Arequipa is known as the White City for using in some colonial buildings a volcanic stone called sillar, which gives them that color.
Southern Peru and much of central Peru are high up. Arequipa, in particular, is just over 2,300 meters above sea level. This causes that, first, oxygen is lacking, and second, the body works slowly the first days, if you arrive from levels close to the sea.
Things to do in Arequipa
Don’t miss the Historic Center
The history of colonization has a meeting point with this city, which was recognized as loyal to the Spanish crown and later, UNESCO declared the historic center of the city as a World Heritage Site for its cultural content.
This city was part of the fight for freedom between the local peoples and the Spanish crown. And it still is. Its center is living history. The extension of this helmet covers more than 300 hectares. If you want to go all over it, it will take you a whole day to walk and soak up the magic of the place. It is located in the center and in it you can see mansions of colonial style and life along its small streets.
People dressed in costumes left in time, fluorescent colors, like many of the highland peoples of South America. «Mamitas» or «Cholitas» in its streets, selling all kinds of handicrafts, healing herbs, or typical foods.
Santa Catalina Monastery
This is another of the things to do in Arequipa. History tells that this building remained as a monastery for women who took vows, it remained crestfallen until 1970, and that after that it was opened to tourism, demonstrating a kind of historical, living, spiritual and cultural monument of the city and the region. Rather, I would say global, due to the number of tourists that can be seen in it. It can be visited every day. The entrance costs 40 soles. There are some discounts, but they are only for people born in Peru, and for foreign students. So if you are a traveler, a foreigner and you travel cheap, this attraction may seem a bit expensive. Still it is shocking to see its walls from the outside and contemplate such a claustrophobic feeling construction.
Catedral de Arequipa – Iglesia la Compañia
The old town is also full of houses and cathedrals that can be visited. Like the Cathedral of Arequipa and the Church of the Company, two monuments built with different styles of architecture and impressive majesty. Civil and military monuments of those times, some rebuilt for tourism, and no less impressive for that.
The central square or Plaza de Armas
As they say in Peru to the main historical squares, it is beautiful. Every day you will find tourists from all over the world taking photos, something very similar, but on a smaller scale than what happens in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. This place is another of the things to do in Arequipa that you can not miss.
Barrio San Lázaro neighborhood
The Barrio de San Lázaro is located in the historic center of the Arequipa city, it is one of the first neighborhoods of the city, its narrow streets and its architectural beauty, most visitors only come to the small main square, but I invite you to know its alleys and passages whose names are very particular, such as Pasaje Violín, Desaguadero, Calienes, Ripacha, bayoneta crystals, etc. It is an important site in Arequipa city that you must visit if you are passing through the city, it also shows the architecture of the colonial era that maintains its structure to date and in fact preserves the white city of Peru to a large extent.
Things to do in and around Arequipa
Arequipa is in the middle of seven volcanoes. El Misti, el Chachani, el Pichu Pichu, El Sabancaya, el Ampato, el Hualca Hualca and el Coropuna. The most important and characteristic for the citizens of Arequipa is the Misti. And for us too, since it is one of the two to which, if you dare and take precautions, you can go on a trek to climb it. The other is the Chachani.
Climb the Misti volcano:
El Misti is the protector of Arequipa. That’s what the locals call it. To be able to climb this natural monster that erupted only 4 times in 500 years (that gives a bit of vertigo and tranquility at the same time to the walk / climb).
How to get:
You have to hire a tour from Arequipa city, the route is to the neighboring town of Chiguata, 30 km from Arequipa, or to the Aguada Blanca and Salina Natural Reserve and from there begin to do a «climbing trekking».
It is important, and they will tell you about it when you are in the city, that you do not try to go on these treks the first days of being in the area, because the body needs to adapt to the altitude. El Misti is 5800 meters above sea level. If they feel like doing it, you should take these precautions.
The entire Arequipa area has beautiful views. Fields on the mountainside to feel inside a living postcard. With the entire city on the side of this volcano, I am not lying when I write that when you go and see this imposing crater so close to the city, it will shock you greatly.
Climb the Chachani Volcano:
This is another of the volcanoes that you can climb alone (as long as you know how to do these high-risk activities) or by hiring a tour from Arequipa. The average money to hire the two-day tour is 200 US dollars. This is the famous volcano from which the ashlar is extracted. This volcanic stone that gives color and nickname to the city of Arequipa.
How to get:
The Chachani can be climbed by hiking. It is not difficult, but as I said before, you have to take precautions, due to the height, the lack of oxygen and the provisions, since this trek can be done alone (if you are an experienced adventurer in these matters). It goes up the slope of the volcano from Arequipa. And from there one must walk to base camp, which is no less than 4900 meters. And from there begin to climb when the characteristics warrant it.
What to do around Arequipa
The Colca canyon:
Visit the profound beauty of the Colca Canyon & Valley on a hand-tailored trip to have the best experience. The natural beauty and tranquility of the region make the Colca Canyon one of the best places and one of the must-see places to visit during your trip in Peru It is a stream found in the Colca Valley. An impressive mountainous valley on the edge of the Andes which can be traveled on foot to a viewpoint.
The viewpoint of «La Cruz del Cóndor» that as its name deserves it, you can observe the flight of this bird and enjoy a unique view in your life. I do not recommend this trek to people who suffer from height or vertigo, because at certain times the cliffs take your breath away but of course you can do tours by bus even doing community tourism with local families. There are many things to do at Colca Canyon.
How to get:
To go one must get to the town of Chivay. To have a better experience, we highly recommend hiring a tour with a specialized and authorized travel agency.
Volcanoes valley – Andagua
The Geopark Colca and Volcanoes Valley of Andagua would strengthen the relatively poor … To the west of the rich in water Huambo valley and Canco.
The Colca Canyon (Central Andes, Southern Peru), about 100 km long and 1–3 km deep, forms a magnificent cross section of the Earth’s crust giving insight into mutual relations between lithostratigraphical units, and allowing relatively easy interpretation of the fascinating geological history written in the rocky beds and relief. . The volcanic landforms in the Valley of the Volcanoes and around the Colca Canyon include lava flows, scoria cones and small lava domes. They represent natural phenomena which gained recognition among tourists, scientists and local people. Studies performed by the Polish Scientific Expedition to Peru since 2003 recognized in the area of Colca Canyon and Valley of the Volcanoes high geodiversity, potential for geotourism but also requirements for protection. The idea of creating geopark gained recently the approval of regional and local authorities with support from the local National Geological Survey (INGEMMET). The Geopark Colca and Volcanoes of Andagua would strengthen the relatively poor system of the protected areas in the Arequipa department, increasing the touristic attractiveness and determining constraints for sustained regional development.
How to get
The access roads to this valley that is 400 km from the city of Arequipa can be through the Colca via Caylloma – Orcopampa – Andagua; or through the Majes valley, taking the Viraco – Andahua route.
There is also the option; uniting the Colca Canyon and the Valley of the Volcanoes in a one tourist circuit by Arequipa – Chivay- Cabanaconde – Huambo – Ccanco – Ayo – Chachas – Andagua and returning through Viraco and the Majes Valley towards Arequipa. This same route can also be done the other way around, even having the possibility of ending in the city of Puno on Lake Titicaca. For more information contact us.
It is a tributary that cuts the city of Arequipa in two. It has slopes combined with rocks, regional flora and fauna. Some time ago the flow of this river began to grow, and since then adventure tourism began to have more concurrence. For its rapids you can do fun raftings that will awaken your adrenaline in a second.
For this it is necessary to hire them in a tourism company, since it is very necessary to be safe, and take many safety measures such as body and head protection, and someone who knows how to maneuver the boat.
Salinas Salt Lagoon (Aguada Blanca National Reserve)
Another thing to do in Arequipa is to visit this beautiful place. It is a National Park in which you will find fauna of the place. The famous llamas and alpacas. The South American «Bambi». A camelid from the region that is known for generating one of the best fibers in the world with its fur. This National Park has inside the Salinas Luicho a salty lagoon that can be visited both when it has enough water and in dry season weather where you can appreciate the small salt in the middle of the mountains.
I hope you liked these things to do in Arequipa and its surroundings. In itself, this city has a beautiful tourist attraction for anyone who wants to visit it, a relaxed atmosphere for travelers, cultural commerce, with local Peruvian handicrafts, world-renowned llama and alpaca wool clothing.
La Ruta del Sillar; Cantera de sillar y Quebrada de Culebrillas
With an extension of 2 km in length, the Ruta del Sillar is one of the greatest attractions of the region and includes visits to the quarries of Añashuayco, Cortadores and Culebrillas, located on the outskirts of the city. The tour includes continuous walks of up to 40 minutes in length.
Also in the circuit is the Culebrillas ravine that is formed by the passage of water with this excursion to the Culebrillas canyon from Arequipa where, reaching this point, we will do a walk of approximately 20 minutes inside the small Canyon. It can be visited in a half day.
From my point of view, it is a really tourist city. Most of Peru is, and the white city does not escape these characteristics at all. Tourists come from the four cardinal points to enjoy this historic South American city.