Some of you may not have heard of Arequipa, but it is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru. Arequipa is the second most populated Peruvian city and is located in the south of the country in the middle of the Peruvian desert. The city is a fabulous mix of old and new and has a beautiful history to learn. And with so much to know and experience, it is normal to wonder where to start. That is why with the travel experts at Machu Travel Peru we have prepared an article about the many things to do in Arequipa. Learn about all the many forms of tours and day trips around this fantastic city.
Get to know the many things to do in Arequipa
- Tour of Monastery of Santa Catalina
- Visit the Plaza de Armas of Arequipa
- Take a walk in San Camilo Market
- Get a perfect view of the city in Yanahuara
- Wander through the aisles of La Compañia church
- Meet Juanita mummy in the museums of Arequipa
- Explore the nearby Colca Canyon
- Colca Canyon trek
- Celebrate the festivities of Arequipa
- Taste the traditional cuisine of Arequipa
1.- Tour of Monastery of Santa Catalina
Arequipa is one of the most pleasant cities in Peru, it is the perfect place to spend a few days and experience everything there is to do. It has an excellent climate all year round and almost no rain. The city has a different feel than most other cities, it is modern, and the people are a bit different too. Arequipa has a slightly more modern vibe, while some other places in Peru live a bit in the past. That said, the city has its colonial past where you can visit attractions such as the Santa Catalina Monastery, one of the best Arequipa tourist attractions. Being able to take a tour with the Nuns who still live and work in the convent today is one of the best things to do in Arequipa. The convent is a labyrinth of alleys with an interesting history.
2.- Visit the plaza de armas of Arequipa
Arequipa’s main square is considered one of the most beautiful in Peru. And visiting the square is one of the mandatory things to do in Arequipa. It has well-kept gardens and many flowers that make the square a special place to spend time. Arequipa’s Cathedral is located in the plaza and is made, like most of the city, of white volcanic stone. Around the square, there are many Spanish colonial houses, which today have been converted into restaurants where you can enjoy a tasty lunch. Besides, in the surroundings, you will find the best hotels in Arequipa as well as other historical buildings that are worth a visit.
3.- Take a walk in the San Camilo Market
If the visitor wants to know the local idiosyncrasy of a South American town, first he has to visit their main squares and the local markets. San Camilo Market is a great example in Arequipa and offers colors, aromas, and flavors in each one of its stalls. Throughout all of South America, you will find picturesque local markets, where the bustle and the hectic life get mixed up. San Camilo market is not the exception, and its visit is one of the best things to do in Arequipa.
Since the heads of cattle hanging off in the meat stalls, fresh meat being chopped, dry llama fetuses until a variety of fruits, vegetables in the opposite stalls. Of course, if you feel the thirst for the impression of the scene, don’t worry, you will find fruit juices stalls close. Besides, on the second floor, food stalls will be waiting for you with the most representative local dishes.
4.- Get a perfect view of the city in Yanahuara
Arequipa is famous for the Misti volcano, the city lies on its slopes. However, Arequipa is famous for pictures of her in the middle of an arch too, having the Misti as its protector. Well, these kinds of photos are taken since the Yanahuara lookout. Among the many things to do in Arequipa, the visit to this lookout is inevitable. Yanahuara is a middle-class neighborhood located on the west side of Arequipa (If you want to take a walk from the main square to Yanahuara lookout, the walk will last only 40 minutes).
If you have a walking tour in Arequipa, this route is the most appropriate for you. Beautiful cobblestone streets, an ancient white church of colonial times, quaint houses, and the famous arches made with sillar stones are the characteristics of this peaceful urban zone. Do you want a perfect postcard of Arequipa? So Yanahuara is the right place for you.
5.- Wander through the aisles of La Compañia church
The churrigueresque style was famous for the first time in the facades of Seville churches. However, due to the Spanish conquest in Peru, the style was passed to Peruvian native builders. In this form, the architecture of La Compañia Church (The Company) has this style, inside the Baroque movement, and its facade is the best example of beauty, decoration, and movement of lines in the south of Peru. Besides, inside, the visitor can find the amazing altar covered in gold leaf and ornate carvings beautifully decorated. Of course, all the Jesuit church is made up of sillar stone (White rocks originating from Arequipa). This attraction lies over a corner of the city’s main square, just next to the administrative buildings. What are you waiting to visit it?
6.- Meet Juanita mummy in the museums of Arequipa
You should take the time to visit some Arequipa museums, especially where Juanita is located. Juanita is the mummy found in the Andean peaks with a fascinating history, so take the time to visit and get to know her. To meet Juanita, you have to go to the Andean Sanctuaries Museum. This is located a few minutes’ walk from the main square of Arequipa. Being able to meet the famous mummy is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Arequipa.
7.- Explore the nearby Colca Canyon
On any visit to Arequipa, you must do a Colca Canyon tour, located about six hours by car from Arequipa. The canyon is considered one of the deepest in the world, doubling the depth of the Grand Canyon. This amazing feat of Mother Nature was created by the Colca River over thousands of years. You’ll see the river below when you visit one of the many lookouts at the top of the canyon. One of the most spectacular sights to see in the Colca Canyon is the majestic Condor. Birds love to fly around the canyon, and if you’re lucky, you might see one up close. The canyon is worth visiting to book a tour.
8.- Colca Canyon trek
The Colca Canyon tour is not the only thing to take advantage of on your visit to Arequipa. There is also the possibility of enjoying the Colca Canyon Trek, one of the best things to do in Arequipa. The Colca Canyon hike may not have the archaeological sites of the Inca Trail, but the natural landscape is just as, if not more, beautiful.
The canyon is said to be around 11,000 feet deep, but this is measured from the high peaks to the canyon floor. The environment is spectacular, and the walk is challenging, most of the walks are two or three days long, and you will have the opportunity to spot condors. You can also soak in the wonderful Colca hot springs in the surroundings. If you have time to hike slowly, you will greatly benefit from the experience. Many people do the hike in one day and do not fully enjoy the experience. It is much better to take a couple of days and enjoy the magnificence of the mountains.
9.- Celebrate the festivities of Arequipa
In February of each year, the local people of Arequipa celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is said that on February 11, 1858, a girl named Bernadette went to the forest with two of her friends to look for firewood and came across a river. Since Bernadette suffered from asthma, she decided to stay by the river while her friends went to fetch firewood. While she was resting, the Virgin Mary appeared, who is also known as the Lady of Lourdes.
The girl and the Virgin prayed together, during the next eight months the Virgin appeared to Bernadette more than 18 times and she assures that the Virgin cured her asthma. The girl was mistreated by the local authorities for her claims. However, people gathered around her waiting for the Virgin to appear, which she never did. Bernadette remained firm in her faith until she died. If you are lucky enough to enjoy the different tours in Peru in February, be sure to visit Arequipa. Remember, activities like swimming, sailing, even trekking in Peru are fun, however, knowing the traditions and customs of its people is even better.
10.- Taste the traditional cuisine of Arequipa
Arequipa is also becoming a gastronomic destination. In the white city, the typical restaurants of Arequipa are known as Picanterias. Here you will find all the local specialties to try. But keep in mind that the plate sizes are large, so go with a big appetite. Consider trying the star dish in Arequipa, the Rocoto Relleno. This is made with red peppers that are cleaned and seeds removed, then the pepper is stuffed with minced meat, peanuts, boiled eggs, olives, cream cheese, and milk, and baked in the oven when ready served with potatoes. Trying traditional cuisine is one of the best things to do in Arequipa.
His Majesty Rocoto Relleno
The Rocoto Relleno is one of the best typical dishes in Arequipa. But there is much more to try than Rocoto Relleno. The Ocopa is one of the traditional sauces of Arequipa that is served as an aperitif. Boiled potatoes are usually covered with a cream-based on yellow chili, onion, garlic, cream cheese, and a spice called Huacatay, blended with dry bread.
The dish is also served with boiled eggs, olives, and lettuce. But no trip to Arequipa would be complete without trying the traditional soup, Adobo. This soup is served throughout Peru but is best in Arequipa. With chunks of pork marinated in chicha (Inca Beer) and cooked with vinegar, hot peppers, and spices, frequently cooked in a flavor-enhancing clay pot and served with bread. This wonderful soup is traditionally served in the morning for breakfast.
“WE DON’T NEED OBJECTS; WE NEED ADVENTURES”
These are just some of the many things to do in Arequipa. The truth is that within this majestic city, you can find much more to enjoy. These are just some of the most important examples that you cannot miss. But Arequipa is full of incredible places to go and visit. Make sure to visit its historical buildings such as the Cathedral and other no less surprising places. We hope together with the Machu Travel Peru travel experts to have been helpful. If you want to know more about our tours, you can consult with our advisors.