Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru!

Ohhhh….how I just HATE writing about places I love!!  HA!  Not that the secret’s not out on magical Arequipa, Peru ~ but I found it less touristy than bustling Cusco (the gateway to Machu Picchu), & much more of a local’s kind of place.  Of course there are tourists, but because it’s harder to reach than Cusco, I think a lot of travelers simply skip it (because everybody does Machu Picchu).  But with these “Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru,” I’m hoping to perhaps sway your thinking, & encourage you to add this beautiful city & region to your Peru itinerary…

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, Arequipa Cathedral

El Misti Volcano rises above the Arequipa skyline…

Map of Arequipa & Colca Canyon

You can fly, bus, or drive to reach Arequipa ~ though personally, I would never drive in Peru: these drivers are INSANE!!!  Consider yourself warned.  I took an overnight bus from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile up to Arequipa, which was a tedious 16-hour journey (with a dreaded early morning bus change), & I flew from Arequipa back to Lima in an easy, one-hour flight.

Arequipa

Colca Canyon

Canteras de Sillar

Quick Facts About Arequipa, Peru

  • Elevation in Arequipa: 7,661 feet (2,335 meters).  Contrasted to Cusco, which is at a staggering 11,000 feet ~ Arequipa is an easier city to acclimatize yourself in for a first-time trip to Peru. 
  • What is Arequipa Known For? Arequipa is called the “White City” because of its many cathedrals that were built with white, volcanic stone called “sillar.”  Sillar is abundant in this region, & is soft, lightweight, & weatherproof ~ making it a near-ideal building solution.
  • What Does Arequipa Mean? “Ari” = Summit, & “Quipa” = Lies Beyond. So, the “Summit that lies beyond.” 
  • Is Arequipa Safe? This is a fairly subjective question, but speaking personally, I didn’t feel unsafe walking anywhere in Arequipa’s central area ~ & I felt especially safe behind the HUGE walls of my family-run fortress of a hotel, just a few blocks off the main plaza.  If you’re using a taxi in Arequipa, have your hotel call one, or use an official taxi stand: & make sure your taxi has a blue decal on the windshield.  Petty theft is the most likely crime to occur in Arequipa or Peru, but as a country, Peru is statistically safer than the United States.
  • Top Things to Do in Arequipa: Stroll thru the Plaza de Armas & admire the city’s impressive “white” cathedrals; visit popular Monasterio de Santa Catalina; take a 2-3 day tour of Colca Canyon (the Grand Canyon of Peru); search for the best views of El Misti Volcano; take a half-day tour of the impressive rock formations at Canteras de Sillar.
  • Don’t Forget to Bring: Strong sunscreen, like Elta MD Broad-Spectrum, & walking shoes with a good sole, as the cobble-stones around Arequipa’s main plaza are extremely slippery!  (I wore thongs often & this was a m-i-s-t-a-k-e!)

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Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru!

Use these photos to take a virtual tour not only through the beautiful city of Arequipa, but its surrounding attractions as well: which include the Colca Canyon & Canteras de Sillar.  Colca Canyon is a popular trekking destination, & is one of the deepest canyons in the world ~ being TWICE as deep as the Grand Canyon!!  It’s also a habitat for the large Andean Condor, which can be seen from many popular outlooks in the canyon, such as Cruz del Condor. 

Colca Canyon is about 4 hours from Arequipa, so it’s best to visit if you have time for at least a 2-day tour.  Besides hiking & condor sighting, you can also white water raft, mountain bike, horseback ride, & lounge in thermal baths…

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, Arequipa Cathedral

Arequipa’s Plaza de Armas is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Photo by The Culture Trip.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, Alpacas in Colca, Peru

You’ll see cute, cuddly alpacas like these all over Peru ~ including in Colca Canyon, near Arequipa.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World

These gorgeous rock formations are called Canteras de Sillar, & they’re located about 20 minutes outside of Arequipa. You can visit on your own, or with a small group tour.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, Arequipa Cathedral

I took this photo at a second-story restaurant on the Plaza de Armas, while eating a tasty Peruvian “causa.” The Plaza was busy nearly every night of my week-long trip, & I felt thoroughly safe walking there nightly to watch the sunset, people-watch, & grab a bite to eat.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, El Misti Volcano, Arequipa

Night shot of magical El Misti Volcano.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World

The landscape surrounding Arequipa is often other-worldly in its barren, desert beauty.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, Colca Canyon, Peru

Hawks, eagles, & the awe-inspiring Andean Condor are common sightings in Colca Canyon.

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru, Girl Who Travels the World, Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs, Arequipa

Stay close to nature at the Colca Canyon Lodge & Spa, with natural hot springs like these…

Where I Stayed in Arequipa…

  • In Arequipa, I stayed about three blocks from the Plaza de Armas in the perfectly-central Surestay Plus by Best Western Tierra Sur Colonial ($50+/night).  It was sooo quiet, had a lovely rooftop deck, large rooms & bathrooms, a beautiful breakfast area, & I felt 100% safe behind its massive walls.  I would stay there again ~ but there are also TONS of great, boutique hotel options in Arequipa in this price range!
  • If you want to stay right on the Plaza de Armas with incredible cathedral views, try Casa Andina Select Arequipa ($105+).
  • For a spa experience in Colca Canyon, with access to natural pools: check into the luxurious eco-chic Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs, which is located on the banks of the Rio Colca, near the town of Chivay.  

Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Arequipa, Peru!

What do you think is the most beautiful city in Peru??  For me, it’s definitely not Lima ~ it’s a tie between Arequipa & Cusco, though Arequipa may be more awe-inspiring with its ornate white cathedrals & looming volcano.  But I love Cusco too!  Let me know your thoughts in the comment below…

xoxo Noelia

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