Arequipa is a wonderful part of Peru that has a wonderful story to tell to those who wish to listen. Humble and friendly people, colorful and hand made products, delightful meals from a unique cuisine and stunning views of the surroundings are only a few of the reasons to visit the lovely city of Arequipa.
Situated 2400 meters above sea level, surrounded by three amazing volcanoes and with a wonderful history to tell the world is the city of Arequipa. On its own or part of what it is known as the “Southern Peru Tourist Corridor“, this city is a popular and wonderful place for tourists to discover the history, culture and sights of Peru.
One of the main attractions are the buildings made out of sillar, a type of white stone that was quarried from the surrounding volcanoes, which have given the city the nickname of “La ciudad blanca” in Spanish or “White City” in English. Right in the middle of it all you will find the historic city center which is made out of 332 hectares of natural scenery, cultural sites, Spanish colonial architecture and a unique style known as “Escuela Arequipeña“.
What to see
Any first time tourist would start the tour of this city from the main square known as Plaza de Armas. Here you can notice that all the wonderful buildings surrounding the plaza are made out of sillar and it will give you the first taste of what the city has to offer. Just 3 blocks away from the main square, you can visit the San Camilo Market, the oldest market in the city and the most popular one. For those who would like to dig a little more into the culture of this wonderful city and still keep close to the plaza, you can visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos where the Juanita Mummy is or the Convento de Santa Catalina building, which is usually described as a city within a city due to its intricate architecture with little walkways, beautiful colors and wonderful flowers.
For those who have time on their hands and wish to dig more into the culture of this lovely Peruvian city there are plenty more to see. Convento de Santa Teresa is another gorgeous building, smaller than Convento de Santa Catalina and less appealing from an architectural point of view but the same or even more interesting culturally. It is a little off the beaten track but will be worth your while. Puente Fierro is a lovely iron bridge designed by Eiffel and considered a technological jewel of the city. In the old countryside tourists can get to visit the Molino de Sabandia which is a 3 century old water mill or the Mansión del Fundador, a renovated old Spanish Colonial Mansion.
What to do
The town of Arequipa can be considered a place of many possibilities. When you are done visiting and sightseeing you can take advantage of the many learning possibilities and take a few courses. You can enjoy a wonderful cooking experience and get introduced into the Peruvian Cuisine. Take on an extreme challenge and participate in downhill volcano biking or go the other way and go volcano climbing. And for those who are not scared of a little splash, you can go whitewater rafting on some of the best rivers in Peru.
Where to shop
Souvenir shopping is one of the best parts of traveling and this places makes no exception. If you have time and want to go the extra mile when it comes to souvenirs and gifts for friends and family, we have a few suggestions for where to find the best products and at the best deals. In the Chivay area you can find the most amazing hats, purses and and hand crafted products, most of which are decorated with the most beautiful and colored embroidery which bears the name of “maquinaza style“. Another great place for hand crafted products is a gallery featuring several small and charming boutiques by the name of “Mercado Artesanal“. Patio del Ekeko is an entire building which hosts boutiques and shops perfect for gift and souvenir shopping and, when you get tired of it all, the cafeteria awaits with great snacks and cooling beverages.