Arequipa, the white city
From Huaraz, we decided to go straight to Arequipa. This means that we first had to take a 8 hours day bus to Lima to then take a 17 hours night bus to Arequipa. No need to say that we were quite happy to arrive in Arequipa! We met a Brasilian and a Venezuelan guy at the bus terminal in Arequipa with whom we shared a taxi to go to the city center – meaning the Plaza de Armas.
What you can do in Arequipa
Well, walk around! The city has a very nice flair and we felt very safe. The buildings are beautiful, many with small colorful balconies.
Arequipa is often named the white city because of its many white churches and white colonial buildings. While strolling through the city, don’t hesitate to enter the beautiful patios or courtyards: many of them are nowadays used by restaurants, but they still offer a nice relaxing counterpoint to the busy streets. From Arequipa, you can also book an excursion to the Colca Canyon: canyon is one of the deepest in the world and depending on your time and preference, you can book a day trip or you can spend a few days trekking inside of the Canyon. Of course, we went for the second option – read this article if you want to know more about it.
In order to discover a little bit more about Arequipa and its history, you can try a free city tour working on a tip basis. It lasts around 2 hours and depending on the guide, it can be really interesting. You can also fetch a free city map at the tourism office I-Peru on the Plaza de Armas as well as some information about the main attractions of Arequipa. We really recommend these tourism offices in Peru, we always got good and reliable information there, as well as city maps! Most of the time, there are located close to the Main Square of the city.
Finally, try go to the Plaza de Armas of Arequipa around 6:00pm: the colors of the sunset reflecting on the white cathedral of the Main Square is worth a sight!
Santa Catalina Monastery
I literally fell in love with this place! The monastery was built in 1579 and enlarged in the 17th century: its walls are painted in various bright colors ranging from vivid blue to dark orange. The contrast with the white mountains in the background is breathtaking.
We stayed almost two hours strolling through the numerous alleys of the Monastery: it is actually quite big as it hosted more than 400 persons at its height! The nuns cells are simple but comfortable, with a small bed, a chair and a kitchen. The nuns were mainly girls from rich families who had to pay a giant dowry in order to enter the Monastery!
Where to eat in Arequipa
We met again with some of our Asian friends from the Santa Cruz trek and ended up trying a lot of European restaurants in Arequipa! Here are our recommendations:
- If you are looking for a mix between the French and the Peruvian cuisine, go to Ratatouille. The food was delicious and the tables located in a sweet courtyard. For 10 soles (menu of the day), it is one of the best price/quality relationship we had.
- If you want a good burger where you can select the ingredients yourself, try Burger Chulls, which also offers a nice selection of draft beers
- Just around the corner of Burger Chulls is the Pasta Canteen, the favorite place of our Asian friends. There you can select fresh pasta and a couple of ingredients to make your individual pasta dream come true. The quality is very good and they offer the same selection of draft beers than Burger Chulls. If you are really hungry, you can ask for 50 grams of additional noodles for 5 soles 😉
Where to stay in Arequipa
We tried two different hostels: the first one, Katty Hostel, was ok but there was no window in the room and the internet connection wasn’t working in the room. Moreover, there was no kitchen, so we decided to change for another hostel: El albergue Espanol. We can only recommend this place: the rooms are nice, the owners helpful and there is hot water ! We paid 40 soles for a double room with shared bathroom per night and really enjoyed the rooftop terrace while drinking cold beers 😉
Click here if you want to see all our pictures from Arequipa.