Arequipa, Peru: Things to do in the White City Arequipa, Peru: Things to do in the White City

Arequipa, Peru: Things to do in the White City

The colonial white city Arequipa is well-known for its architecture, built with white volcanic stone sourced from the four surrounding volcanoes. This stunning, volcano-ringed city is the second-largest city of Peru and a perfect stop to get used to the altitude at 2,400 meters (7,900 feet). You will regret skipping this beautiful and charming city, so here are all the things to do in Arequipa.

11 Things To Do in Arequipa, Peru

Spend two full days of your route through Peru in Arequipa. The city is easily navigated on foot – it may feel like you’ve left Peru, as the historical center looks so European.

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.

things to do arequipa peru Santa Catalina Monastery

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 see it entirely.  

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Arequipa, Peru: Things to do in the White City

Santa Catalina Monastery is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The entrance ticket costs 40 soles. (~ 12 USD) and can be bought online or at the door.

monastery Santa Catalina peru

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.

pasta canteen peru

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 is considered one of the most beautiful in Peru.

things to do arequipa plaza de armas cathedral

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.  

arequipa architecture

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.

things to do arequipa fruit market

8. Yanahuara

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.

arequipa peru old cars

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.

Want to learn more about Peruvian food? Consider joining a food tour in Arequipa!

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 need at least one day to acclimatize before doing an intensive hike. The easiest way to get to the Colca Canyon is to join an organized tour that includes return transportation and a knowledgeable guide.

How to get to Arequipa

The city is located at a strategic location on your way to Cusco or Lima. It’s best reached by overnight bus or via its international airport.

Find flights to Arequipa ✈️
arequipa bus

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 connecting 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.

Tip: Both routes are also available by airplane, but we recommend doing at least one of the bus rides as it really isn’t as bad as it might sound!

Where to Stay in Arequipa

Arequipa has great accommodation for every kind of budget. Find a hostel or hotel within 15 minutes of walking from the main square to be sure you’re near all major sights.

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 (local food)
  • Eco Brunch (tasty breakfast)
  • Kaffee Haus (Coffee roaster)
  • Da Giancarlo Casa Pizzería Italiana
arequipa lunch
Blog comments (5)

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  • Lacy R

    I love your guide & your pics are absolutely gorgeous! I found your blog post before visiting & definitely followed many of your suggestions. Thank you for them! The one tiny thing that I dislike is that the images of the monastery show the walls to be turquoise when they’re very much a royal blue in real life. :P

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Lacy, love to read that, thank you! I had a quick look at my phone photos and videos but they are not that different from the turquoise in the photos so I’m wondering if they repainted it? Our visit was over two and a half year ago.

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Lacy, love to read that, thank you! I had a quick look at my phone photos and videos but they are not that different from the turquoise in the photos so I’m wondering if they repainted it? Our visit was over two and a half years ago.

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