It usually takes me a little time to fall in love with a city. Over the years I have visited Berlin numerous times and after a while I really started to enjoy its rebelliousness, the street art and liberalism. I also liked Phnom Penh when I first got there, but it was only after living there for a while that I started to fully appreciate its grittyness, the street food and the exceptionally friendly locals. But with Arequipa it was love at first sight. Arequipa cast a spell on me to the extent I may never want to leave…

Arequipa peru cathedral towers (2)

Sun setting over stunning Arequipa Peru

Arequipa is said to have gotten its name from an Incan tribe which was living in the area, and when asked by another tribe if they could stay for a few days to rest, they replied “Ari qhipay” (Quechuan for “Yes, stay”). The tribe stayed and so did Chris and I. Initially we were planning to be here for a relatively short period of time as I was signed up to a placement with a local NGO called HOOP Peru, but six months later we are still here and I am still absolutely and completely in love with what is Peru’s second largest city. The people of Arequipa are also immensely proud of their city and there is a good reason for that. In fact there are at least five good reasons:

1. It`s soooo pretty

Arequipa is a colonial city with many historic buildings. The historic center of Arequipa spans an area of 332 hectars and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are very lucky to be living in the historical center and I absolutely love it. Also, no South American city would be the same without a Plaza de Armas, but the one in Arequipa is the prettiest I have seen so far on my travels through South America.

arequipa peru plaza de armas 2

The beautiful Plaza de Armas from above

Arequipa peru cathedral by night

The stunning Basílica Catedral de Arequipa by the Plaza de Armas

arequipa peru cathedral inside

2. Gorgeous weather

For me Arequipa has the perfect weather. At an altitude of 2,328m and because of its proximity to the Atacama Desert, Arequipa enjoys almost year-round sunshine (300 days per year) and temperatures during the day are always about 25 degrees Celsius. A lot of the historic buildings in Arequipa Peru are built with a local volcanic rock, which reflects the sunlight beautifully and also gives Arequipa its name of the White City. I am always happier when the sun is shining and maybe that`s why the locals here are all so friendly too (see below).

arequipa peru sombrero

arequipa peru alley

arequipa peru claustros

3. Stunning landscapes

Arequipa is surrounded by some absolutely stunning landscapes. The central part of the city is divided by the Chili river which offers some fun white water rafting opportunities. Arequipa is also the stepping-off point for tours to the Colca Canyon, the world`s second deepest canyon.

While Lima boasts a skyline of skyscrapers, Arequipa boats a skyline of beautiful looking volcanoes. On my way to work I am lucky enough to see the Pikchu Pikchu, Chachani and Misti volcanoes. All of these volcanoes are very challenging volcanoes to hike, but at the same time I catch myself eyeing them out on a daily basis, so maybe one day I will feel brave and fit enough to tackle one of those beautiful beasts.

arequipa peru chachani

Chachani volcano

arequipa peru misti

Misti volcano

4. Fantastic nightlife

Arequipa has got a fantastic nightlife and as I prefer bars that tourists don`t go to I started taking Salsa and Bachata lessons, so I can go to some of the amazing salsa clubs that locals go to and not look completely out of place (my German hips occasionally take over, but I can generally control them, especially after a few cervezas, which looking at some of the photos below seems to be a reoccurring theme). I also think I may have been a Latina in a previous life because I absolutely love Latin music and I every time I hear a Salsa or Bachata song I get drawn to the dance floor like a moth to a flame. Sometimes I get drawn to the dance floor by a handsome Latino as well, but don`t tell my husband. 😉 I even went to my first Latin pop concert in Arequipa recently where heart-throb and the prince of Bachata Prince Royce sang his heart out to his squealing fans, including me.

arequipa peru chris and I in 212

Chris and I with some Peruvian friends in one of our favourite local bars – photo by Robert Els

arequipa peru prince royce

The lovely Prince Royce during his concert in Arequipa – photo by Andrés Fernando Allain as I was too busy squealing

arequipa peru tammy in 212

Only in Arequipa can you get cocktails as naughty as this – photo by Robert Els

5. Friendly locals

Peruvians are extremely friendly people. When I first arrived I befriended a few fellow German ladies from my Spanish course (Hi Isabel and Sarah!), but none of us wanted to be one of those expats who only hang out with other expats. Taking dancing lessons enabled us to interact with locals and make some really good Peruvian friends. I love my Salsa gang to bits and always eagerly await the weekend to take on the dance floor and practise my Spanish with them.

arequipa peru latino

In our favourite Salsa club Latino

Arequipa peru nightlife

Arequipa Peru with Isa Sarah and Carlos

At last I am not the only one with a beer in the hand. Must be a German thing…

So these are my five reasons why you should get your bum to Arequipa Peru. I definitely lost my heart to Arequipa, and I am thoroughly enjoying my life here. Tell me, have you ever fallen in love with a city so much that you never wanted to leave it again?

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

40 Thoughts on “Five reasons to get your bum to Arequipa Peru

  1. Tammy, Arequipa has been on my list since the first time I visited Peru…not.enough.time! I’ve got to get there. It looks beautiful.
    Corinne recently posted…Gibraltar PostcardMy Profile

  2. Wow, it looks stunning. No wonder you’re so happy there!

    • Tammyonthemove on September 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm said:

      You should definitely make it part of your SA itiniery Izy. There are no beer towers here, but I am sure we can find an alternative. 😉

  3. And the food! It needs to make the list 🙂 The food in Arequipa is amazing. My husband and I ate here for our 2 year wedding anniversary… http://double-barrelledtravel.com/paladar-1900-arequipa-peru/

    You should check it out if you haven’t already – the food is delicious.
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  4. I would love to see Peru one day and Arequipa looks just so pretty!
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    • Tammyonthemove on September 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm said:

      Peru is one of my favourite countries. Every place I have been to so far has been stunning and I have only scratched the surface really.

  5. We loved Arequipa too! It is sooo pretty – loved our tour around the convent – like a town within a town.

    You got a great picture of Misti! It was mostly topped with cloud when we were there!

    We also loved queso helado. Have you tried it?
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  6. I went to Arequipa in 1988 and like you, fell in love in love with the city. Such old world charm in mint condition. Really great to see you photos and thanks for bringing back some great memories.
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  7. Omg I want to come visit you so bad! Hoping to get there next year. Arequipa looks amazing! What’s it like cost of living wise?
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    • Tammyonthemove on September 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm said:

      Yes! Please come! It is fairly cheap. We are paying about USD 230 per month for rent. If you eat in local restaurants you can get a hearty lunch menu (soup, main course and drink) for USD 3.50. So similar to SE Asia really.

  8. I had never even considered going to Arequipa but now you’ve got me thinking! It sounds nice and cheap too.
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  9. Okay, packing my bags now.

  10. I really admire how you integrate yourself and make friends with locals. I am lazy and fall into the expat trap so easily. Love the idea of dance lessons!
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  11. Gary Reed on December 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm said:

    Hey
    I am looking for some guidance. I am trying to transition the way I make a living into that of a more location independent career. I will be moving out of the US for a time to facilitate this change (5-6 months), but am held up on where I am going to go undergo this change. It has come down to Arequipa, Peru or Da Nang, Vietnam. I see that you have been to Phnom Penh and was hoping you might be able to provide some perspective between the two regions (hopefully directly compare Da Nang and Arequipa. At this point it looks like Arequipa wins on language (I know some spanish), and visa ease, Da Nang wins on internet speed, and possibly cost of living. Any input?

    • Tammyonthemove on December 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm said:

      I haven’t been to Da Nang, so can’t really comment on that, but I can definitely recommend Arequipa. Very highly so! We loved our 8 months there and were really sad to leave. Internet speed in Arquipa is actually really decent. It was better than in Phnom Penh. In terms of cost of living Arequipa is very good too. We paid about USD200 in rent, a large bottle of beer costs about USD2.50, and a two-course meal in a loal restaurant including soft drink costs about USD3. Let me know if you need any other tips. 🙂

  12. My Husband Curt and I just arrived in Arequipa and are looking for a studio apartment as we want to stay and learn Spanish and cycle with the bike team.
    do you have any advice on how to find an affordable apt.
    Thanks,
    cathy
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    • Tammyonthemove on October 19, 2015 at 11:18 am said:

      I am so excited for you Cathy. I am sure you will love Arequipa just as much as I did.

      I lived in Soud Guesthouse, which on top of having single and double rooms, also has a small apartment. I am not sure if it is currently available, but you can get in touch with the manager Robert via their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/soulguesthousearequipa
      The hostel is in Yanahuara, the most beautiful and sought after part of town, and only about 10 minutes away from the historic center. It is a very quiet hostel, as all guests are expats, rather than travellers.

      The local papers advertise all available apartments too, but you will need to be able to speak Spanish to talk to the landlords.

      There is also a facebook group called expats Arequipa, where you could post and check if anybody has got anything available. Good luck!

  13. Hola!

    I’m living in Arequipa with my boyfriend and would like to get him dancing lessons for Navidad… where did you take your classes, and how do I sign us up?

    Thank you!

    -Sophie

    • Tammyonthemove on December 23, 2015 at 3:53 am said:

      Hola Sophia, I went to Baila Conmigo in the Claustros. I loved it. You can take group or private classes. I took Bachata and Salsa classes there. The owner is called Christian. Enjoy!

  14. Great article! Also enjoyed your writing on Sucre: which city do you think is better to learn Spanish (immersion, cost, nightlife/things to do)?

    • Tammyonthemove on February 29, 2016 at 3:40 am said:

      I really liked both cities, but Arequipa was my favourite. It is so beautiful and there are endless things to do. You can go hiking in the colca canyon, rafting, salsa dancing etc. in Sucre you can do quite a lit if things too, but not as exciting as in Arequipa. Bolivia is slightly cheaper in terms of courses and cost of living. Nightlife is much better in Arequipa though. Best salsa clubs ever and loads of bars where locals hang out. In Sucre the bars are more frequented by backpackers.

  15. Larry on May 8, 2016 at 10:50 am said:

    A great article! It has me thinking about Arequipa as a retirement destination. I retire in six months and was trying to choose between Medellin Colombia and Arequipa. What area of Arequipa would you suggest to live? I’m not really interested in area where there are too many expats. Also, what Spanish language school would you suggest?

    • Tammyonthemove on May 27, 2016 at 8:42 pm said:

      I have heard many good things about Medellin, but haven’t been yet. In Arequipa I’d recommend the areas of Yanahuara or Cayma. Cayma is the most expensive area to live in and that’s where most expats live, but I preferred Yanahuara because it is the historic center and really charismatic with lots of colonial buildings. In terms of Spanish schools, I went to EDEAQ, which is under Swiss/Peruvian management. My teacher Fabricio was fantastic and I know many people who went to the same school who were really happy with the classes. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  16. Helen Oates on July 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm said:

    Tammy How I enjoyed you comments and photos on Arequipa . Visited from Australia 2011 like you fell in love with this wonderful city just like you every day around every corner a new adventure. How blessed I am to have the most beautiful Peruvian daughter in law 3 of the best grandchildren you could wish for and a son who speaks fluent Spanish. Our base for my 4 week visit was Arequipa. You article brought back such wonderful memories.

    • Tammyonthemove on July 29, 2016 at 5:26 pm said:

      Hi Helen, thanks so much. I’m so glad the post bought back memories. I still love this place so much and have very fond memories from my year there.

  17. Hey Tammy.
    I ve been traveling in Latin America for more than 15 months. I’ll arrive Arequipa in two weeks. I’m in to salsa y bachata (and merengue of course). Can you write names and your opinion of dance schools and discotecas in Arequipa?
    Thanks.
    I started from Guatemala and my favorite city is Medellin so far 😉

  18. Guillermo perez on November 14, 2016 at 5:57 pm said:

    Hi Tammy,
    I totally agree. I am pretty much into salsa and bachata, and had a great time when my arequipeños friends took me to Munays about 3 years ago. I hear is called the salsa room now. But I didn’t get to see other salsa spots. What salsa nightclubs (salsateca :-D) did you visit and recommend in arequipa?

    • Tammyonthemove on November 14, 2016 at 6:02 pm said:

      Hey Guillermo, I went to Latinos every Friday and loved it. They always played a mix of salsa and bachata which was great. Salsa King was another club I liked. They often had live music too.

  19. Great post. I’m currently in Cusco and debating on whether to spend the majority of my remaining time in Arequipa or Lima. I know that I want to take private Salsa lessons EVERY DAY! Do you have any schools that you would recommend? How much did you pay roughly?

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