Welcome to Arequipa, one of the most beautiful cities in Peru! Arequipa is known as the city of eternal spring, with its stunning Plaza de Armas and relaxed atmosphere. It’s also called the ‘white city’ because most of the buildings are made of the silver-white sillar, a volcanic rock emitted by the Misti volcano. The sun almost always shines in Arequipa, it rarely rains, and the daytime temperature is usually around 23°C (73 °F). Lovely! There isn’t a lot to do in Arequipa, but it’s a nice city to acclimate to the altitude. If you’re curious about where to find great food in Arequipa or what the best sights are, this article has all our tips with the best things to do in Arequipa!
How to get to Arequipa?
From Cusco to Arequipa
It takes about 10 to 11 hours by bus to travel from Cusco to Arequipa. There are both daytime and overnight buses available. Given the long distance, it’s advisable not to book the cheapest bus. Buses with seats that recline up to 160° are definitely worth the extra money, as they make the journey much more comfortable. Check out all current departure times and book your spot on the bus in advance.
From Huacachina to Arequipa
From Nazca to Arequipa
What to do in Arequipa?
Arequipa is a delightful city where you can easily fill two full days with fun activities. Here are the top 6 tips you shouldn’t miss.
#1 Stroll through the Santa Catalina Monastery
Santa Catalina is one of the largest monasteries in the world, where more than 400 nuns lived for hundreds of years. No one was allowed to enter the monastery, so the residents of Arequipa had no idea what was going on behind its walls or what it looked like. It wasn’t until 1970 that the doors opened to the public. When you step into the monastery, you’re immediately transported to a different world. All the walls are red, white, or blue, and colorful flowers are everywhere. Santa Catalina is one of the most important sights in Arequipa and is definitely worth a visit. You can take a guided tour or explore the monastery on your own in about an hour.
#2 See the Misti volcano from Mirador de Yanahuara
Want to get a cool view of Arequipa and the Misti volcano? Then head to Mirador de Yanahuara. You can walk here or take a taxi for a few Soles. You’ll also find a lovely peaceful park and a small church that you can visit for free.
#3 Taste Pisco on a rooftop bar
Pisco is the local drink of Peru that you should try at least once. In Arequipa, the best place to do this is at the Los Portales De Venezia rooftop bar at the edge of Plaza de Armas around sunset. From here, you’ll have a cool view of the cathedral and the snowy mountain tops in the distance.
#4 Meet the Inca mummy Juanita
During an expedition in 1995, Johan Reinhardt found a strange bundle of fabric that turned out to contain the body of a young Inca girl. The body had been hidden for 500 years under the eternal ice cap of the Ampato volcano. Due to the eruption of the nearby Sabancaya volcano, the ice began to melt, and the girl’s body was exposed. Juanita rolled about 150 meters (500 feet) down a crater and was accidentally found by Johan about three weeks later. The mummy is unique because such a well-preserved mummy had never been found in South America before. Even the muscles, blood, and organs of Juanita had remained completely intact. You can visit Juanita yourself at the Museo Santuarios Andinos, which is a 10-minute walk from Plaza de Armas.
#5 Explore the San Camilo Market
Locals come to the San Camilo Market to get their fresh produce. Everything is neatly structured, with the meat stalls on one side, the fruit further on, and the tastiest smoothies just a little further. You can also find fish, vegetables, and many other products. Everything is out in the open, and the smells change with every step you take. Sometimes they’re delightful, sometimes terrible. Here you can taste Peruvian life without having to share it with many other travelers.
#6 Learn all about Peruvian cuisine
This fun tip comes from a follower. She was so enthusiastic about a cooking course that she sent us a message to add this tip to this article. The cooking course is given by Arthur, a chef who was born in Arequipa but studied in Europe. He is a super enthusiastic man who has a huge passion for cooking. During the course, Arthur teaches you a lot about the different cooking techniques, ingredients, and Peruvian cuisine. You can book the cooking course by sending Arthur a message at +51 958 798 514.
Best restaurants in Arequipa
Going out to eat in Arequipa is a great party. When we rolled out of the night bus, we went straight to Espacio Lagom for some delicious sushi at a great price. You can choose from the daily menu or create your own sushi. You can score great breakfast at Eco Brunch, where they serve the tastiest pancakes with lots of fruit. They also offer sandwiches, French toast, and waffles. For the best pasta in Peru, you should visit Pasta Canteen. You can create your own pasta with your favorite ingredients. It’s a tiny restaurant, and keep in mind that it can be extremely warm upstairs in the evening, so try to score a spot downstairs. Last but not least, there’s India Indian Cuisine, for anyone who loves Indian food.
Our favorite places to stay in Arequipa
It’s great to stay in the historic center of Arequipa because you’ll find many good restaurants and sights here. Solar is a quiet hotel in the middle of the center. You’ll stay in a comfortable and quiet room with a wonderful bed. On the rooftop terrace, you can enjoy breakfast in the morning while enjoying a beautiful view of Arequipa. Want to jump into a pool after exploring Arequipa? You can do that at Selina! There’s a large garden with lots of cozy seating areas, all in a great location in the center. There’s a great atmosphere, live music is often played, and yoga classes are organized. Le Foyer is also a great base in Arequipa. The location is super central, and there’s a large rooftop terrace with a cool view of the city.