HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED IN AREQUIPA?
If you aren’t planning on visiting Colca Canyon, then you could happily spend 2 days in Arequipa and see most of what the city has to offer before moving on.
However, if Colca is in your plans (either visiting via day tour or doing a multi-day trek) then you will need to factor in an extra day or two. These three itineraries below will have something for everyone, whether you want to visit the famous canyon or not.
Our three itineraries are:
- 3 days / without trekking Colca canyon
- 3 days / with trekking Colca canyon
- 4 days / with trekking Colca Canyon
The beauty of these itineraries is they can be chopped and changed to fit you.
Don’t need two days to explore the city centre? Then scrap that and spend an extra day trekking in Colca. Prefer a crazy night out at Wild Rover and a recovery day by the pool, then add an extra day on. That’s the beauty of travelling.
AREQUIPA 3 DAY ITINERARY - WITHOUT TREKKING COLCA CANYON
Who is this itinerary for? This itinerary is for the city fanatic who loves to get lost exploring a new place, find hidden gems, and watching the world go by from a hole-in-the-wall café. It’s also for those of you who aren’t the biggest fans of trekking, aren’t bothered about seeing the canyon or just want to see it briefly via a day tour.
Day 1 - Arrival, Free Walking Tour & Yanahuara Viewpoint
Arriving to Arequipa may mean having just come off a night bus, so it’s best to take your first full day easy.
Start by getting to know the city by jumping on the free walking tour. We went with Inkan Milky Way, who has free tours each day at 10AM and 3 PM lasting around 2.5 to 3 hours.
The fantastic guide will recommend some great places to eat around the city, or you can go with our recommendation closer to the next stop on this itinerary.
After getting a feel for the city, it’s time to head to the picturesque San Lazaro neighbourhood for a great view of the mountains and some Arequipeñan food.
Try La Nueva Palomino for some traditional Peruvian cuisine with a local twist. After eating, a short walk will take you to the Yannahuara Lookout for an unobstructed view of Misti Volcano at sunset – the perfect way to end your first day.
Day 2 - Colca Canyon Day Tour
Time to visit the second deepest canyon in the world, and it’s an early start – 4AM.
We’ve covered four different ways of visiting the canyon here but for this plan, its best to stick to a guided day tour as we’re assuming you don’t have all the time in the world.
All trips to the canyon pick you up this early as it’s a 3-hour drive. You will make multiple stops at viewpoints and villages situated around the canyon but never head down into it (that’s for trekking only). And the tour should have you back in the city centre for around 7PM.
If you aren’t shattered from the early start, then head to Victoria in the main part of town, another fantastic picanteria serving traditional Peruvian food.
Day 3 - Visit The Ice Mummy, Mundo Alpaca & Rooftop Beers At Sunset
After a hearty breakfast, you have two stops for the day: the ice mummy museum and Mundo Alpaca.
The ice mummy museum (Museo Santuarios Andinos) is where you can see Juanita, an Incan girl who was frozen and fully preserved in the Andean Mountains. If that’s too horrible for you, then Mundo Alpaca will definitely cheer you up.
Mundo Alpaca is a shop/alpaca farm where you can go to learn more about alpaca wool, how it is knitted into clothing and to see the animals themselves.
As evening time approaches (around 5 PM), it’s time to get yourself a seat in a rooftop bar for Arequipa’s fantastic sunsets. We’ve listed a host of bars here, but our top choice would be Waya Lookout Bar for the view of Plaza De Armas and Misti.
If you are looking for a night out after the sun has set, head to Wild Rover for some beer pong or head to Calle Ugarte which is where you’ll find the highest concentration of bars.
If you really are short on time, then squish this third day into the first one, and you’ve done a lot in 2 days. Maybe skip the night out though before the early start for Colca! We’ve listed the best things to do in Arequipa along with a bunch of other useful information you’ll need for navigating the city, so head there if you want some more ideas to adjust this itinerary to suit you.
AREQUIPA 3 DAY ITINERARY - WITH TREKKING COLCA CANYON
Who is this itinerary for? – This itinerary is for the bucket list ticker who wants to see and do the all they can but doesn’t always have the time. Fitting Colca Canyon into your itinerary takes up two days minimum of your time in Arequipa, so this needs to be factored in.
Day 1 - City Day
This is the same as day 1 of the previous itinerary. Get your bearings, book yourself onto a Colca Canyon 2-day trek and make sure your bag is packed in the evening.
Day 2/3 - Colca Canyon Trek
A 4AM start and a full day trekking. You will spend one night at the oasis in the canyon, then trek out and return to Arequipa on the second day.
Read our full breakdown of a visiting Colca Canyon on a guided trek vs without a tour, so you know what to expect. Both are great options.
A fourth day can easily be added to this itinerary to take a day to recover from the trek. Most bus onward journeys will likely require a night bus anyway (Huacachina – 10 hours, Cusco – 12 hours) so you will have more time to explore the city before you head off to your next destination!
Where to next after Arequipa? If you are looking to do an extended South America tour and include more countries then be sure to check out our expertly crafted itineraries below:
AREQUIPA 4 DAY ITINERARY - WITH TREKKING COLCA CANYON
Who is this itinerary for? – This itinerary is for the completionist who wants to see and do the most possible and has adequate time to do it.
Or simply the traveller that doesn’t want to cram everything into the shortest amount of days and prefers to take it slower.
This itinerary is simply a combination of the two above:
- Day 1 – Arrival and city day
- Day 2/3 – Trekking Colca Canyon
- Day 4 – Recovery day/City day
- Day 5 –Leaving/Night bus to next destination
Again, check out our Arequipa city guide and best things to do if you want more ideas for your trip.
If you are working your way round in the classic Peru loop, then why not stop off at Lake Titicaca to break up the journey before Cusco?