Everything to Know About Visiting the White City Peru, Arequipa

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Known as “the white city” of Peru, Arequipa is the country's second largest city. In our opinion, it is also one of the most picturesque. We have chosen the best things to do in Arequipa to help you make the most of this beautiful city.

We suggest spending a day or two in this great place to enjoy its beautiful plazas, gorgeous views, and delicious food!

As one of our favorite cities in Peru, Arequipa is a must for your Peruvian travels. In this guide we're going to cover everything you need to know about visiting. Here are some awesome ways to enjoy this city, and its surroundings.

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Where is the White City of Peru, Arequipa Located?

When it comes to the location inside of Peru, Arequipa is situated in the south east of the country. The country of Peru is along the west coast of South America, centrally located between Ecuador (to the north) and Chile (to the south). Brazil borders Peru to the north east, and Bolivia borders it to the south east.

Where is Peru, Arequipa

Arequipa is in the south west of Peru.

How to Get to the White City of Peru, Arequipa

Despite being located in the very south of Peru, Arequipa is still pretty well connected to plenty of other cities. Being that it is the second biggest city in the country, it does in fact have its own airport, as well has a well connected bus station.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Peru". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Arequipa direct.

Search for a flight to Arequipa or nearby:

The airport is about a half hour from the city center by car. Depending on traffic however, this can vary greatly. There are plenty of taxis, Ubers, and buses that go from the airport to the center. Cities that fly into Arequipa are only domestic, and include Piura, Trujillo, Cusco, and the most frequent being Lima.

The bus station is located right inside the city, and is less than a 10 minute drive from the main square in Arequipa. There are buses to many major cities within Peru, such as Lima, Cusco, Nazca, and much more. There are also plenty of companies that depart regularly, and you can book directly at whichever bust station.

If you'd like to book your tickets in advance to Arequipa, here are a few popular routes:

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Entry Requirements for Peru, Arequipa, & South America

Before planning a trip somewhere new, you'll need to keep in mind the different requirements for visiting the country. Here's everything you need to know for traveling to Peru, Arequipa, and South America in general.

Visa Requirements for Peru

Most nationalities from the area of the Americas and Western Europe can visit Peru without the need for a visa for up to 183 days. The only thing you'll need to bring is your passport, with a validity of a minimum of 6 months from the date of departure. Those from ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilChileColombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay may visit the country with just their national identity document. If you'd like to know if you need a visa, make sure to consult your local embassy.

We also suggest getting your yellow fever vaccine, since it can be a risk, and is required in many countries throughout South America.

Covid Requirements for Peru

Peru currently requires travelers to either be fully vaccinated, or to have a negative Covid-19 test result within 48 hours of flying. Make sure to keep your vaccination card on you at all times, as certain places will require it in order to enter into their establishments. Also make sure to carry a mask on you, as they are still required on public transportation throughout Peru (updated December 2022).

Peru no longer has any requirements in place in regards to Covid-19.

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Local Adjustments for Arequipa, Peru

Traveling to another country means that a lot of things may vary. Here are a few of the things to keep in mind when traveling to the white city of Peru, Arequipa.

What Language Does Arequipa Speak?

The official language in Arequipa, Peru is Spanish. It is very helpful to learn the basics, so that you don't get taken advantage of.

Currency in Arequipa & Peru

The official currency in Peru is the sol. At the time that we had gone to Peru, the exchange was 3 soles for every one USD. Now (as of April 2024) the exchange is 3.71 soles for every dollar.

What Plug Adapter Do I Need for Arequipa, Peru?

While mostly the same type of plug (type A) is used in most of northern Peru, Arequipa and other parts of the southern region of Peru use what's known as C-type outlets (European style). The entire country runs on 220-volt currents, which is much higher than The US's 110 volt usage.

This means that even though the plugs look the same, you should get an energy converter so that your electronics don't burn out.

Tipping in Peru

The average tipping standard in Arequipa is 10-15% while dining out.

Things to Do in the White City of Peru, Arequipa

As one of the most popular cities in the country, it's no wonder there is plenty to do! Here are our favorite things to do in the white city of Peru-Arequipa.

1. Stroll Around the Historic Center

The architecture is so beautiful in many parts of Peru, Arequipa in particular though. This city has some of the most gorgeous buildings in Peru. With its volcanic sillar rock, Baroque decorations, archways, and courtyards, it’s the perfect place to wander around to enjoy your surroundings.

2. Visit Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas is the highlight of the historical center in Arequipa. Here you can visit the Basilica Cathedral, enjoy the greenery, or dine on a balcony with the best views. 

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa Peru

Plaza de Armas is the heart of Arequipa's city center.

4. Check out the Alpaca Factory

Mundo Alpaca is a great place to learn, interact with alpacas, and to shop. Here you can take a free tour about how Alpaca fur is used for clothing, blankets, and home decor.

You can also feed the Alpacas, and learn about the different breeds of this animal. Finish off by a selection of the softest, most beautiful items in their certified store of baby Alpaca products.

mundo alpaca, arequipa
mundo alpaca, Arequipa
mundo alpaca, Arequipa, Peru

Mundo Alpaca shows you the whole process of how the Alpaca wool is made.

Here are a few tours that include Alpaca World:

5. Walk around the Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Located in the historic center of Arequipa, lies a 435 year old monastery. With its adobe brick structure, and colorful walls, it is such a beautiful area to stroll around.

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Arequipa Peru Pin

6. Enjoy the Views from Plaza de Yanahuara

Just about a twenty minute walk from the historic center, lies the suburb of Yanahuara. The Plaza here offers a beautiful church, a garden lined with palm trees, and souvenir kiosks. It also has some stunning views of the city with its volcanic backdrop.

Plaza de Yanahuaru, things to do in Arequipa Peru

Plaza de Yanahuaru has beautiful views of the city below

7. Shop around at Mercado San Camilo

This covered outdoor market offers a range of fresh produce, meats, crafts, and local food. Mercado San Camilo is a great place to go to soak in the true local vibes of Arequipa Peru.

Many things in Peru are cash only, so we suggest withdrawing some Peruvian Soles from an ATM.

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8. Try the Local Cuisine

Peru has a lot of great dishes, but Arequipa has quite a few specialties of its own! Check out some things that you must try if you are visiting this white city of Peru, Arequipa.

Rocoto Relleno, food in Arequipa Peru

Arequipa has some of the best dishes in Peru.

Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado, although not particular to Arequipa itself, is one of the most popular Peruvian dishes. This traditional meal is a stir fry that typically combines marinated strips of sirloin with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and other ingredients, and is typically served with rice.

Rocoto Relleno

This is an Arequipa favorite! These chili peppers that are grown in the Andes, come stuffed with meat and served with scalloped potatoes. Be careful though, they can be very spicy!

Ají de gallina

This Peruvian chicken stew  is considered a type of comfort food, comprising chicken cooked with yellow chili peppers, walnuts, spices, garlic, and turmeric. The dish uses aji amarillo peppers, which are yellow, mildly spicy peppers.

Queso Helado

Although it is translated as “frozen cheese”, queso helado is so much better than it sounds! A frozen, ice cream like treat, made from sweetened condensed milk, you can find this desert sold on the streets for just a few soles.

This is something that we found only in Arequipa. Not only does it satisfy your sweet tooth, but it is refreshing as well!

queso helado, Arequipa Peru

Queso helado is great for cooling off from the heat in Arequipa.

Pisco Sour

A South American favorite, you can’t go to Peru without trying a pisco sour! This alcoholic cocktail comes from pisco, which is its base liquor, and is accompanied with sour citrus juice and sweetener components, with a foamy top.

Pisco Sour in Arequipa Peru

Pisco Sours are a popular local cocktail in Arequipa.

One of our favorite things to do while traveling is to experience the cuisine, as well as learn about it. Here are a fun interactive cooking experiences to sign up for in the white city of Peru, Arequipa.

Best Things to Do in Arequipa Peru: Places to Visit Nearby

Surrounded by the Andes, and three different volcanoes, it is no surprise that there is plenty of great nature to visit outside the city! Here are a few.

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This is a volcanic complex  located just 22 kilometres northwest of the city. Part of the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes, it is 6,057 metres above sea level. It consists of several lava domes and individual volcanoes. 

It is possible to visit on your own, if you can find where the trails are. Excursions are easily available from Arequipa, and are a little more recommended. It takes about two days to climb to the top, and leaves you with some stunning views! The weather is about the same year-round, making it accessible at any time.

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Misti Volcano

This is the most well known of the three volcanoes surrounding Arequipa, and the most visible, with its snow capped top. As this volcano in is 5,825 meters above sea level, the trek to reach the summit takes 2 days. Plenty of local tour operators offer this particular trek, as it is very popular. 

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Here are some great excursions with Misti Volcano:

Colca Canyon

Meet the Grand Canyon of Peru! It's actually 4,160 meters deep, making it twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. If you're in Arequipa, then this is a must do for your stay in Peru.

Located a few hours away, you can do an organized tour there, or you can get the local bus there on your own. There are several ways to go about visiting on your own, which we will explain further in our Colca Canyon complete guide. (coming soon!). We do highly suggest spending at least one night there, and even better to do two nights.

Colca Canyon, Peru

The Colca Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Peru, and just a few hours from Arequipa.

Here are a few different Colca Canyon tours that you can take:

How to Get Around & Where to Stay in Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa is a city that can be easily walked. We suggest enjoying the beautiful buildings around you and stretch those legs. Uber and taxis are also available every corner you turn, making it very easy to get places fast.

We suggest staying near the historic center. From here it is very easy to get to almost anywhere in the city!

Where to Stay in the White City of Peru, Arequipa

Being that the city center is small, it's not hard to find a place that will be well connected. Mae sure to stay near the historic center, so as close to Plaza de Armas as possible, so that you can be in the best location possible.

Want to book your place to stay in Arequipa? The map below has different accommodation options in the center:


Is the City of Arequipa Safe?

While we didn't feel unsafe at all in Arequipa, we do know that there is some petty crime that occurs here. Be extra careful with your belongings anywhere in Peru, Arequipa included. If you're walking around at night, make sure you're doing so with another person, and that you don't wear anything super flashy.

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Other Things to Know About Visiting the White City of Peru, Arequipa

Now that you know almost everything there is to know about visiting Arequipa in Peru, we have just a few more details to share.

Weather in Arequipa, Peru

The weather in Arequipa doesn't vary very much. It never gets extremely hot nor very cold. The warmest months are from January to March, and the coolest months are July and August, which are still not that cold at all. 

Arequipa is very sunny, expecting around 300 days of sunshine per year. If you do happen to visit the outskirts though, the weather is more extreme due to the mountains.

The Best Time to Visit Arequipa in Peru

The best time to visit Arequipa in Peru in our opinion is in April or in November, when the temperatures are the most mild.

Packing for a Trip to Arequipa, Peru

We suggest bringing comfy shoes for exploring the center, and sneakers if you plan on going on one of the excursions outside the city. While inside the city, make sure to keep your belongings safe by using a backpack, or a bag that zips securely. We also suggest bringing layers and a small overnight bag if you decide to take a day trip to Colca Canyon.

Packing List for Arequipa, Peru:

  • Sunscreen
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Flip Flops (we personally always get Havaiana flip flops, as they are comfy and long lasting) 
  • Sneakers (for the hikes)
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings) - take a look at these backpacks for travelers!
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and has great quality)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)

Arequipa is a beautiful city with unique architecture, food, and culture. We highly recommend visiting this city!

Want to see other great places to visit in this beautiful country? Check out our article "10 places you need to visit in Peru".

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