Destination guide: Arequipa, Peru

Located in the extreme south of Peru is the city of Arequipa. The "White City", as it is known locally, houses temples and has grand houses built using volcanic rock, which gives them a unique appearance.

In 2000, Unesco declared Arequipa and the surrounding area a World Heritage Site, which has boosted tourism in the region.

Fly with LAN and discover the Colca Valley with its beautiful lagoons and snowcapped mountains, the Ampato volcano, the Yanahuara lookout point and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, as well as many other interesting places.

  • Arequipa - Things to do

    Sights

    Monasterio de la Recoleta

    This musty monastery was constructed on the west side of the Río Chili in 1648 by Franciscan friars, though now it has been completely rebuilt. Scholarship was an integral part of the Franciscans’ order, and bibliophiles will delight in the huge library, which contains more than 20,000 dusty books and maps; the oldest volume dates back to 1494. The library is open for supervised visits; just ask at the entrance. There is a well-known museum of Amazonian artifacts (including preserved jungle animals) collected by the missionaries, and an extensive collection of pre-Conquest artifacts and religious art of the escuela cuzqueña (Cuzco School). Guides who speak Spanish, English, French and Italian are available; a tip is expected.

    Sub-Type: Cultural Building.
    Latitude: -16.3934009400000/ Longitude: -71.5417340700000
    Telephone Number: +51 54 27 0966
    Opening Hours: 9am-noon & 3-5pm Mon-Sat.
    Pricing: admission S5.
    Address: La Recoleta 117.

    Monasterio de Santa Catalina

    Even if you’ve already overdosed on colonial edifices, this convent shouldn’t be missed. Occupying a whole block and guarded by imposing high walls, it is one of the most fascinating religious buildings in Peru. Nor is it just a religious building – this 20,000-sq-meter complex is almost a citadel within the city. It is a disorienting place with twisting passageways, ascetic living quarters, period furnishings and religious art – a photographer’s paradise.

    Latitude: -16.3956626300000/ Longitude:-71.5367839600000
    Sub-Type: Religious, Spiritual.
    Telephone Number: +51 54 22 9798
    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm, last entry 4pm, plus 7-9pm Tue & Thu.
    Pricing: admission S30.
    Address: Santa Catalina 301.
    Website: www.santacatalina.org.pe.

    Museo de Arte Virreinal de Santa Teresa

    This gorgeous 17th-century Carmelite convent was only recently opened to the public as a living museum. The colonial-era buildings are justifiably famed for their decoratively painted walls and restored rooms filled with priceless votive objets d’art, murals, precious metalworks, colonial-era paintings and other historical artifacts. It is all capably explained by student tour guides who speak Spanish, English, French, German and Portuguese; tips are appreciated. A charming shop at the front of the complex sells baked goods and rose-scented soap made by the nuns.

    Latitude: -16.3961466400000/ Longitude: -71.5311577900000
    Sub-Type: Museum.
    Telephone Number: +51 54 28 1188
    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 9am-1pm Sun.
    Pricing: admission S10.
    Address: Melgar 303.

    Museo Santury

    Officially the Museo de la Universidad Católica de Santa María, this museum exhibits ‘Juanita, the ice princess’ – the frozen body of an Inca maiden sacrificed on the summit of Nevado Ampato, a snow-covered volcano to the northwest of Arequipa, more than 500 years ago. Multilingual tours (available in Spanish, English, French, German and Italian) consist of a video followed by an examination of various burial artifacts, culminating in a respectful viewing of the frozen mummy, preserved in a carefully monitored glass-walled exhibition freezer. Although Juanita is not on display from January to April, another child sacrifice discovered in the mountains around Arequipa is on show. Only guided visits are permitted (expect to tip the guide), and the whole spectacle is done in a respectful, non-ghoulish manner. Allow about an hour for a visit.

    Latitude: -16.3999535000000 / Longitude: -71.5377058700000
    Sub-Type: Museum.
    Telephone Number: +51 54 20 0345
    Opening Hours: 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-3pm Sun.
    Pricing: admission S15.
    Address: La Merced 110.
    Website: www.ucsm.edu.pe/santury.

    San Ignacio chapel

    To the left of the altar of the Iglesia de la Compañía is the San Ignacio chapel , with a polychrome cupola smothered in junglelike murals of tropical flowers, fruit and birds, among which mingle warriors and angels.

    Sub-Type: Architectural, Cultural.
    Opening Hours: 09:00-12:30 & 15:00-18:00 Mon-Fri, 11:30-12:30 & 15:00-18:00 Sat, 09:00-12:30 & 17:00-18:00 Sun.
    Address: Centro.

    Eat

    Zig Zag

    The upscale sister of Crepisimo, this European restaurant inhabits a two-story colonial house with an iron stairway designed by Gustave Eiffel. The expensive menu features decadent fondues, carpaccio, stone-grilled steaks and other South American game dishes.

    Sub-Type: European
    Latitude: -16.3952891363579 / Longitude: -71.5354742391739
    Telephone Number: +51 54 20 6020
    Opening Hours: 6pm-midnight.
    Pricing: mains S33-40.
    Price Range: High
    Address: Zela 210.

    Entertainment

    Café Art Montréal

    This smoky, intimate little bar with live bands playing on a stage at the back would be equally at home as a bohemian student hangout on Paris’ Left Bank

    Sub-Type: Live Music.
    Latitude: -16.3963093100000/ Longitude: -71.5359955500000
    Telephone Number: +51 54 20 6652
    Opening Hours: 5pm-1am.
    Address: Ugarte 210.

    Forum Rock Cafe

    It’s a gutsy Latin dance club with a thing for bamboo and waterfalls, and is currently the place to be seen on weekend nights. In the same building, Zero Bar & Pool is a busy nightspot with pool tables and spacious booths.

    Sub-Type: Bar, Theme
    Latitude: -16.3954341000000/ Longitude: -71.5351645000000
    Opening Hours: 10pm-4am Thu-Sat.
    Address: San Francisco 317 Extras: Casona Forum.

    Las Quenas

    An exception to the rule, this traditional peña features performances almost nightly starting around 9pm. The music varies, although música folklórica predominates. It also serves decent arequipeño food starting at 8pm.

    Sub-Type: Music, Traditional
    Latitude: -16.3952175400000/ Longitude: -71.5360130000000
    Telephone Number:+51 54 28 1115
    Opening Hours: closed Sun.
    Pricing: admission USUS$3..
    Address: Santa Catalina 302.

    Events Overview

    Semana Santa: (Holy Week) Arequipeños claim that their Semana Santa celebrations leading up to Easter are similar to the very solemn and traditional Spanish observances from Seville. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday processions are particularly colorful and sometimes end with the burning of an effigy of Judas.

    Fiesta de la Virgen de Chapi: Arequipa also fills up for this festival, celebrated on May 1 in Yanahuara.

    August 15: The founding day of the city is celebrated with parades, dancing, beauty pageants, climbing competitions on El Misti and other energetic events over the course of several days. The fireworks show in the Plaza de Armas on the evening of August 14 is definitely worth catching.