Peru’s second most important city – after the capital of Lima – and second most popular city among tourists – after Cusco – Arequipa is located in the southern part of the country and is the gateway for those planning to hike the surrounding mountains.
Arequipa is the capital of the Arequipa region in the Southern coastal Peru. It is located in the Andes at 2380 m above sea level and is surrounded by three volcanoes. The city is part of the so-called “Southern Peru Tourist Corridor” together with Cusco, Nazca and Puno.
How to get to Arequipa
The city is served by Rodríguez Ballón airport (AQP) , which only receives domestic flights. It is also served by two bus terminals which offer connections to the rest of the country including: Lima (16-18 h), Cusco (9 h) and Nazca (9 h). There are buses connecting to Tacna, right by the Chilean border, too.
The climate of the city is warm and quite dry during the entire year. During the day, the temperatures rarely drop below 20C but at night they drop sharply especially from June to August.
Sept – Dec avg high 21 C / avg low 8C
Jan – March avg high 20C / avg low 10C
Apr – May avg high 21C / avg low 9C
Jun – Aug avg high 20C / avg low 7C
>>read more about Weather in Peru
Where to stay
Hostels and hotels offer a variety of beds and rooms for any budget. Make sure to book the room in advance, particularly if you travel during the busiest times of the year. Seek places close to the Plaza del Armas as you’ll be close to everything.
>>read more about Accommodation in Peru
Things to do
The city center is easily tackled on foot. Spend some time in the Plaza de Armas and try the local food at the San Camilo Market.
Convento de Santa Catalina dates from the Spanish era and is sort like a city within a city. It can make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. You can also visit the Catholic churches in the city but try to go outside the service hours.
The bridges are also part of the city’s charm: Puente Bolognesi is close to the main square and Puente Fierro was designed by Eiffel and is still used. From the latter you can get excellent photos of the volcanoes.
Hiking El Misti is an easy thing to do especially if you have hiking experience. Most of the time you won’t need special equipment (just a good pair of hiking boots) to climb El Misti. Chachani is not that easy to tackle though and requires climbing skills. If you feel adventurous then you can try downhill mountain biking on the volcanoes.
The best souvenir to buy from Arequipa is a sweater made of Alpaca wool (comes from this Andean camels). A sweater will set you back between 70 and 180 soles. Seek advice from locals as you don’t want to bring back fake products.