For a slice of Lima’s artsy, bohemian side, spend a day or more wandering Barranco's cobblestoned streets, lined with art galleries, indie boutiques, food carts, and bars. The name of the neighborhood translates as "ravine," and this area started out as a summer retreat for wealthy families, and some of its Colonial-style, early-20th-century mansions still being used as shops. Barranco is also home to MATE – Mario Testino, the MAC contemporary art museum, and Galería Museo Pedro de Osma, among others. Walk along Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), then take the stairway and wind down Bajada de Baños to the beach, stopping off for a drink at one of the numerous cafés along the way. Night owls and party people also flock to Barranco, given the ever-increasing number of hip bars, craft breweries, and restaurants that have opened in the past few years. At the very least, set aside a day (or two) for Barranco, and start with the six must-see places listed here.
Celebrated son Mario Testino returned to his city of birth to open MATE, a stunning visual portfolio of the photographer’s most famous works. Fashion, film, and music’s great and glamorous feature in two permanent collections at the Barranco-based museum, spanning the careers of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, the Rolling Stones, and Angelina Jolie among others. It’s not all glitz and celebrities, however: Alta Moda, Testino’s take on high Andean fashion, is equally captivating. Most striking, however, is the Diana, Princess of Wales, exhibit, a haunting collection of images first published in 1997 in Vanity Fair.
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The magnificent recently restored mansion of Don Pedro de Osma y Pardo is yet another place to see a rich variety of art and artifacts. Built around 1900, the house was once a stage for the grand lives of Peru's aristocrats.
Dédalo Arte y Artesania
Dédalo, one of Barranco’s original artisan headquarters, is part art gallery and part crafts hub. Set in an early-20th-century mansion, Dédalo's layout lures you from one tiny showroom to another. Stop by Perrocomemeo for silver pendants and necklaces, Anntarah for kids’ coats spun from baby alpaca, and unusual fish-leather accessories from Fish Art Peru. Art exhibits rotate every three weeks, and there’s also an adorable café on the back patio, perfect for refueling with tropical juice and a slice of cake.
A casual diner on the Barranco/Miraflores border, this unassuming spot pulls out all the stops with solid, contemporary versions of Peruvian classics including Chifa (Peruvian/Chinese) and Nikkei (Peruvian/Japanese) dishes. Adorned with large black-and-white photos of local fishermen, La 73 is packed at both lunch and dinner, attracting office workers and tourists. Light bites include soups and salads; take it up a notch with Hong Kong–style chicken wings or shrimp-stuffed rocoto, followed with a hearty fondo or a main course such as slow-cooked lamb or aeropuerto, a popular Chifa rice-and-noodle dish.
Located in a stunning 19th-century mansion in Barranco, Ayahuasca (named after the traditional medicine) has been starting parties for almost a decade. Each room in Mansión Berninzon has one-of-a-kind décor and ambience, with every effort made to retain original features such as wooden floorboards and the marble stairway. Ayahuasca's vibrant cocktail list stars an array of sours and pisco-based drinks such as Curandero, concocted with coca leaves and star fruit. Make a night of it and reserve a table for dinner to sample a selection of maki rolls and crab claws.
Hotel B, with its impeccable design and impressive art collection, has raised the bar for boutique lodgings not just in its neighborhood of Barranco but in Lima as a whole. This restored Belle Epoque mansion, a former seaside retreat turned Relais & Châteaux property, houses 17 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, fusing carefully sourced vintage pieces with contemporary fittings. The ambience manages to be both sophisticated and homey. Organic toiletries, 300-thread counts, and oversize towels are the norm, and attention to detail is key. Take breakfast on the central patio or kick back on the ocean-facing sundowner deck. Service knows no limits and there's no lack of art, either: the hotel is connected to Lucía de la Puente Gallery next door.