When you plan to travel to Peru, a visit to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu are high on your things-to-see list. And I can’t blame you. Although I also loved the other Inca Ruins that are not Machu Picchu and the sand dunes of Huacachina, Machu Picchu was the highlight of my travel to Peru. But… second on the list was definitely Arequipa. Why? I share with you my 7 appealing arguments to travel to Arequipa Peru.
Arequipa is the 2nd largest city of Peru (after Lima but before Cusco) when it comes to inhabitants and industry. Located in the south of Peru, Arequipa is the capital of the Arequipa region and a tourist hub for travellers further south to the border with Chile and towards Puno at Lake Titicaca. The main attraction around Arequipa is the Colca Canyon where you can see the condors of South America. Because I think Arequipa has a lot to offer and I loved my time there I’d like to show you La Ciudad Blanca.
Read more: Travel by bus from Arequipa Peru to San Pedro in Chile.
Arequipa la Cuidad Blanca
Arequipa is called “La Cuidad Blanca” in Spanish. Translated as “the white city”. Although this sounds like something from a fantasy movie where the world is divided in good and evil, this name refers to the white buildings in Arequipa. Most of Arequipa’s iconic buildings are built from sillar, a white volcanic stone. As soon as I arrived in Arequipa, I dumped my bag at the hostel and headed straight to the main plaza.
The most iconic building of Arequipa is the basilica cathedral of Arequipa that dominates the square in all her splendour. When you travel to Arequipa Peru, the square is the place where you’ll spend a lot of time, just looking at people, admiring the buildings and just soaking up Arequipa’s life.
Rooftop terraces in Arequipa
Surrounding the main square of Arequipa (the Plaza de Armas), you’ll find several grand buildings with a rooftop terrace. Overlooking the square and the city, you’ll have great views from the rooftop terrace. You can go for cocktail hour or have breakfast at one of the bars, this is a must do when you travel to Arequipa!
Santa Catalina Convent
Although Arequipa is called the white city, not everything is made of white sillar. One of the main attractions of Arequipa is the Santa Catalina Monastery. Located just a few streets from the Plaza de Armas, this convent is a city within the city.
You can wonder around for an hour or for the whole afternoon and take in the lifestyle of the nuns of the convent. Make sure to stop at the little café for a small snack to regain your energy! Be aware not to lean against the walls as the red and blue dyes will stain your clothes! Regardless of this mistake, I thought the Santa Catalina monastary was a highlight of my travel to Arequipa Peru.
For more info on the convent and the nuns work, visit the website.
People and festivals
Another surprise Arequipa unfolded for me when I hit the streets was the colourful people and the vibrant festivals in the street. I only stayed in Arequipa a short time, but every day I stumbled upon a festival or celebration.
As the locals are quite accustomed to tourists, this is the excellent opportunity to take some portraits of the people of Arequipa dressed up in their most vibrant outfits!
Colca Canyon Arequipa
Most people travel to Arequipa Peru to visit the Colca Canyon near Arequipa. The Colca Canyon is known as the deepest canyon in the world (which is actually not true) and draws in many tours to the Colca Canyon. You can take a tour or travel independently but changes are, you’ll want to see the condors and the villages in and around the canyon.
You can also hike the Colca Canyon, but as you can read in my story, it wasn’t a very positive experience for me but if you love hiking, it gives you amazing views!
Volcano Misti and other adrenaline adventures
People who seek adrenaline adventures can also travel to Arequipa Peru! Volcano Misti is towering over the city and this is actually one of the easiest volcanos to climb. Although it is not a technical climb it is still a challenging climb (5.825 m/ 19.110 ft.) but a great adventure!
If you’re looking for other adventures, you can go horse riding and white water rafting too around Arequipa.
Eat your first cuy
Lima has ceviche and Cusco has alpaca steak and a chocolate museum. What does Arequipa has to offer? Cuy!
I’ll let you think about what that is for a minute. I had to try it. It is marinated and fried guinea pig. A real delicacy, this little rodent tastes like chicken but it is a whole lot more fuss to get some meat of the bones. I figured it was a once in a lifetime experience. Where else will you be able to eat guinea pig than in Peru? With a cold Arequipa beer, it all taste pretty ok to me.
Do you want to learn more about Peruvian Fast Food? Check Authentic Foodquest for many mouthwatering foods from Peru!
Read more: 30 days backpacking trip around South America
Are you planning your travel to Peru? Is Arequipa on your itinerary for Peru? I hope my 7 arguments to travel to Arequipa have convinced you to include it in your trip. What attracts you the most in Arequipa? Let me know in the comment section below.
You have a very convincing argument as to why to travel to Arequipa. I have never considered Peru on my list of places to visit, but your post offers a variety of activities ideal to more adventurous travellers to laid-back, casual travellers. I would enjoy the roof top terraces myself for a nice morning breakfast or evening cocktail. Thanks for sharing.
This looks like an amazing place to visit! Seems like there is something for everyone. I would love to see that canyon or explore the square. I’m not sure I would try the guinea pig, but maybe I could work up the courage! Hopefully I will get to visit this beautiful city someday.
I have actually enjoyed my first Pisco Sour in Arequipa, so that’s another reason to add to your list. 🙂 I agree with you, even if it is so big, Arequipa it’s a wonderful place to visit. The Colca Canyon is amazing, especially when you feel the wings of the condor flying just feet above your head.
It looks like an interesting place to visit. The temples are absolutely beautiful and so intricate. I dont think i would be able to get myself to eat the CUY though, even though it actually looks very delicious!