Do you have a trip planned to Peru? If you do, make sure you take time to check out what the city of
Arequipa has to offer! You could easily spend a whole week exploring this second largest city in Peru.
Arequipa has a ton to offer, including man-made attractions, historical sites, and breathtaking natural
landscapes. It can be overwhelming if you don’t narrow down your list of things to do there. If you don’t
currently have plans to travel to Arequipa, you certainly will after this. Here are the ten coolest things to do
1. Visit a Parade
There are numerous festivals that take place year round in Arequipa, so there’s a good possibility that you
can catch a parade of some sort when you visit. Sometimes it feels like there’s a new parade to watch every
week! One of the most popular parades is the annual Corso de la Amistad, or Friendship Parade, on August
15th. This parade is to celebrate the anniversary of the city, and consists of traditional music, dancing,
costumes, and floats. It is an all day event that you certainly won’t find anywhere else.
2. Go to a Museum
Whether you’re interested in art, history, science, or all of the above, Arequipa has a museum for you. Check
out the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo if you want to admire local artwork from the 20th and 21st centuries.
It’s especially incredible if you have a knowledge of modern art from the United States and other countries
so you can compare the artwork. If art isn’t your thing, spend some time at the Museo Historico Municipal
Guillermo Zegarra Meneses. Here you can learn more about the history of Arequipa and its place in
Peruvian culture while seeing artifacts that have been recovered from important historical events, dating all
the way back to the Spanish conquest. With any museum you choose to visit, make sure to also pay close
attention to the beautiful architecture of the buildings themselves, since most of them either echo the Spanish
culture you’re surrounded by or pull from traditional Greek and Roman architecture with their towering
3. Try Some Regional Cuisine
One of the most exciting things you can try when travelling to a new place is the local cuisine, and Arequipa
is no exception! One of Arequipa’s most famous dishes is a type of stuffed pepper called rocoto relleno. If
you like spice, vegetables, and a lot of cheese, you will certainly love this dish. If not, there’s plenty of other
food for you to enjoy. The best thing about eating in Arequipa is you truly can find something for everyone.
If you have less adventurous eaters with you, scour the city until you find salads with local vegetables or
traditional beef and rice, which in Spanish is estofado de res. The more adventurous eaters can try shrimp
chowder (where the shrimps are whole) or cuy chactado (guinea pig). Whether you reserve a table at a fine-
dining restaurant, or you grab a quick snack from a market, the food in Arequipa will be one of the
highlights of your trip.
4. Visit the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
The city of Arequipa is filled with beautiful churches, but this Catholic church takes the cake when it comes
to size and importance. The cathedral stretches the entire length of the Plaza de Armas and dates back to
1540, although it has been damaged and rebuilt several times since then due to earthquakes. It’s seemingly
impossible to step into this place without becoming overwhelmed by the historical and religious significance
of it. While touring it, make sure you take a moment to appreciate the statues, pillars, moldings, cedar altars,
and other architectural works in and outside the building. It’s a breathtaking cathedral that you won’t regret
taking the time to see.
5. Visit an Urban Park
Although Arequipa is one of the most populated cities in Peru with over one million people, and is crowded
with buildings and historical sites, it still manages to hold a lot of green space. There are several urban parks
in Arequipa where you can go for a walk, go boating, have a picnic, or do some yoga. One of the most
popular parks in the city is Selva Alegre Park. This large park contains gardens, fountains, and even a small
zoo! If you go during the right time of the year, there are also occasional festivals happening at the park such
as the Chinese Gastronomic Festival that happened last August which displayed Chinese culture and
cuisines. Other favorite parks include Duhamel Park, which has small shops, and Plaza de Yanahuara, which
has floral beds and beautiful views of volcanoes.
6. Stroll the Historical Centre
To contrast the natural beauty of Arequipa’s parks, you could instead opt to spend a day exploring the
bustling historical centre. Here you can discover more Baroque-style buildings, statues of historical figures,
and fountains. It’s your choice whether you want to do a formal tour of the centre, or walk it by yourself.
You can grab a bit to eat, go shopping, listen to live music, or relax with a good book. No matter how you
spend your time here, in the first few minutes, you’ll quickly realize why so many people are drawn to
7. Shop at a Local Market
If you’re in the mood for shopping while in Arequipa, try one of the local markets! Several of the markets
are conveniently located in the blocks that outline the historical centre, and you can find others scattered
throughout the city. The markets in Arequipa are vastly different from markets you might have encountered
on other trips, simply because you can instantly tell they aren’t catered to tourists. In these markets, you’ll
find a lot of the stuff that locals actually shop for instead of “I Visited Arequipa” tee shirts. Because of this,
the vendors at the markets aren’t pushy either. There will be significantly less haggling. You can window
shop here without feeling pressured. One of the largest markets in the city is Mercado San Camilo. Here you
can buy seemingly anything, from including exotic fruits and vegetables to clothing and accessories. The
sights, smells, and feel of this market are worth it alone, even if you don’t purchase anything.
8. Climb El Misti
Although walking around and exploring the city can be fun, there are a couple of activities you can do in Arequipa that are more on the adventurous side. One of those activities is to hike up El Misti, which is an
18,000 foot volcano just outside Arequipa. This active volcano sees about ten climbers a week, but less than
five usually make the entire trip to the top. According to expert climbers, El Misti is one of the easier
volcanoes/mountains to climb, but just because they say it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s for the faint of heart. This
climb generally takes two days to climb, so make sure you pack everything you need to spend a night on the
volcano. Plus, the oxygen gets thin because of the altitude. It is recommended that you hire an experienced
guide to travel with you up the summit. Once you make it to the top, however, nothing will compare to the
view you have of the city below.
9. Tour the Colca Canyon
Maybe you want adventure, but climbing a volcano isn’t for you. Instead, how about you take a tour of the
Colca Canyon? At 10,000 feet deep, it is the second deepest canyon in the world, and definitely one of the
most beautiful. The most difficult part will be the descent down, but once you’re at the bottom, the scenery
and the condors soaring above you will make you feel like you’re on another planet. Much like the hike up
El Misti, however, a hike in Colca Canyon can take up to two days if you really want to take in everything
and learn as much as you can. A tour guide can assist you in learning about native plants and animals, as
well as teach you about various rock formations you’ll encounter. If you’re up for it, you can even go
whitewater rafting on the Colca River which lies in the canyon itself. Take note that although hiking the
canyon is open to everyone, the whitewater rafting is only meant for experienced rafters, as the water is
rough and can be unsafe.
10. Relax and Take in the City
As with any trip, a trip to Arequipa can get overwhelming, especially when there’s so much to do! So while
on this trip, don’t forget to take time for yourself. You can spend the day at your hotel or resort, you can take
a short drive to an Arequipa beach, or you can stroll around the city with no pressure or schedule. Take this
time to reboot. What good is travelling anyways if you’re tired and crabby the whole trip? Once you’re all
refreshed, make sure you get back out there and see what you can, since you’ll never find a place as unique
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