1. Take A Free Walking Tour
As usual, I started my activities in Arequipa Peru with a walking tour of the city with Free Walking Tour Arequipa Peru. The 2-3 hour tour was very interesting and informative. You learn all about the history of the city, go to the top Arequipa attractions. And it even includes chocolate and pisco tastings. Winning! Among all the tours I’ve done in South America, the Arequipa walking tour has to be one of my faves and is one of the best free things to do in Arequipa Peru.
Quick Facts: Cost: Free + tip | Time needed: 3 hours | Verdict: A great way to start your time and one of the top things to do in Arequipa.
2. Check Out The View At Yanahuara
The Yanahuara view-point is one of the best things to see in Arequipa. It is about a 30-minute walk from the centre of town and gives you a lovely view over the city. Head here just before sunset for a few Insta-worthy pics. Just make sure you’re down before dark as it can get a little dodgy after that.
How to Get To Yanahuara: From the centre of town head west on Av Puente Grau. Keep walking over the bridge and up a few more block until you reach Av Lima. Turn right here and walk five blocks to a small plaza. To the side of the plaza you’ll find the lookout (they call it a Mirador) it has amazing views of Arequipa and the Misti Volcano.
Quick Facts: Cost: Free | Time Needed: 2 hours| Verdict: A nice way to watch the sunset, one of the prettiest things to see in Arequipa.
3. Marvel At South Americas Prettiest Plaza
Arequipa’s bustling main plaza has to be the most beautiful I’ve seen in South America. Maybe even the most beautiful in the whole of Latin America and is high on my list of what to see in Arequipa. Surrounded by the Basilica, tall colonial buildings and lots of restaurants and cafes. It’s the perfect spot to spend an afternoon with a book or people watching. This should be one the first Arequipa attractions you check out.
How To Get To Arequipa’s Main Plaza: Like most plazas in South America, it’s situated smack bang in the middle of the city. Basically, walk along any of the main streets and you’ll either hit the plaza or be able to see it parallel.
Quick Facts: Cost: Free | Time needed: As long as you like| Verdict: There’s no way you won’t stumble upon it but it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Arequipa.
4. Make Some New Friends At Alpaca World
Wondering what to do in Arequipa and wanna hang out with a bunch of lamas and alpacas in the middle of the city? Then Alpaca World (or Mundo Alpaca in Spanish) is the place for you! Along with a little museum and an overpriced gift shop. It’s definitely worth a pop in to learn a lil‘ bit more about Peru’s favourite animal. It is definitely one of the most novel activities in Arequipa. P.s, don’t feel obliged to buy anything!
How to Get To Alpaca World Arequipa: From the main plaza walk up Santa Catalina st until you hit San Lazaro. Which is a really busy highway. Take your time to cross over the highway and you should find yourself at the gates of Alpaca World. One of the weirdest Arequipa Peru things to do!
Quick facts: Cost: Free | Time needed: 30 minutes | Verdict: Check it out if you haven’t had enough alpaca face-time. It’s one of the more novel activities in Arequipa.
5. Visit The Santa Catalina Monastery
One of the top things to do in Arequipa Peru is to visit the beautiful Santa Catalina Monastery which was built in the 16th century. While entry to the monastery will set you back about 40 PEN ($12USD) which is more expensive than most tourist attractions in Peru, it’s well worth it. You can also pay another 20 PEN ($6USD) for an hour guided tour. That’s 20 PEN whether you’re solo or in a group, so find some friends to go with you. Learning about the history of this place is pretty incredible, girls as young as 12 were sent here to be nuns by their families. And lived out the rest of their lives inside the walls of this mini-city. On Tuesdays and Wednesday’s the monastery is open until 8 pm so I’d recommend heading there at about 5 pm and doing the tour just before sunset. Then once it gets dark and they light the candles and fires in the rooms do another walk around. It’s got a really spooky atmosphere by night. If you’re wondering what to do in Arequipa Peru, this should be on the top of your list.
How to Get To The Santa Catalina Monastery: From the main plaza walk up Santa Catalina st until you reach the corner of Calle Ugarte. You’ll find the entrance to the Monastery just to your left.
Quick facts: Cost: $12 USD + | Time needed: 2 – 3 hours | Verdict: An absolute must-do. One of the top things to see in Arequipa.
6. Eat Amazing Food
The food in Arequipa is some of the best in South America. And if you’re on the hunt for the best restaurants in Arequipa you’ve come to the right place. You can find food from authentic Peruvian cuisine to burgers and craft beers from home. To be honest I was a little sick of the South American style of food after Bolivia so I stuck to more of the gringo haunts. Some of the best restaurants in Arequipa are sushi at El Buda Profano, burgers from Chelawasi Public House and pizza from Las Gringas Arequipa. I actually liked the food so much I’ve written an entire article on The 8 Best Restaurants in Arequipa. Check it out!
Quick Facts: Cost: Whatever you like | Time needed: As long as you like | Verdict: Must-do.
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7. Chill In Cafes
While the food in Arequipa is delish the coffee is also just as good as you’d get in any Melbourne cafe. I spent many an afternoon blogging and sipping coffee at my fave cafe Huayruro and if you have time, cafe hopping is a great way to relax while seeing the best Arequipa sights. You can check out all my favourite cafes in The 8 Best Restaurants in Arequipa.
Quick Facts: Cost: Whatever you like | Time needed: As long as you like | Verdict: Must-do.
8. Party At The Wild Rover
Ah, the good old Wild Rover. One of the major party hostels in Peru and Bolivia. I decided to avoid actually staying at the hostel while I was in Arequipa (I needed a break). But it’s definitely worth hitting up for a night on the town. The party goes until about midnight and then they always have a recommended bar or club to kick on to. If you’re wondering what to see in Arequipa Peru a night out at the Wild Rover is the answer to that question.
How to Get To The Wild Rover Arequipa: From the main plaza walk up San Fransisco st until you reach Calle Ugarte. Turn right at Calle Ugarte and The Wild Rover will be on your left.
Quick Facts: Cost: $20USD+ | Time needed: As long as you like | Verdict: Fun if you’re in need of a night on the town.
9. Hike The Colca Canyon
Hiking the Colca Canyon is one of the most fun things to do around Arequipa. The canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and can be accessed by tour or on your own. It’s a tough 4-hour walk down and then an even tougher 4-hour walk back up. But the views once you’re there, and the incredible Oasis are definitely worth it. If you don’t want to take a tour you can do it yourself for half the price. I spent 6 days down the canyon for less than $120USD and loved every minute. You can check out How to Hike the Colca Canyon Without a Guide for more details on how I did it.
How to Get To The Colca Canyon Arequipa Peru: Head to the Terrestre bus station and take the bus to Cabanaconde. I recommend doing it early in the morning and stopping off at Cruz del Condor to see the condors on your way.
Quick Facts: Cost: $120 – $250USD | Time needed: 2+ days| Verdict: This is definitely one of the best things to do in Arequipa Peru. And really shouldn’t be missed!
Where to stay in Arequipa Peru
Like most places in Peru accommodation in Arequipa is super affordable. So I’ve included some a bunch of options from the best budget hostels in Arequipa to super-blinging Arequipa hotels.
The Wild Rover Hostel Arequipa
Arequipay Backpackers Downtown
Posada El Castillo
Libertador Arequipa Hotel
Arequipa Peru Daily Budget
I was definitely scrimping when I was in Arequipa and managed to spend around $20 USD per day. That was by cooking most of my own meals and volunteering at a hostel for room and breakfast. However, if you were dining out and paying for Arequipa accommodation you’d be looking at spending about $30 – $50 USD per day.
How To Get To Arequipa
On The Cheap:
The cheapest and easiest way to get to Arequipa if you’re already in Peru is to take a bus. The bus system in Peru is excellent. As it’s such a large country you’ll mostly take night buses. But booking them is really easy. Just head to the local bus station. There will be a number of booths from the different companies all selling tickets. Ask for the price as well as the type of seats they offer. If you want to be comfortable you should go for a 170-degree reclining chair (Basically a bed). As I was a solo female I would always take a solo seat in the premium section of the bus on level one. And it never cost me too much ($40 – $70 USD depending on the distance. The Arequipa bus station is a little out of town. but you can get a taxi there for about $5 USD. You can also book online with redbus.com (but the prices will be a little higher).
Got Da Cash:
The easiest way to get to Arequipa, if you’re short on time is to fly. Latam, Avianca, Peruvian Airlines and LC Peru all fly to Arequipa. I like to compare flights with Kiwi.com as they have a great little tool that allows you to do a radius search. Which is great for trying to find the cheapest airports to fly into near your destination. Compare flights here.
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