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Travel Guide

Plan for Arequipa with Local Expertise

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Arequipa at a glance

Arequipa is Peru’s second city. Between 1835 and 1883 Arequipa actually served as the capital of Peru, a distinction it gained due to its important economic, industrial and administrative role in the country’s development. Founded in 1540, Arequipa maintained strong links with the Spanish crown and was established as Peru’s main regional trading hub with Chile, Bolivia and Brazil. Because of Arequipa’s alliance with Spain a unique architectural style developed, which encompasses native constructions, colonial mansions and European-influenced religious buildings, such as the Santa Catalina Monastery. This particular style of architecture came to be known as the “Escuela Arequipeña,” or the “Arequipa School,” and earned Arequipa the nickname of “The White City.” Many of Arequipa’s buildings are made from a local volcanic stone called sillar, tying the city’s built environment to its natural volcanic surroundings.

Our Arequipa Travel Experts Recommend:

  • Visit the colorful Santa Catalina Convent
  • Wander the halls of the Santa Teresa Convent
  • Explore Colca Canyon: 1-3 Day Adventures
  • Take a Culinary Tour in the White City of Arequipa
  • Meet face-to-face with Momia Juanita
  • Rafting adventure along the Chili River
  • Chocolate workshop at the Chaqchao factory
  • Visit an Alpaca wool and textile factory
  • Explore the countryside along the Chilina Valley
  • Take a shopping tour to find all the quality deals

Experiences around Arequipa

What not to miss

Volcanoes are another defining feature of this Peruvian city. The snow-capped peaks of the El Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes tower over Arequipa and visitors cannot but be awed by their immense presence. This impressive natural frame is another reason for Arequipa’s popularity, and travelers can indulge in spectacular hikes up the volcanic slopes, or adventure into the extraordinary Valley of the Volcanoes where two of the world’s deepest canyons, the Cotahuasi and the Colca, can be found. Lovers of wildlife will likely be treated to the sight of a majestic condor soaring through the valley, and people wishing to experience some local traditions can venture into the nearby villages where natives practicing ancient customs still live to this day. For the thrillseekers out there, Arequipa’s surroundings offer an abundance of adventure sports, such as trekking, mountain biking and rafting. Foodies will delight in the city’s culinary offerings, and for a true local experience should try the “rocoto relleno,” Arequipa’s version of stuffed peppers, or the “chupe de camerones,” a local shrimp stew washed down with a shot of “anisado,” an aperitif made from anise that was popularized in Mediterranean countries. Arequipa is also known for its wool industry, where alpaca, llama and sheep’s wool is processed and made into artisan goods.

City Tour & Santa Catalina Convent

This remarkable city tour offers a myriad of must-see places such as the Church of the Company (a 17th century Jesuit church with a remarkable sculpted facade and a carved wooden pulpit), followed by a guided tour of the main square (Plaza de Armas) and the Cathedral. The next stop and a true highlight is a visit to the Santa Catalina Monastery, Peru’s most impressive religious construction. Founded in September 1579 under the patronage of Saint Catherine of Sienna, its doors remained closed to the world until 1970. Spreading over 20,426 square meters, its 16th and 17th century design has remained remarkably intact. To top it all off you will visit Yanahuara with an amazing view of the city. Private Service. Departure: Daily starting at either 9.00 am or 14.00 pm

City tour and Santa Teresa Convent

During the city tour, you will visit a myriad of places such as the Church of the Company, a 17th century Jesuit church with a remarkable sculpted facade and carved wood pulpit. You will also receive a guided tour of the main square (the Plaza de Armas) and the Cathedral. A highlight will be a visit to the Santa Teresa Monastery which was opened in 1710. In the museum, they exhibit one of the best collections of paintings, sculptures, works of fine metal, daily objects and decorative art works in the country. One of the galleries, which still preserves its original furnishings and appearance, is the Chapter House. Private Service. Departure: Daily, starting according to passenger request.

Explore the Colca Canyon

A colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots, the Colca Canyon has a number of small villages filled with local traditions and culture that are some of the most well-preserved in the country. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States, the landscapes surrounding the Colca Canyon are simply breathtaking! This is one of the best places to spot the Andean Condor as it soars and glides through this vast valley. There are 1, 2, & 3 day tours which allow enough time to visit all sites en route and much much more, and there is also the possibility to carry on through to Lake Titicaca or return to Arequipa, whichever you desire.

Culinary Experience w/ Lunch

You will start by visiting the central market in Arequipa named San Camilo. Here you will buy the ingredients to prepare the dishes (an entree and main course), before going to a family house where you will be able to cook your own meal following the chef´s instructions. The guide will be translating so you will have good communication with the chef. This hands-on class will offer you the opportunity to taste the typical dishes you learned to prepare during this class.

Andean Sanctuary of Mummy Juanita

La Dama de Ampato (the Lady of Ampato) is an Incan mummy of a twelve to fourteen year old girl found at the top of the Ampato volcano in 1995. According to specialists, it is very likely that the girl, whose remains were found frozen, died from a blow to the temple from a five pointed granite mace. It seems that she was sacrificed to the Ampato Apu (protector god) some 500 years ago.

Rafting the Chili River

A perfect activity to enjoy with family or friends, rafting down the Chili River through the stunning Chilina Valley is guaranteed to be a memorable experience. You will first be picked up at your hotel for a 25-minute drive outside of Arequipa where you will put on the provided equipment. You are then transported directly to the starting point on the Chili River that flows through a canyon at the foot of the Misti volcano for an approximate floating time of 1 hour. Your guide will have a Go-pro mounted on his helmet to document your thrilling ride down the Chili River surrounded by spectacular landscapes. You will float down thrilling and continuous rapids of class II and III, an intermediate level, considering the international classification reaches class V. Don’t miss out on this brilliant opportunity for adventure that can be enjoyed by all, making kids squirm and adults scream!

Chaqchao Bean to Bar Workshop

Are you a chocolate lover? Then you should take part in this fun chocolate workshop at the Chaqchao organic artisanal chocolate factory to learn about the exciting history of cacao and the process of making chocolate from bean-to-bar. You will be given the opportunity to make your own Aztec-style chocolate bar, with local Andean grains like quinoa, kiwicha and coca! The class also includes making cacahuatil, a traditional Mexican drink and blind tasting different types of chocolate to understand the fundamental differences between commercial chocolate and artisan chocolate. The workshop is available every day from 11am to 3pm with a maximum group of 9 people. It takes place in the Chaqchao café where they also sell organic Peruvian coffee, organic homemade deserts and craft Peruvian beer so you have plenty of tasty treats to accompany your chocolate!

Visit to Mundo Alpaca

The place, which is located next to only three stables of the Historical Center, will wrap you in the magical universe of the textilería of alpaca. Your guide will show you the production process used to produce different textile articles, from separation, dyeing and finally the fabric. This experience is very interesting, as affirmed by the 25,000 people who visit the place annually, between national and foreign tourists.

Campina & Chilina Valley Tour

This exciting tour begins with a visit of the Chilina Valley, where we will be able to admire Arequipa in all its splendor and also enjoy sensational views of the Chili River with a backdrop of the impressive Misti volcano. Our next stop is the traditional Peruvian town of Paucarpata, where we will visit the ancient Molino de Sabandia (Sabandia’s mill), built in 1785. Following this historical stop, we will delve deeper into the Arequipan history by visiting the Mansion del Fundador (Founder’s mansion), made entirely out of sillar, a white volcanic rock and perched on the edge of a cliff. From the Founder’s mansion we will drive to the Sachaca viewpoint, where you can enjoy splendid views of the enchanting city of Arequipa and the three volcanoes that watch over it. We will conclude the excursion by driving through the Puente del Fierro (the iron bridge), designed by the famous French architect Gustav Eiffel in 1882 before returning to the hotel. Private Service Departure: Daily, starting at passenger’s request morning or afternoon

Arequipa Professional Shopping Guide

During the shopping tour you will get the chance to purchase an array of traditional items by visiting the following places: Mundo Alpaca: A factory where clothes are made from Alpaca and Vicuna wool. Fundo El Fierro: A cooperation of local artisans, where different kinds of souvenirs are available for you to buy. Anis Najar: Where the typical liquor of Arequipa is prepared. Pedro D Diaz: A renowned store specializing in leather items. La Iberica: Offers handmade chocolates, toffees and marzipan for your enjoyment.

Fast Facts on Arequipa


This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Arequipa.

When to go

Arequipa benefits from a sunny and dry climate almost all year round. It enjoys very little rainfall during the year, apart from December and January when rainy days become more numerous, sometimes causing the Chili River to flood. It is perhaps best to visit Arequipa during the driest months, from May to November, and if you are planning on heading to the nearby Colca Canyon, condors can be seen in their greatest numbers between June and September. The average annual temperature in Arequipa is around 58 °F (14 °C), so it’s never too hot, or too cold. If you are there in August, make sure and stick around for the Arequipa Day festivities on August 15th.

How to get there

Daily flights to Arequipa are scheduled from Lima, Juliaca and Cusco. A number of different airlines including LATAM, Aero Condor and Star Peru offer daily flights between these cities, and we will arrange internal flights and transfers for you as part of your itinerary. The Plaza de Armas, Arequipa’s main square, is located 8kilometers (5.5 miles) from the airport. The best way to get around the city’s historic center is on foot, and taxis or combis can bring you into the surrounding area. Alternatively, we can book a private driver for you, just ask one of our travel experts and they can arrange this. If you’re coming to Arequipa from the lowlands, we recommend spending a day acclimatizing in the city before heading on to treks in the Colca Canyon.


Arequipa is a developed city that is used to welcoming tourists, and as such has a sophisticated tourist infrastructure. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget accommodation to luxury lodgings, and many high-end restaurants can be found in and around where the hotels are situated. However, do venture further afield when looking for somewhere to eat, as the city is full of eateries from street food to fine dining, and make sure to try cuy, a fried and marinated guinea pig, which is a local delicacy. Taxis can be hailed in the street and since drivers usually work independently, fares are reasonable. However, note that while the taxis may have a meter machine, none of the drivers use it, so agree a price to your destination before getting in the car. Be careful with your belongings after dark, especially in the market area where pickpocketing can be common.

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