The charming city of Arequipa sits in the foothills of the active Misti volcano and its city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Arequipa is known as the ‘The White City’, with striking architecture built using chalk-white volcanic stone called sillar

Arequipa (2,335m/7,660ft) is famous for being Peru’s second largest city. Colonial architecture, a charming city center, museums and the five nearby volcanoes have awarded Arequipa the title of UNESCO World Heritage city and put it on the map of travelers around the world. Arequipa is often visited in combination with the Colca Canyon, home of the famous condor. Colca is located only four hours away via a sublimely scenic drive through the ‘altiplano’ high plains.

Recommended For

  • Culture Connoisseurs

Things to do

  • Explore Santa Catalina Monastery, a city within the city
  • Drive out to the Sillar quarry to meet local quarrymen and understand how 'The White City' was built
  • Get up-close to Juanita, a remarkable frozen Incan sacrifice
  • Try 'Rocoto Relleno' one of Arequipa's finest local specialties
  • Meet Aracari's specialist Franz Grupp, curator of little-visited living art museum Santa Teresa Convent where cloistered nuns still live

Sample journeys to Arequipa

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Things to Do in Arequipa

Arequipa offers a range of interesting activities for travelers with varied interests and we recommend one or two days in the city to see all the main sights. Below is a roundup of the top things to do in Arequipa.

Santa Catalina:

Santa Catalina monastery is the pride of Arequipa and often considered the key sight. A city within the city, this expansive 29,426 square meter convent was founded in 1580 and is a masterpiece of Colonial architectural design. Absorb the incredible colors that decorate the walls as you weave through the maze of gardens, artwork, and historic rooms.

Santa Teresa:

Santa Teresa convent is a fascinating ‘living museum’ where nuns still dwell and worship. Built in 1710 the building is beautiful and historic, with rooms adorned with colonial art older than the convent itself. Aracari can arrange for expert guiding by one of our top Peru specialists– the convent’s Museum Director of Viceregal artwork and the current Director of Culture in Arequipa, Franz Grupp.

Plaza de Armas:

Explore one of the most impressive main squares in Peru, the Cathedral, and neighboring streets. Check out the view from atop Katari hotel, perfectly situated directly opposite the Cathedral. A small minimum spend applies to access their rooftop bar.

La Compañía:

A Jesuit church that is a unique example of American baroque architecture with a wonderfully intricate facade illustrated with local motifs and a superb polychrome chapel dome.

Santuarios Andinos Museum:

The museum where the body of Juanita, a frozen girl, is on display. Uncovered atop Ampato Mountain in 1995, Juanita was a teenage girl sacrificed to the Inca gods in the 1400s and is eerily well-preserved. The museum also displays artifacts from the burial site to portray the importance of the sacrificial ceremony.

Ruta del Sillar:

On the outskirts of the city is a route composed of canteras, or quarries, where to this day workmen manually carve blocks of the iconic volcanic stone, sillar, that constructs the casonas, churches, and famous buildings of the city center. Visit the workmen and learn about the carving techniques that gave Arequipa the nickname, the White City.

Food in Arequipa:

Visit one of the best restaurants Arequipa and explore the delicious Arequipeño food. Arequipa is home to some of the most traditional Peruvian dishes thanks to its location half way between the coast and the heights of the Andes, which result in a wide array of ingredients. Don’t miss tyring ‘rocoto relleno’, a classic dish from Arequipa.

How to Get to Arequipa

Arequipa is easily accessed. You can fly directly to or from Lima on a 1.5 hour flight. There are also direct daily flights to and from Cusco on local airlines (though they tend to leave Cusco very early in the morning). Arequipa is a 4hr drive from the nearby Colca Canyon, another major attraction in Peru. From Colca, it is possible to drive to or from Lake Titicaca in a few hours. The luxury sleeper train Belmond Andean Explorer connects Cusco, Arequipa and Puno with a three day and two night itinerary.

When to Visit

Arequipa boasts dry and temperate climate year round, making a trip to the White City favorable during any season. If you’re worried about rain, you are better suited to travel during the known dry season, April-November, as other months could see scattered showers.

Contact us to plan a tailormade trip to Arequipa and Peru.

Highly recommended accommodations in Arequipa

The most luxurious properties in Arequipa are Libertador Arequipa and Casa Andina Premium Arequipa. Libertador Arequipa is on the outskirts of the town (around a 15-minute walk) though the additional space allows for extra facilities like a swimming pool. Casa Andina Premium Arequipa is in the heart of the historic center, where a handful of rooms are in the historic building, with the rest in an adjoining new-build. Charming boutiques like Katari and La Hosteria provide affordable bolt-holes. Even if you don’t stay at Katari, its prime position on the main square is ideal for a picture-perfect view of the Cathedral’s twin peaks and Misti volcano behind.