What to do in Arequipa, Peru

Maybe you’re like me and you arrived to Arequipa without doing any research at all. Now that you’re here, you’re wondering- well what do I do now? Or maybe you’re planning ahead, saving locations in your Google Maps, and getting excited for your trip. Either way, I’m here to help! Below is a list of several places in and around Arequipa you can use to fill your time!

But first, let’s eat:


C. Alfonso Ugarte 214, Yanahuara 04017

This is a picanteria about 10-15 minutes walking out of the main tourist center. It’s in a white corner building; the inside is small, and unassuming, with very eclectic interior design choices. But, the food is some of the best you’ll have in Arequipa, particularly the adobo. One of my dear friends lived in Arequipa for six months, so when she recommended I come here, I listened. It was my first time having adobo in Arequipa, and it was pure magic. Just the right amount of spice, broth so perfectly creamy yet not too creamy. The pork cooked just right. They have a lunch menu for 17 soles. The adobo was 20 soles and came with hot mate.


C. los Arces 209, Cayma 04014

This picanteria was recommended to me by the locals I bought my SIM card from on my first day, though I wasn’t able to make it there until my last day. This seems to be an extremely popular local joint. I got there around 12:30 for lunch and was able to squeeze into a shared table (with a clear plastic wall guard between myself and the two other women at the table) without much problem. When I left 45 minutes later, however, the line was out the door and down the street. Get there early.

I’ll be honest, this was not the best food I had in Arequipa, but possibly closer to the worst. I paid 22 soles for the rocoto relleno (meat stuffed pepper that was recommended to me by my taxi driver from the airport), and 5 soles for a chicha that tasted a bit fermented. The food came out quickly, like reheated leftovers, and lacking a bit of salt. So, why, you are probably asking yourself, am I recommending this place to you? Pure experience! It’s a fairly large place, and the faded white walls are covered with magic marker letting you know who ate there and when, where they’re from and what they ate. Fake plants abound. I spotted a couple other foreigners around, but it was mostly locals. By the line outside, you’ll see it has made quite a name for itself.


C. Ugarte 109, Cercado 04001

Okay so you’ve eaten at La Capitana and had your local experience, but now you want to find where all the foreigners are at? Head to Prana. It’s right in the center, and easy to find. Just head up the spiral staircase once you enter the building and you’ll be met with the sounds of English, German, and French all along the beautiful terrace. The food is good and affordable. You can get fresh juices or smoothies. The lunch menu can be 12 or 15 soles depending on which entree you choose, but it also comes with a side, a drink, and unlimited salad bar. Though the salad bar is really nothing more than two plates with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, carrots and beetroots. Unfortunately I only ended up coming here once, but I thought about it at least 5 other times.


Campo Redondo 102, Arequipa 04001

Once again, this was another recommendation from a friend who spent some time in Arequipa a few years ago. It’s in a very cute area surrounded by other restaurants and cafes in the north of the main city center. This brewpub did not disappoint. I’m a big fan of craft beer, particularly IPA, and I was not let down. The waitress recommended the Pulpa Ficcion Double IPA by the local Melkim Brewery, and I’m so glad she did. I got some croquetas arequipeñas to go along with my beer, and the highlights of American soapbox derby racing playing on the TV.

Okay okay, but where’s the culture? I’m full and ready to see the cultural portion! No worries, I got you!


Admittedly, I did not see this with my own eyes, but I did hear it with my own ears. My hostel was one block from the Plaza de Armas, and on my last morning in Arequipa (a Sunday) I heard drums and banging around 8am while I was on the rooftop waiting for breakfast. I asked the owner of the hostel what the sound was all about and she told me there is a parade every Sunday morning. Sectors of the military march around the square and then down surrounding streets. I witnessed this part as the crowd marched toward me, knees high and guns on shoulders, while getting in my taxi to head to the airport. I wish I had known sooner so I could see it from the Plaza de Armas. I suggest getting there around 7:30am.


C. Perú 416, Arequipa 04001

This is a pretty typical market one might expect in South America. It has everything. From flowers, to trinkets, to hundreds of types of potatoes, meat, fish (even fresh shark), cheese, hats, but best of all- juice stands. On the east end of the market, you can find several juice stands in a row, all raised on a slight platform. You can choose whichever types of fruit you want and get them all blended together. You can choose to blend with water, oj, milk. You can even get specialty juices with beer. The woman then peels the fruits in front of your eyes, blends them all together, and hands you a beautiful glass container to enjoy on the spot (you can take away if you prefer). But if you stay, you can hand the glass back to her upon finishing, and she will refill your glass with everything that is still left in the blender, which is essentially an entire second glass.


Santa Catalina 301, Arequipa 04001

The entrance is 40 soles and can be paid with a credit card. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I came here. A girl at my hostel recommended it to me on my first day so I went to give it a try. It’s actually massive inside of here. The paths just keep going and leading you further into what feels like a mini village with brightly painted red walls, and a courtyard with bright blue walls. You can pay extra for a guide if you would like, but my mind wanders too much to be able to follow a guide for too long. So I just listened in a minute at a time when I passed by various groups. I was perfectly fine just to wander in and out of the alleyways, courtyards, and small rooms on my own.


Alameda San Lázaro 101, Arequipa 04001

Is this place a bit gimmicky? Yes, it is! Are the clothes in the shop beautiful yet extremely expensive? Sure are! But, it’s worth it for a quick meander through the area. You can see various types of alpacas who are living on the grounds, feel the different types of wool that each animal makes; inside the building there are giant piles of wool you can pick up and compare with other wools. Continuing further into the building you can see the way the wool is spun into thread, and then how that thread is used to weave beautiful sweaters, scarves, and other items.


JF75+282, Miguel Grau, Yanahuara 04017

Not far from Super Adobo is the Mirador de Yanahuara, so you might as well get lunch first and then head up to the scenic outlook point. From this point, there is a great view of the Volcano Misti and Chachani, as well as a view over the entire city. There are several porticos offering great instagram worthy shots. Just next to this lookout is a beautiful plaza full of palm trees and ice cream sellers. It’s a great spot to try the famous Arequipa queso helado (yellow ‘cheese’ ice cream).


C. la Merced 110, Arequipa 04001

This museum is known for the child Juanita, who was sacrificed 500 years ago, but her body was found mummified in ice in 1995. I did not go to this museum, though it is an option for things to do. The reviews on Google maps are not kind and describe the tour as rushed, with a required additional price for a guide, and expected tips after a 30-45 minute tour.

Alright, so you’ve exhausted all that Arequipa has to offer inside the city limits. So now what? There are several excursions you can go to from Arequipa:
The Salinas (salt flats)
White Water Rafting
The Ruta Sillar (the mine where they get the white rock)
Colca Canyon (full day, 2, 3, or 4 day trekking)
Climb Volcano Misti (volcano at 5800m above sea level)
Climb Chachani

You’ll need a guide to do almost any of these activities. There are several tour agencies around the city. I used Waiky Adventours which was recommended to me by my hostel. I thought they were quite good and the guides were always great.

I did two of these adventures: Colca Canyon Full Day Tour and Volcano Misti. Feel free to click on either of these links to see my experience in more details, along with the accompanying videos from my YouTube channel.