Arequipa Tourism Information
Arequipa is Peru's second largest city, famous for it's Volcano backdrop scenery and being one of the oldest cities in Peru founded in 1540. It's buildings and houses are built with a white coloured rock, typical from the volcanic area. This is why it's known to be the "The White city of Peru". It's a very popular city to visit, with the added benefit that its streets and surroundings are much safer than other big cities like Lima.
Culture lovers will note that the destination's elegant historic centre has some of Peru's finest colonial churches and mansions. Many of them have been turned into museums and galleries. Most of the action takes place in the Plaza de Armas, where visitors will find gorgeous gardens, impressive colonial arcades and architecture, and the huge cathedral's elegant white façade. One of the city's highlights is the remarkable Santa Catalina Convent. The complex encloses a complete city within a city, and is among Peru's most fascinating colonial religious buildings.
Arequipa's countryside holds many attractions too, including the relatively easy climb up the El Misti Volcano. The Colca Valley's superb landscape features villages, ornate churches, agricultural terraces and snow-covered mountains.
The best time to visit Arequipa is during the winter season between the months of May to September. The temperature is mild and days are often sunny.
However it can get very busy in July and August, as this is the peak tourist season, in addition of being expensive.
During the shoulder seasons, March to May and September November it can be nice to visit, as well but weather is a bit more unpredictable and more cloudy.
Summer is December to February, it's hot and dry, with high temperatures of 35°C, which is better to be avoided when doing tourism as there is plenty of walking in the area.
Arriving in Arequipa by air is the obvious option. It has many daily flights from Lima as well as other cities like Cuzco. From the airport there is no public transportation options to the city centre, therefore a taxi is the only option, but they are cheap and the ride will not be more than 30 min. The town lies 19 Km away from the airport.
Once in the city there is no public transportation, useful at least for visitors. Staying in the city centre where the Old Town is located will be easy to walk to from where tours depart.
However there is a railway network system that has been operating in Arequipa since 1871, it connects Cusco-Puno-Arequipa and Arequipa-Mollendo.
Also you will find a Bus Station serving domestic and international destinations from Arequipa. But note that bus journeys usually operate at night and there is a risk of pickpockets operating on these services.
The historic centre of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of historic buildings, interesting streets to walk around with natural scenery making the city a major tourist destination. Its religious, colonial, and republican architectural styles blend European and native characteristics.
Renowned buildings and places to see include:
- Monasterio de Santa Catalina, it's a monastery of nuns, open to the public and made into a museum. The Santa Catalina Monastery is an enormous complex of rooms, chapels, plazas, ornate fountains, narrow cobbled streets, and beautifully decorated archways. High walls enclose these marvellous features. The thick and brightly painted walls also contain a number of cells, which once housed over 200 members of the female nobility. Visitors should make a point of seeing the monastery's Orange Tree Cloister, which is painted sky-blue and has wonderful murals on its vaulted arches. Tourists should walk along the narrow street known as Calle Toledo as well. It is the oldest part of the monastery and leads to the open-air laundry, where nuns washed their clothes in large jugs filled from the canal.
- PLaza de Armas, the centre of Arequipa where the governmental institutions are located and the cathedral.
- La Catedral,the cathedral of the city,of a Renaissance Revival architecture style, reconstructed after several earthquakes. It's worth visiting the Museum hosted inside the Cathedral and take a walk to the top of the Cathedral and admire the impressive views and learn via a tour the history and the restoration that took place after many earthquakes that struck the city.
- Palacio de Goyeneche, Palace or Casa Goyeneche is a 17th-century manorial house out of the city centre, famous for it's colonial architecture.
- Casa del Moral, mansion house with Spanish colonial era furnishings and art, with courtyards.
- Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries): This small museum's most famous attraction is the 600-year-old frozen body of a young Inca girl named, Juanita. It was discovered in near-perfect condition on the top of the Ampato Volcano in 1995. She was sacrificed to the mountain gods and buried in a tomb with a number of funeral offerings. The body was encased in ice and preserved by the freezing temperatures for hundreds of years. An interesting video documents the discovery and is included as part of the compulsory tour. The museum is located very near the Plaza des Armas.
✔️Tip: It's highly recommended to take a bus tour around the city to Yanahuara and the outskirts to visit some of the historic buildings not accessible by foot. You will find many tour operators around the main square offering these packages which include half day tours to full day including many more sights and activities.
Colca Canyon, is the most popular excursion from Arequipa, and the world's second deepest canyon. Culture lovers will relish the extremely picturesque valley, which is home to huge mountains, grand churches, lively market places and herds of wandering llamas. Many people opt to stay in the quaint market town of Chivay, which is some three hours from Arequipa. It offers a good range of restaurants, bus services and accommodation, and is an excellent base from which to explore the area. Travellers can choose from a number of tour operators, whose packages range from hikes to multi-day adventures.
To get there: You are able to take public busses from Terminal Terrestre (San Juan de Dios 510). Organised tours also visit the canyon daily. It is a five-hour journey.
Handicrafts industries of all Peru offer the tourist a wide range of regional goods, from the Andean zampoña (pan flute) to the beautiful "manta" baby carriers, are available in abundance and often for very reasonable prices. You can also find items and clothing made from wool and leather and anything in between made by hand.
Most of the local shops selling to tourists are located within the "Plaza de Armas" (Main Square) and the streets leading up to it.
Staying in Arequipa is essential to sleep within the city centre, or old town, where all the tourist attractions are located and it's as well safer. Not that Arequipa has a high crime volume, nevertheless you have to be always careful and not expose your belongings if travelling beyond the city centre. There are plenty of Hotels and Hostels around the old town, prices on average good about €20-30 per night.
It's a small city and very tranquil, coming for tourism would not take long to discover the city and visit museums within a couple of days including some tours.
Two to three nights would be enough.
Arequipa Photo Slide 📷