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The Best Of Arequipa On A 3-Day Vacation

Discover the charm of Arequipa, Peru’s “White City,” known for its stunning colonial architecture, delicious cuisine, and proximity to natural wonders like Colca Canyon. Explore Arequipa’s vibrant markets, museums, and historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Arequipa (Spanish pronunciation: [aɾeˈkipa]; Aymara and Quechua: Ariqipa) is the capital city of the region in Peru with the very same name, namely the Arequipa region in South America.

The historic old town was built with Sillar, which is white volcanic rock. When visiting Peru, this charming Spanish city is a great starting point to acclimatize to the high altitude of 2,335 m.

Founded in 1540, the city has plenty of history. 


Day 1

Santa Catalina Monastery Arequipa Peru travelandhome

I love the freedom of not being on a fully-fledged formal tour but create my own flexible travel itinerary. And so it’s wise to start off with an overview of the city by a local guide that knows all the ins and outs. This way you get valuable tips on what to see and what to avoid. Getting the most for your money. 

City sites and Santa Catalina Monastery

For all these reasons Day 1 kicks off with a guided city tour and a visit to the beautiful Santa Catalina Monastery. The monastery dates back to 1579. The city tours usually include breathtaking views of Arequipa and visits to the Yanahuara and Carmen Alto districts. If not, you can always do them on your own too. Another sightseeing activity is the Church of the Compañia de Jesus with an exceptional collection of paintings and murals. 

El Misti volcano and the Museum of the Dome of the San Ignacio Chapel 

Having had a full morning, it’s time for a light lunch and using the rest of the day to further explore the hotspots in the city that your guide pointed out earlier in the day.

If not, I highly recommend a visit to the Museum of the Dome of the San Ignacio Chapel (Address: Álvarez Thomas 106). “Amidst all the mind-blowing decorative art, from more than 300 years ago, is the four evangelists: John with the eagle; Lucas with the bull; Marcos with the Lion and Mateo with the man, which encourages us to know and explore religion.

An evening stroll with the mysterious El Misti Volcano as a backdrop is a real Kodak-moment, or like in today’s modern trend, an Instagram-moment!

Day 2

Arequipa Peru travelandhome Cathedral
A visit to the Arequipa Cathedral with its beautiful Corinthian columns also includes the religious Museum of the cathedral. 

It sits in the “Plaza de Armas” which makes for a perfect morning activity. Next to the cathedral you’ll find a great variety of quality shops and cafes.

I love buying something useful for the home as a souvenir. Another love is to buy something for the clothing cupboard as a souvenir. Whatever your preference for a souvenir, this is the time to do that shopping. Never shop for souvenirs on your last day because this is when you buy something just to have at least something because you’ve run out of time. To get the most value for your money, rather buy something you need and not something that is simply nice to have. By the way, the same goes for afternoon shopping – invariable another rushed “job”.

After your shopping, you have plenty of cafes to choose from for a welcome coffee break and perhaps a light lunch. 

What’s more, if you stay in any of the three hotels that are conveniently located in the city center, you can quickly drop off your shopping too.

Arequipa, A UNESCO World Heritage Site

"The historic center of Arequipa, built in volcanic sillar rock, represents an integration of European and native building techniques and characteristics, expressed in the admirable work of colonial masters and Criollo and Indian masons."
Plaza de Armas Arequipa Peru South America travelandhome shopping
Then it’s time to walk to Calle La merced 110, Museo Santuarios Andinos.

This small museum has a mummy of a 14-year old girl, found on top of the volcano. Well preserved and respectfully displayed. The guided tours, also in English, are informative with plenty of anecdotes about the Incas, sacrifices and artifacts. You should be able to complete the visit in an hour, including the 20-minute video at the start.

Next is a guided tour to the Ashlar Quarry.

The site is more than 3 million years old. If you want to buy handcrafted artwork made from the white ashlar, this is the place to get it. 

Quarry Ashlar Route Arequipa Peru South America travelandhome
Ashlar Quarry, Arequipa

Best places to stay at, in Arequipa

Day 3

Colca Canyon views Arequipa Peru South America travelandhome
Lastly, and also one of the highlights of Arequipa, is a day-trip to the spectacular Colca Canyon.

Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world, at 4,160 m (13,650 ft.) measured from the highest to the lowest point.

Thus, with a bright and early start before sunset so you arrive in time to see the Condors fly, this excursion is an unforgettable experience. Also, the Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world.

Colca Canyon Flora Arequipa Peru South America travelandhome
Colca Canyon Andean Condor Arequipa Peru South America travelandhome

A bonus activity

A Peruvian culinary experience of a lifetime!

If hubby wants to explore something and you feel like staying put, why not tour the local market for inspiration and join a Peruvian cooking class

Or if you don’t have sufficient time, you can always join an online experience. “With live online cooking classes and workshops, Eatwith connects guests with friendly, hand-selected hosts for unique, immersive experiences from the comfort of their own home.”

Peruvin cooking class eatwith travelandhome
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