The 411 on Scenic Arequipa

By BobbyRica | February 27, 2012


A lot of people have been asking me where in Peru would they stay? Though friends would recommend Lima because it’s near the airport, I would say that it’s more beautiful in Arequipa (pronounced AH-REY-KEEPAH). To those who haven’t gone to Peru, Arequipa is probably one of the highest cities of the world. Wikipedia says Arequipa lies in the Andes mountains, at an altitude of 2,335 meters (7,661 ft) above sea level; the former snow-capped volcano El Misti overlooks the city. That’s as high as Aspen, Colorado! It also manages to be the second largest city in Peru. And for me, it’s probably my most favorite.

Arequipa is also probably the more scenic city in Peru. There are many places to visit. Start the day with coffee at one of the balcony restaurants on the Plaza de Armas, looking down on the cathedral. Now it is important to note that when you order the native coffee, it is more likely organic and special. The native Peruvian coffee is grown way up in the Andes Mountains. The altitude creates a coffee that one coffee connoisseur said that it has a bright refreshing snap, nice medium body and a gentle sweetness rare in most coffee.

Once you’ve freshened up, head up to Santa Catalina to the Museo Santuarios Andinos. There you will fine the frozen sun-bride Juanita and her fellow ice mummies. Once you’ve shaken off the creepiness in that museum, cross the street and walk along the quiet passageways of Monasterio Santa Catalina.

Come lunchtime, take a taxi to one of the more traditional restaurants surrounding the city. There’s much to savor in a spicy Arequipeño meal. Spend the remaining part of the afternoon shopping for a wooly alpaca sweater at Patio El Ekeko. They’re perfect against the cold Andean night.

The evening may lead you to a pleasant stroll up to the city’s own San Francisco. It has a certain Old World charm that really makes it the best time to be with a loved one. Mind you, a night in the town is hardly serene as San Francisco boasts a vibrant nightlife. Though I would warn you not to bring too much valuables and money with you.

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