Arequipa is often an overlooked city in Peru. The truth is, that there are quite a lot of mind-blowing places to visit in Arequipa. The city is framed by three volcanoes and has a lot of colonial architecture to offer. For me, this place was great for getting used to the higher altitude and is a popular stop-over for hikers. Arequipa also gives a taste of local culture, more than what you get in other bigger multicultural cities like Lima.
Best places to visit in Arequipa
Because Arequipa is in the middle of the mountains, there are a lot of things to do around the city as well. But I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to actually go around the city and get used to the local climate.
Santa Catalina Monastery
I cannot express enough how much I liked this place. It is a colonial masterpiece and it is really beautiful. From what I have heard it is first women founded a monastery in Peru. It is very colorful and has quite a unique atmosphere. By that, I mean that you can probably find monasteries in Europe that are more beautiful. This one has statues that look bad or are broken in some way. But everything is very colorful and you get to see an amazing view. Especially when you hike go to the first or second floor of the monastery, you get to see all the mountains around Arequipa. For me, this was surely one of the best places to visit in Arequipa
Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
Everyone will notice this building. It is the domain of the historic center the square Plaza de Armas. This massive building is another colonial sparkle in the eye of every lover of architecture. This beautiful building is a base for the archbishop and the Metropolitan Council. Local guides would tell you that this church is definitely one of the unusual and famous buildings all over Peru. So it definitely should be on your itinerary for the best places to visit here in Arequipa.
The opening hours are a bit strange. Basically, if you want to go there with a guide, you are welcome from morning till like 5 pm. From 5 you can visit your self. And you can visit everything except for the roof that offers a view of Plaza de Armas. I think it is fine to take a guide and have a look around, just make sure the guide can speak English. And they are easy to find, like any other local guides, they would just stand in front of the cathedral and offer their services to everyone who comes around.
Places to visit in Arequipa – things I didn’t manage to see
Honestly, I didn’t choose wisely, and expect, that one day in Arequipa would be enough. It really isn’t. There are a lot more places to visit in Arequipa. So here is a little list to think about when visiting this city.
Museo Santuario Andinos
Very cultural thing! Or so it seems. Museum has a true Peruvian mummy from the 15th century. A woman called “Juanita” that was sacrificed to gods. It is a unique thing to see someone who was sacrificed and mummified. So don’t miss it like me.
Casa del Moral
I cannot say how much I regret not to visit this place. This ancestral house was build in the 1730s and it is in style of colonial baroque architecture.
Frankly, this isn’t the biggest thing to regret if you miss it but I love animals, so I kinda wish I to be there. Mundo Alpaca is a petting zoo with a lot of alpacas and llamas. Which makes it irresistible for people like me or children. On the other hand, you will get a lot of opportunities to pet alpacas elsewhere but you would need to pay for it (one sol for one pet or something like that).
All the other touristy things you need to know about Arequipa
Well, let’s start from the beginning. How to get there. Busses and airplanes are your best friends in this case but there are a bunch of things to know here. First of all, planes are taking less time to go around but can be quite expensive. Because Arequipa is starting to be more and more popular with tourists, the number of flights between both Lima and Arequipa or Cuzco and Arequipa are increasing.
If you want to see places like Paracas and Huacachina, buses are possibly better for you. Before you jump on one, check the buses that are available. For example, the longest distance I took in Peru was my ride between Ica and Arequipa, which took about 12 hours. For that, it is certainly better to take a night bus. Also, check when will your bus come, the cities aren’t the safest during the night.
How long should you spend in Arequipa?
I spend in Arequipa one day and it wasn’t enough, so I think two days could be optimal and without any stress. You can also order some trips from Arequipa. Like visiting Colca canyon could be your option. Besides a lot of companies offer either day or two days trip to Colca Canyon. For that, you need to be prepared for higher altitude. And honestly, Arequipa is a great place to get used to local climate, since you get to be in 2500 altitude, which can help a lot if you are planning a trip to higher places.