- Hiking / Trekking
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
The city of Arequipa forms part of the traditional tourist corridor that lies to the south of Lima. For the more daring, it serves as an excellent starting point for a trip to the region's volcanoes. Those looking for a more conventional experience can opt instead for a trip to Puno, Lake Titicaca or Colca Canyon, which I myself visited when in the region.
Since the year 2000, the city has been included on UNESCO's prestigious World Heritage list. The charm of Arequipa stems from the blend of Spanish and indigenous cultures the city presents, which is especially noticeable when observing its unique architecture. I greatly enjoyed spending time walking around the city's central area, which is a good way to see and explore this attractive destination.
Addtiionally, "Arequipena" style food is famous throughout the whole country. One of the regional specialities is something called "rocoto relleno": a hot chilli pepper stuffed with beef. It's simply delicious! Don't be afraid to try things; as a general rule, you'll rarely be disappointed by the food you encounter during your stay in Peru.
Arequipa is often called the White City on account of the white stone of which most of the town's buildings are constructed. The main square is very welcoming and it's nice to sit on a bench near the fountain and watch life go by amidst the colonial style buildings. In the distance one can see the Misti volcano, which towers over the town and makes it feel small but nevertheless Arequipa is the second biggest town in the country.
During my visit to this Peruvian town I had the opportunity to discover the biggest convent in the world, El Convento de Santa Catalina. For me, this wasn't a very memorable visit. Certainly it's a beautiful place but the entrance fee is a little expensive by comparison. The guided tour of the town, however, is worth spending a little time on during your trip to Peru.
Overall, Arequipa should be thought of as a perfect departure point from which to explore the surrounding area. The Misti volcano, the Colca Canyon, the Condor Cross... There are lots of possible excursions starting from the White City.
I think you really should visit Arequipa, for several reasons. Its Plaza de Armas is still my favourite one in South America. It is always charming, no matter what the time. It's a cauldron of life, activity and authenticity...
The central market is outstanding. You can see everything and try anything. I felt like I was in the real Peru. Eating sat at a counter, surrounded by locals, mountains of cheese, potatoes and witchcraft stalls is priceless. It was one of the best moments of my trip to Peru.
Don't be afraid to spend several days there in order to really soak up the atmosphere. You can do anything there. The backdrop of the Misti Volcano will please sporty people, the museums are superb - in one of them there is a mummy that was found at the top of a mountain. It was buried there by the Incas and is in perfect condition because it was frozen due to the altitude... You should also visit the famous, and very pretty, convent of Santa Catalina. Don't miss it.