If a visit to Arequipa is on your Peru list (if it’s not, put it on right now!) here are some suggestions to fill your days in Peru’s second biggest and most beautiful city.
La Llama Walking Tour
On your first day in the city, this free tour is a fantastic way to learn about key places and buildings whilst receiving an overview of Arequipa’s history. Highlights include a visit to Mundo Alpaca where you can feed llamas and alpacas, and tasting some Peruvian specialties (cheese icecream anyone?).
Tours leave San Francisco Square from Mondays - Saturdays at 9.15am, 11.45am and 2.45pm.
Visit the Santa Catalina Monastery
Yes I know - another religious building *rolls eyes*, BUT in a city that’s known for its beautiful churches, this enormous monastery really takes the cake. Made from the same white washed sillar stone as the rest of the old town, the buildings hold decades of stories and secrets from the wealthy nuns that lived there. After sitting vacant for more than 300 years, due to earthquake damage, it has now been superbly refurbished and its resplendent corridors and streets make it a photographers dream.
Entry is 40 soles and a tour is an extra 10 (although we got by with the multi-lingual signs).
Take a cooking class
Well established as South America’s culinary capital and home of ceviche, what better place to dust off the apron than in Peru? With the Peruvian cuisine garnering international attention from around 2010, there are many cooking classes available. I recommend learning from home grown talent Arthur Garcia at his self titled restaurant. Small group classes and all organic ingredients for the win.
Eat at a Picantería
A Picantería is a lunch restaurant serving traditional dishes that will make you miss the Peruvian grandmother you never had.
Very typical especially of Arequipa and Cusco, come here to eat as the locals eat.
La Nueva Palamino’s menu of the day is always a winner otherwise the ricotta relleno is as traditional as you can get. And don’t forget to try the picarones on your way out - delicious deep fried rings of pumpkin and sweet potato dough dipped in fig syrup, yum!
Visit the Colca Canyon
Although not in Arequipa this is the biggest attraction in the region and most transport leaves from the city. One of the deepest canyons in the world, this is a popular place to spot condors. Day trips are possible but only with an extremely early start and most of the day spent on the bus. The best way to experience the canyon’s dramatic landscapes is to do a two-three day hike, staying at the tiny settlements en route.
Arequipa, an unexpected gem. Enjoy!