It's hard not to fall in love with Barranco: the colourful, bohemian coastal district of Lima. It offers hundreds of spots with great food, music and any kind of entertainment you may wish for. Here are some of my favourites, to pick and choose depending on your plans for the day (and night):
Best coffee: Tostaduría Bisetti
Bisetti claims to have the best coffee in Lima, and it might be correct. Its location in a colonial mansion, a stone's throw from the main square of Barranco, makes it a great spot for a coffee break any time of the day. It offers some food, as well as outstanding desserts: try passion fruit bar, and you'll never look back (Calle Pedro de Osma 116).
Best old style bar: Bar Piselli
One step into this cosy bar is enough to feel its friendly atmosphere. Bar Piselli has been around for almost a century, and it never ceases to charm even the most demanding guests. There are paintings on the walls and elegant liquor bottles in glass cabinets, and, last but definitely not least, delicious pisco sour, a national cocktail (Jirón 28 de Julio 297).
Best for dancing: La Noche de Barranco
Owned by a Spaniard, La Noche offers a surprising selection of Spanish tapas, but more importantly, it's a great late night bar. There's also a nice concert space that holds a variety of events, with wooden balconies for those who like the higher perspective (Pasaje Sanchez Carrión 199A).
Best late night snack: Juanito de Barranco
A true institution, Juanito is a must on the map of the neighbourhood. Apart from many regulars playing guitar and drying yet another jar of Cristal beer, there are large chunks of ham, cheese and bread on the counter, and for 5 soles you'll have a great sandwich that will keep you going for a few more hours (Avenida Almirante Miguel Grau 270).
For art: MATE
MATE gallery owned by Mario Testino displays some of his most famous works (including portraits of Lady Diana and Madonna), and an amazing project called 'High Fashion', featuring traditional outfits from the Andean region of Peru. MATE is located in a beautifully restored merengue-coloured mansion, and has a nice restaurant for more substantial needs (Avenida Pedro de Osma 409).
For ceviche: Canta Rana
When visiting Lima, it is impossible not to try ceviche, a traditional Peruvian dish of raw fish marinated in lime juice (therefore it's not raw anymore, as many Peruvians reassured me). In Barranco, the best place to sample this sweet and sour delicacy is Canta Rama. Unassuming from the outside, Canta Rana is one of the best cevicherías in the city. Its high ceilings and walls filled with hundreds of photographs make the outing even more picturesque (Calle Genova 101).
For relax: Playas de Barranco
Barranco boasts with a few stretches of dark sand with thatched umbrellas, ice cream stands and huts renting surfing equipment. The beaches may not be the most impressive, but are worth a visit for the cheerful, carefree atmosphere that explodes there on any sunny day of the year.