Things to do in Arequipa

Things to do in  Arequipa

Welcome to Arequipa

Lima may get all the attention, but Peru’s second largest city is often considered the most culturally and historically significant spot in the country. Not to mention it’s considered one of the most architecturally beautiful cities in the world. Yep, you read that right.

Top 15 attractions in Arequipa

Colca Canyon (Canon del Colca)

Plunging 13,650 feet (4,160 meters) down, Peru’s Colca Canyon is officially one of the world’s deepest canyons—with a breadth of activities to match. Visitors opt to visit this off-the-beaten-track attraction for its opportunities for adventure in a stunning natural environment, its large population of Andean condors, and its pre-Inca historical sites.More

Historic Centre of Arequipa

Arequipa is known as La Ciudad Blanca (The White City) for the white buildings in its historic center made from a porous, volcanic stone known as sillar. Easily explored on foot, must-see landmarks include the neoclassical Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa and Monastery of St. Catherine (Monasterio de Santa Catalina).More

Santa Catalina Monastery (Monasterio de Santa Catalina)

Among the oldest structures in Arequipa, the historically significant Monastery of St. Catherine (Monasterio de Santa Catalina) covers an area of 15,615 square feet (20,000 square meters). The convent harbors a complete city with parks, houses, plazas, chapels, and a cemetery, offering visitors a meditative break from the busy historic center of Arequipa.More

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas—with its palm trees, fountains, and symmetrical landscaped gardens—forms the cultural and social heart of the historic center of Arequipa. On the edge of the square is the twin-towered Basilica Catedral de Arequipa, one of the volcanic-stone structures that give Arequipa its nickname: La Ciudad Blanca (The White City).More

El Misti Volcano

El Misti is a soaring stratovolcano near Arequipa, popular with experienced trekkers and climbers. From the 19,101-foot (5,822-meter) above sea level summit, peer over the peaks of neighboring volcanoes. The volcano features a symmetric conical shape, characteristic of rotating layers of lava and debris from eruptions. El Misti’s last eruption was in 1985.More

Sabandía Mill (Molino de Sabandía)

A fine example of Arequipa’s sillar stone architecture, Sabandía Mill (Molino de Sabandía) was built in 1785 as the first mill of its kind. The mill still operates today, attracting visitors with its historic status. Peppered with weeping willows and cacti, the tranquil grounds surrounding the mill are a favorite among picnickers.More

Founder's Mansion (La Mansión del Fundador)

Founder's Mansion (La Mansión del Fundador) dates back to the 17th century, when the Spanish first colonized Peru. Characterized by white volcanic rock painted warm pastel colors, the grand building once belonged to the founder of Arequipa and now attracts visitors with its antique furniture, colonial-style decor, and artwork imbued with Inca symbolism.More


Yanahuara is a middle-class residential neighborhood known for El Mirador e Iglesia de Yanahuara, a lookout point that offers panoramic views of Arequipa and El Misti volcano. As in the Historic Center of Arequipa, Yanahuara’s architecture is dominated by white volcanic rock, and the streets are dotted with pretty Spanish colonial churches.More

La Compañía Church (Iglesia de la Compañía)

Due to its position near the imposing Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa, it’s easy to overlook the small yet perfectly formed Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús). The church’s facade pays homage to the churrigueresque style typical of 16th-century Spanish churches, while its interior is dominated by an intricate altar smothered in gold leaf.More

Museum of Andean Sanctuaries (Museo Santuarios Andinos)

The Museum of Andean Sanctuaries offers an intimate glimpse into the ancient history of the Andes Mountains. After watching a short video that puts the museum’s cultural relics into context, visitors can wander the atmospheric rooms, which are filled with artifacts discovered during a significant Andean excavation.More

Sachaca District

The Sachaca District is most famous for the Mirador de Sachaca, a 5-story tower that offers panoramic views of the city and the snow-capped El Misti volcano. The neighborhood’s food is another highlight: Sachaca has earned a reputation for its picanterías, traditional restaurants serving local dishes to the strains of live Creole music.More

Chachani Volcano

The active Chachani Volcano, near Arequipa in southern Peru, is known amongst the climbing set as one of the world’s easiest 20,000-foot (6,075-meter) climbs. Still, reaching the summit is considered an intermediate to challenging two-day climb. At the top, marvel at the sight of the Pacific Ocean and the spectacular Andes mountainscape.More

Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

Towering over the Historic Center of Arequipa and backed by the imposing Mt. Misti volcano, the Basilica Cathedral is a photographer’s dream. The colonial structure, which dates back to the 14th century, has survived natural disasters including fires, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions and is the most important Catholic church in the city.More

Recoleta Convent (Monasterio de la Recoleta)

Characterized by a Romanesque steeple, Recoleta Convent provides a pocket of tranquility in the midst of the Historic Center of Arequipa. As well as boasting traditional sillar (white volcanic rock) cloisters, the convent has a museum of Amazonian artifacts—which include preserved jungle animals—and a library with more than 20,000 books.More

Sabandía District

Sabandía is marked by rural plains, rolling hills, and historic landmarks, making this southern Arequipa province in Peru a draw. Among the highlights are the district’s traditional shops and restaurants, and the chance to see the Sabandía Mill, built in 1621 with the region’s signature white volcanic rock (sillar) and populated by animals such as alpaca and peacocks.More

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All about Arequipa

Local Currency
Peruvian Sol (PEN)
Time Zone
PET (UTC -5)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Arequipa, Peru, known for?

Arequipa is known for the colonial architecture of its Old Town, made from sillar, a volcanic rock that’s responsible for its nickname of The White City (La Ciudad Blanca)—top sights include Plaza de Armas and Santa Catalina Monastery. Arequipa is also close to Colca Canyon, one of the world's deepest.

How much time do you need in Arequipa?

Three days in Arequipa gives you time to explore the Yanahuara and Sachaca districts, and see the best colonial architecture—which includes the cathedral-dominated Plaza de Armas and Santa Catalina Monastery. You’ll also have time for a day at Colca Canyon, famed for its Andean condors and pre-Inca sites.

Is Arequipa worth visiting?

Yes. Overlooked by the snow-capped El Misti volcano and brimming with majestic colonial architecture, Arequipa—also known as the White City (Ciudad Blanca)—is worth visiting. It’s also within easy reach of Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world, and Huacachina, a desert oasis with a vivid green lagoon.

What language do people speak in Arequipa?

Spanish is the main language spoken in Arequipa, like in Peru and the majority of South America. The White City does see many travelers each year, so English is also widely spoken.

Is Arequipa, Peru, safe?

Yes. Arequipa is a mostly safe city to visit, as long as you take the usual precautions of keeping your valuables close and safe. Taxis are a common area for crime, especially those hailed from the street late at night—only take licensed taxis and agree on a price before the journey starts.

How far is Arequipa from the ocean?

Arequipa is around 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean, a two to three hour journey by road. Some of the best beaches within driving distance of the White City include Camaná, home to San Jose Cove and La Miel Beach, and the black sand beach of Catarindo.

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