Arequipa exceeded our expectations and is a city I’d highly recommend to anyone travelling to Peru.
It has a European vibe to it and we were lucky enough to get perfect weather for the 4 days we were there. Year round the weather is quite mild and sunny so it’s perfect for tourists.
On our first day we visited the Santa Catalina monastery which was really beautiful. It’s a unique and picturesque place with bright red, burnt orange and blue walls surrounded by beautiful gardens. We chose not to do a tour and just explored at our own pace, it’s really interesting to see the way the nuns used to live there and it’s preserved in such a way that everything is left in its place.
We also loved walking around the big basilica in the centre of the plaza and the colonial buildings which surround it. We tried to enter the basilica but you have to wear long pants to enter so we got kicked out pretty quickly. We found a nice rooftop bar with an awesome view for sunset hour that overlooked the basilica and park underneath. The sun shines directly on it at sunset to give it a golden glow which looked amazing, especially with the mountains in the background.
There are some great little cafes and restaurants we visited. Some we loved are: Zigzag (meat lovers dream!), Crepisimo (delicious savoury and sweet crepes), Las Gringas (focaccia and beer!), Chaqchao chocolate cafe (chocolate heaven!).
Although Arequipa is the second biggest city in Peru it’s very quaint and quiet in comparison to other cities we’ve visited.
We spent some time in Cusco before and after our Machu Picchu adventure tour. Cusco is beautiful and is a great place to explore, the square and churches surrounding it are beautiful and there are some nice restaurants and cafes all within walking distance.
Our favourite place to eat breakfast and lunch was a cafe called JC’s, the food felt like home which is hard to find in South America. There are plenty of nice restaurants for dinner, including La Bodega near the plaza.
We visited the San Pedro markets which is full of colour and fresh food. It’s fairly busy but we didn’t feel like we were harassed so we spent a fair bit of time just wandering around and picked up some souvenirs.
Besides visiting the Inka museum we didn’t partake in too many touristy activities in Cusco, it was mainly our rest stop in between our 4 day Machu Picchu tour and our Rainbow Mountain day trip.
Santa Catalina Monastery
View from the rooftop bar