Tiny Barranco is big on charm. In the 19th century, middle- and upper-class limeños would come to this seaside resort to splash around along the cliffs of the Costa Verde, while the poets and artists who congregated in its cafés added a bohemian, fin de siècle vibe. Today, these establishments have given way to bars, discos, and high-rises looking out over the beach, but locals have managed to preserve the area’s traditional, vaguely hipster-ish character.
Barranco is ground zero for Lima's burgeoning arts scene. At its north end, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo hosts exhibitions and wine-and-cheese events for the smart set, while farther south, photographer Mario Testino's gallery is a mecca for aspiring shutterbugs. Nor are the performing arts lacking: a night out here can include a show of Afro-Peruvian música negra at one of the many peñas or a tour through the country's danzas folklóricas in a cultural center like La Candelaria. And don't ignore the street-art scene: right now, this 'hood is one of the continent's hot spots.
Chabuca Granda, a criollo singer dear to the heart of nearly all Peruvians, once crooned her nostalgia for a lost Barranco, "hidden among leafy trees and longings." One stroll through this lovely enclave, and you'll see what she meant.