Arequipa Travel Guide | Peru

Updated: Jun 23


Arequipa without a doubt is one of my favorite cities in Peru. A true gourmet paradise offering so many excellent restaurants and great food options. Also, incredible architecture. I could spend hours around the main square - Plaza de Armas!


Here is everything you need to know when traveling to Arequipa.

  1. How to get to Arequipa

  2. What to see in Arequipa

  3. Food of Arequipa

  4. Best rooftop terraces in Arequipa

  5. Arequipa Altitude

  6. Where to stay in Arequipa

  7. Day trips from Arequipa

  8. Video

How to get to Arequipa

Usually, there are 2 ways to Arequipa, from Lima or from Cusco. From both locations, you can take a flight. There is also a bus coming from Lima and from Cusco to Arequipa.


Buses usually cost around 10 to 20 USD but plane tickets are around 40 USD, so depends on how tight a budget you are on and also how much time you have.


Taking a plane is quite straightforward. If you do decide to take a bus then I highly recommend 'Cruz del Sur'. It is one of the most reputable companies in Peru and South America in general and the many times we had used them it has always been a great experience. Also, for long rides like this one, they offer the 'Suite' option. There are around 11 VIP seats on the bus that allow you to transform the chair into 'almost' a bed. Since I have started to use this option, I have never been able to go back to the normal chairs.


If you are coming from Lima, you might want to stop for a day or two in Ica and check out the Huacachina desert. It is literally a stop on the route 'Lima - Arequipa'.


In the Huacachina desert, you can go on a crazy buggy ride and try sandboarding! Check it out in this video:


What to see in Arequipa

The main place to explore is the historical center of Arequipa. Here you will find all the main landmarks like the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa which is the main cathedral located in the main square - Plaza de Armas.


Plaza de Armas is a lovely square right in the center of the old town. It offers a beautiful ambiance with a fountain and benches where to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Around it, you will find 2-floored arched buildings where mostly on the 2nd floor you will find several restaurants offering a view of the square from above. There are also several rooftop bars but more about that in a bit.


Also, in the old town, you will find the Santa Catalina Monastery. It has a very long history and influence on women wanting to join. The entrance ticket is quite expensive compared to other sights - 40 SOL ( 10 EUR / 8.50 GBP / 11 USD) (I can't believe how low EUR has fallen! 26.05.2022.)


There are also several churches around the old town worth having a look at. The main ones are: Church of the Company, Church of La Merced, San Agustín Church, and Santo Domingo Church.


You might find other bloggers mentioning 'Mundo Alpaca', I happened to kind of accidentally be there, and also it teaches you about llamas and alpacas, the conditions they were kept in I found disturbing. Different types of llamas and alpacas living together in 5 square meters. It was sad for me to be there and look at that. Proper tourist pit where owners clearly do not care about animals.


If you are after some true local experience then I recommend you to visit San Camilo Market which is the main market of Arequipa. There you will not only find fresh fruit to try but some local delicacies, medicine, clothing, and some really lovely traditional hats.


For excellent views of the city and Misti volcano, I recommend the Yanahuara viewpoint. Only a 5-minute taxi drive away from the old town you will reach this lovely square, featuring Yanahuara Church and the viewpoint. Also, this place is famous because it is one of the rare places in Arequipa where you can get Peruvian traditional dessert - Picarones. It looks like a donut but it is made from pumpkin and sweet potatoes and tastes amazing. I highly recommend you to try it!


There are several museums in the city too but I must admit I didn't visit any because I was too busy trying out all the amazing restaurants in Arequipa. This takes me to my next point.

Food of Arequipa

My favorite part of the city. After traveling South America for 4 months and just seeing rice and meat everywhere I was amazed at how many amazing restaurants there are in Arequipa. Also, all of them have a lovely interior and ambiance.


More importantly, I discovered many lovely vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. There were some places I returned to again and again. All my favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurants I tried and loved in Arequipa you can find here: Best Veggie Restaurants.


As I said you have to try Picarones and if there is one 'must-try' dish it is Ceviche. A very popular Peruvian dish that I personally also love. It is raw fish marinated in lemon juice and I am sure each place has its special spices that add the difference. Do not worry if you are a vegetarian, in Arequipa many places offer the vegan option of it.


I have put together a video of all the local goodies you have to try when in Peru:


Best rooftop terraces in Arequipa

Sunsets in Arequipa are on another level! The golden hour lasts for 3 hours so I highly recommend you to try some of the rooftop bars in Arequipa.


My absolute favorite one is 'Waya Lookout' because from one side you can see the main square Plaza the Armas and the Cathedral and from another, you can watch the sunset. The drinks menu has a lot of options, from hot to cold, from alcoholic to non-alcoholic.


Other rooftops bars that were recommended to me are:

If you do not want to spend money and catch the sunset for free, then there is this one rooftop where you can get up without a fee. This is the exact location:

You have to find the entrance to the courtyard with this title: 'Casona Santa Catalina' and once you enter take the stairs up on the right.

Arequipa Altitude

Although Arequipa is more referred to as the coastal city, it still is quite high up. Around 2335 meters above sea level. This means you might need a day to get used to the altitude. Do not worry, it shouldn't affect you too much as it is not that high. It might just be a little bit harder to climb stairs. At this level, you shouldn't get severe altitude sickness.


My best recommendation is to simply drink a lot of water. That is the main and first rule. Then there are several teas you can drink like Coca Leaves tea or Muna tea, but for each person, it is different what helps and what not.

Where to stay in Arequipa

I would definitely recommend staying in the old town as you will be close to everything. It is a beautiful area and also very safe. BUT hotels in the old town can be quite expensive, so a good alternative is to stay around Selva Alegre Park. This park is just outside the old town, so getting to the main square will take you approximately only 10 minutes. The area around the park is very safe and calm. I stayed in that area and absolutely loved it!


I stayed in the hotel 'La Quinta' and really enjoyed my stay there. The wifi is excellent so great for those working and traveling. The breakfast is amazing and you can enjoy it outside on the patio. You can use their kitchen and living area. The rooms are very clean, spacious, and modern. This place is 10 out of 10!


Day trips from Arequipa

One of the most magical things about Arequipa is the surrounding volcanoes. There are 3 you can explore and scale. Misti volcano is the most famous one, as it is very scenic and still active. Then we have the Chachani volcano which is a bit easier to climb. Also, it is slowly losing its glacier because of global warming, so hurry up to see it before it loses its white cap. Then we have the Pichu Pichu volcano which is not as high as others so it's the easiest to trek.


Do not worry about booking in advance. There are 'thousands' of agencies around the old town offering you 'next day departure' tours every day to all the places I am mentioning in this section!

Two and a half hour drive away is the beautiful waterfall Pillones. Day tours usually include other bits to check out on your way from which the main one is Stone Forest of Imata.


As the main day trip, I would like to highlight the Colca Canyon Trekking Tour! I did and absolutely loved it. The views are just absolutely incredible! The trek can get challenging so before going ensure you are ready for it. More about it read here: Colca Canyon Trekking - Everything you need to know!


Here is my 2-day trekking tour in Colca Canyon:

If you wondering if to add Arequipa to your Peru travel itinerary, please do! Absolutely wonderful city to explore and experience!


To get the vibe of the place watch this Arequipa video: