When is the best time to visit Lima for festivals, food and fog-free skies?

When is the best time to visit Lima for festivals, food and fog-free skies?

Lima has a busy festival calendar bringing color to the streets all year long © Christian Vinces / Shutterstock

Whether you see Lima as a destination in its own right or a brief stop-over before heading on to Cuzco and the Andes, there’s really no bad time of year to visit. Each month has its perks, and there's usually something happening on the cultural calendar all year round.

At any time of year, the City of Kings serves up world-renowned restaurants, top museums and direct access to the Pacific Ocean. However, Peru’s capital is considered to be at its best and most beautiful in summer (December-March), when the beaches fill up by day and the bars spill out into the streets by night.

Oddly enough, Lima sees a greater spike of tourists when the skies over the city turn gray, as the June to August winter season is the driest time to hike to Machu Picchu. Luckily, there are plenty of festivals between July and October to liven the mood during the months when Lima is cloaked by the seasonal fog banks that earned the city its nickname, Lima la Gris (Lima the Gray).

Here's our guide to the best times to come to Lima.

Introducing Peru

The high season (June–August) is the best time for festivals and slow travel

Though Lima’s winter months see hordes of tourists, few visitors plan on spending a significant time in the capital. Instead, most pay a flying visit before heading off to explore Machu Picchu and other wonders in the Andes, as the dry winter weather is ideal for hiking in the mountains. Nevertheless, with so many visitors in town, prices are high and reservations at hotels and high-end restaurants in the city should be made in advance.

Towards the end of June, days become shorter and the skies become more gloomy, making this a good time to visit Lima’s museums and free galleries and sample a handful of the world’s top restaurants. For many international visitors, the climate in Lima is quite manageable compared to winters back home, with average temperatures hovering around 20ºC (68ºF) – bike rides and strolls along the malecón (waterfront) are still an enjoyable way to keep busy.

In mid summer, the city starts making preparations for the annual celebration of Peru’s independence on 28 and 29 July. You will notice a tangible sense of glee among locals, so take advantage of this spirit of patriotism and chat with vendors at markets and patrons in cafes to learn more about Peru's culture and heritage. 

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The shoulder seasons (September–November and April-May) are the best times to visit Lima on a budget and still catch some rays

After the heat of summer has worn off – and just before peak season ignites – there is a lull in tourism in Lima. Another quiet period marks the transition from the cool winter to the warm, humid summer. The beauty of visiting Lima during either of the two shoulder seasons is the chance to save money. Reservations at top-ranked restaurants are easier to come by, prices in hotels take a slight dip and the odd burst of sunshine may just shine in your direction.

The low season (January–March) is the best time for sunny weather in Lima

While the tourist crowds stay away, this metropolitan hub of nearly 10 million residents comes to life during the summer months. From January to March, the sun shines brightly in clear skies, fooling visitors into thinking that Lima is like this all year round. Do as locals do and get active by surfing, paddle boarding or kayaking along Lima’s coastline.

Cevicherias offering fresh seafood plates are packed with locals between January and March as the daytime temperature hovers around 24ºC (75°F), matched with a high humidity level that becomes almost unbearable in February. 

Sunny days lead to incredible sunsets at this time of year, followed by warm nights that are great for going out to discover new watering holes and live music venues with an icy brew or pisco cocktail in hand. This is also a great time of year to look for cheap holiday rentals in Lima, as many upper-class Limeños migrate to their beach houses for the season.

When is the best time to visit Lima for festivals, food and fog-free skies?

The Peruvian summer, from December to March, brings clear skies to Lima © Christian Vinces / Shutterstock

January is the anniversary of the founding of Lima

Though summer in the southern hemisphere officially kicks off in December, January is when you really begin to feel the heat, with temperatures climbing above 26°C (79°F). Head to the Plaza de Armas to join in with the celebration of Lima’s anniversary on 18 January. Keep your eyes out for special offers and free entry to museums on this special date.
Key events: New Year's Day, Anniversary of Lima celebrations

February is carnival season

February is the hottest month of the year in Lima, and also the month of carnavales in Peru. The days of city-wide water fights in the capital are long gone (and now officially prohibited), but many bars and live music venues in Lima schedule special events, promotions and concerts to mark the traditional festivities. Consider exploring the beaches of the southern Lima region or taking a hiking day trip at this warm time of year.
Key events: Pisco Sour Day, Carnaval festivities

March marks the end of the summer

March is the last call for sunbathers and beach bums as the humid summer season begins to wind down. This month, the fall equinox takes place in the southern hemisphere. Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter) is a big holiday for domestic tourists; during the festivities, which can fall in March or April, hotel prices skyrocket and apartment rentals can be hard to find.
Key event: Women in Peruvian Music Festival, Semana Santa (can fall in early April).

April sees temperatures drop as crowds gather for Semana Santa

Falling temperatures and cooling waters in the Pacific Ocean make April a good month to paddle board or kayak without rubbing elbows (or oars) with lots of other people. If Semana Santa falls in April, expect soaring prices and dwindling availability at hotels as locals gather for the festivities. 
Key event: Semana Santa (can fall in late March)

When is the best time to visit Lima for festivals, food and fog-free skies?

Hot churros will raise the spirits, no matter how gray the skies are over Lima © Richardo Alberto / Getty Images

May is a quiet time in Lima

One of the quieter months of the year in Lima, May is a shoulder month for tourism in all of Peru. With fewer tourists competing for reservations, this is an ideal month to visit the capital on a budget.
Key event: Lima Marathon, Festival of the Crosses (3 May), Noche en Blanco (Miraflores district)

June sees winter fog gather over the capital

Welcome to winter in Peru! The skies are gray over Lima but dry over the Andes, making this an excellent time to explore Peru’s interior. At this time of year, the Lima skyline disappears in a blanket of low-hanging clouds, but it isn't particularly cold, so it's a good time for a walking tour to admire the city’s architecture and explore Lima's diverse neighborhoods.
Key events: Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Day, Lima Pride Week (late June to early July)

July is the time to cheer for Peruvian independence

Across the nation, fluttering red and white Peruvian flags appear on private homes, offices and in public parks in July. On 28 and 29 July, Peru celebrates its Independence Day with public events to honor the Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police. The capital typically stages a grand parade near Miraflores’ Parque Kennedy. Keep your eyes peeled for special cultural events and promo offers all month long.
Key events: Fiestas Patrias (Peru’s Independence Day; 28–29 July)

August can be cold and busy

A slight chill settles in to accompany the fog in August, so visitors should pack layers, particularly for the evenings, when temperatures can dip below 15ºC (59ºF). Processions for Santa Rosa de Lima (Saint Rose of Lima) take place on 30 August in honor of the first native American saint canonized by the Catholic church. This is peak season at Machu Picchu, so expect crowds passing through Lima.
Key event: Santa Rosa de Lima

When is the best time to visit Lima for festivals, food and fog-free skies?

The warm summer months are the time to hit the beaches at the foot of Lima's sea cliffs © Christian Vinces / Shutterstock

September sees the crowds dissipate

The bulk of the hiking tourists have been and gone by September, emptying out central areas of Lima, but the Mistura Food Fair is a highlight of the festival calendar – there are high hopes it will resume after the pandemic. While spring has sprung in the southern hemisphere, you may still need a break from the city’s gloomy skies; consider a day trip to Reserva Nacional de Paracas to see sea lions and get a welcome dose of Vitamin D.
Key event: Mistura Food Fair

October is a big time for religious celebrations

If you are seeing purple everywhere you look in Lima, you won't be the only one. From gowns to neckties, Lima's Catholics wear purple in tribute to a famous painting of Cristo Moreno that miraculously survived multiple earthquakes. No matter what your religious inclination, be sure to snack on the traditional sticky treat served at this time of year, turrón de Doña Pepa (a sprinkle-topped, anise-flavored cake). 
Key events: Señor de los Milagros, Dia de la Canción Criolla (31 October)

November sees the skies start to clear over Lima

Sunlight starts to peek through the clouds as summer nears. With weekends extended by public holidays such as Todos Santos (All Saints Day), many shops and restaurants close. This is a great month to walk the green trails of Lomas de Lúcumo, a hilly nature park preserving a unique ecosystem just outside of the city.
Key events: Todos Santos (1 November), Día de los Muertos 92 November)

December is the time to hit the beach

Quick, head to the beach! You'll struggle to find a spot for your towel once local students are let loose on their summer vacation later in the month. December in Lima is the start of summer and the capital’s vibe becomes much brighter. The majority of the population of Lima is Catholic, and the city is not shy about marking Christmas with colorful decorations and large nativity scenes. New Year's Eve is also celebrated with gusto.
Key events: Christmas, New Year’s Eve

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