Arequipa, the “White City” of Peru, is a place where the past and present coexist in perfect harmony. It is located in the southern part of the country, at an altitude of over 7,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes and spectacular landscapes.
This city, with its colonial-era buildings made of white volcanic rock, has a unique charm that enchants visitors. The streets are filled with history and tradition, and the atmosphere is a perfect blend of old and new, making it a popular destination for both adventurers and those seeking a more relaxed experience.
But Arequipa is not just a pretty face. It is also a place of rich cultural heritage, famous for its culinary delights, such as rocoto relleno and chupe de camarones, and its traditional crafts, such as alpaca wool textiles and silverwork. And for those seeking adventure, the nearby Colca Canyon is the perfect place for hiking and experiencing the breathtaking views of the Andes.
Ranking as Peru’s second largest city, and the de facto capital of Southern Peru, Arequipa is a culturally significant city, and not just a base camp for those hoping to explore the Colca Canyon.
With a spectacular Plaza de Armas, amazing colonial structures, and spectacular natural scenery surrounding the city, it is a destination that will rank among your favorites during your trip to Peru.
Arequipa City Guide: A Brief History Of Arequipa, Peru
Arequipa, known as the “White City,” is a stunning destination in Peru that is rich in history and culture. Founded in 1540, the city was built entirely from white volcanic stone, giving it a unique and striking appearance that has made it a popular tourist destination. Arequipa’s rich history is intertwined with the Spanish conquest of Peru and the subsequent colonization, as well as the various indigenous groups that have lived in the region for centuries.
One of the most notable events in Arequipa’s history is the War of the Pacific, a conflict that pitted Peru and Bolivia against Chile in the late 19th century. The city played a significant role in the war, with many battles taking place in and around the city. Despite being heavily damaged during the conflict, Arequipa managed to recover and rebuild itself, and today stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of its people.
In addition to its fascinating history, Arequipa is also known for its unique and vibrant culture. The city is home to many traditional festivals and celebrations throughout the year, including the Feast of the Virgin of Chapi and the Procession of the Lord of the Earthquakes. These events offer visitors a chance to experience the rich cultural heritage of Arequipa firsthand, with colorful parades, music, dancing, and traditional food and drink.
With its rich history, unique architecture, and vibrant culture, Arequipa is truly a must-visit destination in Peru. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s fascinating past, sampling its delicious cuisine, or simply soaking up its laid-back atmosphere, there is something for everyone in Arequipa. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in this enchanting city.
Arequipa Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Peru
While many people use Arequipa as a base for exploring Colca Canyon, it is a very stunning city in terms of its architecture as well. Nowhere is this more abundantly clear than at the Plaza de Armas, which is the city’s main square.
While there are many beautiful structures surrounding the main town square, which is highlighted by a lush Garden filled with palms, trees, shrubs and flowers, and a beautiful fountain at its center, the building that dominates the rest is none other than the Cathedral of Arequipa.
Massive in scale, it is the most significant Roman Catholic church in the area, but that’s not all that there is to check out when in the Plaza de Armas, as the Portales on the western side of the square will also attract the attention of avid photographers.
Hungry? There are restaurants located on the second floor of the Portales, but many tend to be overpriced for what they serve. Within a few blocks in each direction of the Plaza de Armas, there are lower priced restaurants that serve better quality cuisine.
After getting your fill of the previous attraction, head several blocks north to the Santa Catalina Monastery. Founded as a convent for nuns in the late 16th century, it ended up being dominated by the upper classes of Arequipa, with the dowry for entering equaling roughly $150,000 in today’s money.
With two-thirds of the population of the convent being slaves and servants, it eventually became so bad that Pope Pius IX eventually sent a member of his inner circle to fix the situation at the monastery.
While the backstory of this place is definitely intriguing, the construction of this place is equally interesting, as it resembles a citadel within a city. Those that wander around without a tour guide might end up getting lost; thankfully, there is a map of the complex on the back of your ticket, so don’t lose it!
Well, there are many beautiful private homes in Arequipa, Casa del Moral is one that has been open to the public. Built in the early 18th century, its exquisite design, rare book collection containing over 3,000 volumes and expansive private art collection will charm those that make the time to pay this place a visit.
Those looking for an amazing view of the mountains that surround the Arequipa area will want to head to the rooftop terrace, as an unobstructed view of these peaks can be had from there.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Arequipa, Peru
There are many day trips that you can take from Arequipa, but the ones that head into the Colca Canyon are among the most popular. While there are options that will have you travel there for an overnight visit, heading there over the course of a very long day is also possible.
While in this massive canyon (which has been found to be twice as deep is the Grand Canyon), you will have a chance to view the rare Andean Condor, whose wingspan dwarfs that of any other bird that you will find in South America.
Additionally, you’ll have a chance to observe cave art that is over 6,000 years old, farmland that has been tilled here since the time before the Incas, and festivals that best express the spirit of the Peruvian people.
If you’re up for even more adventure, then you might consider trying to climb the volcanic slopes of El Misti. While attempting to climb this peak will require a period of acclimation to high altitudes (the summit of El Misti is over 19,000 feet above sea level), and a patient approach to ascending, the view that you will be rewarded with at the top will make all the effort put into this expedition well worth the trouble.
There are many amazing restaurants around the city of Arequipa that do an excellent job of showcasing Peruvian cuisine, so why not learn how to cook it for yourself? There are many schools that put on Peruvian cooking classes around town, so at your accommodation, inquire about enrolling in one of their courses while you are here.
Learning how to create dishes such as an authentic Rocotto Relleno will make you the star of the show when you come home and are able to do the same thing for your significant other or friends.
source: Aliki Travel Blog on YouTube
Top 10 Things To Do in Arequipa, Peru For Visitors
Here are the top 10 things to do in Arequipa, Peru for visitors:
- Explore the historic center: The historic center of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many colonial-era buildings, churches, and plazas. Take a stroll through the streets to admire the architecture and learn about the city’s history.
- Visit the Santa Catalina Monastery: This 16th-century convent is one of the most popular attractions in Arequipa. It features colorful buildings and cloisters, as well as a fascinating history. Guided tours are available.
- See the mummies at the Museo Santuarios Andinos: This museum houses the famous “Ice Maiden,” a mummy of a young Inca girl who was sacrificed on a nearby mountain. Visitors can learn about the Inca culture and see other artifacts from the region.
- Hike in the Colca Canyon: The Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and is located about three hours from Arequipa. Visitors can take guided hikes to see the stunning scenery and wildlife, including condors.
- Take a cooking class: Peruvian cuisine is world-famous, and Arequipa is no exception. Visitors can take cooking classes to learn how to make traditional dishes like ceviche and alpaca steak.
- Visit the Yanahuara neighborhood: This picturesque neighborhood is known for its colonial-era buildings and arches, as well as a viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains.
- Relax in the thermal baths: Arequipa is home to several hot springs and thermal baths where visitors can relax and enjoy the healing properties of the mineral-rich waters.
- Explore the Mundo Alpaca farm: Alpacas are an important part of Peruvian culture, and visitors can learn about them at the Mundo Alpaca farm. The farm also features a store where visitors can buy alpaca wool products.
- See the Jesuit Church of La Compañía: This stunning Baroque church features intricate carvings, gold leaf decorations, and a beautiful courtyard.
- Take a city tour: A guided tour is a great way to learn about Arequipa’s history and culture. Tours typically include visits to the historic center, churches, and other landmarks.
What To Eat and Drink in Arequipa, Peru
Arequipa is known for its rich and diverse culinary scene, boasting a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and other international influences. Visitors can indulge in a range of dishes and drinks that are unique to the region. Here are some must-try foods and drinks in Arequipa:
- Rocoto Relleno: A spicy and flavorful dish made with rocoto pepper stuffed with meat and topped with melted cheese.
- Chupe de Camarones: A hearty shrimp soup made with potatoes, cheese, milk, and eggs.
- Adobo: A savory and tangy dish made with marinated pork, garlic, cumin, and vinegar.
- Solterito: A fresh and colorful salad made with corn, beans, cheese, onions, and tomatoes.
- Cuy Chactado: A fried guinea pig dish, which is a popular delicacy in the Andean region.
- Chicha: A fermented corn drink that has a slightly sweet and sour taste.
- Pisco Sour: A cocktail made with Peruvian pisco, lime juice, syrup, egg whites, and bitters.
- Inka Kola: A bright yellow soda with a fruity flavor that is unique to Peru.
- Mate de Coca: A tea made from coca leaves, which is believed to have medicinal properties and can help alleviate altitude sickness.
- Chicha Morada: A non-alcoholic drink made from purple corn, pineapple, and spices. It has a sweet and refreshing taste and is often served with meals.
Top Restaurants In Arequipa, Peru
Let’s explore some of the top restaurants in Arequipa:
- Chicha por Gaston Acurio – This restaurant offers modern Peruvian cuisine with a focus on Arequipa’s regional flavors. Their menu includes traditional dishes with a twist, such as alpaca carpaccio and quinoa risotto.
- Zig Zag – Located in the historic center of Arequipa, this restaurant serves up traditional Peruvian food with a contemporary twist. They offer a wide range of dishes, including ceviche, grilled meats, and vegetarian options.
- La Trattoria del Monasterio – Housed within the walls of the Santa Catalina Monastery, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience in a beautiful setting. They specialize in Italian cuisine and their menu includes homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh seafood.
- Hatunpa – This casual restaurant serves up hearty Peruvian comfort food, with a focus on potatoes. They offer a wide range of potato-based dishes, including baked potatoes stuffed with meat, cheese, and vegetables.
- La Nueva Palomino – This traditional picantería (a type of Peruvian restaurant) is a must-visit in Arequipa. They specialize in dishes like rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers), adobo (a spicy pork stew), and chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder).
- Choloq – This restaurant combines traditional Peruvian flavors with contemporary presentation. They offer a set menu that changes daily, featuring dishes like lomo saltado (stir-fried beef with onions and tomatoes) and arroz con mariscos (seafood rice).
- La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla – This casual restaurant specializes in sandwiches (known as sanguches in Peru). They offer a wide range of options, including sandwiches made with roast beef, pork, chicken, and fish.
- La Benita – This bakery and café is famous for its pastries, cakes, and other sweet treats. They also offer a range of savory items, including sandwiches, empanadas, and pizzas.
- Capriccio – This Italian restaurant offers a range of dishes, including homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh seafood. They have a great selection of wines to complement your meal.
- Tío Dario – This family-run restaurant serves up traditional Peruvian dishes in a cozy atmosphere. Their menu includes dishes like ají de gallina (shredded chicken in a creamy sauce) and rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers).
Tours For Visitors To Arequipa, Peru
Looking for an adventure-packed trip to Arequipa? You’re in for a treat! This beautiful city nestled in the Andes mountains has plenty to offer visitors. From exploring historic sites to outdoor excursions, there’s something for everyone. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry – there are plenty of tours available that will take you to the best spots in the city and beyond. Here are some popular tours to consider:
- Colca Canyon: This breathtaking canyon is one of the deepest in the world and is a must-see for any nature lover. Take a guided tour to explore its stunning landscape, spot condors flying overhead, and visit local villages along the way.
- City Walking Tour: Discover the best of Arequipa’s historic center with a guided walking tour. Learn about the city’s fascinating history, visit beautiful colonial-era buildings, and explore its colorful streets.
- Santa Catalina Monastery: This iconic attraction is a must-visit in Arequipa. Take a guided tour to learn about the monastery’s fascinating history, architecture, and art.
- Sabandia Mill and Mansion: This charming 18th-century mill is a fascinating glimpse into the city’s agricultural past. Visit the mill and the nearby mansion to learn more about the region’s history and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.
- Yanahuara Neighborhood: This charming neighborhood is known for its beautiful colonial-era buildings and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Take a walking tour to explore its streets and learn more about its history.
- El Misti Volcano: For the adventurous, take a guided trek up El Misti, one of the region’s most famous volcanoes. Enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape and a thrilling climb to the summit.
- Biking Tour: Get out and explore the city on two wheels with a guided biking tour. See the city’s most famous sights and hidden gems from a unique perspective.
- Chivay Market: This bustling market is a great place to experience the local culture and cuisine. Take a guided tour to sample local foods and learn more about the region’s agricultural traditions.
- Andean Baroque Route: Explore the beautiful churches and architecture of the Andean Baroque style on a guided tour. Learn about the history of this unique architectural style and see some of the region’s most stunning buildings.
- Toro Muerto Petroglyphs: These ancient petroglyphs are a fascinating glimpse into the region’s pre-Columbian history. Take a guided tour to see these incredible works of art and learn more about the people who created them.
Arequipa Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
If you’re planning a trip to Arequipa, Peru, then finding the right place to stay is crucial. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, there is no shortage of accommodation options in this vibrant city. Here’s a guide to help you find the perfect place to stay during your visit to Arequipa.
- Hotel Libertador Arequipa: If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, this hotel is the perfect choice. With its stunning colonial architecture and well-manicured gardens, the Hotel Libertador Arequipa is a true gem in the heart of the city.
- Casa Andina Premium Arequipa: This hotel is the perfect combination of modern amenities and traditional Andean design. Located in the heart of the historic city center, Casa Andina Premium is a great choice for those looking to be close to all the action.
- La Plaza Arequipa Hotel Boutique: If you’re looking for a unique and charming place to stay, La Plaza Arequipa Hotel Boutique is the perfect choice. This restored colonial mansion has been transformed into a beautiful hotel, complete with a rooftop terrace offering stunning views of the city.
- Tierra Viva Arequipa Plaza Hotel: This hotel is perfect for travelers who want to be in the heart of the action. Located just steps away from the main square, the Tierra Viva Arequipa Plaza Hotel offers comfortable rooms and excellent service.
- Hostal Solar: For those on a budget, Hostal Solar is a great option. This cozy guesthouse is located in the historic city center, just a short walk from all the main attractions.
- Wild Rover Arequipa: If you’re looking for a fun and lively atmosphere, Wild Rover Arequipa is the perfect choice. This hostel is located just outside the city center and is a popular spot for backpackers and young travelers.
- El Albergue Español: This hostel is perfect for those looking for a social and welcoming atmosphere. Located in a beautiful colonial mansion, El Albergue Español offers comfortable rooms and a relaxed atmosphere.
- La Posada del Parque: This family-owned guesthouse is located in a quiet residential area, just a short walk from the city center. With its beautiful gardens and comfortable rooms, La Posada del Parque is a great choice for those looking for a peaceful retreat.
- Casa de Avila: This guesthouse is located in a beautiful colonial mansion, just a few blocks from the main square. With its elegant rooms and attentive service, Casa de Avila is a great choice for those looking for a touch of luxury.
- Selina Arequipa: This stylish and modern hostel is located in the heart of the historic city center. With its colorful decor and social atmosphere, Selina Arequipa is a great choice for young travelers and backpackers.
Day Trips From Arequipa, Peru
There are several amazing day trips from Arequipa that offer a unique glimpse into the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Here are some of the top day trips to take from Arequipa:
- Colca Canyon: One of the deepest canyons in the world, Colca Canyon is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. The canyon is home to diverse flora and fauna, as well as local communities that have preserved their traditions for centuries.
- El Misti: This towering volcano can be seen from Arequipa and is a popular destination for hikers and adventure seekers. A climb to the summit provides breathtaking views of the city and surrounding landscape.
- Sumbay Caves: These ancient caves contain pre-Columbian art that dates back to 700 AD. The art depicts animals, plants, and people, offering insight into the region’s history and culture.
- Toro Muerto Petroglyphs: Located in the Majes Valley, these petroglyphs are believed to have been created by the Wari people around 500 AD. The carvings depict animals, people, and geometric shapes, providing a fascinating glimpse into the ancient civilization.
- Santa Catalina Monastery: This stunning colonial-era monastery is located in the heart of Arequipa and offers a glimpse into the city’s history and culture. The monastery is a maze of courtyards, rooms, and narrow alleys, with colorful walls and ornate decorations.
- Sabandia Mill: This historic mill is located just outside of Arequipa and is a great place to learn about the region’s agriculture and history. Visitors can see the old machinery in action and even purchase fresh bread and other baked goods made on site.
- Yura Hot Springs: These natural hot springs are located just outside of Arequipa and offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The pools are surrounded by stunning natural scenery and offer a peaceful escape from the city.
- La Mansion del Fundador: This historic mansion in the heart of Arequipa was once home to the city’s founder, Garcí Manuel de Carbajal. Today, the mansion has been transformed into a museum that showcases the city’s history and culture.
- Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve: This stunning natural reserve is home to diverse wildlife and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can hike, bike, or drive through the reserve and spot wild llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas.
- Chivay: This charming town is located near Colca Canyon and offers a glimpse into local life and culture. Visitors can explore the town’s colorful markets, sample local cuisine, and visit the colonial-era church.
Arequipa Transportation Guide
Arequipa, the second-largest city in Peru, has several transportation options for visitors to explore the city and its surroundings. Here are some of the common modes of transportation in Arequipa:
- Taxis: Taxis are easily available in Arequipa, and they are a convenient way to get around the city. It is always advisable to negotiate the fare before getting into a taxi.
- Buses: Arequipa has an extensive network of public buses that connect different parts of the city. These buses are affordable and a great way to explore the city.
- Colectivos: Colectivos are shared taxis that follow a specific route. They are a cheap and efficient mode of transportation in Arequipa.
- Rental Cars: Several car rental companies operate in Arequipa. Renting a car is an excellent option if you plan to explore the city and its surroundings at your own pace.
- Bicycle: Many tourists prefer to explore the city on a bicycle. There are several rental services in the city that offer bicycles on an hourly or daily basis.
- Walking: Arequipa’s city center is compact, and it is easy to explore the city on foot. Walking is the best way to experience the city’s rich history and culture.
Whatever your preferred mode of transportation, getting around Arequipa is relatively easy and convenient, allowing you to explore the city’s many attractions with ease.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Arequipa?
After visiting Arequipa, there are many other destinations to explore in Peru. Here are some suggestions for where to visit next:
- Machu Picchu: This ancient Incan citadel is one of the most famous destinations in Peru, and for good reason. Its stunning location in the Andes, incredible architecture, and rich history make it a must-see for any traveler to Peru.
- Lake Titicaca: Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. Its beautiful blue waters are surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and traditional indigenous communities.
- Colca Canyon: Located near Arequipa, Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world. Its dramatic landscapes and traditional villages make it a popular destination for trekking and cultural experiences.
- Cusco: The former capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco is a beautiful city with a rich history and culture. Its stunning architecture, vibrant markets, and lively nightlife make it a great destination for travelers.
- Nazca Lines: Located south of Lima, the Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs etched into the desert floor. Their origin and purpose remain a mystery, making them a fascinating destination for travelers interested in ancient mysteries.
- Lima: Peru’s capital city is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture. Its museums, restaurants, and nightlife make it a great destination for travelers interested in modern Peru.
- Huacachina: This small oasis town located south of Lima is famous for its sand dunes and outdoor adventure activities such as sandboarding and dune buggy rides.
- Iquitos: Located in the Amazon Basin, Iquitos is the largest city in the world that can only be reached by boat or plane. Its location in the middle of the jungle makes it a great destination for travelers interested in wildlife and nature.
- Huanchaco: This small coastal town is located near the city of Trujillo and is known for its traditional reed boats and great surfing.
- Huaraz: Located in the Andes mountains, Huaraz is a popular destination for trekking and outdoor adventure. Its stunning mountain landscapes and traditional Andean communities make it a great place to experience the natural beauty and culture of Peru.
Arequipa Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
As your journey in Arequipa comes to an end, don’t forget to take a moment to soak up the stunning surroundings and reflect on your experiences. From the rich cultural heritage to the breathtaking natural landscapes, there’s no doubt that this city will have left an indelible impression on you.
Whether you spent your days exploring the historic center, hiking through the surrounding mountains, or sampling the delicious local cuisine, Arequipa has something for everyone. It’s a city that combines the best of Peru’s ancient traditions and modern innovations, creating a unique and captivating destination that will stay with you long after you’ve left.
As you say goodbye to the towering volcanoes, the buzzing markets, and the charming colonial buildings, remember to take a piece of Arequipa with you. Whether it’s a beautiful handmade souvenir or simply the memories of the wonderful people you met, let this vibrant city stay with you forever.
In the land of alpacas and volcanoes, Arequipa’s beauty overflows. With history and culture abound, A true Peruvian gem to be found.
Marvel at the white city’s grandeur, Built with volcanic rocks of pure splendor. Explore the stunning Santa Catalina, A colorful convent, like no other arena.
Indulge in gastronomy, so rich and diverse, Spicy rocoto, comforting soups, a real universe. Savor the local pisco, the grape-based spirit, Arequipa’s nightlife, you’ll definitely merit.
Venture out to Colca Canyon’s stunning views, Witness the majestic condors, as they cruise. Trek in the Andean highlands’ rugged terrain, Spend nights stargazing, this memory will remain.
Arequipa, a city with a soul so deep, Will leave you enchanted, in love so steep. A journey you’ll cherish, forevermore, In your heart, Arequipa, will forever soar.