Pirwa Arequipa Hostel is lucky to be located in Arequipa’s striking historical center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s distinguished by its mestizo-baroque buildings (whose intricate carvings include a mix of European and pre-Columbian symbols) constructed of pearly volcanic sillar stone. Although merely walking around the center is a nice way to pass the day, there’s plenty to see and do in Arequipa’s historical center:
You can walk from the hostel to any of these sights, and can even visit them all in a single day if you choose!
- Step back in time at Santa Catalina Monastery, a complex so large it’s often referred to as a “city within a city”. Bright blue and orange mudejar architecture combines with tranquil cobblestone paths lined with flowers. You’ll be surprised at the lifestyle of the high-class nuns.
- Visit the Juanita Ice Mummy (the famously well-preserved remains of a young girl sacrificed by the Incas, also known as the Lady of Ampato) at the small but fascinating Andean Sanctuary Museum.
- One whole side of Arequipa’s main square is occupied by the huge and impressive Basilica Cathedral, which has survived a onslaught of earthquakes and fires since its construction from pearly volcanic sillar in the 1500s. It’s one of Peru’s most unique and famous colonial cathedrals.
- La Compañía Church & Cloister boasts a beautiful façade and the most beautiful interior of Arequipa’s churches, with detailed carvings, statues, and paintings.
- The familial estate known as the Casa de Moral is one of the best-preserved examples of mestizo-baroque civil architecture in Peru, and houses a colonial art collection and library.
If you’re looking for an affordable meal (S/7-11), Hatunpa on Calle Ugarte is a fun option. Basically, they serve different varieties of Peruvian potatoes, sliced into rounds, and topped with the sauces, meats, or cheeses of your choice. Some are traditional and Peruvian, like lomo saltado, while others are innovative creations or international fare, like ratatouille. Our favorite is the creamy, cheese-based cauche, which is traditional to Arequipa. If you’re looking to go out for a special meal and are alright with spending more (S/20-40 for just the entree), try Zig Zag on Calle Zela. Their best-known offer is the Trilogy, an alpaca sampler served on hot lava rocks.
Arty Ad Libitum on San Francisco is a local hangout serving up cheap cocktails. If you’re looking for more variety, however, the Casona Forum at San Francisco 317 building houses 4 different bars: the 70’s/80’s style Retro dance club, which hosts live music, Zero Pub, the tropical-themed Forum restaurant and dance club, and Terrase Karaoke bar. If you’re interested in visiting a traditional peña, La Troica on Calle Jerusalén hosts live Afro-Peruvian music every night and a folkloric dance show on Saturdays.
For more recommendations for the city of Arequipa, its historical center, and its surroundings, check out our tips page here.