Situated at 2335 meters above sea level and surrounded by the Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu volcanoes, Arequipa is a stunning city.
Its architecture, primarily constructed from volcanic stone, along with canyons, cliffs, viewpoints, and an impressive Natural Reserve, make it a great choice for travelers. Check our tickets that include Arequipa here!
Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Arequipa!
The city welcomes you with a UNESCO World Heritage Historic Center. With its beautiful facades made of volcanic stone (sillar), the Plaza de Armas is surrounded by churches, museums, hotels, and terrace restaurants where you can enjoy traditional food or have a drink as the evening falls. Taking your time to explore at your own pace and be amazed at every corner is the perfect plan.
Built in 1579, this still-active convent has opened a part of its cloisters to the public, turning it into a must-visit attraction for every Arequipa visitor. During a guided tour, you’ll learn about the cloistered nuns’ way of life. Moreover, it’s an invaluable showcase of local architecture that deserves a visit. The atmosphere is mystical and captivating, providing a unique experience.
Explore over 400 years of history by discovering the interior of the Arequipa Cathedral, featuring precious metalwork, ornaments, paintings, and a visit to the Cathedral’s bell tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city and volcanoes from this wonderful wiewpoint.
Colca Canyon is the best place in South America to witness the majestic Andean Condor. It’s also one of the most popular trek destinations in Peru. The surrounding villages are picturesque, and you can explore them on the way to Colca. You’ll also find the La Calera hot springs mentioned later in this list.
Founded in 1710, a part of this monastery is also open to the public and is a very special place. Visitors often report that the tour fills them with a sense of peace. The exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and metalwork are captivating.
One of its main attractions is to visit around noon to hear the nuns sing the Angelus. They cannot be seen, but their voices can be heard, creating a mystical experience. Upon exiting, you can also purchase typical sweets made by the sisters.
Rafting on the Chili River provides adventurers with the opportunity to experience something different. While not a very whitewater river, it features numerous rapids for a fun and adrenaline-filled rafting session.
This church is renowned for its intricate reliefs on the facade, massive walls of white stone, and its interior adorned with altars and the ‘Virgin with the Child’ painting, made by the Italian artist Bernardo Bitti.
The cloisters, constructed in the 18th century, now house galleries and craft shops in what were once cells. From the second floor, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Pay attention to the plants, animals, and mythological themes depicted in the carvings, known as Andean Baroque.
Located three hours away from Arequipa, Toro Muerto features manifestations of rock art spread across more than 5 square kilometers. Over 6,000 volcanic stone blocks have been engraved in bas-relief with geometric, anthropomorphic, and animal figures.
Close to Toro Muerto is the ‘Jurassic Park Querullpa’, where you can see footprints of prehistoric animals dating back 150 to 200 million years.
This is the perfect opportunity to witness incredible landscapes and beautiful animals inhabiting this protected territory, such as llamas, alpacas, condors, vicuñas, and pink flamingos.
It’s advisable to travel with certified guides and be prepared for the weather, as temperatures can drop below freezing in the evening.
Camping is not allowed in the reserve, but you can visit different places such as Laguna de Salinas and the Santuario Nacional Lagunas de Mejía, where migratory birds from the northern hemisphere come to rest before continuing their journey south.
Located in the Colca Valley, these thermal springs offer an underground water source originating from an inactive volcano. Enriched with potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfates, these waters are known to alleviate circulatory, muscular, and nervous system issues.
The impressive walls formed with volcanic material are among the less crowded but more stunning places to visit in Arequipa. During this tour, you can see the active quarries of Añashuayco and learn how an entire city was constructed with this material, earning Arequipa the nickname “The White City”.
Arequipa’s unique architecture is worth exploring in emblematic houses like Casa Goyeneche and Casa del Moral. These are examples of colonial-era architecture, constructed with sillar and featuring courtyard structures that allow you to appreciate their internal patios.
This area is a must-visit in Arequipa, offering narrow streets, charming facades, and the best picanterías (traditional restaurants) in the city.
Ask for the most traditional ones and try some local specialties such as shrimp ceviche, rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), cuy chactado (fried guinea pig), and chica de jora (fermented corn beverage).
Located near the Colca Valley, this archaeological citadel served as the main seat of political power for the ‘Curacas’ (administrative figure in the ancient Inca communities) and is the largest pre-Hispanic village in the region, covering at least 10,000 square meters.
Recognized as a National Cultural Heritage, it features an Interpretation and Information Center where you can learn about its history.
Located 380 km from the city of Arequipa, the Cotahuasi Canyon is the third deepest canyon in the world, offering a breathtaking landscape for hike expeditions enthusiasts. Tours typically last for 3 days, providing opportunities to spot condors.Travel Tip: For information about tours: how to book and which ones to take, we recommend checking FindLocalTrips.com. A page to compare prices and operators of different tours in South America.
The former house where the Arequipa-born writer Mario Vargas Llosa was born has been restored and transformed into a museum showcasing the life and work of the Nobel Prize-winning author, from his birth to the present.
The collection includes videos, films, and personal belongings of the author of “The Time of the Hero”.
Travel Tip: For information about tours: how to book and which ones to take, we recommend checking FindLocalTrips.com. A page to compare prices and operators of different tours in South America.
Viewpoints are some of the best places to visit in Arequipa. From these wonderful wiewpoints, you can appreciate the city in all its dimensions. The traditional Yanahuara viewpoint, with its arches made of sillar, has been enhanced with a glass viewpoint that rises more than 50 meters and operates only on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
There are other interesting viewpoints such as Sachaca, a 19-meter tower from which volcanoes can be seen.
The Carmen Alto viewpoint with a view of Inca terraces. The Molino de Sabandia and the Mansión del Fundador, all on the outskirts of the city with spectacular views.
Located very close to the Plaza de Armas, the Museum of Archaeology at the Catholic University of Santa Maria exhibits archaeological objects dating from 12,000 BCE to the Conquest era. The collection includes ceramics, textiles, and funerary materials. Free entry.
Meanwhile, at the Santuarios Andinos Archaeological Museum, the objects are approximately 550 years old. Its main attraction is the Mummy Juanita, discovered in 1995 and known as “the ice maiden.”
A museum focused on the production of alpaca fabric, where you can also interact with these animals in a natural environment. Learn traditional weaving with waist looms and purchase original alpaca pieces at their exclusive boutique. Free entry.
Located in the Historic Center of the city, it is a must-visit to get a closer look at Arequipa’s culture and flavors. We recommend trying the fruit juices and cheese ice cream.
This market was declared a Monumental Historic Heritage in 1987, and the community makes great efforts to keep it safe and well-maintained for visitors.
Both the city of Arequipa and the entire Arequipa region have impressive places to visit and incredible stories to discover. Exploring Arequipa in all its dimensions may take a few days, but it’s an experience worth having. Afterward, you can continue the adventure towards Cusco and Machu Picchu.