A guide to Arequipa: The White City of Peru

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About Arequipa

Arequipa is the capital and the largest city of the Arequipa Region, which is located in the southern part of Peru. The city stretches in a ​​valley surrounded by majestic volcanic mountains such as the Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu.

The city's wonderful historic centre, a World Heritage Site, is home to countless structures from the viceregal and Republican times characterised by the use of white volcanic stone.

In addition to a rich history, Arequipa is home to spectacular natural wonders such as the Colca Canyon — one of the deepest natural canyons in the world which offers a privileged location to watch flying condors.

In close vicinity to Arequipa, there are several villages that have unchanged with time and preserve a part of their colonial heritage, gastronomic customs and ancestral traditions.

What to do?

Historical tourism: A walk through the historic centre of Arequipa is, undoubtedly, the best way to get a glimpse of the postcard-perfect colonial era of Peru, its centuries-old cobbled streets, large mansions in white stone and intricately carved religious buildings. Among its numerous structures, one can't fail to mention baroque jewels such as the Church of the Company and the enormous monastery of Santa Catalina.

Experiential tourism: Around the city of Arequipa and in the Colca Valley, there are numerous villages that show the region's ancestral cultures, preserved folk traditions, handicrafts and colonial structures. Spend some time in these villages and you will soak into their environment. Some of the most visited settlements around Arequipa are Cayma and Villa Hermosa de Yanahuara.

Ecotourism: You don't need to get very far from the city to experience the spectacular scenery surrounding the city. Among the main ecotourism destinations that the region offers, the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve and the Colca Canyon stand out.

How to travel to Arequipa?

Plane: There are regular flights that travel from several cities of Peru and Chile to Arequipa arriving at the Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón International Airport, located 12 kilometres from the city. From the airport, you can take both taxis and metropolitan buses to reach the city centre.

Bus: You can travel to Arequipa by bus from the major cities in Peru, as well as from some international destinations such as Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, arriving at the Arequipa International Terrapuerto or the Terrestrial Terminal. As a reference, a bus trip from Lima to Arequipa takes 17 hours, travelling around 1000 kilometres.

Train: It is possible to travel to Arequipa by train via Cusco-Puno-Arequipa and Arequipa-Mollendo routes.

Climate: Best time to travel to Arequipa

Arequipa has a pleasant climate throughout the year, with 300 days of sunshine, and with temperatures that do not rise above 25°C and rarely drop below 10°C. In general terms, in relation to precipitation and humidity, Arequipa enjoys two seasons: wet and dry.

The summer, from December to March, also known as the wet season, receives moderate rainfall, high humidity and average minimum temperatures of 10ºC and maximum averages of 20ºC.

The winter, between April and November, known as the dry season, has low humidity, no precipitation and temperatures which, although practically the same as summer, may feel a little colder due to the dry air.

In conclusion, while it may always be a good time to travel to Arequipa, it is generally considered that the better months to visit the city are the dry season, when you can avoid rainfall and high humidity.