Arequipa © feserc
Arequipa is also known as the 'White City', and it's characterised by the many beautiful colonial buildings made from a locally-mined light-coloured volcanic stone. Its elegant historic centre is endowed with some of the country's finest colonial churches and mansions, many of which have been turned into museums or galleries.

The second largest city in Peru, Arequipa is one of the country's most attractive cities, situated among white-capped volcanic peaks; however, Peruvians will tell you that a conceited manner of self-importance pervades the atmosphere of Arequipa, earning the inhabitants a reputation for snootiness towards the rest of their countrymen. Of course, travellers may find that the pride of the locals is fully justified! A strong and very tangible rivalry exists between the capital city of Lima and Arequipa.

The beautiful Plaza de Armas, with its gardens and central fountain, is the focus of urban life and evening social activities, framed by impressive colonial arcades and architecture and the elegant white façade of the huge cathedral. One of the city's highlights is the remarkable Santa Catalina Convent, a complex enclosing a complete city within a city, and one of the country's most fascinating colonial religious buildings.

Besides the architecture and museums, the countryside around Arequipa holds many attractions for the visitor, including the relatively easy climb up the El Misti volcano. The Colca Valley offers superb landscapes, with agricultural terraces and snow-covered mountains, villages with narrow streets and ornate churches, and the dizzying Colca Canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and an excellent place to see the giant condors.


Museo Santuarios Andinos © Otra vez me hice Mujer

Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries)

This small museum's most famous attraction is the 600-year-old frozen body of Juanita, the young Inca girl who was discovered in near-perfect condition on top of the Ampato Volcano in 1995. She was killed as a sacrificial offering to the mountain gods and buried...  see full details

Santa Catalina Monastery © Jialiang Gao

Santa Catalina Monastery

Enclosed within high walls is the Santa Catalina Monastery: an enormous complex of rooms, pretty little plazas and ornate fountains, a maze of narrow cobbled streets, chapels, beautifully decorated archways, and boxes of red geraniums. The thick and brightly painted walls contain numerous cells...  see full details

Colca Canyon, Peru © Judith Duk

The Colca Canyon

The most popular excursion from Arequipa is to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, and twice the depth of Arizona's Grand Canyon. The Colca valley is extremely picturesque, dominated by huge mountains, with little villages and a distinctive traditional...  see full details