Arequipa: The 10 best places to see on your trip.
Arequipa is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru. Its colonial architecture and its incredible landscapes really enhance it.
In this article we are going to tell you what places to visit in Arequipa so that you can take advantage of your stay in the city and enjoy its best attractions, since it’s a city with a lot of history and is also surrounded by nature.
That’s why, if you want to know what to see in Arequipa we invite you to continue reading.
What should you know about Arequipa?
Arequipa is located in the south of Peru and is the second most populous city in the country. It is placed at 2,328 meters above sea level.
In the year 2000 it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
It is also known as the “White City”, due to the ashlar, a volcanic material widely used in its constructions. The city is located in a volcanic area, with 3 main volcanoes that surround it; Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu.
This city has a rather warm, dry and arid climate. The rains are unusual throughout almost the entire year, since they occur mainly in the months of January and February.
The days are mostly sunny, and daytime temperatures average around 25 °C (77 °F). In winter, the nights are usually very cold and temperatures average around 6 °C (42 °F).
What to see in Arequipa?
Throughout this article we are going to mention several recommended places that we consider you have to visit in Arequipa.
This beautiful city is full of sites that deserve to be visited. That is why we believe that going through the “White City” is an excellent idea to add great experiences to your stay in this wonderful country.
Next, we will make the list of the top 10 places that we suggest visiting, so that you can enjoy your stay in this city to the fullest:
1- Plaza de Armas:
Like every Peruvian town, Arequipa also has a beautiful square, in this case, one of the most beautiful squares in the country.
The Plaza de Armas is located in the historic center, and is one of the most important places you have to go over in Arequipa.
This nice square is surrounded by colonial and important buildings made of white volcanic stone with refined architecture.
Also in this sector there are a few important bars, restaurants, hotels and shops.
Some of these restaurants have terraces to enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of the city center.
2- Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa:
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa dates from the 17th century and is located on one side of the Plaza de Armas.
It is an imposing construction built in white ashlar in which its Neo-Renaissance style facade with Gothic influences prevails. This building was damaged by some earthquakes over time, even one of its towers was completely destroyed, but today it is fully restored.
Inside is the Museum of the Cathedral, this is another of the places that we recommend visiting in Arequipa. Here you will be able to see magnificent pieces of goldsmithing, paintings and ornaments of more than 400 years old.
Also, you can access the bell tower of the Cathedral to get a beautiful view of the city and the volcanoes that frame it.
3- Convent of Santa Catalina:
In the historic center of the city there is also another of the renowned tourist spots to see in Arequipa, the Convent of Santa Catalina.
This extensive monastery, of more than 20 thousand square meters, is an architectural complex made up of several buildings. It is a colonial construction from the 16th century.
Going through it from start to finish is an extremely interesting experience in which you will learn about the lifestyle of the cloistered nuns.
Inside, you will be able to see the cells of the nuns with their kitchens and chapels, as well as the different patios and internal streets adorned with flowers.
4- Church of the Company of Jesus:
The Church of the Company of Jesus is a spectacular architectural work of the Andean Baroque style that is worth visiting and is another of the places that we recommend to see in Arequipa.
At the end of the 17th century, the Jesuits ordered its construction, and for this, the white volcanic material that characterizes the colonial constructions of the city was used.
You can enter for free and appreciate its interior. There you will find an incredible painting of the Madonna with the baby Jesus by the Italian artist Bernardo Bitti. You will also be able to appreciate its main altar carved in wood and covered in gold leaf.
What most distinguishes and characterizes this church is its exhaustively ornamented facade with elaborate reliefs forming traditional images of the region such as plants or animals. This facade is one of the clearest examples of the mestizo baroque style of the time.
This building has cloisters that were built in the 18th century. Today, in what used to be cells, there are craft shops.
It is also possible to access its second floor, from where you can appreciate a pleasant view of the city.
5- Tourist Viewpoints; Yanahuara and Carmen Alto:
The pretty district of Yanahuara has a renowned viewpoint, which is one of the best viewpoints that the city offers, making it one of the essential places to visit in Arequipa.
This site is located outside the historic center of the city, but it can be perfectly accessed by walking for approximately 15 minutes from the city center.
The Yanahuara Viewpoint is made up of 9 arches built in the 19th century with white ashlar, in which you can read popular phrases or quotes from famous people dedicated to the people of Arequipa.
The viewpoint offers an incredible panoramic view of the city, ideal for taking pictures. And from there we will also have an unbeatable view of the tops of the most notorious volcanoes in the city: Misti, Pichu Pichu and Chachani.
Next to the viewpoint is the beautiful Yanahuara square, which can also be visited, as it is very pretty and well maintained.
There we can also find the small San Juan Bautista of Yanahuara Church, which has a beautiful facade.
Another viewpoint that we recommend visiting in Arequipa is the Carmen Alto Viewpoint. The views from here are unbeatable. In addition to being able to appreciate the volcanoes, from here you get a view of an incomparable natural landscape where fields, Inca terraces and the Chili River prevail.
6- Salinas Lagoon:
Almost 70 kilometers away from Arequipa is another of the must-see tourist spots to visit on your way through this beautiful city.
The Salinas Lagoon is a large salt flat that is part of the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.
In this site you can see an incomparable natural postcard made up of the flora and fauna of the place, in addition to the mountainous environment that surrounds it.
Here you can see a variety of animal species such as alpacas, llamas and vicuñas.
Also, something characteristic of this site is that a large number of migratory birds live here, such as 3 different species of Andean flamingos.
In the sectors that surround the lagoon, we find the typical vegetation, such as the high Andean grassland.
In order to get to know this wonderful place, Guru Explorers offers a Salinas Lagoon Tour specially dedicated to enjoying a full day of this fantastic natural space, and in which you will also visit some viewpoints, a beautiful town and a thermal springs water complex. Everything you need to live an excellent experience in one of the recommended places in Arequipa.
7- Sillar Route:
As we already mentioned, Arequipa is also known as the “White City”. This is because most of its colonial buildings, which present beautiful architecture, were built with ashlar, a natural resource from volcanoes.
As this is a volcanic area, this material has been widely used for hundreds of years.
If we want to know how the process of extracting this stone occurs, we can go to the surroundings of the city and take a tour of one of the quarries that are still active.
Here you can also see how the carving work is carried out.
Visiting this place is very interesting, which is why this is another of the things we recommend doing in Arequipa.
To do this, from Guru Explorers we offer a Sillar Route Tour, ideal to learn about the traditional techniques for extracting this material that have been passed down from generation to generation.
On this tour you will be able to visit the Añashuayco Quarry and also the Quebrada de Culebrilla, a place where you can take a walk among its imposing rock formations and observe works carried out more than a thousand years ago by the Ware culture.
8- Andean Sanctuaries Museum:
In the Andean Sanctuaries Museum you can learn about the history of one of the most important Inca rituals, the “Capac Cocha”.
This ritual was performed in honor of the god Viracocha and in many cases included offerings of human sacrifices.
The main reason to visit this museum is to be able to observe the famous “Juanita Mummy”.
The mummified body was found frozen at the top of the Ampato volcano, and maintains an excellent and remarkable state of preservation.
This body belongs to a girl and was found in 1995 by two expeditionists. Next to the mummy were also gold statuettes, it is believed that “the ice girl”, and the statuettes were offered to the god Viracocha through this ritual.
9- Mario Vargas Llosa House Museum:
Another tourist spot that we find in the city of Arequipa is the Mario Vargas Llosa House Museum.
This old house, birthplace of the renowned writer, was restored and turned into a didactic museum.
This space has 17 rooms that show us the different stages of his life and work. You can take a tour from his birth to the moment he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010.
The museum shows important personal objects of the writer and a collection of holograms and films.
10- Colca Canyon:
If you are planning your trip to Arequipa, there is something that undoubtedly cannot be missing from your list; visit the Colca Canyon.
This wonderful place, that is part of the Colca Valley, is one of the most visited points of interest in the area.
It is the second largest canyon in the world. Its depth varies between 3,600 and 4,160 meters and it has an extension of 100 kilometers.
In this very special place that nature gives us, you will be able to observe the majestic flight of the Andean condor, the largest bird in the world. Being able to witness it from the viewpoint is truly impressive.
In addition, from the Viewpoint of the Cross of the Condor, you can appreciate views of a wonderful landscape, which includes high mountains, Inca agricultural terraces and the snow-capped peaks of the Ampato and Coropuna volcanoes.
Touring the city of Arequipa is a magnificent experience that allows us to connect even more with Peruvian culture.
That is why we consider that visiting this city is an excellent idea to be able to enjoy all the interesting places it has to know.
Through its landscapes, its nature and its historical monuments, it shows us that, if you decide to take a trip to Peru, visiting Arequipa cannot be missing from your list.