Arequipa: Updated Guideline
Arequipa is known as the “White City”; due the special whiteness of the “sillar”, an abundant volcanic stone in this area. With which its magnificent temples were built, such as that of: La Compañía de jesus. Convents, such as: Santa Catalina de Siena and palaces, such as Huasacache; also known as La Mansión del Founder. Its beauty, its special light and its landscapes captivate the visitor.
The white city, is the second largest department in Peru; it shows countless tourist attractions such as: its mestizo and colonial architecture worked in white ashlar, it’s wonderful countryside full of terraces and traces of history, its canyons, the deepest in the world and an extensive coastline, generous in flora and fauna: as well as the ability to practice water sports and adventure. However without a doubt, one of the most attractive aspects of Arequipa is the cordiality and warmth; with which the Arequipeños receive and welcome tourists.
1. How to get to Arequipa?
The city of Arequipa is located in the southern part of Peru and has several tourist attractions, among which are the imposing Misti and Chachani volcanoes, where you can take day trips to more.
In addition to these places, the “White City of Arequipa” has an interesting and rich history and tradition that are preserved in its museums, convents, churches and typical towns.
Arequipa is one of the most visited and important departments in Peru; You can get to this city by land and air and these are the most popular routes.
- From Lima to Arequipa, flights depart throughout the day from 4:30 am. to 7:15 pm. the flight lasts 1 hour and 35 minutes; and the companies that provide this service are: Latam, Avianca, Star Peru and LC Peru.
- From Cusco to Arequipa the majority of flights are with a stopover in Lima. Of the few direct schedules from Cusco to Arequipa; there is one that leaves at 6:53 am. the flight lasts 1 hour and the company that provides this service is: Latam .
- From Juliaca (1 hour from Puno) to Arequipa, most flights are with a stopover in Lima; For direct flights, consult a Latam office: the flight lasts 50 minutes.
Among the companies with the best service, that I use and that I can recommend are: Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, Móvil bus and Palomino.
- If you would like to go by bus from Lima to Arequipa. The buses leave all day around, from 6:00 am. to 8:00 pm. the trip lasts around 16 hours.
- If you want to go by bus from Ica to Arequipa. The buses usually leave from 6:00 pm. to 9:00 pm. the trip lasts around 12 hours.
- If you would like to go by bus from Paracas to Arequipa. The buses usually leave from 6:00 pm. to 8:00 pm. the trip lasts around 13 hours and a half.
- If you would like to go by bus from Nazca to Arequipa. The buses usually leave from 8:00 pm. to 10:00 pm. the trip lasts around 9 hours and a half.
If you want to go by bus from Ayacucho to Arequipa. The buses usually leave from 2:00 pm. to 7:00 pm. the ride lasts around 19 hours.
- If you would like to go by bus from Moquegua to Arequipa. The buses leave all day around from 6:00 am. to 8:00 pm. the trip lasts around 4 hours and a half.
- If you want to go by bus from Tacna to Arequipa. The buses leave all day around from 6:00am to 10:00pm; the ride lasts around 6 hours.
- If you would like to go by bus from Cusco to Arequipa. The buses usually leave from 8:00 pm. to 10:00pm. the trip lasts around 9 hours and a half.
- If you would like to go by bus from Puno to Arequipa. The buses usually leave from 8:00 pm. to 10:00 pm. the trip lasts around 7 hours and a half.
We don’t have a commercial partnership with any of the bus companies mentioned in this guideline; we are not responsible for any misunderstanding or problem with said companies. The recommendations l make are based on my personal experience.
2. Where to sleep?
Arequipa is the second most important city in Peru; and for many, one of the most beautiful after Cusco. Finding very cheap hostels and hotels from 1 to 5 stars in very easy; most of them are in the main square and surroundings.
One of the most important things, if not the most important of the trips, is the lodging. Normally this represents 50% or more of your expense and can make your stay unforgettable, in a good or bad way.
To book a hotel, always keep the following in mind:
- Access to public transport.
- Free WIFI.
- Room size.
- Treatment of staff.
- Quality of service.
- Read reviews from other travelers.
3. What to do in Arequipa?
The famous white city of Arequipa, in addition to the well known Colca canyon; has many other attractions to offer. All of the mentioned excursions, can be book through travel agencies located in the main square and its surroundings: as well as through websites.
3.1. Santa Catalina Monastery.
The Santa Catalina Monastery is a beautiful colonial architectural space, made from white and pink ashlar; which is a type of porous stone of volcanic lava. Unpublished designs, spaces of great aesthetic value, beautiful facades, and, above all; the history behind this Arequipa jewel, makes this tourist spot one of the most visited in the region. Of colonial and mestizo origin, Santa Catalina was the home of Creole, mestizo women; and even daughters of noble families who entered as nuns. Approximately, by the 18th century, Santa Catalina had more than 300 women wearing habit.
Santa Catalina is a small citadel, which occupies an area of 20 thousand square meters and is divided into four neighborhoods; trying to emulate the urban distribution of Arequipa in the early years of the Colony.
The Santa Catalina Monastery is located one block to the north of Arequipa’s imposing Plaza de Armas. Urbanly it is distinguished from the rest of the colonial neighborhood, since it occupies a block and a half of it.
The hours of attention to the public are:
- From Monday to Sunday From 9:00 a.m. at 5:00 p.m.
- Tuesday and Wednesday From 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Closed to the Public: Good Friday, December 25th and January 1st.
The guide service is optional, and is not included in the rates; my recommendation is that you do the excursion with a guide: so that you can better appreciate this citadel built within a city.
The rates are:
- Peruvians and foreigners, pay 40 soles.
- Foreigners from 7 to 21 years old, pay 20 soles (you have to show a passport).
- Children under 7 years old, do not pay.
Tickets are purchased directly from the ticket office; you can pay in cash or by Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, Unionpay and Maestro cards. If you want to pay in advance, write to them: [email protected]
3.2. City tour sightseeing bus.
It is a very interesting and beneficial excursion, it is cheap and you visit many places of interest, in the white city of Arequipa.
On this tour you visit: The Plaza and temple of Yanahuara, the Portales of Yanahuara, the Mirador de Carmen Alto, the plaza of Cayma, Inca Alpaca, the Palace of Goyeneche, the Mansion of the Founder, the Mill of Sabandía and the Platforms of Paucarpata.
Prices of this excursion is 30 soles and it has two departure times at 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. And if you would like to try the best of Arequipa´s food; there is a gastronomic tour that starts at 11:30 am.
3.3. The ashlar route.
Enjoy a tour full of history, living culture and adventure, discover why Arequipa is also known by the name of “The White City”; in Arequipa we have been using ashlar as construction material for houses, churches and palaces.
Find out how is the extraction of this stone called Ignimbrita, how ashlars are formed and meet one of the stonemasons; who work hard every day and carry a tradition, that goes from generation to generation. Take impressive photographs in the ashlar quarries, impressive landscapes that there is only in this part of Peru.
Rates of this excursion is 50 soles, it starts at 8:00 am and ends at 12:00 pm.
3.4. Museum of Archeology and Archaeological Museum of Andean Sanctuaries.
Museum of Archeology and Archaeological Museum of Andean Sanctuaries, the Archeology museum of the Catholic University of Santa María, exhibits archaeological objects dating from 12,000 years before Christ to the years of the Conquest: Ceramics, textiles and funerary materials are observed, access is free.
For its part, in the Museo Santuarios Andinos the objects are approximately 550 years old; Its main attraction is the Juanita Mummy, discovered in 1995 and called “the girl of the ice”.
The entrance fee is 20 soles and is located on the central campus of the Universidad Catolica Santa Maria de Arequipa, about 8 minutes from the Plaza de Arequipa, in the Urb. San José, Umacollo.
Attention Hours for both museums are:
- Monday to Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 09:00 – 15:00 hrs
- Open holidays
- Closed: December 25 and January 01.
3.5. Cathedral and Cathedral Museum.
The museum of the Cathedral of Arequipa, treasures and exhibits valuable objects, which speak to the present of the history of more than 400 years, of the most important temple in our city.
The cathedral of Arequipa is located in the main square of the city and the museum of the Cathedral of Arequipa is located inside the Cathedral Basilica of the city of Arequipa, its entrance is through the lateral portal of Santa Catalina street.
The hours of operation are from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4:15 pm and the cost is 10 soles per person. I highly recommend the guided tour.
3.6. The Colca Canyon.
An overflowing Andean vegetation surrounds one of the deepest canyons in the world: the Colca Canyon, the perfect setting for both extreme sports and the most peaceful rest, all under the watchful eye of the king of heaven, the Andean condor.
The colca canyon offers you thermal waters; canoeing, trekking; sighting of condors and other typical animals of the Andean mountains in their natural habitat such as the alpaca, chinchilla or the puma
The Colca Canyon reaches a depth of 4,160m and the entire area is of superlative scenic beauty.
Trips to the colca canyon can be done independently or through a travel agency; Here I show you all the available options.
If you would like to go on your own.
The first thing you have to do is go to the main bus station to board buses that leave for Chivay or Cabanaconde between 13:00 pm to 16:00 pm; You can also do it in the morning, 3:00 am if you want to visit the canyon in one day (you have to hurry because the buses leave every time all their seats are occupied).
The tour from Arequipa to Chivay is 4 hours and to Cabanaconde is 5 hours. In Chivay there are many lodgings around and near the main square, if you want you can also visit the hot springs of La Calera; In Cabanaconde the same thing happens although there are no thermal baths, but there is a viewpoint called Achachihua where you can enjoy a great sunset and see some condors.
To go from Chivay or Cabanaconde to the viewpoint of the condors or called the Cruz del Condor you must board the local bus Señor de los Milagros that goes from Chivay to Cabanaconde or viceversa.
The hours are as follows:
- Chivay – Cabanaconde: 04:00 am and 07:30 am; ask the night before at a store of the square to confirm if the hours remain the same.
- Cabanaconde – Chivay: 07:00 am, 09:00 and 12:00 pm (at the Cruz del Cóndor they stop 15 minutes after leaving Cabanaconde).
Prices are as follows:
- Rates for the Colca touristic ticket is 70 soles.
- Transportation from Arequipa to Chivay is between 15 and 20 soles.
- The price from Chivay to Cabanaconde or vice versa is 5 soles.
- Prices of lodging is between 20 and 100 soles according to the service.
- The food if, it is a buffet in a tourist restaurant is between 25 and 35 soles and in local restaurants or the local market between 5 and 8 soles.
- The entrance to the hot springs La Calera is 10 soles.
1 Day Colca canyon by bus.
If you want to make the excursion of the Colca canyon in one day, my recommendation is that you do it with a travel agency which you can find in the Plaza de Armas of Arequipa or through web pages.
The tour begins between 2:30 am and 3:00 am. You will drive for three hours to chivay, where you will have breakfast, you continue for one more hour to Cruz del Condor where you have 2 hours to observe the condors flying; Afterwards you will return to Chivay to have lunch in a tourist restaurant, following they will take you to the hot springs la Calera where you will have one hour free to relax and then you will return to Arequipa where you will arrive around 18:00 pm.
During the tour to make the long bus trip more enjoyable, they will make several stops in beautiful places, the price of this program is between 100 and 130 soles. Keep in mind that is not included the Colca tourist ticket that costs 70 soles, the meals, and the entrance to the hot springs that is 10 soles.
2 day Colca canyon by bus.
They pick you up from your hotel at 8:00 am and take you by car for three hours to the town of Chivay, on the way you will make several stops to observe alpacas, vicuñas and also volcanoes. Upon arrival in Chivay they will take you to a tourist restaurant and later to your accommodation (basic), and in the afternoon you have the option of visiting the thermal baths la Calera .
The next day they pick you up at 6:00 am. to drive you for 50 minutes making a lot of stops until the Cruz del Condor where you will spend around two hours observing the flight of the condors; On the way back, they will take you to a tourist restaurant in Chivay and from there you return to Arequipa to where the bus arrive around 17:00 pm.
Prices of this program is between 130 and 150 soles. Keep in mind that is not included the Colca tourist ticket that costs 70 soles, the meals, and the entrance to the hot springs that is 10 soles.
2, 3, 4 day trekking in the Colca Canyon.
The colca canyon, being one of the deepest canyons in the world, is a challenge for all adventurers who would like to visit this beautiful place full of wonderful scenery, animal life, culture and customs, along the way you will be able to appreciate native animals: like alpacas, condors and vicuñas in their natural habitat; You can also enjoy very beautiful places such as the Sangalle oasis and visit the relaxing thermal waters of La Calera.
These organized excursions usually include everything except soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, tips and water. You can book directly with the travel agencies located in the main square or through web sites.
- Rates for the two day excursion is between 140 and 350 dollars depending on the service and inclusions.
- Prices for the three day excursion is between 170 and 365 dollars depending on the service and inclusions.
- The price for the four day excursion is between 200 and 400 dollars depending on the service and inclusions.
3.7. Trekking to the Chachani volcano.
El Chachani is a volcano located 55 km from the city of Arequipa, in southern Peru. Despite its considerable height, snow is very scarce at its summit, due to the extreme atmospheric dryness prevailing on the western slope of the Andes in that region.
The interesting thing about this snow-capped mountain is that it is a mountain over six thousand meters high and it is not a technical mountain, you can reach the summit in 2 days. It is one of the most accessible mountains in the world, although it also requires good physical preparation and correct acclimatization.
Enjoy going by car the first day from 2,300 meters to 5,000 meters in a 4×4 truck and sleep under a starry sky. You can book this excursion directly in Arequipa or through a website, the cost is between 90 and 120 dollars.5,200 meters and on the second day celebrate reaching 6,057 meters and its subsequent arrive to the city of Arequipa around 17:00 pm.
If you would not like to hike so high, you can also choose the ascent to the Misti volcano located at 5,822 meters.
3.8. Canoeing on the Chili River.
Rafting on the Chilli River is the opportunity for adventurers to experience something different. It’s not a big river, but it has plenty of rapids for a fun, adrenaline-filled canoeing session.
Prices of the tour is 90 to 100 soles, the route is 6 km and lasts 2 hours, the departures are at 8:00 am. 11:00 am. and 14:00 pm.
3.9. Biking from close to Pichu Pichu volcano.
There are many cycling itineraries in Arequipa, I show you a short summary of what I did.
l explored one of the closest volcanoes to the city of Arequipa, the Pichu Pichu is a huge volcano and you can enjoy it from the comfortable seat of a bicycle. You will drive through multiple microclimates and past rugged volcanic terrain and incredible landscapes.
They pick you up at 7:00 am. in the Plaza de Armas of Arequipa and then you will drive for one hours towards the Pichu Pichu Volcano, where they will leave you at 3800 meters, from that point you start descending by bicycle for 6 hours towards the city of Arequipa, the price of this tour is between 50 and 70 dollars.
4. Important safety tips.
It is not difficult to get to Arequipa and although the place is safe, it is always good to be careful.
- Listen to local warnings about certain dangerous places.
- Be careful using ATM machines and avoid using them at night when possible.
- Carry small change; many taxis and small shops do not have change, so try to use small notes.
- It is better not to carry a lot of cash.
- Be aware of pickpockets and never take your credit/ debit card or passport anywhere unless 100% necessary.
- Bring sunscreen from 50 DEET or more and apply it at least every one hour and a half, Arequipa is almost always hot and radiation in Peru is even higher than in Australia.