Lima Layover: Is Lima Safe?

by Chris on January 18, 2011

I loved Lima, but couldn’t help noticing all the armed guards and police around the city. Some thoughts on how to be safe in Lima.

Military parade in Lima

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I found myself surprised by Lima. At least in the areas where we were (the historic center, San Isidro, and Miraflores), the city seemed clean and safe, and I would happily go back to explore more of the city. But that doesn’t mean that travelers to this sprawling city should throw caution to the wind. Lima residents themselves complain about the extensive crime in the city – and we couldn’t help noticing the extensive police presence around town.

Police in Plaza San Martin, Lima

On a sunny Saturday morning, Plaza San Martin had many tourists and locals out enjoying the day – along with a number of armed police with dogs. We asked Roberto if the area was safe and he said, “Oh yes.” So you’d recommend that we walk here at night? we asked. He hesitated. “Not really.” It’s good to remember that neighborhoods can change drastically when the sun goes down. Plan your visit accordingly.

Police at Casa de Aliaga

With an eye out for safety, we strolled down the Jiron de la Union, the main street of Lima’s historic quarter. While it wasn’t crowded, we kept our bags close to our body – and noticed many backpackers wearing their packs in the front instead of the back. I also made sure that I didn’t have any valuables in my back purse pocket, which could be easier for a pickpocket to access. Lesson: Simple adjustments to how you carry your valuables can make a world of difference in preventing pickpockets or robberies. Leave your more important pieces – watches, jewelry, even flashy wedding rings – at home.

Tanks outside the Presidential Palace, Lima, Peru

We were a little stunned to see an armed tank at the end of the road, until we realized that we were in front of the Presidential Palace. It’s not unusual in foreign countries to see noticeably armed guards, but a tank was new for me. It definitely sent the signal that this was not an area to linger. A good reminder: Note your surroundings and the behavior of others around you. If other tourists (or middle-class locals) aren’t there, maybe you shouldn’t be either.

San Marco Plaza, Lima

You don’t need to travel with a guide in Lima, but I certainly felt better having Roberto around, at least in the historic center. I felt safer taking photos and enjoying the scene knowing that I had someone watching my back. Plus Lima has a glorious history that I might have missed out on without Roberto. If you have the means, hiring a city guide is a splurge worth considering in Lima, especially if you’re on a quick trip and you’re unfamilar with the city. I would also recommend using ATMs at hotels or airports instead of on city streets.

So to answer the question posed in the title of this post: Lima can be safe, as long as you are aware of your surroundings and take a few extra precautions. If I have Lima layovers in the future, I plan to explore other sites and musuems, such as the well-regarded Gold Museum, and eat at an authentic Chino-Peruvian chifa.

Thanks to LAN Airlines for sponsoring my visit.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Erlebnisreisen January 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I totally agree. I’ve not had any problems when I was in Lima. It’s a beautiful city and if a few precautions are taken anyone can have a wonderful time there.


Stan Diamond March 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm


Just wanted you to know that I find your blog interesting. I also agree that Lima is a lovely city. Loved the anthropology museum there. If you would like to take a peek, I have a blog on Third World Travel at:

Stanley Diamond


Perureise online July 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Lima is beautiful. And as you mentioned be aware of what is happening around you. This way you give no chance to anyone and you will be fine – that counts for Lima as the rest of Peru. Thanx for that report. I enjoye!


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