Things to do in Arequipa, Peru – 10 amazing activities

0 comment

This post (likely) contains affiliate links, including Amazon Associates links, and I may receive a small commission if you click one. This is at no extra cost to you.

Arequipa is also known as Peru’s White City. The centre is packed full of shimmering white buildings built from volcanic rock. And, as such the Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. But whether you are here to admire the architecture, want to relax, explore some of the city’s museums or use it as a base to visit the Colca Canyon, here are all the things to do in Arequipa if you are visiting.

Arequipa is located in the Southwest of Peru and often forms a central part of many travellers’ itineraries. It is about 500km from Cusco and can be reached by bus or plane. I spent three days in the city, and the below was just the right mix of relaxing and exploring. A city that needs to be added to any Peru itinerary!


I visited Peru with G Adventures and you can see the tour I took here: Peru: Ancient Cities and the Andes.


Here are the top things to do in Arequipa!

Admire Plaza de Armas – things to do in Arequipa

The first thing you should do when arriving in Arequipa – head to the Plaza de Armas. It is a stunning collection of buildings and really sets the tone of the city. On a sunny day, the light bounces and shimmers of this creating a real spectacle. It is one of those places that has a real wow moment when you first see it.

Plaza de Armas, as with any city plaza in South America, is the real focal point for all that goes on in the city and somewhere to locate yourself when exploring the rest of the city. This Plaza is pathed with palm trees, lined with impressive porticos and is in the shadow of the imposing Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa. A buzzing feast for all the senses – you will be more than happy to sit back and watch the world go by.

Check out the stunning Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa – things to do in Arequipa

When you are in the Plaza de Armas, you can’t miss the Basilica. Arequipa boasts a lot of beautiful architecture but this one is the most stunning of all. Like many other buildings in the city, it is also built from. white marble stone. The currently standing Cathedral is the third complete reincarnation. Having been destroyed twice in the late 19th century (first by fire, then by a huge earthquake).

Inside is beautifully ornate, with vaulted ceilings, a carved altar and an impressive and beautifully maintained pipe organ.

Watch the sunset over the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

Of all the things to do in Arequipa if you are only going to do one, please make sure this is the one. Head to La Terraza on the Top for sunset! The view from this bar is worth visiting this city alone. The food itself wasn’t the most amazing, but the pisco sours were delicious. More importantly, the views are out of this world.

Make sure to get there at least an hour before sunset, order a drink and watch the colours change above an incredible view of the Cathedral of Arequipa. The rooftop also provides ponchos, so as the sun sets you won’t have to worry about getting cold.

Visit the other churches in the city centre – things to do in Arequipa

The Basilica is undoubtedly the shining star of Christian buildings in Arequipa. However, there are plenty of other churches that are so worth a visit.

Some of the ones that you should make sure to add to your list are:

  • Iglesia de La Compania – located between the Portal de la Municipalidad and the Portal de Flores. Inside the temple, you can see an example of a carved wooden altarpiece decorated in gold leaf.
  • Monastery of Santa Teresa – found on the corner of Melgar and Peral streets, and is home to a community of Carmelite nuns. Like many buildings in the city, it is built from the white volcanic stone from the area.
  • Iglesia de San Francisco located in the middle of Arequipa and is one of the largest in the city

Meet Juanita

Juanita, the famous mummy, gives an insight into the culture of Incan rituals. Her body was only found when a melting glacier stripped away the top layers of an ancient tomb and her body slid down the mountain. The frozen temperatures had kept her remarkably preserved and therefore she was key to revealing how human sacrifice played a key part in this culture. Juanita was a 12-15 year old year, who was thought to be have been used to appease the Gods in the 15th Century.

She is located in the Museo Santuarios Andinos, which can be found only a few minutes walk from Plaza de Armas. This is one of the most interesting things to do in Arequipa.

Take time in the other museums in the city

Besides the Museo Santuarios Andinos, there are plenty of other interesting museums to visit in the city. One of these is Casa Museo Mario Vargas Llosa – The house where Peruvian writer, activist and Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Mario Vargas Llosa was born has been converted into a creative museum, featuring holograms and interactive displays. Only 48 people are allowed to visit each day.

Also worthwhile a visit is the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo РMAC Рwhich has various exhibits, which show examples of modern-day life in Peru. Also Museo Arqueológico UNSA university run, and features interesting little displays on local excavation sites, as well as some artefacts, including surprisingly well-preserved ancient ceramics.

Visit Mercado San Camilo

Visiting a local market in any South American city is always worthwhile, and Mercado San Camilo is no exception. It’s located to the southeast of the city and is the primary place in the city for fruit, vegetables, chocolate, meat and dairy. There are also stalls for locally made textiles, hats and clothes. As well as mummified llama foetuses, yes really.

The rows of fruit stalls have rows of people blending the produce into smoothies, making it a perfect place to grab some fresh fruit and even a bite to eat for lunch.

Visit the Monastery of Santa Catalina

One of the most important architectural buildings in Peru – the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. It was built in 1579 and is located in the historical centre of the city. It served as a cloister for Dominican nuns from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries and still houses a small religious community today.

The complex, which stretches over 20,000 square metres is built from volcanic sillar stone and is organised into cloisters, living quarters, a plaza, a gallery and a chapel. Make sure to get a tour to learn the fascinating history of this place.

Go for a beer-tasting session

After a hard day of sightseeing, you will have definitely earned yourself a beer. And the perfect way to do this? With a beer tasting. Visit 7 Vidas Tap Room. You can choose 4 or 6 beers to try, and the beers range in flavour, strength and how they are brewed.

C. Moral 305, Arequipa | Map

Sample local chocolate

One for the chocolate lovers! Chaqchao is a fantastic cafe and shop, and a great place to hang out. But if you want to take it to the next level, they even offer chocolate making workshops. In the chocolate shop downstairs you can purchase delicious, organic, local Peruvian chocolate. For a treat afterwards head upstairs to the sundeck, where they have 60 beers on tap to enjoy.

Santa Catalina 204, Cercado De Arequipa | Map


I visited Arequipa as part of the tour I was travelling with G Adventures. If you are interested, then this is the tour I travelled on: Peru: Ancient Cities and the Andes

Are you heading to Peru? Do make sure to check out all the other posts here.

If you liked this post, please pin it for later!

You may also like

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.