10 Must-see attractions in Arequipa in Peru

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru by number of inhabitants and is also known as the "white city"as most of the walls and walls are of this color. Completely surrounded by volcanoes, which will be the background to more or less all your photographs, this city is also a perfect starting point for visiting the Conca Canyon and for reach Puno to visit Lake Titicaca. Being at an altitude of 2.335 meters, it is perfect for getting used to the mountains and acclimatizing before going to higher altitudes, such as that of Cuzco, at 3.399 meters above sea level, trying to prevent the soroche, or altitude sickness.
Let's see together, then, which are the 10 things to see absolutely in Arequipa in Peru.


  1. Parade ground
  2. Arequipa Cathedral
  3. Santa Catalina Monastery
  4. Santuarios Andinos Museum
  5. Iglesia and Claustros de La Compañía
  6. Mercado San Camilo
  7. Yanahuara district and viewpoint
  8. Mundo Alpaca
  9. Reserva Nacional de Salinas and Aguada Blanca
  10. Colca Canyon
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas is the central square and the beating heart of Arequipa. It is of a unique beauty, made even more enchanting by the city's Basilica and the El Misti volcano in the background. Located in the historic center, this is the place where the city was born in 1540 and then slowly developed. On three sides it is all surrounded by large arcades made of granite and in the neo-Renaissance style typical of colonial architecture.

E' surrounded by clubs and bars, where you can stop for a cool drink and watch the people go by and how the square is alive at any time of day. And the perfect point to start discovering Arequipa and the point to be taken as a reference for all trips and the various attractions.

  • in the historic city center - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

2 - Arequipa Cathedral

The Cathedral of Arequipa directly overlooks Plaza de Armas ed it is the main Catholic building of worship in the city. The first cathedral was built in 1540, as soon as Arequipa was founded and volcanic stones were used for the foundations and brick walls and vaults. Unfortunately, over the centuries it was destroyed by earthquakes, fires and volcanic eruptions and was therefore subjected to numerous recovery or reconstruction works, such as from 1844 to 1847, following the project of the architect Lucas Poblete. The 2001 earthquake caused further damage to the Church, but construction began immediately and led to what we can still see today.

Today it also houses a museum, with a collection of various religious objects and paintings. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00, while it is closed on Sundays.

  • in the north side of Plaza de Armas - Get directions
  • Monday to Saturday from 7:00 to 11:30 and from 17:00 to 19:30; Sunday from 7:00 to 13:00 and from 17:00 to 19:00
  • 10 PEN (about € 2,70); free between 17:00 and 19:30

3 - Monastery of Santa Catalina

The Santa Catalina Monastery is one of the most visited attractions and loved by tourists and you will immediately recognize it for a feature that distinguishes it from the rest of the city: the red color of the walls. Another feature of it will strike you right away, as soon as you step inside: the great silence that exists within its walls.

The monastery is a convent of nuns belonging to the order of Santa Catalina of Siena, who made a vow of silence for life. It was partially destroyed by a powerful earthquake (like many other parts of the city), so what we see today is the partially restored monastery. Two evenings a week, Wednesday and Thursday, the monastery remains open a few hours after sunset and you can take part in one really suggestive night visit. The path is lit only by candles, oil lamps and fireplaces. A real leap into the past.

  • in calle Santa Catalina 301; 550 meters from Plaza de Armas; 7 minute walk - Get directions
  • from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00; Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 to 20:00
  • 40 PEN (about € 10,80)
  • Arequipa: Guided tour of the Monastery of Città and Santa Catalina

4 - Santuarios Andinos Museum

The Santuarios Andinos Museum, in the center of Arequipa, was founded to preserve the frozen body of a young girl of less than 14 who lived her short life about 500 years ago. We are talking about the famous Juanita, whose body was found in a glacier in the Andes and which, thanks to the ice, has remained perfectly preserved and intact. The Incas chose young virgin girls, between 12 and 14 years old, coming from the most noble families, to offer as a sacrifice to the gods to appease their anger and ask them that the volcano did not erupt.

The sacrificial victims had to climb to the top of the Andean mountain range, at a height of 6.200, they drank a drink called chicha, which stunned them and made them fall asleep, only to be killed with a blow on the head. Being chosen was considered a great honor. The body is exhibited in a very cold room from May to December, while from January to April it is stored in another room to prevent it from deteriorating.

  • in calle la Merced 110; 200 meters from Plaza de Armas; 2 minutes walk - Get directions
  • Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 18:00; Sunday from 9:00 to 15:00
  • free contribution

5 - Iglesia and Claustros de La Compañía

The Iglesa de La Compañía is a Jesuit church that was built in Arequipa and whose construction began in the distant 1590. But, between one problem and another, it was only completed in 1698. It is one of the best examples of mestizo architecture: the typically Baroque facade has a decoration that combines influences from colonialism and South American culture. The material used, of course, is the stone from the quarries of the Misti volcano.

Near the church there is the Claustros de La Compañía. The complex consists of a major cloister, a minor cloister and a courtyard. The Main Cloister is made up of a single plant, where there are large fully decorated arches. In the minor cloisters, however, you can find small shops, stalls and offices of various businesses.

  • General Móran 114-118; 150 meters from Plaza de Armas; 2 minutes walk - Get directions
  • every day from 6: 00 to 21: 00
  • free

6 - Mercado San Camilo

Do you want to get closer and get to know as much as possible the traditions and culture of the inhabitants of the city where you are on a trip to South America? There is no better place than the market. Each city has at least one and here you can see how everyday life takes place, taste typical products, learn about local cuisine and buy some souvenirs to take home. In Arequipa we recommend the Mercado San Camilo, in the historic center. Inside you can really find everything: meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, lots of spices, colorful fabrics, various objects. Taste one of the delicious fruits and throw yourself into the chaos that characterizes these places.

  • in Calle San Camilo; 650 meters from Plaza de Armas; about 8 minutes walk - Get directions
  • Monday to Saturday from 6:00 to 19:30; Sunday from 6:00 to 15:00
  • free

7 - Yanahuara district and viewpoint

Yanahuara is a beautiful neighborhood of Arequipa, on the opposite bank of the Rio Chilli from the historic center. It is often referred to as the Spanish quarter, thanks to the strong influence of Andalusia. As you stroll through the narrow streets, keep your gaze up to admire the beautiful colonial-style facades.

The central and meeting point of the area is Plaza de Yanahuara, where the Church of San Juan Batista from 1750 and lots of places to stop for a cool drink or a relaxing lunch break. But the real attraction in this square is another: the Belvedere. From this vantage point you can admire a beautiful view of the city and the Misti volcano.
On Fridays it becomes a market area, with any type of fruit and vegetable and, in the square under the belvedere, you will find many souvenir stalls.

  • neighborhood 2 kilometers from Plaza de Armas; 25 minutes on foot; reachable by taxi in just 5 minutes, negotiate the price with the driver before getting on - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

8 - Mundo Alpaca

Arequipa is the world capital of the Alpaca, so we definitely recommend you pay a visit to Mundo Alpaca. Opened in 2006, this center allows its visitors to see and get to know these beautiful animals, considered one of the symbols of Peru, by interacting directly with them. Furthermore, you will learn about the ancient techniques that Peruvians use to produce fabrics with the fur of these animals and you will be able to see people at work while working on the loom, using the "telar de cintia" technique, used since the pre Inca era. . An experience that you absolutely must try.

  • in Alameda San Lazaro 101; 800 meters from Plaza de Armas; 10 minute walk - Get directions
  • Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 18:30; Saturday from 9:00 to 6:30; Sunday from 9:00 to 5:30
  • free

9 - Reserva Nacional de Salinas y Aguada Blanca

The Reserva Nacional de Salinas y Aguada Blanc was founded in 1979 and extends for 366.936 hectares, at an average altitude of 4.300 meters. It is located between the districts of Moquegua and Arequipa, hence it can be reached in about two hours by car. Here you can admire incredible views: large valleys, lagoons, snow-capped mountains and volcanoes such as Misti, Pichu Pichu and Chachani. In addition, here you can come across various wild species, such as vicuñas, alpacas, albino deer and guanacos. The objective of the Reserve is to be able to preserve this unique heritage.

To visit the Reserve you can contact one of the many agencies who are in Arequida or book a complete tour, with driver and guide, in order to also have some information in real time while visiting the place. You can also find various offers on the Internet, so that you can organize yourself in time.

  • about 69 km from Arequipa, about 2 hours by car; it is recommended to choose an organized tour with transfer included and pick up directly at the hotel - Get directions
  • vary according to the tour
  • free entrance to the reserve; tours starting from 200 PEN (approximately € 54,00). More info

10 - Colca Canyon

Arequipa is a perfect city to gradually get used to the altitudes of Peru and to try to fight sorache, altitude sickness. In addition, it is a great base for visiting the surroundings, such as Colca Canyon. In fact, many different tours of varying lengths depart from the city every day.

The Colca Canyon it is one of the deepest canyons in the world and the first city where you will stop to discover the area is Chivay, the main urban center among all those around this area. Another fundamental stop is the Mirador Cruz del Condor, where you can have the opportunity to admire the Andean condors as they fly not far from you, while the background is dominated by the presence of the majestic volcanoes. During the various stops you can really see gods spectacular landscapes and, along the way, you will come across many small villages inhabited by native populations who carry on their traditions. An experience that we absolutely recommend you do, if you have little time, however, consider the day trip, you will not regret it!

  • about 200 km from Arequipa, it is recommended to choose an organized tour with transfer included and pick up directly at the hotel - Get directions
  • vary by tour
  • 1 day tour from € 86,00 per person
  • Colca Canyon: Full-Day Tour from Arequipa From Arequipa: Colca Canyon Tour with Overnight Colca Canyon and Titicaca: Tour from Arequipa to Puno

Plan your stay in Arequipa: info on flights, hotels and tours

Arequipa is truly a beautiful city that we really recommend you include in your Peruvian trip, also to gradually get used to the altitudes that characterize this country. It is also an economic city, within everyone's reach. You can eat without spending exaggerated prices. As for hotels and b & bs, we advise you to look for accommodation in the historic center, to be close to all the attractions and to be able to move freely on foot, without taking a taxi. In addition, several free walking tours of the city depart from Plaza de Armas every day.

  • flights starting from € 800,00 -
  • hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -
  • Arequipa Half-Day City Tour Arequipa: City and Country Tour Arequipa: Chili River Rafting
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