If you think about Peru, there’s a very good chance that your mind will wander over places like Machu Picchu, Lima, Cusco and the Nazca Lines. However, there’s one more place that’s slowly but surely becoming one of Peru’s biggest tourist spots, Arequipa, the country’s second-largest metropolis.
Hence, if getting a Peru vacation package is on your to-do list, here’s a list of some of the best things to do in Arequipa:
1. Visit the Unesco World Heritage Historical Centre
Dubbed “The White City,” Arequipa’s center is a feast for the eyes thanks to its outstanding architecture with splendid colonial houses, palaces, temples, monasteries, living museums, and churches. Many people believe that its name comes from the local white volcanic rock which was used to construct all these beautiful baroque-style buildings, but it is actually due to the Spaniards who lived there many years ago.
The Convento de Santa Catalina is definitely a must-visit if you ever plan on traveling to Arequipa. Also called the “city within a city,” it’s one of the most romantic places in Arequipa, with its narrow cobblestone streets and various other vibrant colonial buildings and architectural wonders. You can also visit the most famous resident of the monastery, Sor Ana de Los Angeles, a nun beatified by Pope John Paul II.
3. Visit Arequipa’s oldest resident
Sor Ana might be the town’s most famous resident, but not the oldest. This title is reserved for a mummy known as “Juanita.” History has it that Juanita was sacrificed by the Incas over 500 years ago. The mummy can be viewed at the Catholic University of Santa Maria’s Museo Santuarios Andinos.
4. Enjoy local history through music
If you’re in for some Andean tunes, then the Las Quenas, in the old quarter, is the perfect place. The restaurant offers its guests folkloric dance performances on weekend nights, and it’s open from Monday to Saturday.
5. Enjoy one of the many volcanoes
Arequipa’s backdrop is comprised out of three impressive volcanoes: Ampato, Chachani, and El Misti. If hiking and nature travel is your thing, then you can visit them all with the help of various guided tours. At 19,101 feet, El Misti is probably one of the most impressive of the three. It may be difficult to climb, but the spectacular view with which you are rewarded should make up for this.
6. Eat Queso helado
Queso Helado is a sweet dessert made of vanilla, coconut, milk, cinnamon, and cloves, and it’s a must if you ever travel to Arequipa. The best thing is that this dish is found all over Arequipa and is usually sold by street vendors.
7. Enjoy the Andean Condor & extreme sports in the Colca region
When traveling to Peru, you should definitely do a tour to the Colca Canyon. The Colca Canyon is one of Peru’s most stunning natural attractions where you can see the incredible Andean Condor (one of the worlds largest birds, which can grow up to 1.2 meters in height and 10 foot wingspan). It’s also a place where you can enjoy rafting, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and canoeing.
8. Visit San Camilo market
Regarded as Latin America’s most exciting food market, a trip to this market allows you to buy all sorts of local exotic fruits, local cheeses, olives, spices, and other exciting indigenous products from the area.
9. Get a different view of the city
One of the best things to do in Arequipa is to visit the Yanahuara area. Here, you’ll find an impressive collection of colonial-era churches and some very elegant archways, making it one of the best places to snap some awesome pictures.
10. Eat like a king at various Arequipa restaurants
Arequipa is well known for its wonderful food and restaurants. Therefore, you should visit at one of the following during your stay: Zig Zag, Chicha (from the famous Gastón Acurio), Sol de Mayo, La Nueva Palomino.
Visiting Arequipa and the Colca Canyon can be easily added to your Peru vacation package and can be done comfortably in 3 days.