Legend has it that if a first-time visitor to Barranco can cross its famous Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) without taking a breath, they’ll be granted one wish. Fortunately, a lungful of air is more than enough to see you across the 30-metre-long footbridge at the heart of the Peruvian capital’s bohemian quarter. Sheltered by the steep cliffs of neighbouring Chorrillos, Barranco (“ravine” in Spanish) was a popular summer retreat for wealthy limeños in the 1800s, and later became a haven for artists and intellectuals. Its colourful mix of colonial and 19th-century architecture interspersed with eye-catching murals is best explored on foot, ideally by hiring a local. Try Haku Tours, which offers half- and full-day trips with friendly, knowledgeable guides. Culture seekers should start the day at the Museo Pedro de Osma, which houses an impressive collection of Spanish colonial artwork. One block north is MATE — Museo Mario Testino, a museum founded by the world-renowned photographer and Lima native to showcase contemporary Peruvian art and a permanent display of his own work. From there, it’s a short walk to any style of food you fancy, whether it’s pub fare and craft beer at Brewpub Wick’s, ceviche with a side of Pacific Ocean views at La Posada del Mirador or lomo saltado (beef stir-fry with aji pepper sauce) at Chifa Chung Yion, which specializes in chifa, a cuisine that fuses traditional Chinese and Peruvian dishes. If, at the end of the day, you find yourself at the Bridge of Sighs, no one will blame you if your wish is for more time to explore.
Clockwise from TOP LEFT: Strolling across the Puente de los Suspiros; a picture-perfect latte at Tostaduria Bisetti, a Barranco coffee roastery; Barranco’s dramatic sea cliffs; a dish of lomo saltado; exploring Peruvian art at MATE.