Arequipa is one of the prettiest place that you will experience in Peru. The city is the second largest in Peru and has the best climate of all the cites in Peru. Located in the middle of the desert Arequipa enjoys a dry climate all year round. In the winter, the temperatures at night can get low but mostly Arequipa is a great place to be. There are many things to do in Arequipa so make sure you include the city on your next tour to Peru.
Without a doubt, the plaza in Arequipa is the most grandiose plaza in Peru, Arequipa’s central square is guaranteed to impress. Set among leafy palm trees and flanked by stunning colonial churches, the Plaza de Armas is the true heart of Arequipa and the perfect vantage point to appreciate why it is known as the white city, also the plaza is full of tasty restaurants to have a delightful dinner.
With such majestic surroundings at every turn, it makes sense to take your time and soak up the glory of Peru’s most beautiful city. Walk between leafy plazas, stroll down the happening pedestrian thoroughfare known as Paseo Mercaderes, or just watch life slowly pass by in the city’s numerous hip cafés, bars, and restaurants.
Towering over the plaza is the impressive 17th century city cathedral, Arequipa’s largest and most important church. Stretching the entire length of the plaza, this mammoth house of worship in largely built from sillar, a type of white volcanic rock that is common throughout the city center. A few years ago and Earthquake destroyed parts of the cathedral but have been since restored. The Cathedral is lit at night makes a pretty picture while having dinner at one of the restaurants on the balconies above the plaza.
A more modest although arguably church that is more interesting is the Iglesia de la Compania, located on the opposite corner of the plaza. The beautifully carved facade of this elegant Jesuit church is the main attraction, a masterful display of the Spanish style of design, which is similar to the beautiful churches of Seville.
No trip to Arequipa would be complete without a visit to Santa Catalina Monastery. If you were to check out just one colonial site in the city, this should be it. A town within a town, this expansive monastery is packed full of chapels, bedrooms and cooking quarters which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of devout catholic nuns back in the 16th century. Each new passageway is as cheery and colorful as the next, meaning the perfect photo op awaits on every corner. Santa Catalina should be on your list of things to do in Arequipa.
For a different perspective of the city, head away from the center towards Yanahuara. Here you will find an eclectic mix of colonial era churches and elegant archways surrounding a leafy plaza, all with unbeatable views of the majestic ice-capped volcanoes that encircle the city. Take a taxi from the plaza to Yanahuara; the plaza in Yanahuara has some good typical restaurants to try the local cuisine.
The Museo Santuarios Andinos is the final resting place of a local celebrity dubbed the “Ice Maiden.” Guided tours pass a number of artifacts from a 1995 expedition that led to the discovery of the body of a 12-year-old Inca girl who was sacrificed to the gods back in the 1450s. The finale is a close up view of the gruesome remains of “Juanita.”
The greatest attraction of the region is not some church built from volcanic stone. Rather, tourists flock to the region to admire the majestic condor in full flight, marveling as these massive flying beasts swoop right past onlookers in search of hot updrafts, which allow them to effortlessly glide around the canyon. The best place to see condors in Peru is without a doubt the Cruz del Condor at the Colca Canyon.
Next is Peru’s answer to the Grand Canyon, Colca is one of the deepest canyons in the world at a staggering 3,270 meters (10,730 ft.). Colca Canyon Tours through the region last two to three days, depending on the amount of time spent hiking each day, and pass through breathtaking scenery as the glorious condor flies overhead.
Those with a serious adventurous streak should consider scaling El Misti, the ominous volcano that towers over the city. A strenuous two-day ascent reaches heights of 5,822 m (19,101 ft.); meaning proper acclimatization is of utmost importance.
When planning a trip to Peru consider Arequipa as part of your Peruvian tour. The city has much to offer and has a modern laid-back feeling. The climate is perfect with little or no rainfall all year round. The food in Arequipa needs a special mention with dishes that are unique to the area. With a great mix of Spanish Colonial architecture and modern suburbs, Arequipa deserves the title as Peru’s second city.
If you plan to relax on your Peruvian holiday, why not spend some time at one of the many beaches close to Arequipa. The beach town of Kaman is easily reached from Arequipa by bus.
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