Arequipa is arguably one of the most picturesque cities in Peru, with it’s beautiful Andean backdrop and stunning main square. Many travellers find themselves passing through Arequipa on their pilgrimage to Cusco and the Sacred Valley and it would be my advice to stay a while and appreciating all that this beautiful city has to offer. So with that in mind, I’ve made a list of top things to do in Arequipa to help you plan out and prioritise your time…
The number one thing on my list when visiting Arequipa, and a must-do while in Peru is Colca Canyon. This seemingly infinite cravas dwarfs The Grand Canyon and is quite the spectacle to behold. Companies offer one, two and three-day tours so there’s something to suit every budget, time allowance and activity level. For me this tour is unmissable as you get to witness the majesty of the canyon, soak in the natural volcanic hot springs and best of all for a wildlife nerd like myself, see the awe-inspiring Andean condor soaring on the canyon thermals. It’s a very unique experience and is definitely one of the highlights of my Peru trip. If you’d like to know more about this Colca Canyon tours check out my complete guide here.
Free Walking Tours of the City
A Walking tour is a must in every new city. They’re great to help get your bearings, learn about the tourist hotspots, acquire some local knowledge and learn a little more about the place you’re visiting. Additionally, they’re great because they work on a tipping basis so you can pay as much or as little as you can afford. Arequipa have a few companies offering free walking tours and many hostels also offer their own too so you’re spoilt for choice!
Like what you see? Pin it for later!
Mundo Alpaca is a free museum dedicated to showcasing the art of alpaca wool production. It’s free to enter and an interesting way to spend an hour or two. The museum goes through the process from shearing and wool production, right through to how that wool is then dyed and woven into products. What’s more, they have real alpacas living at the museum you can meet and snap a picture with.
Plaza De Armas
Going back to how gorgeous Arequipa is again, well the plaza is definitely the true beauty queen of the city. Equipped with fountains, magnificent architecture and leaning palms all coupled with the backdrop of the snow-capped Andean mountains, it’s definitely one you’ll want to remember. Grab a coffee from one of the cafes in the square and sit a while and appreciate it’s beauty.
Museo Santuarios Andinos
This museum is the resting place of Juanita ‘the ice girl,’ a mummified sacrifice encapsulated and preserved in the ice of a glacier for hundreds of years until her discovery a few years ago. Take the interesting guided tour through the museum and learn about Juanita’s discovery and how and why she came to be there in the first place. It was a fascinating insight into Incan culture and a great warm-up for those of you heading on to Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Yanahuara is a viewpoint over the city marked by several white sweeping arches. It’s a bit of a trek but the view is beautiful and you can catch a glimpse of the mountains and volcanoes Arequipa is flanked by (Misti, Mount Chachani and Pichu Pichu Peak). Sometimes you can even see the active volcanoes smoking!
Santa Catalina Monastery
Take a look inside a working nunnery and learn more about the religious past of Peru. You can visit during daylight hours but on select week nights the monastery opens it’s doors in the evening. It’s winding corridors and courtyards lit by candles at night sounds like it would be almost fairytale-like. The reality is more like something out of ‘Most Haunted’ but the eerie feel of the place while exploring in the dark can be quite a fun experience! It’s one of the more expensive things to do in Arequipa but was definitely an interesting way to spend an evening.
Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
This was one of the most gorgeous places of worship we visited while in Peru both on the inside and out. The climbing turrets which frame the Plaza de armas are one of the reasons Arequipa is known as the ‘White City.’ The inside is no less impressive, in true catholic styling, the interior is heavily decorated with golds, reds and ordained with marvellous decoration. Tourists are free to enter and appreciate this place of worship, and if you’re lucky you will get to experience it’s wonderful acoustics as the choir sings, it honestly gave me goosebumps!
So that’s my list of top things to do in Arequipa. I hope I’ve inspired you to take a little detour here on your travels through Peru! Let me know what your favourite part of your visit was, I love to reminisce about my travels with fellow adventurers! If you enjoyed this post give it a share on social media and check out my other Peru posts here for more inspiration for your trip planning!