Ahhhhh Arequipa, one of my favourite places in South America and maybe the prettiest city I’ve ever seen. Stepping into this city I knew I had to stay more than just a few days. In fact, I ended up staying two weeks! From eating amazing food to hiking the Colca Canyon here are all the top things to do in Arequipa Peru. not so budget backpacker Scrimp v splurge guide - scrimp

1. Take a Free walking tour

As usual, I started my activities in Arequipa Peru with a walking tour of the city with Free Walking Tour Arequipa Peru. The 2-3 hour tour was very interesting and informative. You learn all about the history of the city, go to the top Arequipa attractions. And it even includes chocolate and pisco tastings. Winning! Among all the tours I’ve done in South America, the Arequipa walking tour has to be one of my faves.

QUICK FACTS: COST: Free + tip | TIME NEEDED: 3 hours | VERDICT: A great way to start your time and one of the top things to do in Arequipa.

2. Check out the view at Yanahuara

The Yanahuara view-point is one of the best things to see in Arequipa. It is about a 30-minute walk from the centre of town and gives you a lovely view over the city. Head here just before sunset for a few Insta-worthy pics. Just make sure you’re down before dark as it can get a little dodgy after that.

QUICK FACTS: COST: Free | TIME NEEDED: 2 hours| VERDICT: A nice way to watch the sunset, one of the prettiest things to see in Arequipa.

3. marvel at South Americas prettiest plaza

Arequipa’s bustling main plaza has to be the most beautiful I’ve seen in South America. Maybe even the most beautiful in the whole of Latin America! Surrounded by the Basilica, tall colonial buildings and lots of restaurants and cafes. It’s the perfect spot to spend an afternoon with a book or people watching. This should be one the first Arequipa attractions you check out.

QUICK FACTS: COST: Free | TIME NEEDED: As long as you like| VERDICT: There’s no way you won’t stumble upon it.


4. Make some new friends at Alpaca World

Wanna hang out with a bunch of lamas and alpacas in the middle of the city? Then Alpaca World is the place for you! Along with a little museum and an overpriced gift shop. It’s definitely worth a pop in to learn a lil’ bit more about Peru’s favourite animal. It is definitely one of the most novel activities in Arequipa.

QUICK FACTS: COST: Free | TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes | VERDICT: Check it out if you haven’t had enough alpaca face time. It’s one of the more novel activities in Arequipa.

 

not so budget backpacker Scrimp v splurge guide - splurge

5. Visit the Santa Catalina Monastery

One of the top things to do in Arequipa Peru is to visit the beautiful Santa Catalina Monastery which was built in the 16th century. While entry to the monastery will set you back about 40 Peruvian Sol or PEN ($12USD) which is more expensive than most tourist attractions in South America, it’s well worth it. You can also pay another 20 PEN ($6USD) for an hour guided tour. That’s 20 PEN whether you’re solo or in a group, so find some friends to go with you. Learning about the history of this place is pretty incredible, girls as young as 12 were sent here to be nuns by their families. And lived out the rest of their lives inside the walls of this mini-city. On Tuesdays and Wednesday’s the monastery is open until 8 pm so I’d recommend heading there at about 5 pm and doing the tour just before sunset. Then once it gets dark and they light the candles and fires in the rooms do another walk around. It’s got a really spooky atmosphere by night. If you’re wondering what to do in Arequipa Peru, this should be on the top of your list.

QUICK FACTS: COST: $12USD+ | TIME NEEDED: 2 hours | VERDICT: Must-do.

6. eat amazing food

Best restaurants Arequipa - burger
Wondering what to do in Arequipa? Try some of the delish food!

The food in Arequipa is some of the best in South America. You can find food from authentic Peruvian cuisine to burgers and craft beers from home. To be honest I was a little sick of the South American style of food after Bolivia so I stuck to more of the gringo haunts. Some of the best restaurants in Arequipa are sushi at El Buda Profano, burgers from Chelawasi Public House and pizza from Las Gringas Arequipa. I actually liked the food so much I’ve written an entire article on The 8 Best Restaurants in Arequipa. Check it out!

QUICK FACTS: COST: Whatever you like | TIME NEEDED: As long as you like | VERDICT: Must-do.


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(More after the jump)


7. chill in cafes

While the food in Arequipa is delish the coffee is also just as good as you’d get in any Melbourne cafe. I spent many an afternoon blogging and sipping coffee at my fave cafe Huayruro and if you have time, cafe hopping is a great way to chill out in Arequipa. You can check out all my favourite cafes in The 8 Best Restaurants in Arequipa.

QUICK FACTS: COST: Whatever you like | TIME NEEDED: As long as you like | VERDICT: Must-do.

8. party at The Wild Rover

Ah, the good old Wild Rover. One of the major party hostels in Peru and Bolivia. I decided to avoid actually staying at the hostel while I was in Arequipa (I needed a break). But it’s definitely worth hitting up for a night on the town. The party goes until about midnight and then they always have a recommended bar or club to kick on to. If you’re wondering what to see in Arequipa a night out at the Wild Rover is the answer to that question.

QUICK FACTS: COST: $20USD+ | TIME NEEDED: As long as you like | VERDICT: Fun if you’re in need of a night on the town.

9. Hike the Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon tour - bridge
One of the best things to do in Arequipa Peru is a trip down the Colca Canyon.

Hiking the Colca Canyon is one of the most fun things to do around Arequipa. The canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and can be accessed by tour. It’s a tough 4-hour walk down and then an even tougher 4-hour walk back up. But the views once you’re there and the incredible Oasis are definitely worth it. If you don’t want to take a tour you can do it yourself for half the price. I spent 6 days down the canyon for less than $120USD and loved every minute. You can check out How to Hike the Colca Canyon Without a Guide for more details on how I did it.

QUICK FACTS: COST: $120 – $250USD | TIME NEEDED: 2+ days| VERDICT: Must-do if you’re a hiker.


Where to stay in Arequipa Peru

Like most places in Peru accommodation in Arequipa is super affordable. So I’ve included some a bunch of options from budget hostels to super-blinging hotels.

The Wild Rover Hostel Arequipa

The 3rd of the Wild Rover chain of hostels in SA. Known for wild parties, comfy beds and good Irish tucker.
Check rates and availability

Arequipay Backpackers Downtown

Located right in the city centre this affordable hostel has great staff and a really social atmosphere.
Check rates and availability

Posada El Castillo

This boutique, yet affordable hotel is right on the edge of town. With a stunning pool and buffet brekkie.
Check rates and availability

Libertador Arequipa Hotel

Luxurious hotel 15-minutes from the city centre. With an awesome pool and views of Volcano Misty.
Check rates and availability

Arequipa DAILY BUDGET

I was definitely scrimping when I was in Arequipa and managed to spend around $20 USD per day. That was by cooking most of my own meals and volunteering at a hostel for room and breakfast. However, if you were dining out and paying for Arequipa accommodation you’d be looking at spending about $30 – $50 USD per day.


How To Get To Arequipa

ON THE CHEAP:

The cheapest and easiest way to get to Arequipa if you’re already in Peru is to take a bus. The bus system in Peru is excellent. As it’s such a large country you’ll mostly take night buses. But booking them is really easy. Just head to the local bus station. There will be a number of booths from the different companies all selling tickets. Ask for the price as well as the type of seats they offer. If you want to be comfortable you should go for a 170-degree reclining chair (Basically a bed). As I was a solo female I would always take a solo seat in the premium section of the bus on level one. And it never cost me too much ($40 – $70 USD depending on the distance. The Arequipa bus station is a little out of town. but you can get a taxi there for about $5 USD. You can also book online with redbus.com (but the prices will be a little higher).

GOT DA CASH:

The easiest way to get to Arequipa, if you’re short on time is to fly. LatamAviancaPeruvian Airlines and LC Peru all fly to Arequipa.


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Things To Do In Arequipa

16 Comments

  1. Fantastic post and great advice. I never heard of Arequipa before and I want to visit it now. The scenery in the first photo has got me wetting my lips 🙂

    • Emma Reply

      Thanks Danik,

      Yeah it’s such an awesome spot. Glad you like the article 🙂

      Cheers,

      Em

  2. A visit to Catalina monastery would be high in my list after the walking tour there.
    Cool place to holiday.

    • Emma Reply

      Yes such a cool place isn’t it. And while the monastery is a little more expensive than other attractions it’s definitely worth it!

  3. The Colca Canyon is something to take note of. It looks so beautiful in the photo! And the way you described Arequipa as the prettiest city you’ve ever seen makes me want to go back to South America to visit it! <3

    • Emma Reply

      It’s such a lovely place. Definitely worth adding to your bucket list!

  4. I was just in Arequipa a few months ago. It is such a cool city, and so indicative of the urban life in Peru. The volcano that towers of the city is such an impressive sight.

  5. Love the city with the mountain standing tall and proud behind, beautiful! I can understand why you got sidetracked

    • Emma Reply

      Haha totally. Sometimes you do just need to settle down in one place for a while 🙂

  6. Great tips on Arequipa. Sounds like a really fun place to explore. I think I would avoid staying at the party hostel, but I wouldn’t mind doing some partying there myself! It’s great that Econunay provides market tours and ceviche-making lessons. A nice perk for a $20/nt hostel!

    • Emma Reply

      Econunay is an awesome hostel. I’d definitely recommend if you end up in Arequipa.

  7. I love your breakdown of Scrimp + Splurge. I totally agree that if you miss our on all of the amazing things in a destination, it doesn’t make any sense to go to an epic place and just sit in a hostel because you can’t afford to actually go anywhere. Hiking Colca Canyon would be a must for me as well! Worth the splurge.

    • Emma Reply

      Thanks Paige! Yes it’s too true. You’ll probably only be there once in your life and you don’t want to have any regrets!

  8. I loved Arequipa, I only stayed a couple of days though, I’d like to go back & eat more of the food & go to Alpaca World!! Colca Canyon was awesome, although my knees will never be the same again!

    • Emma Reply

      Haha my knees were actually ok at the end of Colca. However, we did spend 2 days lying by the pool before we made the trip back up. Which I think was quite helpful!

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