Callao, the first port in Peru

Callao is a port city neighboring Lima. Due to the important historical events that took place there, it holds the honorary title of 'constitutional province'. Its main tourist attractions are the Real Felipe fortress, the Palomino islands, the faces of Atahualpa and the joy of its people. There you can enjoy a fresh ceviche, a refreshing summer and a good sauce. Know in detail its attractions, its history, prices, tips and more.

The first port of Peru

Callao is considered the first port in Peru. It is that from the viceregal era until today, products are exported and imported to all parts of the planet. Even in the Spanish colony it was the main port of the entire western Pacific coast.

Callao, with approximately 1 million inhabitants, is the third most populated city in Peru, after Lima and the white city of Arequipa . It stands out because there is the Jorge Chávez International Airport, the main one in the country.

The Callao is a witness to some of the most important historical events in Peru. From the beginning it was invaded by pirates. News from Europe arrived through its port, such as football. Today it is a modern place, full of factories, restaurants, tourist attractions but unfortunately in certain districts also with high crime rates.

There are many reasons to visit Callao. Its main tourist attractions are the Real Felipe fortress, the Palomino islands, the faces of Atahualpa, the Chucuito neighborhood and the beautiful La Punta spa .

Other good reasons to visit this historic place are its beaches, its delicious marine cuisine, its shopping centers and, above all, the joy and warmth of its people.

Location and districts

The Callao is located on the central coast of Peru, about 13 kilometers from the city of Lima. It is located at sea level, in an area of ​​approximately 148 square kilometers.

The province of Callao has seven districts: Bellavista, Carmen de la Legua, La Perla, La Punta and Ventanilla and the district of My Peru. It also has a coastline with four islands: San Lorenzo, El Frontón, Cavinzas, Palomino and the Redondo islet.

How to get there from Lima?

To get to Callao from the city of Lima you must follow the following steps:

  • From anywhere in the city of Lima you must take a public transport bus to Square 2 de Mayo in the historic center of the city. A good option is to take the 'Metropolitano' service for a cost of approximately 2 soles 50 cents.
  • From Square 2 de Mayo you can take any public transport service to Callao. You can also choose a taxi or jeepney service. The cost varies depending on the service you choose. A taxi can cost between 10 to 20 Peruvian soles.
  • A good option is to go to Square Miguel Grau, from where you can visit tourist attractions such as the Real Felipe fortress or the Palomino Islands.

Map of Callao


The history of Callao dates back thousands of years. Throughout its territory there are traces of ancient Peruvian cultures such as the Lima culture, the Ychma culture or the Maranga curacazgo. However, the formation of Callao as it is known today began with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. The Europeans took advantage of its good location to create the main port of the viceroyalty of Peru.

Unlike Lima, there is no founding act for Callao. However, from 1536 the works and operations began to make it the first port of Lima and the Spanish colony in America. This attracted the greed of several pirates who attacked the port (in 1579 it was raided by the famous English privateer Francis Drake). Because of this, the Spanish authorities decided to build in 1747 the fortress of Real Felipe, a work that lasts until today . This construction defended Peru during the historic 'Combat of May 2' in 1866.

The 1746 earthquake damaged many structures in the port and the Real Felipe fortress. After this, more port and urban buildings are built. In 1857 it was declared 'Constitutional Province of Peru', an honorary title that highlights its importance and history. In the 19th century, the heyday of guano, brought with it an economic development that helped build the Lima - Callao railway, houses on Constitución Street, Castilla Street, Libertad Street, as well as Square Matriz and Square Grau. At the end of that century, news from Europe reached the country through the 'chalaco' port.

Today Callao is the third most populated city in Peru (approximately 1 million inhabitants). It also has a modern infrastructure where factories, shopping centers, markets, stadiums and the main international airport of Peru are concentrated. Every day a significant number of people (the majority from Lima) arrive there for work and tourist reasons. Unfortunately crime is a problem that you cannot solve yet. However, its main tourist attractions have police surveillance. There are many good reasons to visit this historic part of the country.

Tourist attractions

Real Felipe Fortress - Military fortification built in the 18th century, during the time of the viceroyalty of Peru. Its function was to protect the port of Callao from pirate attacks. It served as the defense of the Peruvian army during the combat on May 2, 1866. Today it is a museum and historical site open to visitors.

The Palomino Islands - A group of islands located in Callao Bay that are home to diverse wildlife such as sea lions, Humboldt penguins and various species of seabirds. The islands most visited by tourists are: Cavinzas, San Lorenzo, El Frontón and Palomino. Tourist tours start at Square Miguel Grau, which include a boat, life-saving equipment and the possibility of swimming with sea lions.

The faces of Atahualpa - In the popular neighborhood of Atahualpa (frame 8 of Miró Quesada avenue) you will find this famous mural where the faces of characters have been drawn artistic (especially music) identified with the popular culture of Callao. They include: Héctor Lavoe, Frankie Ruiz, Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano and more. Little by little, people from Lima began to arrive looking to take their pictures on this wall, which turned it into an urban tourist attraction.

The Chucuito neighborhood - The tradition and history of Callao are present in this popular 'chalaco' neighborhood. Chucuito was one of the first fishermen's neighborhoods and it has maintained the style of its Gothic houses built by Italian immigrants between approximately 1900 and 1920. Photographing yourself on the facades of these colorful houses attracted the attention of tourists, mainly from the city of Lima.

The spa of La Punta - As its name suggests, this district is a 'tip' or peninsula that juts out into the sea. It was one of the first urban areas of Callao. He witnessed the attack by pirates, the Combat May 2, the War with Chile and more. Today it stands out for its beautiful seafront boardwalks as well as its graffiti and murals that highlight its history and popular culture.

Hotels and restaurants in Callao

The Callao has a good hotel offer. Most of the 4-star services are located in the vicinity of the Jorge Chávez International Airport. Highlights: the Costa del Sol Wyndham Lima Airport hotel and the Holiday Inn - Lima Airport an IHG Hotel. Other 3-star hotels also stand out such as: the Hotel Ayenda B&B Wasi Airport Lima, the Hotel Padama, the Hospedaje el traveler - airport and more.

In the case of restaurants, it is necessary to mention the quality of their seafood dishes such as ceviche, rice with seafood, chilcano and more. The most popular and recommended restaurants are: El Bistró (sea food), El Salón (sea food), La Caleta (sea food), Taller Razeto (Italian food), Don Giuseppe (fusion marian food) and El Mirador (sea food). Marine). Most restaurants are in the La Punta district.


The Callao has more than 30 kilometers of coastline, from the district of La Punta to the district of Ventanilla. These are mainly visited by the local population, although there are also bathers from Lima. The most visited beaches are: La Punta beach, Gulligan beach, Arenilla beach, Carpayo beach, Chucuito beach, Grau beach, Oquendo beach, Chillón beach, Márquez beach and Ventanilla beach.

Is it dangerous?

The Callao has one of the highest crime rates in Peru. However, these indices are registered in certain areas of Bellavista, La Perla, Carmen de la Legua Reynoso and Ventanilla. The district of La Punta and Callao, where the main tourist attractions are, are places with greater police surveillance and, therefore, security.


Callao has a humid coastal climate due to its proximity to the sea. In the months of January, February and March the highest temperatures are recorded, which can reach 28ºC. The months of May, June and July are the coldest with temperatures that can drop to 13ºC. It is a pleasant climate for the visitor.

Photos of Callao

Callao - Lima
Callao - Lima
Callao - Lima
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Questions and answers

  • 1) Where to eat cheaply in Callao?
    The central market of Callao, located on Jirón Colón 555 offers the best of Peruvian cuisine (especially sea food) at affordable prices.
  • 2) How to get from Miraflores to Callao?
    In the oval of Miraflores you can get public transport that runs along La Marina Avenue and Faucett Avenue until you arrive at the airport. From there you can get a taxi or other public transport to visit the rest of the district.
  • 3) What to bring on my visit?
    Take the necessary things with you such as a hat, sunscreen, comfortable clothes, cash and your identity documents. It is not advisable to carry valuable objects such as gold watches or high-end cell phones.
  • 4) How much does a tour to the Palomino Islands cost?
    The price of a tour of the Palomino Islands is 120 soles per tourist on average.
  • 5) Why are many walls of Callao painted pink?
    Most of the residents of Callao are fans of the Sport Boys football club whose uniform is pink.
  • 6) How much does the entrance to the Real Felipe fortress cost?
    The entrance to this historic fortress is 15 Peruvian soles for foreign adults and 10 soles for Peruvian adults.
  • 7) Where to get tours to Callao?
    In the Miguel Grau square, the main one in the city, you can get the main tours to the Palomino islands, the Real Felipe fortress or other tourist destinations.
  • 8) What other tourist attractions can I visit?
    In addition to the Real Felipe fortress, the Palomino islands or the faces of Atahualpa, you can visit the Abtao underwater museum, the Peruvian Naval Museum, the mother church of Callao or the Cantolao spa.