Backpackers Guide to Arequipa – Peru

Things to do in Arequipa

Arequipa is a gorgeous colonial-era city found in the South of Peru. Arequipa is surrounded by 3 volcanos creating stunning views as you explore the historical town. The city is without a doubt, stunning, but there isn’t a great lot to do in Arequipa. I found you could see most things within one day. Arequipa is a great place to base yourself for the Colca Canyon hike, which is a MUST DO for experienced hikers and adventure seekers. Read the story of my trip to Colca Canyon here.

Things to do in Arequipa

Arequipa is such a beautiful city but there really isn’t a lot to do.

Take a free city walking tour: These walks offer visitors a great opportunity to learn about Arequipa’s history, traditions, legends and more. The tours leave from the Tourist Information Centre at Plaza De Armas. The tour will take you to all major attractions within the city.

Viewpoints in Arequipa

Mirador De Yanahuara: I highly recommend this viewpoint, it offers amazing views of the city and surrounding Volcanos, as you can see in the picture I took below!  It takes about 20 minutes to walk to this viewpoint from Plaza De Armas.

Things to do in Arequipa

Mirador Carmen Alto: Another viewpoint offering views of Arequipa and the surrounding Volcanos. From Mirador De Yanahuara take a taxi for 5 soles or 10 soles return to Mirador Carmen Alto.

Things to do in Arequipa

I recommend checking both viewpoints out, they are beautiful and offer great photo opportunities.

Colca Canyon

You can’t go to Arequipa and not see Colca Canyon. Colca Canyon is Peru’s third most visited tourist destination, with a depth of 4,160m, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US. IT IS VERY IMPRESSIVE. When visiting Colca Canyon, you have a few options;

Day Trip: The day trip will take you to the famous Cruz del Condor Viewpoint where you can see the Condors soaring over the Canyon.  You will also stop at a few other viewpoints to get some photos from the top of the Canyon.

Things to do in Arequipa

Hiking tours: Take a 2 or 3-day hiking tour through Colca Canyon. Both hiking tours take you from the top edge of the Canyon to the deepest section then back up the Canyon. They include a stop at Cruz Del Condor viewpoint where you can admire the condors and a number of other viewpoints.

As an experienced hiker, I would class the two-day hike as strenuous, but doable with some experience and a basic level of fitness.

Only take the three-day hike if you are experienced and love hiking as it is extremely challenging terrain.

Chivay day trip: Spend a night in Chivay and explore the Canyon from there. Chivay is closer to the Canyon so you won’t have to wake up at 3 am. Take a bus to Chivay from Arequipa, spend the night and plan your trip to Colca Canyon from there.

I would recommend the two-day hike as you still to experience the depths of the Canyon and see the incredible condors. The photos below were taken on my two-day hiking tour through the Canyon.

Things to do in Arequipa

Things to do in Arequipa

Things to do in Arequipa

Things to do in Arequipa

Climate in Arequipa

Summer: December – February

Winter: June – August

I recommend travelling to Arequipa/Peru in winter, which is the dry season.

Recommended length of stay

I recommend staying in Arequipa for a total of 4 days. In the 4 days spend 2 days in Arequipa and take a 2-day hiking trip into Colca Canyon. Spend one day in Arequipa on either side of the hike.

Places to stay in Arequipa

We stayed at Samana Wasi Hostel: This hostel was in a decent location, just 4 blocks from the main square. This hostel was cheap, clean and the staff were super friendly and helpful. The staff don’t speak much English but this is a great thing if you are trying to improve your Spanish skills. The free breakfast was amazing, made fresh every morning by the happiest lady. We got served bread with eggs and avocado, tea or coffee and freshly squeezed juice. A great breakfast to start the day.

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