Things To Do in Arequipa – The White City of Peru

Things To Do in Arequipa – The White City of Peru

Things To Do in Arequipa – The White City of Peru

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.

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best things to do arequipa peru

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 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.

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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. This 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.

➳ Also read: Peru’s desert oasis, Huacachina

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 considered one of the most beautiful in Peru.

➳ Must-read: Complete 3-week Peru Travel Guide

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. 

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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.  

Hungry? Visit La Benita de Los Claustros for a delicious lunch.

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. 

➳ Discover the surprising capital Lima, Peru.

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.

➳ See: The 11 Must-Do’s of Peru!

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.

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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.

11. Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon is the deeper brother of the Grand Canyon. A single, or 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.

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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.

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 to connect with other travelers. The buses are super comfortable, so a good nights rest is certain. From Huacachina, it’s a 12-hour bus ride to Arequipa.

Book Lima to Arequipa PeruHop tickets online

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.

Book bus tickets online

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! Find the cheapest flights to Arequipa here.

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
arequipa lunch

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. ➳ See all hotels in Arequipa

Hostels in Arequipa

Hotels in Arequipa

Blog comments (2)

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  • Alexander vera

    Hello This is free tour downtown Arequipa , we saw your article about Arequipa talking about our departures 10 am and 3 pm, just to let you know that the address you put on your page is not at hatumpa and our real location is santa catalina 204 , we will apréciate your time thanks.

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