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Arequipa

Why visit Arequipa?

This beautiful 'white city', framed by three dramatic, snow-capped volcanoes, is known for its many colonial buildings including a famous convent, for its food and also for its proximity to Colca Canyon. The city's ancient centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a lovely place for a two or three-night stay, which will also help you start to acclimatise to the altitude before you head to the higher levels at Colca.
Reasons to visit Arequipa include:

  • Explore the cloisters and cells of the famous Santa Catalina convent founded in 1579.
  • Visit the tiny Iglesia de La Compañía Jesuit church, with its gold leaf covered altar and murals featuring tropical birds and flowers.
  • See the well-preserved remains of Juanita, the 'Ice Maiden’ at the Catholic University Museum.
  • The food - Arequipa boasts a remarkable range of native dishes and has been at the forefront of the Peruvian gastronomic renaissance.
  • Visit one of the picanterias - communal restaurants serving fine traditional food made from local produce and served in a unique atmosphere open to everyone from lawyers and politicians to manual labourers.
  • Enjoy people-watching in a cafe in the Plaza de Armas.
  • Explore some of the great colonial buildings such as La Merced and the huge cathedral.
  • See the impressive El Misti volcano from good viewing spots out of town.  
  • Shop in the artisan market next to the Plaza de San Francisco and visit the elegant Claustros de la Campañía shopping centre, with its ornate architecture.
  • Travel out of town to see the fine 1647 Franciscan monastery of La Recleta.
  • Arequipa makes a good base from which to set out to see Colca Canyon, and the city's altitude helps you gently begin to acclimatise to altitude.
  • Consider treating yourself to a luxurious sleeper train journey between Arequipa, Lake Titicaca and Cusco on the Belmond Andean Explorer.

When to go to Arequipa

Most people tend to avoid the worst of the rainy season from about December to March. For more information about when to travel in Peru, see our When to visit Peru page.

How to do it

There is an airport in Arequipa and this is how most visitors arrive. You can drive from here from/to Lake Titicaca via Colca Canyon. It is about 4-5 hours from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, and about a day’s drive (7 hours) from Colca Canyon to Lake Titicaca.

It is at about 2380m so altitude sickness is not an issue for most people. In fact, it's a good place to start to acclimatise before you head to Colca. You can also travel to Arequipa by train - on board the supremely elegant Belmond Andean Explorer sleeper that runs from Cusco to Arequipa, via Lake Titicaca.

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Arequipa accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT-5hrs

Flight time:

Both KLM and Iberia have flights to Lima via Europe, leaving the UK early in the morning to arrive in Lima in the evening. The flight time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly to Lima via America.

Language: Spanish and Quechua are the official languages.

Visas:

Not required for British travellers (up to 90 days). EC nationals can ask us for further advice.

Health:

There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.

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