Arequipa, Peru - Things to Do and Know for a Weekend Getaway

Arequipa, Peru - Things to Do and Know for a Weekend Getaway

If Peru is on your radar and you were about to just visit Machu Pichu it is time you look beyond. If you are already in Peru and are looking for a place to visit beyond the ruins our friends at Two Monkeys Travel Group suggest you look into Arequipa and make the white City a stop for your weekend adventures for a long weekend.

Kach Mu and Jonathan Howe are the working-on-the-road couple behind They are both certified Tantra Yoga Teachers, Ayurveda Massage Therapists and TEFL Certified Teachers - working wherever and whenever they want! Travelling status: 18 months of on the road and currently based in Arequipa, Peru… 
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While Peru is best known for Machu Picchu, the Amazon and of course, llamas, you shouldn't miss out on a trip to its second largest city, Arequipa. Also known as the White City for the Sillar (white volcanic stone) buildings, the city is small enough to walk around most places and there is a strong sense of culture here.
Arequipa has its own airport, so you can easily fly to or from here from Cusco to visit Machu Picchu.  It’s also a great stopping point on the way to Chile, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, although there are plenty of attractions in the immediate area to keep you entertained. 

Cities and Distances:

Peru - 1018 Km
Cusco - 482 Km
Puno- 293 Km

Arequipa, Google Maps Snapshot
Arequipa, Google Maps Snapshot by Parul

Getting Here and Getting around

  • While driving to Arequipa from Lima can take up to 20 hours, Peru has a great private coach infrastructure, with luxury ‘flat-bed’ seats available from ($40USD). If this seems a bit too long then you may want to invest a little extra in direct flights from Lima (1.5 hours), which start at around ($80USD).
  • From Arequipa itself, it’s only a 3 hour minibus ride to Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world, where you can enjoy trekking to a desert oasis and relaxing in volcanic hot springs.
  • It’s the same distance to the coast where you’ll find Pacific waves, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood.
  • About five hours inland will land you in Puno, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,812 metres above sea level.
  • There are many tour companies offering a variety of trips from Arequipa, so there’s plenty to choose from. We’ve always had a great experience with Gloria from Arequipa Tours and they have always been reliable and professional. 
Arequipa Colca Canyon
Arequipa Colca Canyon

Best time to visit

Arequipa offers great weather almost all year round, with the only months to avoid being January to March due to the heavy and frequent summer rains. Being a high-altitude desert situation, it tends to be very hot and dry during the day, with chilly, but not uncomfortable temperatures at night, so you’ll need to pack some light jumpers or jackets for the evenings

Things to do and See

Arequipa Beach Pacific Ocean
Arequipa Beach Pacific Ocean
  • The Plaza de Armas – The original city centre with its twin-towered Cathedral taking pride of place at the head of the square, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The unique blend of European-colonial, native-American and Baroque architectural styles give this city a truly enchanting atmosphere added to by the vaulted archways, thick stone walls and intricate decorations. 
  • The food - Arequipa boasts some of the best cuisine in South America, from Rocoto Relleno, Adobo and Ceviche to Camarones.  Try the local food in the small Picanterias; local restaurants that usually serve a specific menu of great food, freshly cooked to order. If you step slightly outside of the tourist areas then you can have a two-course meal for as little as $2USD!
  • The Ice Maiden – Visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos to see the Ice Maiden, aka Momia Juanita. This perfectly preserved mummy of a young girl is thought to have sacrificed in a ritual offering to the gods sometime between 1450 and 1480. Time Magazine named it as one of the World’s Top Ten Discoveries of all time.
  • Molina de Sabandía (Sabandia Mill) – Spend an afternoon in the tranquillity of this beautifully-restored 17th Century Mill within walking distance or a short taxi from the city centre. Explore the old buildings and equipment or relax with a picnic in the shade of the Weeping Willows.    

For kids and elderly

Anyone can enjoy Arequipa for the sights, sounds, tastes and markets; there’s so much to see and so much local history and culture that you’ll find it hard to take it all in. Be prepared however; there are no theme parks or water slides in sight for children who tire quickly of walking around absorbing the atmosphere as we adults like to do. (I believe seeing these cute llamas would be enough to get your kids in a tizzy and if they love to eat then you are in the right city. Also if your kids are a bit older then its the best place to get some active time in.)

Arequipa llama
Arequipa llama
Conversely, being historical city in a South American country, disability access is certainly not what some people may be accustomed to, for example the Europe of the US. Rough pavements, lack of handrails and steep, winding staircases are commonplace here, so be prepared to assist your elderly or less mobile travel companions. 

Places to Eat

Arequipa Pachamanca Food
Arequipa Pachamanca Food

  • El Hornitos – Pizzeria – San Francisco 216, Arequipa, Peru
  • Zig Zag – Peruvian and Fusion Cuisine – Zela, Historical Center, Arequipa, Peru
  • Deja Vu – Good food, bar and party spot - San Francisco 319B, Arequipa, Peru

Places to stay 

Arequipa Cathedral Plaza de Armas
Arequipa Cathedral Plaza de Armas


Wild Rover Backpackers Hostel - Alfonso Ugarte 111Arequipa
Dorm from - $7  Private from - $22

Mid budget traveller

Casa de Avila – Av  San Martin 116, Vallecito, Arequipa
Matrimonial rooms from $53

Luxury traveller

Casa Andina Private Collection Arequipa – Calle Ugarte 403, Arequipa
Rooms from $111

Have you been to Peru or to Arequipa. Share some insights with us. If you have some questions about the place let us know we'll get Kach to come and aanswer them for you

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