Backpackers Guide to Arequipa – Peru

Arequipa is the colonial-era capital of Peru’s Arequipa Region. Its historic center is anchored by the Plaza de Armas, a stately main square flanked on its north by the 17th-century neoclassical Basilica Cathedral, which houses a museum displaying religious objects and artwork.

I absolutely loved my trip to Arequipa, but found you could see most things within a day. Arequipa is a great place to base yourself for the Colca Canyon hike, which is a MUST DO for hiking lovers and adventure seeker.

Areqipa Peru Photography

What to do

Arequipa is such a beautiful city but there really isn’t a lot to do.  You could see all the main sights in one day if you needed to.

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 at 10am and 3pm from the Tourist Information Centre at Plaza De Armas. The tour will take you to all major attractions within the city.


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.

Arequipa Look Out 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.


I preferred Mirador De Yanahuara but if you have a day to fill in, why not check them both out.

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: from Arequipa. 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.


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.

Colca Canyon

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 wont have to wake up at 3am. 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.

Condors 3


Colca Canyon HikeIMG_1285

Summer: December – February

Winter: June – August

I recommend travelling to Arequipa/Peru in winter, as it is 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.

Where to stay

Samana Wasi Hostel: Is in a decent location, just 4 blocks from the main square. This hostel is cheap, clean and the staff are 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 is amazing. The lady cooking it was so happy and served us bread with eggs and avocado, tea or coffee and freshly squeezed juice. A great breakfast to start the day.

You can search for cheap accommodation options here.

See more from Peru here. 


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