21 Photos That Prove Arequipa Is Peru's Most Beautiful City

A look at El Misit from Arequipa
A look at El Misit from Arequipa | Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip
Brandon Dupre

Forget Cusco and Lima, Arequipa is our pick for the most attractive city in Peru. Chock-full of leafy plazas, pretty archways, vibrant colors and stunning neoclassical churches, the sheer beauty of this grandiose colonial city captures the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Don’t believe us? Here’s some photographic evidence to peruse.

The cathedral

Arequipa’s grand cathedral is a giant compared to some of Peru’s other religious buildings. It anchors an entire side of the plaza and even takes up an entire block! It towers over the rest of the plaza and, with volcanoes looming in the distance, makes for one of the best views in the country.

Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

The plaza

After seeing the plaza and spending some time in it you won’t want to go anywhere else – and Arequipa has a lot to offer. During the day it’s bustling with families, tourists and vendors and then, when night falls, it transforms into a scene straight out of a Disney fairytale. The cathedral, the beautiful white buildings and the backdrop of El Misti the volcano – La plaza de Armas in Arequipa is a highlight of anyone’s trip to Peru.

Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /

Monastery Santa Catalina

If the plaza didn’t inspire you then a trip to this famed monastery certainly will. It’s a city within a city, replete with streets, different apartments, high walls, a church, courtyards and a town bakery – you’ll even find a cafe. Give yourself at least a couple of hours to explore all the hidden rooms and vibrant streets. You can also visit the monastery by night, wandering through the corridors by candlelight like nuns would have done centuries ago.

Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /

The architecture

Awash in white, the plaza de armas and some surrounding buildings match the snowcapped mountains visible in the distance. The buildings are made out of volcanic sillar, which is what gives them their white color and architectural uniqueness. While the city has been devastated by earthquakes, it has been impressively rebuilt with the same spirit and style.

Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /

The landscape

The volcanoes and mountains that guard the city from a distance aren’t the only natural beauties visible from the city. The river El Chili runs through Arequipa and offers adventurers some of the best white-water rafting in Peru – and you don’t even have to leave the city for it. Surrounded by volcanoes, mountains, rivers and canyons, Arequipa is a thrill-seeker’s dream destination.

Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola /

The culture

As the second-largest city in Peru, Arequipa has that big city feel, but with Andean roots and tradition – a perfect mixture of Lima, the country’s capital, and Cusco. It has city nightlife and constant traffic, but is also surrounded by natural wonders like Colca Canyon, the second-deepest canyon in the world, and El Misti, the towering volcano. In a way, Arequipa is the perfect symbol of Peru: urban metropolis steeped in cultural history and surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty.

Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip
Mia Spingola /
Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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