Arequipa Peru: Our 2017 detailed guide from how to get there, where to stay, how to book the Colca Canyon and more!

Arequipa Brief Summary:

  • Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city with a population of over 800,000 people and arguably the most beautiful city in Peru.
  • Situated about 2,335 metres above sea level in the shadows of the stunning ice capped Misti Volcano (5,822 metres).
  • The perfect place for hopsters to acclimatise to altitude for tours of the Colca Valley and Machu Picchu further down the line.

Below we have created our extensive guide to Arequipa based on our expert local knowledge having helped to transport over 30,000 tourists here since our formation in 2013.

Quick Tip: If travelling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as free Wi-Fi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travellers.

Arequipa Guide Contents:

1. How to get to Arequipa – Compare transportation options.
2. Must do in Arequipa
– A list of the most popular activities for travellers.
3. Must see in Arequipa
– The sights you cannot miss.
4. Arequipa safety tips
– Safety issues to be aware of.
5. Where to stay in Arequipa
– The best hotel/hostel options.
6. Photo Gallery – A few of the best photos of Arequipa.

How to get to Arequipa

How to get to Arequipa:

  • Flight to Rodríguez Ballón International Airport
  • Public bus
  • Peru Hop bus

The quickest way to reach Arequipa is by plane but this means you will miss seeing everything along the way. The airport does not receive international flights so this option is only available to those already in Peru. Upon arrival, take a taxi for a 30 minute ride to Plaza de Armas where most hotels and hostels are located.

Public buses from Lima take roughly 17 hours to reach Arequipa with no stops. Although you can find some comfortable buses, usually being the most expensive ones, it is a long journey and you will miss all of the things to see along the way.

Peru Hop has buses to Arequipa, as well. Our bus passes include stops where you can choose to hop off along the way to Arequipa. Our stops from Lima to Arequipa include Paracas, Huacachina and Nazca. If you take a Peru Hop bus From Cusco to Arequipa you can choose to stop and hop off in Puno.

Must do in Arequipa

Tours and Sightseeing in Arequipa:

  • Tour or trek the Colca Canyon, the second deepest in the world.
  • Walking tour of Historical Centre, named a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena, a fascinating colonial building.
  • Try the local cuisine at one of the ‘Picanterias’ around Arequipa.

There is a lot of tours and sightseeing options in Arequipa. The main attraction in the Arequipa area is the picturesque Colca Valley, an area of incredible beauty. It is one of the world’s deepest canyons, reaching a depth of 4,160 meters and it is home to the famous Andean Condor birds. The valley also has a vibrant indigenous culture including many examples of Inca agricultural terraces and irrigation systems, hot springs at La Calera as well as a range of activities from adventure sports to tourist homestays. A wide range of tours, treks and excursions leave Arequipa daily and we can facilitate or recommend tours to anybody on board, just simply contact us or ask your Peru Hop guide!

For all the architecture lovers, the city is also known as “La Ciudad Blanca” or the “White City” due to the beautiful white structures seen around the city built out of “sillar”, a white rock obtained from the numerous nearby volcanoes. The historical centre of the city is home to numerous religious convents, monasteries, catholic churches and museums. For this reason, the Historical Centre has been named a Cultural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. With all of this beauty and history, Arequipa is the perfect place to enjoy a walking tour.

The local cuisine in Arequipa is argued to be the most varied in all of Peru and while in Arequipa we encourage you to check out many of the traditional “Picanterias” to try out the local dishes such as Rocoto Relleno (Can be quite hot so make sure to ask in advance), Alpaca Steaks, Ocopo, Chactoad and many more. As well as this, the nightlife in Arequipa is amongst the best in Peru with many late-night bars and discotheques.

Must see in Arequipa

Must see in Arequipa:

  • Go see the Mummy Juanita also known as the Inca Ice Maiden, the ice preserved mummy of a small child who was killed as an offering to the Inca gods.
  • Check out the exhibitions from one of the many museums in Arequipa:
    • Art Museum
    • Archaeological Museum of the Santa Maria Catholic University
    • Archaeological Museum of the National University of San Agustín
    • Sanctuary Museum
Arequipa safety tips

Arequipa safety tips:

  • Be careful using ATM machines and avoid using them at night when possible.
  • Carry small change – many taxis/small shops don’t have change, so try to use small notes/coins.
  • Be aware of pickpockets and NEVER take your passport or credit card anywhere unless 100% necessary.
Where to stay in Arequipa

Where to stay in Arequipa:

Below are some of the most popular places to stay in Arequipa. Remember that all Peru Hop passengers get special discounts and prices. For more information see our hotel/hostel discounts page.

Wild Rover Hostel:

Description: Part of the famous Irish party hostel chain, with its own pool and a lively bar.

Facilities: Swimming pool, bar, plenty of rooms.

Issues: On weekends it can be noisy due to the nightclub located behind the hostel.

Excellent for: Party people.

How to Book: Email


wild rover arequipa peru

Flying Dog Hostel:

Description: Large spacious but quiet hostel with excellent facilities.

Facilities: Bar, pool table, nice lounge area.

Excellent for: Couples or people who want to relax and chill out.

How to book: Email


flying dog hostel arequipa peru

Dragonfly Hostel:

Description: Spacious dorms and private rooms in old Colonial house just a few blocks from central plaza.

Facilities: Bar, table tennis, foosball and hammocks.

Excellent for: Travelers who want to chill out.

Issues: All rooms have shared bathrooms.

How to book: Email


dragonfly hostel arequipa peru

Casa de Avila:

Description: Ample and comfortable colonial mansion with private rooms around a central chill-out garden and great facilities

Facilities: All rooms with private bathroom. Social room, cafeteria and sun loungers in the garden, terrace, cooking activity. Buffet breakfast included served in garden.

Excellent for: Travellers looking for a safe, private, quiet and calm stay. Great for enjoying sunny days.

Additional: Discounts on cooking activity. Early check-in rate on bus arrival if space available. Free luggage keeping.

How to Book: Email

Casa de Avila hostel arequipa peru

Photo Gallery:

arequipa peru photo gallery

Overall, Arequipa is arguably the most beautiful city in Peru. You shouldn’t miss it for anything, and once you’re there you’ll probably want to stay longer!

To book a tour in Arequipa we recommend you use a search and comparison website for tours across South America.