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

Arequipa is easy to navigate on foot and it’s a pretty city to discover that way. If you’ve just arrived and want to get to grips quickly, take one of the free walking tours (tips encouraged, no booking necessary) which leave from the Plaza de Armas at 10 a.m and 3 p.m.These walks offer visitors a great opportunity to learn about Arequipa’s history, traditions, legends and take you to all major attractions within the city.

Visit one of the Viewpoints in Arequipa

Mirador De Yanahuara

This viewpoint 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

Check both viewpoints out, they 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

Colca Canyon is one of the main attractions 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.

The hike into Colca Canyon is strenuous, but doable with some hiking experience and a basic level of fitness.

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 recommend the two or three-day hike so you can experience the depths of Colca 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

The winter is the driest season and therefore, May – September is the best time of year to visit Peru.

Recommended length of stay

I recommend staying in Arequipa for a total of 4 days. In the 4 days, you can 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

The best area to stay in Arequipa is the Plaza De Armas. Within this area, you will find lots of backpackers/hostels.

We stayed at Samana Wasi Hostel: This hostel was just 4 blocks from thePlaza De Armas. 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.

Search for cheap accommodation options/backpackers in Arequipa here.

Getting to Arequipa

You can get to Arequipa from any destination in Peru using the Cruz Del Sue bus service. This is my guide to getting around Peru safely. 

Travel Insurance for Arequipa

Travel insurance is a necessity when planning a trip to Arequipa. I recommend World Nomads.  If you are still unsure if you should buy travel insurance or not, read this. 

Safety in Arequipa

Arequipa feels like a relatively safe destination to travel to, but safety precautions are recommended.

  • Avoid flashing your valuables
  • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
  • Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
  • Remain aware of your surrounding
  • Avoid unknown streets at night
  • Don’t drink too much

See more tips for keeping safe when travelling. 

Language in Peru

The official language in Peru is Spanish. Limited locals will speak English.

Vaccinations for Arequipa

Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when planning a trip to Arequipa. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Arequipa, I recommend consulting a doctor.

Packing for a trip to Arequipa

Some essentials I recommend packing for Arequipa are:

  • Hiking Shoes
  • Warm, waterproof clothing
  • Insect Repellant
  • A travel towel
  • A good book

Overseas Travel Checklist

Book a tour in Peru

Book Accommodation in Peru

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More of my Destination Guides from Peru

Getting around Peru – Safe options for solo travellers

12 Tips for backpacking South America

10 Backpacking Essentials

Pin – Backpackers Guide to Arequipa

Disclosure: This post on things to do in Arequipa contains affiliate links.

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