Gay Lima: City of Kings

Lima, a citadel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, has the unearned reputation of being a layover on the way to Machu Picchu or the Amazon rainforest. For gay visitors, the incentive to pass it over has been even greater: For many years, Lima was beset by crime, brutal anti-gay discrimination, and antiquated notions of homosexuality.

All that, however, has changed -- if at a somewhat slower pace than in Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro. Now, visitors can see Lima for what it really is: a fascinating, diverse city of nearly 10 million. The cuisine, which mixes and matches everything from Chinese to German food, is renowned and much copied. On top of that, the city is brimming with fascinating galleries, museums, and murals. If you have a good notion of where to stay and go out, Lima is absolutely worth an extended visit.

Sadly, the gay "district" of Lima was hit hard by Covid, so now nightlife is scattered among Miraflores, Barranco, and Centro -- the latter of which can be rather dangerous at night. You are strongly advised to cab it there and back to a friendlier neighborhood. In fact, cabs and Ubers are generally the best way to get around this metropolis. That said, Peruvian gay men are quite friendly towards gringos, and eager to show visitors around town. A private tour guide will certainly enhance your experience in the City of Queens, er, Kings.

Still, if you only have a day or two in Lima, you should not miss out on the city's culinary delights. In this city, even the "middle-of-the-road" restaurants are exceptional, and there are true gems in every corner of the region. Peru's one-of-a-kind climate and geography can be thanked for that, as every chef here has a treasure trove of spices, herbs, and fresh ingredients to choose from when creating new dishes. It should be no surprise that Lima alone contained three of the world's top 50 restaurants in 2022.

When it comes to finding a hotel, you should choose Miraflores if you want a traditional "gayborhood" experience. The city's sole remaining gay dance club lies here, as well as countless gay parties and gay-friendly hotels. It's also packed with classy restaurants and charming parks, including one populated by cuddly stray cats. That said, if you want a more bohemian, café-centric stay in Lima, you might opt for Barranco, which never fails to enchant travelers with its stunning street art, wrought iron gates, and modernized colonial façades. You'll also find a more open-minded crowd here, even if it's scattered among the many cozy coffee shops.

Wherever you choose to center your vacation, Lima will surely enthrall you with its cultural and historical riches. You'd be hard-pressed to find another city where you can visit a 2,000-year-old pyramid, blush at ancient erotic ceramic art, and eat Peruvian-Chinese "chifa" rice -- all in the same day. In fact, once you realize how much is around you, you might even end up extending your visit.

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