Places to Visit in Arequipa, the White City of Arequipa has a historical heritage of immeasurable value. It boasts one of the most exquisite cuisines in Peru and in the whole world. Another key point is that, due to its unique climate, almost every day of the year is sunny with a clear blue sky. In Arequipa, every evening is as sweet as cinnamon. A fascinating mixture of pre-Inca, Inca and colonial influence is present in the architecture of its innumerable archaeological centers, temples, mansions and venerably old buildings. Additionally, Arequipa is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Peru, and it is famous for the beauty of its monuments, its fabulous snow-capped mountains, its fertile valleys, its scenic countryside, its precious waterfalls, its medicinal thermal baths, its fiery volcanoes and its incredibly deep canyons.
A few of the world-class tourist destinations in Arequipa are the Colca Canyon, the Santa Catalina Monastery and the Misti Volcano. Furthermore, to this list we can add various adventure activities, lots of sites of interest, natural and scenic wonders, archaeological and cultural complexes, colonial mansions and houses built of ashlars, age-old customs, traditions, culture, and great food. Surly, you will be made to feel very welcome in Arequipa, because the people are warm and extroverted. Step out in the evening and sample some of the White City’s extraordinary nightlife
In fact, for a memorable trip to the stately and volcanic city of Arequipa, we present to you our list of the Best Places to Visit in Arequipa.
Colca Valley Arequipa
The beautiful Colca Valley is located at 3,600 meters above sea level and is in the Chivay district, to the northeast of the city of Arequipa. This is an extensive, fertile valley where more than 8,000 hectares of pre-Incan terraces have been found. Moreover, it is a place full of history, living culture, pre-Inca ruins, and colorful tradition.
In addition, the Valley is not only famous only for the agricultural fertility of its lands, for its legendary past, and for its healing thermal baths, but also because it is the site of two of Peru’s greatest tourist attractions: the imposing Colca Canyon and the amazing Cross of the Condor Overlook. From this point you can observe the magical flight of the condors and the incomparable beauty of the Andes Mountain Range.
The Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon is one of the deepest and most impressive canyons in the world. It is located in the Colca Valley, and it is at the top of the list of tourist destinations in Arequipa. You will find it ideal for hiking and for extreme sports like canoeing, mountaineering, mountain climbing, fishing, trekking, and more
Cross of the Condor Viewpoint
This is a spectacular overlook located on the very edge of the Colca Canyon. Without a doubt, from here you can observe the wild condors rising up out of the canyon as they ride the thermal updrafts. Additionally, you can gaze down into the canyon, and view the other flora and fauna of the area. Also, across the canyon, you can see the scenic beauty of the Coropuna and Ampato volcanoes.
Hot Spring Baths in the Colca Valley
There is nothing like a refreshing session in natural thermal baths of the Colca Valley. The medicinal properties of the water provide for the body, and beauty of the setting enables a person to fully relax and forget the hum-drum worries of the day. Undoubtedly, every journey deserves a moment of rest and tranquility. After a day full of exploration and visiting new sites, it is good to relax your body and your soul.
During your next vacation in the Arequipa region, go ahead and experience the best of the thermal hot springs of the Colca Valley and also in the city of Arequipa. These two destinations in the region offer a large number of thermo-medicinal hot springs. Undeniably, you can make the most of this experience while your bathe away any soreness and gaze off into the distance at the impossibly beautiful Andes. Without a doubt, this is a magnificent plan that will perfectly complement your stay in this fabulous region in the south of Peru.
Specifically, one of the most famous of these thermal baths is La Calera. Here the volcanic waters are rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, chlorides, sulfates and bicarbonates. So, the water has a temperature of 60 °C (140 °F), and it is highly recommended for its healing properties as it relieves muscle tension and nerve ailments.
This magical place of turquoise blue water is located 6 minutes by car from Chivay. Furthermore, it is an ideal place to enjoy a relaxing bath and take a break on your trip between Arequipa and the Colca Valley – Chivay. Afternoon is the most charming part of the day at these springs. But it is best to keep in mind that La Calera Hot Springs are only open until 6:00 pm.
Santa Catalina Monastery
The Santa Catalina Monastery is a religious tourist attraction that is located in the historic center of the White City of Arequipa. In fact, it is one of the most fascinating religious buildings in Peru, and it was built around 1579 as closed convent for nuns who generally were the daughters of the most distinguished and the wealthiest families of Arequipa.
Inside the Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena is a small walled city with cloisters, squares, streets, and small houses with tiled roofs and cobbled floors. Interestingly, the entire complex was built out of two types of ashlars: white ashlar that comes from the Chachani volcano, and pink ashlar that comes from the Misti volcano. So this is one of the most popular Places to visit in Arequipa.
The beautiful convent of Santa Catalina occupies a space of more than 20,000 square meters. Despite being located within the heart of the city of Arequipa, it was completely isolated from the city. Emphatically, a tall, solid wall 4 meters high separated the nuns who lived inside the monastery from the outside world.
On your trip to Arequipa, you shouldn’t miss the Santa Catalina Monastery. Not only is it a place where you will observe beautiful carvings and valuable colonial paintings from the Cusqueña School of Fine Arts, but it is also a town unto itself where you visit neighborhoods and secluded areas of this small citadel built in mud and ashlar, whose walls are covered with magnificent frescoes. Don’t forget to explore the Portal of the Monastery, the Patio of Silence, the Cloister of the Orange Trees, the Main Cloister, the Kitchen, the Laundry, the Bell Tower, and the Church.
Arequipa’s Main Square
The Plaza de Armas of the City of Arequipa is located in the heart of the White City. Ideally, it is the starting point for many a walking tour of Arequipa. Also, if you hang out on the Plaza, you will meet people from lots of different countries, and perhaps catch a religious procession. In addition, it is an ideal place to sit in a cafe and enjoy the local cuisine while observing the surrounding baroque constructions.
From the beautiful Plaza de Armas of Arequipa you will be able to observe the two sentinels that guard the city: El Misti and Chachani. Likewise, on the square, you can also appreciate the Basilica of the Cathedral of Arequipa and its mythical colonial arches. Today the Plaza de Armas of Arequipa is one of the most popular places in the region and it is the meeting place for thousands of people from all over the world.
The Basilica of the Cathedral of Arequipa
The majestic Cathedral of Arequipa is one of the most important architectural symbols of Arequipa. Within its colonial walls, the Catholic faith of the Arequipan people is safeguarded. Unquestionably, it is also the most important Catholic church in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Arequipa.
Constructed between 1621 and 1656, it is built entirely of ashlar. This symbol of faith has had to be rebuilt several times over the course of the centuries. The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1844 and by earthquake of 1868 and thanks to this fact, the faith of its devotees is today as strong as its rock-solid walls and its deep foundations.
The style of the church is Neo-Renaissance with a certain Gothic influence. Its façade is made up of seventy columns with Corinthian capitals, three portals and two large lateral arches. One of the great treasures of the church that is hidden within is the gigantic, imported organ of Belgian origin. It’s one of the largest in South America, during your next vacation in Peru, don’t forget to visit this magnificent site in the heart of the White City of Arequipa..
Jesuit Church and the Complex of Society of Jesus in Arequipa
The Jesuit Church and attached complex is comprised of a set of houses and religious buildings that were erected by the Jesuits during the 1650’s and the 1660’s. Indubitably, all of these buildings taken together form a representative monument which is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of the mestizo religious architecture that was typical of the 17th century Peru.
What stands out most is the Jesuit church which was designed by Gaspar Báez in 1573, destroyed by an earthquake in 1584, and rebuilt in 1650. Likewise, inside the church, the polychromatic dome of San Ignacio is gorgeous during the daylight hours. Additionally of note are the 60 canvases from the Cusqueña School of Fine Arts which were painted by such renowned artists as Bernardo Bitti and Diego de la Puente, and hand-carved wooden altarpieces.
The famous Yanahuara Overlook is an impressive set of arches built from ashlar that is located on one side of the Yanahuara Plaza. From this location, you can see Arequipa in all of its splendor. Indeed, all around you you’ll observe the old mansions, the narrow-cobbled streets, the three imposing volcanoes that shelter the White City (Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu), and the beautiful blue sky of Arequipa..
The construction of the Lookout Point of Yanahuara dates back to the 19th century. Obviously, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in Arequipa. What stands out here is the magnificent panoramic view of the city. Additionally, engraved on its ashlar arches are the thoughts which wise Arequipans have written over the centuries.
On the right side of the Yanahuara viewpoint is the baroque-style church of San Juan de Yanahuara (built in 1750). This plaza is also famous for its large number of first-class restaurants. Visitors are frequently surprised by their incredibly delicious dishes.
Aguada Blanca National Reserve
The Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve is a vast expanse of Andean land that is home to abundant wildlife and is peppered by dormant volcanoes. This reserve was created in 1979 in order to protect the South American camelids that inhabit the area: vicuñas, alpacas, guanacos and llamas. It is located in the two provinces of Arequipa and Caylloma, and it is more than 4,300 meters above sea level 366,936 hectares are protected.
Besides the camelids, the reserve has beautiful lagoons which comprise the habitat of flamingos, Andean ducks and a host of migratory birds. Majestic volcanoes (Misti, Chachani, Pichu Pichu and Ubinas) lay within its boundaries. Here on the high plains and in the verdant mountain valleys, local poeople have been living in perfect harmony with nature for thousands of years.
Within the reserve you can see ancient petroglyphs and cave paintings in the Sumbay Caves, at the Puruña Stone Forest and close to the Salinas Lagoon. Also, you can trek up the Misti Volcano or the Chachani Volcano. In fact, this site is listed as one of the most outstanding places in South America for taking pictures of the sunsets and the sunrises.
Scenic Reserve of Cotohuasi
The Cotahuasi Sub-Basin Scenic Reserve is located in the province of La Unión. It is one of the great places to visit in Arequipa. This Reserve is a protected area where the biological diversity, the cultural variations, and the beauty of the landscape are preserved. Likewise, one of the deepest and most spectacular canyons in the world is located here. Cotahuasi Canyon is also known as the Canyon of Wonders.
Within the boundaries of Cotahuasi you can find the Sipia Waterfall, the Luicho Hot Springs, the Huarmunta Rock Forest, the Llamocca Fortress, the glacier covered Mt. Firura and many other beautiful natural landscapes.
Cotohuasi is the perfect setting to practice adventure sports, such as: trekking, canoeing, paragliding, hang gliding, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding. Also, it is a place where ancient traditions and customs are still preserved. Today, peasants work the land with ancient tools and perform ancient rituals to protect the land and ask for abundant harvests. Currently thousands of travelers visit this enchanting destination every year.
Have you ever wondered where the ashlar comes from? Ashlars are the white volcanic blocks which were used in the construction of most of the colonial buildings of Arequipa, the answer is: they come from the Añashuayco quarries.
The Añashuayco ashlar quarries are deposits where white volcanic ashlar, the main architectural material of the White City, is extracted and carved. It is located in the Añashuayco ravine, in the Cerro Colorado district, 14 kilometers northeast of Arequipa.
Recently, the Añashuayco Quarries have become another one of the main tourist destinations in Arequipa. Every day hundreds of travelers come up the hill to visit it. They are able to delight their eyes, and to actually make small sculptures out of the ashlar. In addition, apart from seeing the large stone blocks being extracted, travelers can also participate in the demonstration of the cutting and the carving of ashlar blocks.
Places to Visit in Arequipa
Are you a traveler looking for new experiences? Do you need to escape the routine and the big crowds? Are you looking for an incredible unique place to visit, where you can really enjoy your vacation? Come to the White City and explore the best tourist destinations in Arequipa. At the same time, you will gain access to the White City’s great historical and cultural legacy. We invite to you visit the most important Places to Visit in Arequipa. Explore Peru Travel Package 13 Days.