Top Things to Do in Arequipa
Arequipa is one of the most important cities of Peru. The so-called White City gathers the most exciting activities to do in this southamerican gem. Besides being home to the 2nd Deepest Canyon in the World, this region comprehends volcanos, sanctuaries, museums, history, and traditions. Learn everything you need to know about this beautiful city and make the most of your experience!
The city of Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and the fact that a great number of its buildings were built using a white volcanic rock called “sillar” is the reason for its unique alias. Arequipa is also very popular for its extraordinary climate with blue sky and moderate temperatures.
Among all the things to do in the White City, some may have gone unnoticed, but luckily for you in this blog, you’ll find everything you need to know about these extraordinary locations.
Visit the Yanahuara Viewpoint
If you want to enjoy a spectacular view of the city you can’t miss visiting Yanahuara’s Viewpoint . It’s located just 10 minutes away from the Plaza de Armas, in the district of the same name.
Yanahuara will offer you amazing views of Arequipa with the city at the foot of its three most representative volcanoes: Misti, Chachani and PichuPichu. In addition, another of the attractions of this place are its characteristic white sillar arches, in which you can read phrases written by famous people from Peru.
Discover the Santa Catalina Monastery
The Monastery of Santa Catalina is one of Arequipa’s main tourist attractions. This great work of colonial architecture was a cloistered convent which dates back to the 16th century, this massive structure covers more than 20,000 km2 that you can explore.
The monastery has been open to the public since 1970. Before that, it was home to a community of nuns but the people from Arequipa knew very little about it since they were not allowed to go inside.
The monastery of Santa Catalina is known as the city within the city because of its great size. Inside you will see its colorful streets and amazing architecture followed by its interesting history. You can get there by walking since it is located just a few blocks from Plaza de Armas. Nowadays, this masterpiece remains a paid tourist attraction, and it’s open to the public from Monday to Sunday.
Canteras de Sillar in Arequipa
The Ashlar or Sillar is a white volcanic rock found in Arequipa’s region. During the colonial era, the white sillar was a principal element used in the constructions within the city center, characterized by its lightness, softness, and porosity.
The use of white sillar is the reason why Arequipa is called the White City. You probably are wondering where do they find the white ashlar? It is found in a quarry, located 30 minutes away from the main square in Arequipa, in the Cerro Colorado district. This place is named Canteras de Añashuayco, and lies on the base of the Chachani Volcano, the producer of white sillar.
Although you can visit this place on your own, it wouldn’t be the same as walking with an expert. We highly recommend visiting the quarry and its adjacencies on a guided day trip because of the history and geologic importance this unique place has for you.
Hike the Colca Canyon
Arequipa is famous as a great destination for hikes. The most famous hike is the Colca Canyon. It’s only 3 hours from the city and features as one of the most extraordinary landscapes you will see in Peru.
The Colca Canyon is the world’s second-deepest canyon. This impressive piece of Peruvian nature is 3,600 meters above sea level and is the main tourist attraction in the Arequipa region. Here you can do many activities, for instance enjoying the flight of the condor, taking a relaxing bath in its hot springs and also discover the fascinating Pre-Inca terraces that you will see in the surroundings.
How to get there?
This enigmatic work of nature is 3 hours away from Arequipa, if you want to enjoy this place at its fullest, you will need to depart earlier to be able to experience all the attractions within this National Park.
Many tour operators offer the visit to the Colca Canyon, whether it is by taking a day trip or a trek. Not all tour operators are the same, so make sure to know the company that is taking you to this adventure, and avoid cheap tours since you could end up paying for all the things they don’t mention.
While traveling through Peru, you will realize that the Colca Canyon is one of the famous attractions in this South-American gem, make sure to know everything about the tours and treks before committing to this adventure.
Keep in mind that the Colca Canyon is located at 3,600 meters above sea level and altitude sickness could affect you in this region.
Although you can visit the Colca Canyon on your own, it wouldn’t be the same experience as traveling with a tour operator. Besides, public transportation is not advisable if you don’t speak Spanish since most of the bus companies tend to overprice their tickets, and in the worst of the cases, they may not respond to any minor or major accident that could happen on the road.
A quick tip: You might find lots of tours to the Colca Canyon so be sure to ask what’s included or not in the package you are buying. There are some tours that involve long walks through the canyon so check out all your options and choose the one that better suits your needs.
Enjoy the Colorful San Camilo Market
It’s known in Peru that if you want to have an authentic and unique experience in the city you are visiting you should go to its local markets. In San Camilo Market you’ll be able to shop some fresh vegetables and fruit, also to buy some nice handicrafts and to feel the energy of daily life in the city.
Make a stop at Mundo Alpaca
Mundo Alpaca is a sort of gift shop and a mini zoo where you will see some of the cutest llamas and alpacas. This place is located in the San Lazaro neighborhood, only 20 minutes away from Arequipa’s historic center.
There’s an entrance fee to this place, so it’s a nice opportunity to see the local weavers in action and admire some of their finest work. We recommend you to bring some cash to tip these hard-working people.
At the gift shop you will get the chance to see and feel the different textures of wools. Also, you can buy some pieces made with this soft material.
Go visit Juanita at the Museos Andinos
In ancient times it was an honor to be chosen as a sacrifice and be offered to the gods. This was the fade of Juanita, a 12-year-old girl, whose body was discovered at the Ampato Volcano’s summit in 1995. It might result quite shocking to see such a little girl but also its impressive how well preserved her body was due to the fact that she was buried in a very cold area. You can find Juanita at one of the most important museums of Arequipa, make sure to know everything about its history, which will help you understand the Inca culture even more.
Go White Water Rafting
If you are the adventurous type, you should definitely book a white water rafting trip on the Chili River. It lasts 90 minutes and you get the chance to jump into the water and take a refreshing swim there while enjoying the great views of the Misti volcano and the rock formations along the way.
Without a doubt, this city gathers history, culture, and natural wonders that will surely make your trip more exciting and special. Don’t miss the chance of visiting one of the most beautiful cities in Peru and make the most of it! The White City awaits you, so you better be prepared for all the adventures it has for you.