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10 Best places to see in Arequipa

Arequipa is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, the white city is an essential stop on your trip to Peru.

In this post I tell you the essential places that you must visit in Arequipa and that you cannot miss. Don't know whether to include this city on your itinerary through Peru? Keep reading and you will see that at the end of the article you will have no doubts!

que ver en Arequipa, Perú


To start getting to know the city, I recommend that you book this free tour. It's free! and you can enjoy a tour of the downtown area of ​​the city with a local guide.

The historic center of the city is beautiful and it is not surprising that it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000. The city is located next to the Chili River and between the Misti, Chachani and Pichi Pichu volcanoes, at a relatively low altitude (2300 meters). All this makes this whole area a very active seismic zone and there are usually earthquakes every year, especially near the Colca Canyon.

It was founded in the mid-16th century by the Spanish. Arequipa was the capital of Peru after independence for almost 50 years. Although the people of Arequipa were very faithful to the crown, once independent, and several revolutions were born from this city. It is also the birthplace of important Peruvian intellectuals. The most famous of all is the Nobel laureate and writer Mario Vargas Llosa.

Arequipa is known as "the White City". This is because of sillar, a type of stone with which the most emblematic buildings in the city center are built and which give Arequipa this very white tone.

Ideally, you should spend at least two full days in the city of Arequipa. And now yes, I begin to detail the list of essential places that you must visit in Arequipa:

1. The monastery of Santa Catalina, an essential place that you must visit in Arequipa

The Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena is the most essential place that you must visit in Arequipa. It is a huge monastery, it is almost 20,000 square meters in size, and it is in the heart of the city. It gives the feeling of being more of a village than a monastery. It was built with the typical Arequipa white ashlar, coming from the Chachani volcano. It also has details in red ashlar, which come from Misti.

Arches, domes, colours, alleys, works of art, super-vivid walls in white, blue, orange… The Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena is a real beauty! For photography lovers, you will spend hours exploring every corner. There is always something new or some interesting detail!

The monastery of Santa Catalina is huge as I was telling you. There are many different rooms, courtyards and intricate alleys. Even so, getting your bearings is not difficult and, in addition, with your ticket they give you a map. Although a good idea is to hire a guided tour, since that way you will discover all the history of this beautiful place. I leave you the link in case you want to see what the visit includes and you can book:

que ver en Arequipa, Perú

If you decide to go on your own, these are the places in the Monastery that you cannot miss:

  • The portal or main facade: It is the entrance to the convent, in a gray and simple color, which completely deceives you and you cannot imagine what is inside... This simple arch has, just above, a small image of Santa Catalina de Siena , to whom the monastery is dedicated.

  • The church of the monastery of Santa Catalina: What stands out the most about the church are the confessionals, the silver altar and the organ.

  • Pinacoteca: Here you can see several of the works of art that are in the convent.

  • The Bell Tower: In addition to four bells, if you go up to the tower there are good views of the city and the Misti volcano. Without a doubt, if you want to take a panoramic photograph of the city, this is the best option!

  • The cloister of the Orange trees: It is beautiful! This cloister is all deep blue. That contrasts with the green of the trees and plants.

  • The Greater Cloister: This cloister in an orange tone, and if you ask me which one is prettier, I wouldn't know how to tell you. That is why the Monastery of Santa Catalina is so special.

  • Patio del Silencio: One of the most popular sites in the monastery, thanks to the inscription of the word “silence” written on one of its orange arches.

  • The kitchen: It is a rather curious place, with a well and different ancient cooking instruments. There are still the black marks on the wall, the result of cooking with charcoal.

  • The Laundry: There you can see part of the channel that was used to transport water, and various clay pots, where food was kept.

que ver en Arequipa, Perú

2. The Cathedral of Arequipa and the Plaza de Armas

The Basilica Cathedral of Santa María is one of the most impressive monuments in the city of Arequipa. It is huge, made of white stone and completely dominates the Plaza de Armas. It is the first thing you see and impresses.

The Cathedral of Arequipa was built in the 17th century, and was one of the first Catholic temples in the city. Even so, as it is a seismic area and the city has suffered several earthquakes, several reconstructions have been necessary. As we know it today, it was inaugurated in 1844, once Peru was already an independent country. The last restoration was in 2001, after one of its towers collapsed due to another earthquake.

It is in the Renaissance style, and also has a colonial touch that can be seen with the naked eye.

The entrance to what is the church is free, and there are always religious people praying. Remember to be respectful!

In the Cathedral there is a museum that can be visited from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it is closed on Sundays. You have to enter from the side and it is possible to take a guided tour.

que ver en Arequipa, Perú

3. The Main Square of Arequipa

It is impossible to get to Arequipa and not go near the Plaza de Armas. Is beautiful! It has areas with benches, full of trees and huge palm trees that protect you from the sun, people talking, children playing ball and music. There is always music.

Arequipa's Plaza de Armas is surrounded by impressive and rather long buildings, in white. Previously they were government buildings, but today they are hotels, restaurants, banks and some shops.

4. The market of San Camilo de Arequipa

This market is the largest and the oldest in the city, with more than 100 years.

There you will find many fruits, vegetables, legumes, clothes... I always love the atmosphere of the markets, so I don't miss any.

Upstairs there are tables and stalls with prepared and ready-to-eat food, so it tends to be packed around lunchtime. It's a good idea to eat here if you want to eat cheap in Arequipa. Open every day from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening.

5. The church of the Society of Jesus

In the Plaza de Armas in a corner, which almost goes unnoticed, is the church of the Company of Jesus, another of the essential places that you must visit in Arequipa. We didn't see it the first time, it was when after wandering around the market, we went back to the main square to have dinner.

It was built by the Jesuits and the construction lasted more than a century and finally in 1698 the works finished and it opened its doors. Its style is mestizo baroque and it is made of white ashlar.

The facade is what stands out the most, as it has some reliefs with many details.

It is possible to enter to see it, and you must bear in mind that you have to pay to enter the chapel of San Ignacio (2 soles). The chapel has a colorful dome with nature motifs. You can also visit the cloisters dating from the eighteenth century.

6. Complex of San Francisco de Asís

The complex of San Francisco de Asís was built in the 16th century, in colonial style. The church is made entirely of stone. The altar to the golden virgin stands out.

The entrance to the church is free. If you want to see more, there is a museum, a cloister and good views from the top floor. You will have to pay about 10 soles, although for a little more there is the possibility of taking a guide.

7. Viewpoints of the city of Arequipa with the volcanoes in the background

Arequipa is in a volcanic and seismic zone, so there are several nearby volcanoes, although the most famous is El Misti. There are also different viewpoints so you can have panoramic views of the city with the volcano in the background. But you won't have time to see them all, so these are some of the most popular and easily accessible:

Yanahuara: With views of the Misti volcano, about 2 kilometers from the center. You can walk there without problem or you can take a taxi for a couple of soles.

Mirador del Carmen Alto: It is more on the outskirts, so you will see a more rural landscape and the area is beautiful. You must arrive by taxi and ask him to wait for you to go back to the city.

Sachaca: From this viewpoint you can also see the Misti volcano, but this viewpoint is 4 kilometers from Arequipa. Here you will have to pay 2 soles if you want to climb the tower. Although without going up the tower you also have beautiful views. Being further away they usually ask you more for the taxi, in addition to telling you that if they have to wait they charge a little more. Ask the hotel for the approximate price first, since they advise you the real price that they should charge you and then negotiate with the taxi driver before getting into the taxi.

Arequipa is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, it is a very green area and wherever you look there is nature. It is also a growing area, where corn, potatoes and quinoa are the protagonists of the fields of Arequipa.

que ver en Arequipa, Perú

8. The museum of the Andean Sanctuaries and the Juanita mummy

Along with the monastery of Santa Catalina and the cathedral, the museum of the Andean Sanctuaries is one of the essential places that you must visit in Arequipa.

This museum was inaugurated in 1996 and is part of the Catholic University of Santa María in Arequipa. Just a year later, Juanita had been discovered, the "ice girl" who is the most popular thing in the museum and the main reason to visit it.

It is believed that Juanita was an adolescent, in good health and quite beautiful, who was sacrificed to the gods in the mid-15th century in the Andes. She was killed with a blow to the head and was buried in a jar, as was customary in her culture.

Currently, Juanita's mummy is in a glass case in the middle of a room where you can't take photos, but you can get close enough to see it.

And although Juanita is the main reason to visit the museum, the museum is also worth it for its various pre-Inca objects (vessels, coins, clothing…).

When paying the entrance you have the guided tour included, which lasts half an hour.

This museum is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Sundays when it closes at 3 p.m. The entrance costs 20 soles and includes the guided tour.


Apart from the two guided tours that you have added during the post, if you want to make excursions to the outskirts I recommend that you include more days in Arequipa, since they are long excursions or you will even have to stay in another place. Of course, they are cool places to know.

A very beautiful area is the Colca Canyon, which I talk about in another post: What to see and how to visit the Colca Canyon. If you still have days left to visit Peru or you are organizing the itinerary, the Colca Canyon is beautiful, so you can read the post to decide if it fits with your trip.

9. Visit the Colca Canyon

You can visit the Colca Canyon in two ways (if you want to do it with a tour):

10. More excursions to do from Arequipa

que ver en Arequipa, Perú


Ideally, you should stay as close to the center as possible. At night there is a lot of atmosphere, a variety of places to eat and have a drink. Here are some recommendations:


I hope you enjoy your trip to Peru a lot and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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