While Miraflores is the heart of tourism in Lima, San Isidro is where you’ll likely stay if visiting on business. Located just north of Miraflores and south of the city center, San Isidro is the financial center of Lima. The commercial district west of the Via Expresa highway is home to the country’s top banks and largest companies’ headquarters.
On the other side of Avenida Arequipa, however, is a quiet enclave of upper-class residential neighborhoods. The historic Lima Golf Club, the pristine Parque El Olivar and luxury shopping on Avenida Conquistadores give an unmistakable air of economic elite. Corporate high rises give way to 20th-century mansions and apartment buildings which overlook public parks with litter-free, manicured lawns.
San Isidro borders the districts of La Victoria and Lince to the north, Magdalena del Mar and Jesus Maria to the west, San Borja to the east and Miraflores to the south. While the heart of San Isidro is a few miles inland, some of the district juts down along Avenida Salaverry to the coastline and Malecon.
San Isidro developed as a neighborhood for Lima’s elite in the early 20th century when Avenida Arequipa was built to connect the city center with Miraflores. The district was designed on the American model of suburban-style houses featuring lawns and gardens.
As Lima grew, San Isidro ceased to be a quiet and exclusive place. Over the years the financial district relocated from gritty downtown Lima to San Isidro. If you’re in town on business, chances are your meetings, local office or prospective clients are located in San Isidro’s financial center. The area is home to the city’s best hotels catering to business travelers.
As a result, San Isidro east of Avenida Arequipa looks like the business district of your average American city. Meanwhile, the west side resembles an elite residential district with golf courses, luxury shopping and high-end dining.
Things to See and Do
San Isidro was initially a rural area grounded by an olive-grove hacienda. In the 16th century, Lima’s first 100 years as Spain’s capital of South America, a Spanish colonist brought several olive trees to Peru from Seville. Only three of them survived the trip. He planted those three in an area outside Lima near the Huatica river. Two-hundred years later, there were almost 3,000 olive trees.
Today that 24-acre forest is Parque El Olivar, or Olive Grove Park. While there are not as many trees today, Parque El Olivar is one of Lima’s largest green spaces featuring quiet ponds and park benches. Maybe because San Isidro residents are known for trying to keep the rest of Lima out, the park does not have any playgrounds or sports facilities. So it achieves the effect of being one of Lima’s most tranquil areas surrounded by beautiful homes on quiet streets.
Just west of Parque El Olivar is the Lima Golf Club, a symbol of the oligarchy which governed Peru for the last 100 years. Adjacent to the golf course is the Country Club hotel. While the hotel may not top the tourism agencies’ rankings, the facilities exude exclusivity and luxury more than the hotels which do make the lists.
Both the Lima Golf Club and Country Club Hotel played important roles as the setting of one of Peru’s best contemporary novels, “A World For Julius” by Alfredo Bryce Echenique. The book is an often-hilarious account of classist elitism from the eyes of a young boy in a San Isidro family.
Another charm of San Isidro is the Huaca Huallamarca ruin, also known as Pan de Azucar (Bread of Sugar). The pyramid served as a shrine and burial site as far back as 200 AD.
Casa Hacienda Moreyra is another attraction in San Isidro, a colonial mansion built at least 250 years ago and completely maintained. It is also home to celebrity chef Gaston Acurio’s flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gaston.
Points of Interest
- Parque El Olivar
- Huaca Huallamarca ruins
- Lima Golf Club
- Casa Hacienda Moreyra
- Financial district
- Official website: http://www.msi.gob.pe
- Facebook: facebook.com/MunicipalidaddeSanIsidro
- Area: 4.3 square miles
- Population: 54,000