Arequipa, the second-largest city in Peru, is one of the most mesmerizing places on the continent but it's still flying under-the-radar. It's often considered the most beautiful city in the country and thanks to its historical city center filled with white buildings it's been given the nickname 'the White City'. With a seemingly endless list of things to do and see, if you have only two days to explore Arequipa unfortunately, you will have a jam-packed schedule. But with a little help of our guide and a bit of strong will, you can still make the most of your trip!
Volcanoes, history, and even a canyon
Arequipa has a wide array of attractions, suiting seemingly everyone's tastes. The historical city center dates back to 1540 and is protected by UNESCO. Flanked by three volcanoes, Arequipa and its surroundings feature dramatic landscapes that will take your breath away including the world's second deepest canyon. With its white-stoned city center, famed gastronomy, majestic mountains and volcanoes, the city is bursting with things to see and do. Foodies, hikers, nature lovers, history buffs and sun-seekers are all welcome.
Visit the monastery that's a city within a city
The Santa Catalina Monastery is not your typical monastery; it's like a world in itself! With streets, chapels, and a café circled by brick walls, this monastery will remind you more of a small town than a religious complex. Explore the maze of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with small houses and enjoy the silence and peace. The best way to make the most of your visit is to book a guided tour to find out more about the monastery's interesting history. Also, twice a week you can go on a night tour when the rooms are lit up only with candles.
Watch daily life at Plaza de Armas
Since the city is full of beautiful squares, it's hard to choose the best one, but the Plaza de Armas stands out as the most popular. With its imposing size and architecture, it's easy to see why it's considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Latin America. All the buildings on the square are made of volcanic white rocks. It's also home to the largest cathedral in Peru, which won't fail to impress you with its gigantic size. The square is a local favorite, so it's the ideal place to watch the world go by and get a taste of everyday life here in Arequipa.
Get personal with llamas and alpacas at Mundo Alpaca
Arequipa isn't called the world's alpaca capital for nothing! In the center of the city you can hang out with alpacas, learn more about them and do all of it free of charge. Here you can see how alpacas and llamas are raised and even meet the babies. Also, see up close how alpaca clothing is made, both the age-old traditional process and the modern machine process.
Though the place is nice to see, don't expect to see a lot of nature. Mundo Alpaca is set up mostly like a zoo, so to get a glimpse of llamas and alpacas in more natural environment also visit the area around Colca Canyon.
Hike the Colca Canyon
The world's second deepest canyon can be found just north of Arequipa and believe it or not, it's twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA. The canyon's scenery will blow your mind as it's considered one of the most impressive natural wonders in all of Peru. There are various possibilities for exploring the canyon based on your physical condition, skill level, time and money. From one day tours and horse rides to multi-day hikes, remember that hiking to one of the world's deepest canyons is no joke, so be prepared for everything!