Santiago: Restaurant:Las Vacas Gordas https://plus.google.com/109413795590371801809/about?hl=en Hotel: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294305-d316366-Reviews-Hotel_Paris-Santiago_Santiago_Metropolitan_Region.html its central, not the most luxurious but I've stayed there a couple of times.
Lima: Catacumbas http://www.museocatacumbas.com/english/index_en.html and just opposite right on the corner of Jirón Ancash y Lampa is a great little restaurant (sorry can't remember the name)
Visit Polvo Azules Market for DVD's, watches, clothes - it's a huge market Cerro San Cristóbal - The semi tourist buses (mostly Peruvian tourists) leave from Camana street somewhere near the post office, it's about 90 minutes round trip. Great views over the arid city. Keep the bus window closed and keep an eye on your cameras.
Changing of the guard at Palacio de Gobierno plaza at the main plaza in the old town, you will need to check what time.
Museo de la Nación (one of the better musumes I've visited in Lima)
En su exposición permanente llamada Unidad en la diversidad se exhiben objetos de todas las civilizaciones prehispánicas que han habitado en nuestro territorio. Además, actualmente los visitantes pueden apreciar exposiciones temporales sobre Puruchuco, la paleontología en el Perú y la famosa red vial de los incas conocida como Qhapac Ñan, entre otras. En este gran edificio también se realizan actividades culturales en las que se presentan el Coro Nacional, la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, así como elencos de ballet y danzas folclóricas. Dirección: Javier Prado Este 2465, San Borja Atención: Martes a domingo de 9 a.m. a 5 p.m. Entrada: Gratuita
Avoid the Gold Musume, I didnt think it very interesting
1 day in each? That's not enough time for either! In Lima, I suggest you look for a place in Miraflores, its a relatively safe and tourist-friendly neighborhood. I stayed at the Marriot, had an awesome view of the beach, cliffs, and para-gliders. The coolest thing I did in Lima was visit the catacombs below the huge catholic cathedral, its amazing to experience if you don't mind bones of hundreds of people and aren't claustrophobic. There are a lot of good places for seafood, La Rosa Nautica is awesome but expensive: http://www.larosanautica.com/. I stumbled into some fantastic ceviche in little holes in the wall all over the city, but if you're not so adventurous ask your hotel's staff for suggestions. I like Santiago de Chile too, but don't recall which hotels or restaurants I visited, too bad you don't have more time, Viña del Mar and Valparaiso are fun to visit.
Considering you will be disappointed at how they are not as cool as BA, 1 day each is great just to get a sense of each place and to realize that they DO have some cool things about them!!
In Santiago I did the free walking tour (they ask for ~$10 USD tip but it's optional) . It was 3-4 hours and left from the Main square at 10AM and 3PM. It was a great overview of the city, the 2 really cool/ bohemian neighborhoods, and to learn some history and see some of the main attractions quickly! Definitely take the funicular up the Cerro San Cristobal (surprisingly only ~$4USD) for an amazing view over the city!!
In Lima, Miraflores is the cool neighborhood by the beach (head to Manolo's for a churro con chocolate!) but even cooler is the not-so-touristy but very bohemian Barranco neighborhood! There is an amazing all-you-can-eat vegeterian place near there that is located inside a tram car! It was 20 soles when I went last year (~$7USD) Sorry I don't know the name but a quick google search should do the trick if that interests you!! I would avoid Centro because while it does have historic buildings and "sites" to see, it's kind of ugly, far away from the other neighborhoods I mentioned, a little bit dangerous (pick pockets galore), and just not that nice.
Enjoy! And PM me if you want any more info.
Btw, both cities have Scotiabanks, so if you have an account at any of the following banks, you can take out $$ (even USD!) without any fees: Barclays, Deutschbank, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Westpac, ABSA (South Africa)
Thanks everyone! I know its a short time, but we had the layovers anyway and getting a day to see each place and break up our trip was all we had the money/time for (we will be on our way back from Mexico). I had read about a culinary tour in Lima that sounded pretty good. And I was thinking about staying in Miraflores but Barranco sounds interesting too.
Those tours in Santiago sound great, definitely a good option. I also found a tour that takes you to Valapraiso for the day, anyone been there and know if its a better option than a Santiago based day? Thanks again!
Valparaiso is great but not if you're going to miss acquainting yourself with Santiago first. Go back another time (relatively cheap flights from Aeroparque) and spend a few days in Valpo instead... that would be my advice.