I continued my gringa trail in Peru from Cusco and lake Titicaca to the beautiful, cultural, lively city of Arequipa. Its skyline is framed by volcanoes and its old colonial buildings made of white volcanic stone. Inside you’ll find multitudes of cool art galleries, artsy markets and nice restaurants. On a shared place with Cusco, Arequipa ended up being my favourite city in Peru. I’m sharing with you my 3 favourite things to do in the White City.
- Santa Catalina Monastery
Inside the White City there’s a bright red and blue city– on old, walled monastery of Santa Catalina. It’s one of Arequipa’s main attractions, and one you definitely shouldn’t miss. It was founded in 1580 and a few nuns still live in a small area of the monastery, but the rest of it has been opened to the public as a tourist attraction for funding to maintain the complex. You won’t want to find the fastest way out from this beautiful maze, you’ll want to peek behind every red and blue corner. Open doorways invite you in the old homes to get glimpses of the ways of living of the past and the narrow cobblestone streets lead you to picturesque plazas, cloisters and courtyards.
- Walk the city streets and admire the architecture
One of the best things to do in Arequipa is to walk around admiring its ornamental style colonial architecture in all shades of white. The best areas to do this are the historic centre and Yanahuara. Aimlessly wandering the area around the main square, Plaza de Armas, entering any open doorways that looked tempting I ended up stumbling across several art galleries and artisanal markets. Have a seat under the white umbrellas in one of the restaurants to get a break from the sun, or grab the local treat queso helado, a cinnamon and cloves ice cream, from a street vendor for refreshment in the heat.
- Mundo Alpaca
Another interesting spot is the Alpaca World. You get a free guided tour and can feed and pet alpacas, lamas and vicunas that all seem very happy and healthy in their comfortable home (the author is usually not a big fan of zoos of any kind). You can learn about different types of wool, making of the yarn and textiles. There’s a museum with old knitting machines and a shop for local knitwear. It’s a very beautiful place overall with a garden, a café with outdoor seating, etc.