Perú is a country full of interesting towns and cities that are worth visiting. Arequipa, or the white city as it is known, is the second largest city in Peru after Lima and I assure you that it is a destination that you will not regret visiting. In this post I tell you what things to do in Arequipa in one day so you can make the most of your time in the city.
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In my two-week trip to Perú, one of the destinations that I was most interested in visiting was the Colca Valley, which is located about 3 hours away from Arequipa. So, visiting the city was an obligatory stop to visit Colca. Arequipa is the base to tour the Colca Canyon since several tours depart from the city.
Arequipa is a very beautiful and particular city. Although it is the second largest city in Peru, it still retains its colonial touch, having been founded in the mid 16th century by the Spanish. Arequipa is surrounded by several volcanoes, and it is named “White City” precisely because many of the buildings in the city are made with Ashlar, a white volcanic stone that gives the city a unique look.
How to get to Arequipa
Arequipa is located in the south of the country. The most common ways to get to the city are by bus or plane.
- How to get to Arequipa by bus:
One of the best options to move around Peru without spending a lot of money is to take night buses. By doing this you can save travel time and the cost is less than taking a plane. The bus company that I used during my trip and recommend is Cruz del Sur.
- How to get to Arequipa by plane:
Arequipa Airport is Rodríguez Ballón International Airport and it’s located about 12 kilometers from the city center. The airport receives flights from several cities in Peru and even from other countries like Chile. The most known companies to fly within Peru are LATAM, Peruvian Airlines and Viva Air Peru. While the airport is quite close to the city center, traffic in Arequipa is intense, as in many other cities in Peru, so I recommend you consider at least 40 minutes to get there by car.
How many days to visit Arequipa
It is possible to see the main attractions in Arequipa in one day but if you have more time, you can stay more days to visit some of the places that are outside the city such as the Colca Canyon or the Ashlar Route.
Where to stay in Arequipa
Arequipa is a touristic city so you will find many accommodation options. If you are going to spend one day in Arequipa, I recommend that you book a hotel near Plaza de Armas which is close to many places and there are restaurants and shops nearby.
Recommended accommodation in Arequipa:
$ – Selina Arequipa: Selina is a brand of very good hostels offering private or shared rooms. Selina Arequipa is located in the historic center of the city, about 6 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Find out more about Selina Arequipa.
$$ – Terramística Arequipa: a budget hotel with all the comforts. It is located next to the Monastery of Santa Catalina, a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Find out more about Terramística Arequipa.
$$$ – Casa Andina Premium Arequipa: If you want to enjoy yourself, Casa Andina is one of the best hotels in Peru. Casa Andina Premium Arequipa is located inside an old colonial mansion and offers an impeccable service. Find out more about Casa Andina Premium.
Things to do in Arequipa in one day
PLAZA DE ARMAS
The main point of Arequipa from which you can start your visit to the city is its Plaza de Armas, the place of its foundation in 1540. The Plaza de Armas de Arequipa is beautiful and is surrounded by some of the oldest buildings in the city.
- Arequipa city tour: If you want to have a general overview of the history of the city, I recommend taking this panoramic bus tour around Arequipa in which you will see the city’s main highlights including Plaza de Armas.
BASILICA CATHEDRAL OF AREQUIPA
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is located in the Plaza de Armas of the city. It is a beautiful building built with volcanic stone which gives a unique look. The entrance to the cathedral is free. It is also possible to visit the Cathedral Museum which includes a guided tour. The museum opens from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4:15 pm and the cost of admission is 10 soles.
SANTA CATALINA MONASTERY
One of the must-see places in Arequipa is the Monastery of Santa Catalina, a huge colonial monastery full of corridors that make it one of the most photogenic places in the city. Today the monastery can be visited by anyone, since only a few nuns remain living in an area restricted to the public.
The monastery opens every day from 9:00 a.m. at 5:00 p.m. and the general admission costs 40 soles. You can also take this Arequipa guided tour that includes the entrance to the Monastery and a guided tour in english in addition to the pick-up from your hotel and transport by bus through the city.
SAN CAMILO MARKET
If you like to see what local life is like, you can visit the San Camilo Market, the largest and oldest in the city. You can find everything on this market but mostly food and local products at a good price.
Other attraction that you must visit in Arequipa is the Mirador de Yanahuara, a viewpoint located in a high part of the city from where you can see part of it and the Misti Volcano. Next to the viewpoint is the San Juan de Yanahuara church, built in 1750. It is a very nice area to walk around and take photos without spending money since the viewpoint is free.
Another place to visit in Arequipa is the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries (MUSA), where different ancient objects are exhibited. The museum’s main attraction is Mummy Juanita, also known as the Lady of Ampato, a well-preserved body of an Inca girl which was found in 1985 in the Ampato volcano, considered a sacred place for the Incas. The museum is open every day and the cost of the general admission is 20 soles. More information on the museum’s website.
EAT IN A PICANTERIA
Arequipa is known for its traditional local restaurants known as picanterías which offer the typical foods of Arequipan cuisine like Ají de gallina, local soups and Roccoto Relleno, which are some of the foods you must try in Perú.
Tours from Arequipa
If you have more time to visit Arequipa, you can take one of the tours offered from the city. Some of them are:
Colca Valley tour from Arequipa: there are several ways to get to the Colca Valley but without a doubt the most comfortable way is to take a tour from Arequipa. You can take a 1-day tour, a 2-day tour or a 3-day tour, depending if you want to trek the Colca Canyon or not.
To get to the Colca Valley my boyfriend and I rented a car in Arequipa, you can read more about it here: Hiking the Colca Canyon.
The Ashlar Route: as I told you, the ashlar is the volcanic stone with which many Arequipa buildings are built. The ashlar route is a tour where you visit the Ashlar quarry where the stone is extracted. The photos from this place seriously look like Petra, google them! More information about the Ashlar Route in Arequipa.
Rafting on the Chili River: if you like adventure, you can enjoy this half day tour that includes a rafting experience down the Chili River
I hope this article about things to do in Arequipa in one day has been useful to you when organizing your trip. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment!
Other posts from Peru:
- 2 weeks in Perú Itinerary
- The ultimate guide for hiking the Colca Canyon in Peru
- Things to do in Lima in 3 days
- How to visit Machu Picchu on your own
- Peru packing list + downloadable checklist
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