1. Santa Catalina Monastery
The eye-catching Santa Catalina Monastery is one of people’s favorite things to do in Arequipa. Blue and red colonial arches, mixed with flowers, make this site incredibly picturesque.
The monastery is considered the most important colonial structure in the city. Santa Catalina is large, so you will need at least two hours to entirely see it.
Santa Catalina Monastery is opened daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The entrance ticket costs 40 soles. (~ 12 USD) and can be bought online or at the door.
2. Mundo Alpaca
Different kinds of alpacas and lamas live in the heart of Arequipa. Munda Alcapa can be seen at the alpaca textile museum, where you can learn about how the alpacas are raised, and how the textile is processed into handicrafts. It is a great experience to see how the workers turn the material into actual clothes!
Mundo Alpaca is free to visit and you will be able to feed the alpacas behind the shop. Getting there is a little tricky because you have to cross a busy road, so please be careful here.
On your way back, get a delicious lunch or dinner at the Pasta Canteen.
3. Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is situated in the main square of Arequipa, Peru. The Catholic church is the most important in the city and considered one of the most beautiful in Peru.
4. Plaza de Armas
In front of the cathedral is Plaza de Armas, which is the center square of each Latin American city. Palm trees, flowers, a fountain, and the surrounding arches, decorate the city square.
5. Free Walking Tour – Great thing to do in Arequipa
One of the best things to do in Arequipa is a free walking tour, mostly led by students who live in the city. In a 2.5-hour tour, they will take you to places you most likely wouldn’t have seen on your own. At the same time, the student can practice their English. There are two tours every day starting at 11 AM and 3 PM. The meeting point is here.
6. Claustros de La Compañía
Claustros de La Compañía is the great-looking shopping center. This relatively unknown center has all kinds of shops, chic cafes, and restaurants on the top floor. Don’t expect shopping to be a thing to do in Arequipa. Visit the center for its architecture and possibly a coffee.
7. Mercado San Camilo
Never-ending rows of exotic fruits, fish, vegetables, bread, and meat; Mercoda San Camilo is the largest, most popular, market in town and a fantastic thing to do in Arequipa. The soil around Arequipa is extremely fertile due to the nearby volcanoes.
Just like the market in Cusco, this is quite organized and fascinating to wander around for an hour. Get a delicious fruit juice at one of the many stalls at the back and practice Spanish with the lovely locals.
Yanahuara is a lovely, quiet area where there are almost no tourists. A 15-minute walk from Plaza del Armas takes you to a beautiful park, narrow cobblestone streets, old-time cars, and a great viewpoint. Arequipa is a safe city to wander around.
9. Yanahuara Viewpoint
Walk up the Yanahuara neighborhood to the scenic viewpoint – This is the perfect place for a view of the Misti volcano during sunset time.
10. Eat at a Picantería
Try the local dishes at the so-called Picanterias. These are incredibly popular with local families, so make sure to be on time or book a table in advance. We had a delicious lunch at La Nueva Palomino, on our way back from the Yanahuara Viewpoint.
Behind the small entrance door is a huge garden, with possibly the tastiest meals in town. The vegetarian options are limited, so we tried the local river prawns, which were absolutely mouth-watering. Picanterias are famous for their corn beer, made from fermented corn and we highly recommend trying this! Yummmm.
11. Colca Canyon
The Colca Canyon is the deeper brother of the Grand Canyon. A single, or a multi-day hike, is one of the most popular things to do in Arequipa. Keep in mind that when you arrive in Arequipa from the lower ground, you will at least need one day to acclimatize before doing an intensive hike.
Lima to Arequipa
If you’re coming from Lima, Huacachina, or Nazca, the Peruhop overnight bus to Arequipa is a great way of transport and to connect with other travelers. The buses are super comfortable, so a good night’s rest is certain. From Huacachina, it’s a 12-hour bus ride to Arequipa.
Cusco to Arequipa
The same comfy buses, from PeruHop, drive from Cusco to Arequipa. This hop-on, hop-off system allows you to get off in Puno together with your new friends.
Flight to Arequipa
Both routes are also available by airplane but we recommend to do at least one of the bus rides as it really isn’t as bad as it might sound!
Best restaurants in Arequipa
There is a wide range of restaurants in Arequipa to choose from. Italian, Peruvian or Japanese, it’s all there!
- Pasta Canteen (homemade pasta)
- El Buda Profano (vegan sushi)
- La Nueva Palomino (great local food)
- Eco Brunch (delicious breakfast)
- Kaffee Haus (Coffee roaster)
- Da Giancarlo Casa Pizzería Italiana
Where to Stay in Arequipa
Arequipa has great accommodation for every kind of budget. Find a hotel, or hostel, within 15 minutes walking from the main square to be sure you’re near all major sights.