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Arequipa is Peru's second largest city (with about 900,000 inhabitants) and is located in the dusty foothills of the Andes on the Pan-American Highway. Its beauty lies in its breath taking architecture, displaying some spectacular examples of Spanish colonial work. Built from locally mined white ashlar stone, the city literally shines with white sun drenched buildings set against the backdrop of Andean Peaks. It is easy to see how and why this city is on the world heritage list. Whilst it is larger than Cusco, Arequipa appears to maintain a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with less tourists and a smaller, more intimate feel. That said it is still a busy city and at any time there will be street sellers, restaurant owners, shoe shiners, and taxi drivers all at hand, ready for your business. The climate is dry and warm and it is surrounded by an almost desert-like plateau with canyons cutting across it, this leads to some spectacular red and purple sunsets. The flight in from Juliaca really shows off the barrenness of the landscape and the deep scars cut by the numerous rivers and streams. The El Misti volcano towers over the city and is ever present as you walk around it.
Arequipa has strong since of identity and strong sense of history. Having survived several earthquakes and living the shadow of several active volcanos has not stopped this city. At one time it made its one national flag and its own national currency as way to stick its noise to Lima. Although most tourists just hang out in the city centre there is also plenty of interesting neighborhoods and countryside to explore in this amazing city.
The Plaza de Armas is the main tourist area, containing the main cathedral as well as a number of other churches and religious buildings. This area also houses many of the larger stores and restaurants in the city. Like the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Arequipa's main centre displays a wide range of restaurants which surround the square with beautiful balconies. Eating in one these places of course, is the most expensive way to enjoy arequipenan cuisine but you are paying for your view and it is a magnificent way to enjoy the city away from the hussle and bussle. However, if you would like to eat a little cheaper and also in a less touristy place, try walking a little away from the main square, up a side street or two, and you will fine some great family run eateries serving excellent local cuisine.
Across the river is the neighbourhood of Yanahuara, where you can find the Mirador of Yanahuara (built in the nineteenth century and composed of a series of sillar stone arches where the words of famous Arequipa citizens have been engraved), which has a wonderful view of the city and Misti Volcano. There is also the Iglesia de Yanahuara (church) which dates from 1750.
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The historical city centre of Arequipa is on the Unesco World Heritage List. The main cathedral and the churches around the Plaza de Armas are worth visiting, be sure to check the tourist visiting times on the cathedral door as it is closed to tourists at certain times of the day.
Santa Catalina Monastery, a former convent that has been renovated and opened up to the public and is one of the main attractions in town. The monastery provides an insight into life in the convent and you can walk around the cloisters, churches and former accommodation of the nun's that used to live here. Walking around the maze of buildings and streets within the complex is an experience within itself and can take 1-2 hours to see everything.
The monastery has a slightly more seedy side then most at the time it was founded. The place was meant to be the home for the daughters of the wealthy and powerful. The seclusion of the place allowed the sisters to maintain their non-religious life style with large living quarters, servant and private kitchens. The cells are more like small apartments with private gardens. Eventually the church shut down this lifestyle after a couple hundred years but the legacy can be felt.
Arequipa is a good base to book tours for the Colca Canyon and for treks in the surrounding mountainous area. Colca Canyon is one of the most impressive sights in Peru and a good two or three day hike is well worth the trip. This is very easy and can be cheap to do. There are many companies in and around Arequipa offering 2, 3 and 4 day hikes, depending on what you incorporate as some companies can combine the trip with rafting or canoeing, but if you shop around enough, you'll find yourself a great deal. Before choosing a company, it is wise to ask where you will go, what you will see and exactly how much walking is involved. Many people book treks without actually thinking and don't realize that once you are walking half way down or up a canyon, it's not easy to go back, in fact you can't. Also, it may be a good idea to ask to see pictures of the accommodation, or ask for the names of the hotels. Some of the places have more than others. Really you just need a bed, but if you are wanting hot showers and your own room, you need to clarify this more.
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|Avg Max||21.5 °C||21 °C||21.4 °C||21.7 °C||21.8 °C||21.3 °C||21.4 °C||21.9 °C||22.3 °C||22.6 °C||22.5 °C||22.1 °C|
|Avg Min||8.6 °C||8.8 °C||8.5 °C||6.9 °C||6.3 °C||5.5 °C||5.5 °C||5.5 °C||6.4 °C||6.6 °C||6.6 °C||7.7 °C|
|Rainfall||28 mm||35.6 mm||21.3 mm||0.7 mm||0.2 mm||0 mm||0 mm||1.8 mm||1.4 mm||0.2 mm||1.1 mm||4.3 mm|
Arequipa is at 2400 metres above sea level and enjoys very nice and warm days throughout the year with little variation. It's usually between 18 and 24 °C on most days but nights from May to September are cold with temperatures around or just above zero. From October to April it's between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius at night. May to September is the dry time of the year with just a few days a month with some possible rain. From October to March rain is possible on about half of the number of days, with peaks in October and January when it rain is possible on 2 out of 3 days. This generally means there are a few showers during the afternoon, it barely rains all day.
Rodríguez Ballón International Airport near Arequipa has daily flights with LAN Peru to and from Lima, Cusco and Juliaca. The flight between Juliaca and Arequipa offers spectacular views of the Andes, the volcanoes surrounding Arequipa and the massive plain it's on.
The airport is located a fair way out of town, there will be taxis at the airport and there is a notice on the wall when leaving the airport to tell you what the going rate for a taxi is into town.
The only train line runs between Arequipa and Juliaca and Puno on Lake Titicaca, but there are no regular services anymore. Only PeruRail offers expensive private charter trains sometimes when there is enough demand.
As Arequipa is located on the Pan-American Highway it is easily reached by car from Lima or anywhere else along the coastal region. The are main roads (mostly, if not entirely sealed) between here and Cusco and Puno.
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Buses (including overnight buses) are available from Lima (via Pisco and Ica), Cusco (14 hours), Nazca (14 hours) and Puno (6 hours). The buses are cheap, comfortable and largely reliable. Arequipa is the main city in the region so it should be easy to reach from anywhere in the region via bus. There are also international buses to places in the north of Chile and even to Santiago and sometimes onwards to Mendoza Argentina, depending on the season. Ormeno offers three weekly buses to Buenos Aires as well, taking 3 days! Santiago is about 2.5 days.
Long distance buses leave from the new terminal Terrestre that is located in the suburbs, a short taxi ride from the Plaza de Armas. When using the terminal don't forget you will need to pay a departure tax in the kiosk located in the centre of the waiting area. There is also a smaller bus station right next door to the terminal Terrestre that is still used for many buses, even buses going a long distance. Make sure to give enough time when arriving at the bus station to give the possibility of walking to the other one.
The roads around Arequipa are good, but gridlocked for most of the day.
Taxis are everywhere and easy to hail and minibuses travel across the town.
The main tourist destinations in town, the Plaza, Santa Catalina Monastery and most hotels and restaurants are all located within a few minutes walking distance from the Plaza and, given the traffic, walking is probably the quickest option.
The more expensive restaurants are located around the Plaza de Armas. There is a massive variety of restaurants running along San Francisco and Jerusalen and the many roads between them around the Plaza, including some particularly good pollerias.
You can't fail to find drinking establishments if you wander around and just away from the Plaza de Armas. There are many bars located on San Francisco Street running past the main church. Many of these bars offer very good happy hour specials. Some of the night clubs charge a cover on the weekends or on special nights but this seems to be random.
As you'd expect from a major city like Arequipa, there is a wide variety of accommodation, and most of it is found around the Plaza de Armas.
More options including traveller ratings are:
|Andes House Inn||Calle Ayacucho 207-211 Cercado||Hotel||78|
|Arequipa Tambo Viejo Hotel||Av malecon socabaya 107 IV centenario -centro Areq||Hotel||81|
|Bothy Hostel||Puente Grau 306||Hostel||87|
|Buena Vista Hostal||Calle Ugarte 623 Yanahuara||Hostel||87|
|Casa de Avila||Av San Martin 116, Vallecito||Hotel||86|
|Colonial House Inn||Calle Puente Grau 114.Cercado 114 Puente Grau street. Cercado||Guesthouse||83|
|Home Sweet Home||Calle Rivero 509 Cercado||Guesthouse||80|
|Hostal Astorga||Residencial Ibarguen, A-11 Yanahuara||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Bolivar||Calle Bolivar 202||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Le Foyer by Edge Hostels||Ugarte 114||Hostel||80|
|Hostal Posada del Parque||Dean Valdivia 238 A Manuel Ugarteche 412||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Sol de Oro Backpackers||Calle Cruz Verde 307 - cercado||Hostel||88|
|Hostal Solar||Ayacucho 108 Cercado||Guesthouse||78|
|Hotel Kunturwassi||Calle Cruz Blanca s/n Cabanaconde Caylloma - Colca||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Inkari Arequipa||Calle Moral 305, Cercado||HOTEL||-|
|Inca Reisen House & Camp||Pasaje Saenz Peña A-1 (el filtro-cercado)||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Inti Punku Lodge Hostal||Calle Cruz Verde #211-A||Guesthouse||-|
|Koala Backpackers||Puente Grau 108||Hostel||-|
|La Casa de Ana||Calle Tacna 806 Yanahuara||Guesthouse||-|
|La Casa de Jael||Peral 115 Arequipa||Guesthouse||-|
|La Casa de los Pinguinos||Avenida Parra 110 B||Guesthouse||-|
|La Casa de Tintin||San Isidro F1, Vallecito||Hotel||90|
|La Compañia Hostel Bed and Breakfast||109 General Moran Cercado||Guesthouse||88|
|La Fuente Arequipeña Hostal ***||Av. Mariscal Benavides 205 Urb Selva Alegre - Areq||Guesthouse||-|
|La Gruta||Calle la Gruta 304 Selva Alegre||Hotel||-|
|Hostal La posada De Ugarte||Ugarte 320||Guesthouse||-|
|La Posada del Cacique||Calle Jerusalen 404||Guesthouse||84|
|La Posada del Virrey||103 Calle Puente Grau||Guesthouse||77|
|Las Torres de Ugarte||Ugarte 401 - A Cercado||GUESTHOUSE||85|
|Home Backpackers||Ugarte 111 Cercado||Hostel||-|
|Misti House||Alvarez Thomas 204-A Cercado||Guesthouse||83|
|The Casablanca Hostal||Puente Bolognesi 104, Arequipa||Guesthouse||-|
|The Point Arequipa Hostel||Avenida Lima 515 Vallecito||Hostel||-|
|Hostal El Pueblo Llaqta Wasi||Calle Rivero 536 Cercado Arequipa||Guesthouse||-|
|Amazing Hostel Arequipa||Plaza Campo Redondo No 100 San Lazaro-Cercado||HOSTEL||85|
|Yunta Wasi Guest House||Dante Alighieri 40 B Urbanizacion Los Pinos - Vallecito||Guesthouse||-|
|Casa Linda||Urbanization San Isidro B-5 Vallecito, Cercado - A||Guesthouse||-|
|Foresta Hostal||Los Jilgueros 218 - Urb. El Carmen||Guesthouse||85|
|Hotel Premier||Av. Quiroz 100 Cercado||Hotel||80|
|Hostal Arequipa Suites Plaza||Portal de Flores 102 Plaza de Armas||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Ginza||Av. Victor Andrés Belaunde B-12 Umacollo||Guesthouse||-|
|Posada de San Juan||Cl.San Juán de Dios 210 Cercado||Guesthouse||-|
|La Posada de Cayma||Leon XIII L-19 Cayma||Hostel||-|
|Hostal Paris||Av. Tacna y Arica No 119 - D Cercado||Guesthouse||70|
|Hostal Los Balcones de Rivero||Rivero 520 - 524 - Cercado||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Mansión Dorada||28 de Julio 505||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Real San Felipe||San Juan de Dios 304||Guesthouse||-|
|La Casa de Margott||Rue Jerusalen # 304 Cercado||HOTEL||-|
|Gasthaus||Calle Carlos Llosa 105 Sán Lázaro Cercado||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Santa Marta||Calle Santa Marta 207 Cercado||GUESTHOUSE||89|
|Los Tambos||Puente Bolognesi 129||Hotel||-|
|Mi Casa||Pasaje San Isidro 148, Vallecito||Hostel||-|
|Hostal Verona||Palacio viejo 206||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Arequipa All Suites||Calle 28 de Julio 314||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Arequipay Backpackers Downtown||Pasaje O Higgins No. 224 Vallecito||Hostel||89|
|Marlon's House in Arequipa||Calle Rivero 613||Hostel||84|
|La Casona de Jerusalen||Jerusalen 306-A Cercado||Guesthouse||84|
|Wayra River||Cruz Verde 309||Guesthouse||82|
|Flying Dog Hostel Arequipa||Calle Melgar 116||Hostel||81|
|Pirwa Hostel Arequipa||Av. Juan de la Torres 172 Barrio de San Lazaro||Hostel||-|
|Pirwa Bed & Breakfast Arequipa||Calle Jerusalen 615||Hostel||78|
|La Casita de Dina||Urbanizacion Las Orquideas C-3 Cercado||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|La Posada del Kuraka||Puente Grau #110||GUESTHOUSE||85|
|Samana Wasi Arequipa||Calle Puente Grau 105||HOSTEL||82|
|Roxy Hostel Backpackers||Avenida Lima 508 Vallecito Arequipa||Hostel||-|
|Hostal Souvenirs ***||Cooperativa de Abogados B-9 Yanahuara||Guesthouse||-|
|Wild Rover Backpackers Hostel Arequipa||Calle Ugarte 111,||HOSTEL||88|
|Los Apus Hostel||Av. Leon Velarde 204 - Yanahuara||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hostal Piccola Daniela||Calle Bolivar 400-A Cercado||HOTEL||-|
|Hostal Europa||Puente Bolognesi 123, cercado, arequipa||HOTEL||-|
|Portal La Merced Hostel||La Merced No 131||HOSTEL||82|
|San Agustin Arequipa||Calle San Agustin 125||HOTEL||-|
|Whitetower Villa||Calle Ramon Castilla 729 - Cayma||HOTEL||-|
|Cabanita's House||Calle los Geranios 105- Cercado||HOSTEL||-|
|Hs El Pueblo Llaqta Wasi||Calle Rivero Nro. 536||HOTEL||-|
|Solar de Arequipa Colonial Inn||Puente Bolognesi 114||HOSTEL||-|
|Hostel Scandinavia||Calle Ugarte 314 Centro||Hostel||-|
|El Albergue Espanol||Calle Peral 117 - Cercado||GUESTHOUSE||82|
|Hotel Boutique Villa Elisa||Calle Manuel Ugarteche 401 - Urb. Selva Alegre||HOTEL||-|
|Pirwa Park Hostel Arequipa||Dean Valdivia 238-A, Centro Historico de Arequipa||HOSTEL||80|
|The Point Arequipa hostel||Palacio Viejo 325 Centro Historico||HOSTEL||81|
|CasaVilla Arequipa||Urbanizacion Coviseal A-1 Paucarpata||HOTEL||-|
|La Posada Real||Calle Mollendo 218, Urbanizacion Municipal||HOTEL||-|
|Estela de Oro||Cruz Verde 111||HOTEL||85|
|Hotel Posada del Monasterio||Calle Santa Catalina 300||Hotel||-|
|Posada del Characato 2||Calle Rivero 536||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|La Maison del Solar||Calle San Agustin 316-318, Cercado||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Helena de Santa Maria||C/ Jose Santos Chocano 28||HOTEL||-|
|La Casona de Palacio Viejo||Calle Cruz Verde 224||HOTEL||-|
|La Casa de Marcela||El Carmen 507 - Miraflores||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Miska||Pasaje Desaguadero 103-105 Campo Redondo||HOTEL||-|
|Hostal Villa Sillar||Jerusalen 307 Cercado Arequipa||HOTEL||-|
|Honeyhouse for Travelers||Cruz Verde 300B||APARTMENT||-|
|Dreams Hotel Boutique||Calle Luna Pizarro 103 Vallecito||HOTEL||-|
|Hostal Regis||CALLE UGARTE # 202 CERCADO AREQUIPA||Hostel||-|
|Royal Village Guest House||Calle Gomez Sanchez 208 Vallecito||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Mirasol||Rivero 641 Cercado||HOTEL||-|
|El Patio de Elisa||Calle Peral 206 Cercado||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|hotel sideral aqp||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Herusalen||Calle Jerusalén 300 - C / Cercado||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Sideral||Calle Carlos Llosa, 106||HOTEL||-|
|Como En Casa-Home Away From Home||Urb. Las Calendulas B-4||Hostel||-|
|Arequipay Backpackers Apartment Guesthouse||Avenida Arequipa 711 B Alto Selva Alegre||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Villa Melgar||Melgar Street. 417 Historic Center||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Queen's Villa Hotel||Luna Pizarro 512 Vallecito||HOTEL||-|
|Homestay de Anaranda||Urbanizacion Bartolome Herrera D-5 JLyR||GUESTHOUSE||-|
See also: Travel Safety
The tourist police station is located along Jerusalen towards the northern end just before the church of San Francisco.
Be careful of pick pockets along Jerusalen, it has a bit of a reputation.
Internet cafés are common around the Plaza de Armas and the roads leading away from it. Cost should be .5 sols to 1 sol an hour.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The are plenty of pay phones and people with mobiles selling calls and phone cards.
Check the Serpost website, the national postal service (a private company), for more information about prices and options regarding the sending of postcards, letters and parcels. The post service is relatively efficient and post offices can be found in most cities and (larger) towns. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Saturday and some are open on Sundays from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Postcards are available from street vendors and shops at any touristy area, and stamps are generally available as well, though sometimes only at the post office itself. It takes at least 10 days to send a postcard to North America and prices start at S/5.5. To Europe it is S/7.8 and it takes even a bit longer, around 2 weeks. For little extra money, you can choose 'expresso' services. For large parcels and quantities, you can use both Serpost or a company like DHL which is faster and offers the same prices, though it is still relatively expensive. UPS for some reason is much more expensive in Peru!
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