In this Arequipa Travel Guide, you will discover all the wonder that awaits you with travel to Arequipa, the nearby Colca Valley and Peru’s Colca Canyon.
From the culinary magic of picanterias, to the crisp beauty of the sillar built White City, to the awe-inspiring view of the Andean Condors, trips in Arequipa offer a wealth to see and do.
Plan time for a stay in the charming Colca Valley and add a Colca Canyon tour to your itinerary to fully experience all that this Arequipa Travel Guide offers.
1) Delight in the delicious Arequipeña cuisine
Travel to Arequipa cannot officially begin until you taste the famously spicy food.
Visit one of the picanterias to enjoy some key dishes, including rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers), chupe de camarones (shrimp soup), and adobo (sliced pork), to name a few.
Contact us through this Arequipa Travel Guide and let us know if you discover any new dishes.
For a truly delectable dining experience, check out La Nueva Palomino, located at Leoncio Prado 122 – Yanahuara, Arequipa, Peru.
2) Explore the streets of Yanahuara and Cayma to get a feel for the Spanish colonial past of Arequipa
Travel to Arequipa and feel the history.
The district of Yanahuara, a suburb of Arequipa that is within walking distance of the city center, offers a chance to meander the world of a typical middle class Peruvian.
While doing so, you get to check out two of the most well-known vistas in the area: El Mirador, and the Iglesia de Yanahuara.
Not far from Yanahuara is the district of Cayma, considered one of the most traditional pueblos of the region.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of its grand homes and other structures built from sillar, the volcanic white rock typical of the area, which gave birth to the name White City.
3) Experience the largest convent in South America – the Monasterio de Santa Catalina
Wander around the grounds of this immense and beautiful structure to steep yourself in crisp blue and burnt orange corridors and archways.
A visit here will take you back to the 1500s, when the Monasterio de Santa Catalina was first founded by the rich widow, Doña María de Guzmán.
Linger longer to learn the details of the monastery’s past.
You will likely discover the tradition of families paying an outrageously priced dowry for the honor of their daughter’s admission to serve the convent.
No trips to Arequipa are complete without some serene moments to contemplate under these archways.
4) Walk through San Lázaro to see the pristine beauty of Arequipa’s first barrio
This Arequipa Travel Guide would not do justice to a trip to Arequipa if it failed to mention San Lázaro.
With its white ashlar architecture, this historical center of the city takes on a feel of delicate grace.
Drifting through San Lázaro’s narrow streets is in itself an experience.
Coupled with its magnificent homes and small temple, this sweet barrio invites exploration and discovery.
5) Visit the Claustros de la Compañía de los Padres Jesuitas
Let your eyes follow the ornate stone work displaying intricate designs of the Spanish churrigueresque architectural style as you stroll through the Claustros de la Compañía.
A visit inside the Iglesia de la Compañía lives up to the same detailed baroque composition, providing another visual treat.
For a truly elegant shopping experience with a wine market, refined cafes and fine alpaca wool boutiques make your way through the building next-door during your trip to Arequipa.
For an exceptional treat and an exceptional view, give yourself a moment to absorb all the wonder from your day’s adventure with a trip to the terrace of Hotel Katari in the Plaza de Armas.
From here, high above it all, bask in the allure and charm of Arequipa while sipping and nibbling on some of your favorite treats.
7) Visit Colca Canyon
Although outside of the city, any Arequipa travel guide absolutely must include Peru’s Colca Canyon as a part of its advice for Arequipa.
(Colca Canyon is located about three minutes away from Chivay and about three hours from Arequipa.)
Whether you consider yourself an avid hiker or not, Colca Canyon has beauty and adventure in store for you.
Most noteworthy, at 10,725 feet (3,270 meters), this Peruvian wonder is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States.
In addition to its geographical glory and its pre-Incan history, Colca Canyon has the unmistakeable honor of being home to the Andean condor.
With a maximum wingspan reaching over 10 feet (more than three meters), these massive condors are the largest flying birds in the world.
You can see them fly by at close range when you visit Colca Canyon!
8) Ascend one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Southern Peru: Volcán Misti
This one is for the devoted climbers, who appreciate the need for crampons.
Misti is located just over 10 miles (17 kilometers) outside of Arequipa and there are a number of trek tours in the area that make themselves available for groups and individuals.
You want a guide if you plan to summit, as it gets tricky towards the top.
Even if you choose to sit this one out and simply enjoy the majestic beauty of Misti as she looks over the land, you will sense the power of her presence that provides the most fertile soil for agriculture and the most elegant sillar for the edifices.
9) Visit the Mercado de San Camilo
Roam the seemingly endless aisles of the oldest mercado in Arequipa.
Located quite close to the Plaza de Armas, this farmers’ market spans several blocks and covers a couple of storeys.
Here you move among the locals and encounter an authentic experience finding your favorite indigenous fruits and most beloved baubles, in addition to practical wearables.
10) Meet the Ice Maiden at the Museo Santuarios Andinos
Like nothing you will encounter anywhere else outside of this trip to Arequipa is the preserved corpse of Momia Juanita, or Mummy Juanita – the Ice Maiden.
The frozen body of this young girl from the mid-1400s was discovered in 1995 in Southern Peru by a couple of mountain climbers and has since been on display at the Museo Santuarios Andinos.
Anthropologist or not, the story of the Ice Maiden’s sacrifice, preservation and recent uncovering is a fascinating one.
Therefore, it will surely entice you!
There are over 15 flights a day from Lima and, as a result, plane is your most convenient option for travel to Arequipa.
At an hour and a half, it’s also your quickest option.
Yet if you prefer a leisurely sleep-filled approach, there are a few different bus companies you can choose from.
All of these run about 16-18 hours of travel time and leave in the late afternoon.
The bus company Cruz del Sur is our top recommendation.
As flights leaving the Puno area stop first in Lima before landing in Arequipa, your best bet is to travel by bus.
These trips take about six hours.
4M Express buses provide excellent service for this route.
For an extravagant adventure with magnificent views, take the luxury Belmond Andean Explorer train.
Over three days, the Peruvian Highlands route travels to Arequipa from Cusco, also stopping in Lake Titicaca and the Sumbay Caves.
Another option is to travel to Arequipa from Cusco by bus.
Our top recommendation is the bus company Cruz del Sur.
Best Accommodation in Arequipa and Colca Canyon
Here they are – the best of the best according to this comprehensive Arequipa Travel Guide:
As well as having lovely rooms to suit individuals or small groups, this accommodation has a precious outdoor patio at the center of the establishment, adding to the overall charm.
In addition to the expected amenities, La Hosteria has a beautifully arranged space for Roman Baths on the premises.
Located in the center of the White City, this establishment offers clean and comfortable space for you to rest.
In addition to the the rooms themselves, there are multiple locations on the property where guests can gather for relaxation, contemplation or work.
Situated opposite the Plaza de Armas, this exclusive hotel boasts amazing city views as well as elegant architectural style.
With 10 rooms varying in size, La Plaza Arequipa Hotel Boutique is best booked in advance.
Just blocks from the Plaza de Armas, Casa Andina Premium caters to both business travelers and tourists alike.
The accommodations range in size and amenities and always provide clean comfort and care for guests.
Only five minutes from the city center, this luxurious delight has plenty of room to host its travelers and their needs.
With a swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym, business center and dedicated spaces for conferences and events, Hotel Liberator certainly satisfies.
This beautifully rustic hotel lets you escape the crowds and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
As well as providing the clean comforts of a quality establishment, El Refugio offers the added treat of hot springs on site.
Situated in Colca Valley, this charming hotel exudes warmth in its structure, design, and service.
Satisfying a range of sizes, each room carries the Andean theme throughout the hotel.
Furthermore, this Andean style does not stop there.
Pozo del Cielo’s restaurant prides itself on catering its guests with traditional and flavorful meals.
Perfectly placed in the village of Yanque, Killawasi Lodge provides amazing views of the gorgeous landscape.
The rooms, regardless of size, are cozy, clean and well-equipped.
Most noteworthy, each comes with a private balcony.
In addition, the onsite bar/restaurant uses only the freshest of local ingredients to offer tasty variety every day.
Colca Lodge is much more than a place to stay; it is a place to be.
Built on the banks of the Colca River, this lodge is designed so that each room has optimum privacy with maximum exposure to nature.
You’ll also have access to the property’s four different thermal springs.
In addition to the springs, Colca Lodge offers spa treatments such as massage and facials.
Just 10 minutes outside of Chivay, Aranwa Hotel offers guests traditional rooms, as well as chalets.
Both options are elegantly comfortable and are filled with lovely views of the mountains or valley.
In addition to its beautiful setting, Aranwa Hotel in Colca Valley houses a spa with a variety of services.
Tucked into the magical nature of the Colca Valley, Belmond Las Casitas provides 20 serene and luxurious bungalows.
In three different styles, the casitas offer space to spread out, while still maintaining a cozy feel, especially with their heated bathroom floors.
In addition to these comforts, Belmond Las Casitas shines with one of the best culinary venues in Peru.
This unique hotel located in the Colca Valley welcomes guests with a variety of services, amenities, and room options.
As well as catering to the needs and comfort of their patrons, Kuntur Wasi promotes sustainable tourism in a number of ways that encourage others to do the same.
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