Casino at the JW Marriott Hotel; Fiesta Casino at the Thunderbird Hotel at Av. Alcanfores 475, Miraflores (www.fiesta-casino.pe; tel. 01/616-3131); and Sheraton Hotel & Casino, Paseo de la República 170, Centro (tel. 01/433-3320). Most casinos are open Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 2am, and Friday through Saturday from 5pm to 5am.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.