The old centre of Lima is surrounded by a number of sprawling suburbs, or distritos, which spread across the desert between the foothills of the Andes and the coast. Just south of Lima Centro lies the lively suburb of Miraflores, a slick, fast-moving and very ostentatious mini-metropolis, which has become Lima’s business and shopping zone. South of Miraflores begins the oceanside suburb of Barranco, one of the oldest and most attractive parts of Lima, above the steep sandy cliffs of the Costa Verde, hosting a small nightlife enclave. Sandwiched between Lima Centro and Miraflores is the plush suburb of San Isidro, boasting both the city’s main commercial and banking sector and a golf course surrounded by sky-scraping apartment buildings. West of here, Pueblo Libre is older, an established home to several good museums. To the east lies San Borja, a more recently constructed district with another fine museum, the Museo de la Nación. The city’s port area, Callao, is an atmospheric, if rather old and insalubrious zone tapering into the western peninsula of La Punta, with its air of slightly decayed grandeur. The suburb of La Victoria, on the other side of central Lima from Callao, contains some once-fine plazas and buildings, but is better known these days for its bus depots and pickpockets. Lima city’s sprawl means that there are massive urbanizations to the north, the south, and into the western foothills, where the upmarket suburb of Monterrico is found.
Most of Lima’s popular city beaches, like the surfers’ hangout of Playa Wakiki, are directly below the sea-facing cliffs of Miraflores, visible from the Larco Mar commercial complex and accessible on foot from Parque Kennedy.