The district is considered to be the city's most romantic and bohemian, being the home and working place of many of Peru's leading artists, musicians, designers and photographers. In the 19th-century, it was a very fashionable beach resort for the Limeño aristocracy, and many people used to spend the summer here and in neighboring Chorrillos. Today, Barranco's beaches are among the most popular within the worldwide surfing community, and a marina completed in 2008 provides state-of-the-art services for its yacht club.
The name Barranco (Spanish for ravine) is descriptive of its topography, featuring homes and restaurants in and around a ravine near a cliff overlooking a sand strip which runs from the Miraflores District to Chorrillos (now flanked by a highway, Costa Verde Ave).
There is a beautiful walkway to the sea that runs through Barranco, called the Bajada de los Baños. Crossing over this walkway is the Puente de los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs. The walkway is bordered on both sides by grand houses, and the legend goes that a wealthy man's daughter living in one of these grand houses fell in love with a lowly street sweeper. Her father forbade the union, and she lived out her days as a spinster, waiting at her window for a glimpse of her beloved. Those who walked across the bridge could hear her plaintive sighs. On the far side of the bridge is a park with a statue of Barranco's famous singer and composer, Chabuca Granda.
Barranco has many houses in the colonial and Republican style (called "casonas"), flower-filled parks and streets, and appealing beachfront areas. Lima's contemporary art museum, the MAC, is located in Barranco, as well as the Museo Pedro de Osma, which hosts one of the best collections of colonial art and is itself one of Barranco's best kept examples of late-19th century architectural style. The district includes numerous restaurants, nightclubs, discos, bars and peñas, where one can appreciate Peruvian music shows. On Pedro de Osma Ave., some tracks from the former streetcar (originally a railroad between Chorrillos/La Herradura and Downtown Lima) can be seen.
The cliffs of Chorrillos shield Barranco from colder and more humid winds coming from the South. As a result, Barranco has a unique micro-climate that is warmer and drier than many of the other districts of Lima, which are generally more humid, especially between May and October.