Arequipa, also known as the “White City”, is located in the south of Peru, about 475 miles far away from Lima. You can easily reach the city by plane or by bus if you have more time available. The bus ride will last approximately 16 hours, so it is a long ride as you can see, especially due to the highway conditions. I can say that Arequipa is really worth a visit if you are in Peru for more than a week. Here a list of sights you must visit once there:
The Cathedral and the main square: The construction of this church began in 1544, predominantly in the neoclassic style, with three naves, enormous columns, a great Belgian organ and a French neo-gothic pulpit. It was gutted by fire in 1844, it was then rebuilt and damaged again by the 1868 earthquake. Most of what you see today is what has been rebuilt. It has splendid treasures of gold and silverwork, such as two monstrances of gold and precious stones. The interior is simple and airy, with a luminous quality, and the high vaults are uncluttered. It also has an international flair since both the altar and the 12 columns (symbolizing the 12 Apostles) are made of Italian marble.
Santa Catalina’s Monastery: The Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena, or Convent of Santa Catalina, is a religious building located in the historical center of Arequipa. We believe it is the most fascinating religious complex in Peru. Its architectonic style is mainly colonial; visitors can enjoy walking through the colorful narrow streets and merged into the meditative atmosphere of the place.
Colca Canyon: The fabulous Colca Canyon is reached via three packed dirt roads. All leave from the city of Arequipa and lead to the town of Chivay, crossing the Salinas and Aguada Blanca national reserves. The shortest road (148 km or 4 hours) is the recommended one since it is in good condition. Perhaps one of the major attractions of the area is its spectacular terracing, considered among the most extensive in southern Peru. The possibility of observing the flight of the condor in its native habitat, and the impressive scenery of one of the most beautiful spots on Earth make the Colca Canyon one of the most important travel destinations in the southern Andes. Usually it is better to spend the night in the area, since the daily hike could be tiring.
Tristan del Pozo Old House: a large mansion, finished in 1738 and located in the historic center of the city. The house, built for the General Don Domingo Carlos Tristan del Pozo, is one of the best example of “Arequipeña” architecture. In the house there is an art gallery divided in three areas with more than 40 art pieces from the BBVA Continental collection.
Carmen Alto viewpoint: if you love amazing landscapes you should not miss the Carmen Alto viewpoint. Here you will enjoy the view of Arequipa’s 3 volcanoes: the Chachani, the Misti and the Pichu Pichu. The Viewpoint (Mirador in Spanish language) is located about 6 Kilometers from Arequipa and I suggest you to visit it early in the morning to enjoy a stunning view of the city.
Yanahuara Viewpoint: This scenic viewpoint is located in the picturesque Yanahuara district, perched on a hill overlooking the city, 2 Kilometers far away from the city. Here you can enjoy a stunning view of the traditional neighborhoods of Arequipa.
The last tip that I can give you on Arequipa is that you should not miss a visit to the local market, where you can find local products and traditional handicrafts from the region. The fabric produced in Arequipa is extremely colorful with beautiful floral patterns. So, I am sure you will enjoy a visit to this city and you will be trapped by its colonial and baroque charm.