How to Spend 24 Hours in Arequipa, Peru

The streets of Arequipa
The streets of Arequipa | Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip
Brandon Dupre

The White City of Arequipa is arguably Peru’s most beautiful. The historical center with its white arches and giant cathedral is the highlight of the city but Arequipa is also surrounded by one of Peru’s most remarkable landscapes and the country’s best hikes. There’s enough to hike and see for a month, but here’s how to get the most out of Arequipa in only 24 hours.

You have a decision to make as the hike takes a full day. So option one gives you the city and option two, the hike.

Option 1

This will allow you to see all of the interesting things the city of Arequipa has to offer.

Arequipa’s famous monastery

Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Monasterio de Santa Catalina is a cultural treasure and the most unique church and monastery in Peru. Even if you’ve seen enough colonial churches, this is on another level. The monastery is a city within a city, complete with streets, little apartments, a church and its own coffee shop. The site just might be the most beautiful man-made structure in Peru. You’ll feel transported to a different time as you navigate your way through its colorful streets.

Lunch and dinner

Arequipa is regarded as one of Peru’s food capitals, claiming some of the country’s most iconic dishes such as rocoto relleno and adobo as its own. You’ll find delicious food at every turn. You can eat at little mom-and-pop shops, dine at a restaurant of some of Peru’s top chefs or eat vegan sushi—Arequipa has some good eats for everyone.

Arequipa’s plaza de armas

Sunset in the plaza

After walking for hours in the monastery it’s time to just sit back and enjoy the beautiful city of Arequipa. Head to the plaza de armas to soak up the scene and watch the sun descend behind the city. You’ll also get an up-close look at the massive white cathedral, which is one of Peru’s largest. If you’re looking for a cocktail, the plaza has more than enough restaurants and bars to grab one in. The best spots are the second story restaurants for the view.

Option 2

If you have to see Colca Canyon, the world’s second deepest canyon, then this is for you. It will be about all that you see in Arequipa because the hike takes all day.

The volcano El Misit looks over the city of Arequipa

Colca hike

This hike isn’t for the faint of heart, but luckily, you’ll only be doing the one-day hike. This hike won’t get you in the canyon like the others, but you will get to see a lot of it, mostly from car overpasses. The canyon is about 4 hours away from Arequipa, so you’ll mostly be seeing the inside of a car, but the canyon makes it all worth it. With incredible views and the chance to see a Andean Condor, it can be the highlight of any trip to Peru. By the time you get back it’ll be around 6 pm, giving just enough time to catch a sunset in the plaza—that is if you still have the energy.

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