Machu Picchu Travel

Best Things to Do in Arequipa

   Best Things to Do in Arequipa

The city of Arequipa provides an unusual experience. This city has squares, streets, and colorful buildings. It is an attraction worth visiting. However, you will need more time to take in the laid-back surroundings.

 They are complemented by an array of activities, rooftop views, highly regarded restaurants, and coffee shops. That's just what the city offers its visitors.

Apart from that, Arequipa is surrounded by volcanoes, and the country's most famous canyon is within driving distance. Peru's "white city" is known for its stone streets and chalky white houses. Sillar, a type of volcanic rock that is very lovely, builds them.

Arequipa is on almost every backpacker's bucket list. This is because of its many top attractions and great tourism infrastructure. That’s why UNESCO included Arequipa’s downtown center as a world heritage. 

The mood is typically at ease. But, the city and its surroundings have enough sights and activities to keep tourists busy for days, if not weeks. That's why here are our suggestions for the top things to do in Arequipa.

Exploring Arequipa’s Historic Core

Arequipa was founded in 1540. Shortly after, the Spanish invaders started building the city. The great square was one of the first things they built. Since it was the area's main public location, the city was strategically distributed around it, as was the case with other colonial main cities of Peru.

The first thing you can do is to explore the historic city center as is one of the cheapest and best budget-friendly activities to do while in the city, and because the historical core is also worth seeing.

The Plaza de Armas is the main attraction of downtown Arequipa. Colonial buildings made of white volcanic rock called sillar in Spanish surround it. Palm trees add to the relaxing ambiance. The Arequipa Basilica Cathedral, Arequipa’s main church, has Neo-Renaissance styles with some Gothic influences.

 You’ll see the El Misti volcano in the background. Some other churches you may see are La Compañia de Jesus Church and Nuestra Señora de la Merced Church.

Santa Catalina Monastery is Peru's largest colonial structure. The site is 20,000 square meters, forming a city within a city. It was isolated from bustling Arequipa despite its central location.

Since the 18th century, the religious complex has been home to over 300 women. The convent was shown to the public in the 1970s. For over 390 years, it had hidden an amazing colonial style. Nowadays, it remains a paid tourist attraction and is one of the most popular spots to visit in Arequipa's White City.

In the same historic core, you’ll find San Camilo's enigmatic market, the ideal place if you're looking for a genuine experience in Arequipa, which is a couple of minutes away from the city center. From animal heads hanging off in the butcher stalls, to meat that was just sliced,  to a variety of vegetables and fruits in the other stall. 

 If you decide not to buy anything, that's ok! Visiting the market is more about the experience and environment. Remember to bring some cash since you will be tempted to try a fruit fresh juice or a local meal served directly from the pot.

In addition, on the second level, food vendors will await you with the most typical local cuisine. A delicious treat from Arequipa you should try on El Mercado San Camilo's second floor is “El queso Helado” (Cheese ice cream).

Despite the name, it has no cheese. It's an ice cream dessert made with whole milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, sugar, and egg yolks. 

The Peruvian dessert was named the second-best dessert in the world by Taste Atlas food magazine. We assure you that you won’t resist the temptation to try this delicatessen.

Peru is the land of llamas and alpacas. There’s a spot there that lets guests learn about and appreciate alpacas in a natural setting. They can engage directly with these lovely creatures for free.

 We’re talking about Mundo Alpaca, an interesting and unique textile-related machinery museum as well as showing ancient culture textiles. In this place, you can see the whole process of transforming wool into lovely souvenirs. These include coats, sweaters, gloves, and other items. 

The fun starts when you can meet, feed, and see llamas and vicunas. While there is no admission price, you may donate some, as this place needs your help. you can find Mundo Alpaca near the Ovalo de San Lazaro.

When talking about San Lazaro, you should not miss the San Lazaro Neighborhood a few blocks away from the main plaza, on the Chili River. This neighborhood has small roads, little plazas, and large buildings made of volcanic rocks

This neighborhood is the most typical area of old Arequipa. The white city is one of the few cities in the world with a distinctive architectural style, as seen in numerous instances that exist in San Lázaro. The city's nickname, 'White City,' comes from the prevalence of volcanic ashlar stone blocks.

Our last spot in Arequipa’s downtown is to see “The Lady of Ampato” also known as “La momia Juanita” the frozen body of a girl turned into a mummy killed as a human sacrifice in the Inca empire. You’ll realize how well-preserved the body of this girl, killed when she was 12 to 15.

Outside Arequipa’s downtown

One of the best neighborhoods in the whole of Arequipa City is Yanahuara. Located approximately 2 kilometers from the city’s downtown. You can walk there without issue, or you may take a cab for some soles

From there you can get one of the most famous and iconic views of the city from the Yanahuara viewpoint also called “El Mirador de Carmen Alto”. Given its location, the Yanahuara viewpoint in Arequipa is a set of beautiful volcanic rock arches constructed in the nineteenth century.

 It allows you to take in the beautiful white city of Arequipa while also providing an unparalleled view of its three volcanoes (Misti, Pichu Pichu, and Chachani). You can also examine the documented writings of famous people from Arequipa.  Remember that the entrance and pictures are free for everyone.

Another viewpoint to see El Misti at its fullest is Sachaca viewpoint, a district around four kilometers from Arequipa.  The entrance to the tower is two soles. Yet, even without walking up the tower, you may enjoy spectacular views. 

The Chilina sightseeing, located in the Cayma district area, has a portal entry with heavy fences. Visitors may see people cultivate the land and raise animals daily from here. The door leading to the viewpoint is embellished with steel writing that records the establishment of Cayma in 1823. The viewpoint is remarkable for its proximity to the Chilina Natural Reserve, one of the few sites in the area where flora has emerged from the parched desert.

Peru is one of the best places to eat. So, Arequipa has a long food tradition. It dates from many centuries ago and will captivate you. 

We recommend doing a food tour, there’s a chance you may gain some weight, but you won’t regret it. The locals in Arequipa call their most traditional restaurants “Picanterias”. (Spicy Food Restaurant in English)

The Arequipa Picantería started in chicha taverns on the outskirts of the growing city of Arequipa in the mid-16th century. Chicha, an ancient pre-Hispanic Peruvian beverage made from fermented corn, was drunk alongside spicy meals. The blend of cultures, which also combined culinary items and methods, resulted in more diverse meals and created original sociability in these locations. Arequipa picantería's distinctiveness comes from its diverse cuisine thanks to indigenous and Hispanic cultures.

From the 19th century forward, the main chicherías became known as picanterías. They became one of the greatest culinary traditions of Arequipa. These places are also the center of a lively social life, where popular music is promoted and other cultural manifestations take shape.

So, in Arequipa don’t forget to include on your food tour Adobo and rocoto relleno. Also try ocopa or chupe de Camarones, the top dishes in Arequipa. Besides traditional Picanterias here are some recommendations of Arequipa’s best restaurants. You can do all these activities in one day trip.

Some Museums you Can see in Arequipa

El Museo Santuarios Andinos is one of Peru's top museums, known for its great collection of Inca and pre-Inca archeological materials. This includes, most notably, the Juanita mummies. As a result, the displays mainly concentrate on the cultural and religious aspects of these ancient civilizations.

Keep in mind that the most important rites held across the region were dedicated to the Apus, the mountain spirits. The majority of these rites were for the Apus. The Santuarios Andinos museum has grown in popularity over time because of its proximity approach to Inca culture.

Arequipa holds a museum that includes a full home dedicated to one of today's most famous Latin American writers. He is Mario Vargas Llosa. Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer and politician born in Arequipa. 

He is the first Peruvian to earn the Nobel Prize in Literature for his various novels, newspaper articles, essays, and plays for the stage. As a result, Arequipa's municipal government turned his childhood home into a museum.

The museum consists of 16 exhibition rooms. The rooms depict Mario Vargas Llosa's life and career from childhood to when he received the Nobel Prize. It also has a library including 24,000 works by the famed writer. You can see some other museums in Arequipa  by clicking this link

Outside Arequipa

The Colca Canyon tour has been a popular option when visiting Arequipa; the region offers an ideal setting for people looking for a personal encounter with nature, whether through an adrenaline-fueled adventure or just relaxing their minds for a moment.

The renowned Canyon is about 160 kilometers from Arequipa. Its depth is 4,160 meters, making it the deepest in South America. The Colca Valley spans a distance of 100 kilometers and is home to an extensive array that includes over 300 plant types and over 231 animals. 

This spot is particularly well-known for providing a natural viewing area for the amazing Andean Condor, a bird of the Peruvian highlands. However, there is much more to do here, including cultural experiences, and hiking activities, such as the Colca Canyon trek.

Near the Colca Canyon, we have el Mirador Cruz del Condor, a beautiful sightseeing at an elevation of 3270 meters. This viewpoint is a famous site for observing the Colca Canyon and the stunning flight of the Andean Condor, the biggest flying bird in the world and a symbol of the region.

The Province of Chivay lies around 180 kilometers north of Arequipa's Plaza de Armas. The spot in question is in an Andean plateau region with climatic features that include cold and dry winters and wet summers.

This area draws over 300,000 tourists every year, making it one of the most popular in the country. Learning about it is a great way to enjoy one of Peru's greatest natural wonders. As previously mentioned, you can use a visit to this location to explore other nearby destinations, depending on your route and available travel time.

When visiting this place, relax after all of your trips visiting the Colca Valley's hot springs, which are located approximately 3 kilometers from the little settlements of Chivay. These waters can provide comfort and therapeutic benefits because of their high temperature of up to 38ºC and mineral content.

Salinas and Aguada Blanca national reservation covers more than 366,936 hectares and includes regions from the Arequipa and Moquegua departments. This reserve offers a chance to learn about the region's flora and animals, as well as enjoy the most beautiful landscapes and attractions. 

The landscape has lakes, snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, and high-altitude forests. It also has vast grasslands. One of its favorite attractions is the Laguna Salinas and its salar. Salinas, which is quite similar to Uyuni but on a smaller scale, offers an experience that is not comparable to that of the city.  

Your journey to Arequipa would be incomplete without the sillar route. The Sillar Route is not only visually appealing, but it is also culturally and historically significant. Its goal is to raise awareness of the value of sillar (Vulcanic rocks) and how it has been and continues to be an essential component of the Arequipa city's buildings. The importance of this material in Arequipa's architecture stems from its lightness, smoothness, and permeability.

The Sillar Route, situated on the outskirts of the city and less than an hour distant, is more than 2 kilometers long in the Cerro Colorado district. This region is on the foothills of the dormant Chachani volcano. It has been split into three areas: Añashuayco, Cortadores, and Virgen de Culebrillas. Each sillar quarry formed thousands of years ago due to volcanic activity.

Near the city, you can also see pink golden, and white vulcanic stone. The many minerals in these materials cause these color variations. The minerals give the materials a distinct and recognizable color.

For those looking to add some flavor to your vacation in Peru, here's an adrenaline-pumping sport that will keep you going from start to finish. We’re talking about White River rafting in the Chili River. The river features rapids of classes II, III, and IV, making the experience acceptable for newcomers.

These are the most famous full-day and half-day trips in Arequipa, and they undoubtedly represent one of the most exhilarating rafting experiences in the area. Keep in mind that Viagens Machu Picchu offers this thrilling package

Arequipa is a place filled with culture and history. In addition, its beautiful surroundings make it an ideal place to explore. If you have an interest in visiting this lovely city, contact us in Viagens Machu Picchu and go over our guided tours, and we'll make your time there memorable.

Join us and enjoy the White City without worry!