Itinerary

How Many Days In Arequipa? [3 Itineraries w. Colca Canyon]

The beautiful colonial-era city of Arequipa is a great place to spend some time, especially with it being the starting point for tours in the second deepest canyon in the world - Colca Canyon. We've laid out three itineraries for you to help plan your trip.

Contents

How Many Days Do You Need In Arequipa?

You can easily make the most of  Arequipa with 2-3 days.

 

I’d recommend 2 days in Arequipa if you just want to explore the city.

 

With 48 hours you can stroll around the city, explore its fascinating museums, and soak in the breathtaking views of Misti Volcano from the various rooftop bars. 

 

I’d recommend 3 days in Arequipa if you want to squeeze in a day tour to Colca Canyon (not hiking it though, as this takes longer).

Arequipa 2-Day Itinerary (Without Colca Canyon)

  • Day 1 – Walking Tour and Yanahuara Viewpoint
  • Day 2 – Ice Mummy Museum, Mundo Alpaca and Rooftop Bars

Who is this itinerary for?

 

This itinerary is for city lovers who want to get lost in the beautiful streets of Arequipa, find hidden gems, and watching the world go by from a hole-in-the-wall café.

 

This is also the best itinerary option for Arequipa for those of you who aren’t the biggest fans of trekking or aren’t bothered about seeing the canyon.

Day 1 - Free Walking Tour & Yanahuara Viewpoint

Start by getting to know the city by jumping on the free walking tour.

 

I went with Inkan Milky Way. They have two free tours each day at 10.00 AM and 3.00 PM lasting 2-3 hours.

 

A local guide will take you to the best sights in the historical centre including Plaza De Armas and the Santa Catalina Monastery.

 

After getting a feel for the city, it’s time to head back 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 some food, 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.

Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa (Peru)

Day 2 - Ice Mummies, Alpacas And Rooftop Beers At Sunset

You have three stops for the day:

 

  • The mummy museum – 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.

 

  • Mundo Alpaca – 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.

 

  • Waya Lookout Bar – 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.

TOP TIP:  For breakfast, La Dispensa makes excellent coffee and freshly baked artisan bread or for those of you with a sweet tooth, try Crepisimo Creperie.

Misti Volcano (Arequipa, Peru)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

Is This The Best Backpack For South America?

I love the Osprey Farpoint 50-70L.

 

It’s reasonably priced and perfect for first timers visiting South America.

 

Read more here about why it’s so great or head to the official site below:

Arequipa 3-Day Itinerary (With Day Trip To Colca Canyon)

  • Day 1 – Walking Tour and Yanahuara Viewpoint
  • Day 2 – Ice Mummy Museum, Mundo Alpaca and Rooftop Bars
  • Day 3 – Day Tour To Colca Canyon

Who is this itinerary for?

 

This itinerary adds an extra day on and includes a day trip to Colca Canyon.

 

This is the perfect itinerary if you want to see the city and Colca Canyon but you don’t fancy the challenging 2-day trek. 

Day 3 - Colca Canyon Day Tour

Time to visit the second deepest canyon in the world, and it’s an early start – most day tours start between 3.00 – 4.00 AM.

 

I’ve covered four different ways of visiting the canyon here but for this itinerary, its best to stick to a guided day tour (see below).

 

It’s a 3-hour drive from Arequipa to Colca Canyon. But you’ll make multiple stops at viewpoints and villages along the way. 

 

The highlight of the day will be at Mirador de la Cruz del Cóndor, where you can see the depth of this canyon in all it’s glory.

 

The tour should have you back in the city centre for around 7.00 PM.

 

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.

This Colca Canyon tour is the top pick on Get Your Guide: 

TOP TIP:  If you want to save money on a Colca Canyon tour, shop around in town and book with one of the tour agencies there. It will be a lot cheaper than booking online!

Mirador de la Cruz del Cóndor, Colca Canyon (Arequipa, Peru)

How Many Day Do You Need For Arequipa And Colca Canyon?

I recommend 3-5 days to see Arequipa and hike Colca Canyon. 

 

You’ll need to factor in an extra day or two as the Colca Canyon hike takes 2-days in total.

 

So here’s what I suggest:

 

 

  • 3 Days For Arequipa and Colca Canyon – choose this option if you’re short on time, not bothered about seeing the city and just want to complete the Colca Canyon hike before moving on.

 

  • 4 Days For Arequipa and Colca Canyon – go for this if you want an extra day to see the city or to rest after the hike

 

  • 5 Days For Arequipa and Colca Canyon – I’d only recommend this for travellers with a lot of time on their hands. You can use one day as rest after the Colca Canyon trek, and then the final day to explore more. 

Arequipa & Colca Canyon 3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arequipa City Day
  • Day 2-3 – Colca Canyon Hike

Day 1 - Arequipa City Day

Follow the same day outlined in the above itineraries. You can also include any places from the second day, such as the ice mummy museum or Mundo Alpaca, if you want to cram as much in as possible. 

 

You’ll also need to book your Colca Canyon Tour which I always recommend doing in person.

 

Here are the most reputable tour companies in Arequipa:

 

Both won Trip Advisor’s Travellers Choice Award in 2023!

bird colca canyon trek

Day 2/3 - Colca Canyon Trek

If you’re a hiking lover then this trek is a must! It’s one of the best in Peru and so unique!

 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the trek:

 

  • First Day – 4.00AM start > 3 hour Drive to Canyon > 3-4 hour trek down to the canyon floor. You’ll then spend the night at the oasis in the bottom of the canyon
  • Second day – 3-4 hour trek up and out of the canyon > drive back to Arequipa

Read the full breakdown of a visiting Colca Canyon on a guided trek vs without a tour, so you know what to expect. 

 

The best thing about this trek is staying overnight in the oasis. The hotel you’ll stay at has a pool and the canyon will be pitch black. 

 

You’ll have one of the best views of the night sky in South America!

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:

 

 

how to visit colca canyon

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Arequipa And Colca Canyon 4-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arequipa City Day
  • Day 2-3 – Colca Canyon Hike
  • Day 4 – Rest Day

Day 4 - Rest Day

A fourth day can and probably should be added to this itinerary to take a day to recover from the trek.

 

Most bus onward journeys will likely require a night bus:

 

  • Huacachina – 12 hour bus
  • Puno – 13 hour bus
  • Cusco – 12 hour bus

I recommend staying at Selina. The rooms are always done to such a high standard and the common spaces are super cosy!

 

If you are visiting in summer then even better as they have an outdoor pool!

If you want to be super efficient, book this Colca Canyon tour that drops you off in Puno after.

 

If you’re travelling through Peru and want to see Lake Titicaca next, then this is ideal!

Or here’s a 2-day version if you want to see more of the canyon.

Llamas and Alpacas at Colca Canyon, Arequipa (Peru)

Preparing for your first trip to South America? 

Here are 22 FAQ’s to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime: 

Arequipa And Colca Canyon 5-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arequipa City Day
  • Day 2-3 – Colca Canyon Hike
  • Day 4 – Rest Day
  • Day 5 – Salinas Lagoon or Sillar Stone Route Day Tour

If you decide to stay for 5 days in Arequipa then there are some great day tour options to explore outside of the city.

Day 5 - Option 1: Salinas Lagoon

If you want to see Peru’s version of the salt flats, then a trip to the Salinas Lagoon is a must.

 

This reserve is home to lagoons, hot springs, wetlands and spectacular scenery. You’ll also be able to see three species of flamingoes. 

Day 5 - Option 2: Sillar Quarry

If you want to see the Sillar Squary, where the stone cutters produce the stone that you see all around the beautiful streets of Arequipa, then go for this tour.

For more on backpacking in Peru and South America, check out our itineraries and travel routes:

 

 

The White Stone Streets of Arequipa (Peru)

Where's The Best Place To Stay In Arequipa?

The city centre of Arequipa is relatively condensed so most accommodation options are within walking distance of Plaza de Armas.

Arequipa Backpackers Downtown

If you’re a backpacker looking to meet people, then I’d recommend Arequipa Backpackers Downtown.

 

They have a pool and table tennis tables and the staff are super helpful.

Selina

If you’re a flashpacker looking for nice rooms, or a digital nomad looking for the best co-working spaces then I recommend Selina. 

 

They also have a nice outside pool and garden area. 

Selina's pool, Arequipa (Peru)
cool hostel in Cotopaxi National Park

When's The Best Time To Visit Arequipa?

The best time to visit Arequipa is between May and October

 

This is the dry season in Peru and you’ll be treated to sunny days and very little rain. 

 

If you visit Arequipa between June and August, this will be peak season which means lots of travellers. This is great if you’re a backpacker and want to meet lots of people. However, it also means increased prices for tours and acccommodation.

 

The shoulders seasons of April and November are good times to visit Arequipa if you want less crowds and lower prices.

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America

To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:

 

 

How To Get To Arequipa

You have two options for getting around Peru: fly or bus

 

Buses are safe and a lot cheaper. I recommend going with Cruz Del Sur as they have the best reputation.

 

A lot of journeys are long so I recommend taking a night bus where you can. Cruz el Sur seats are comfy and recline so it’s easy to sleep on.

 

Internal lights are more expensive but are a great way to save time. Most single flights in Peru cost around $75-100.

How To Get To Arequipa From Huacachina

  • Flights – a flight from Ica to Arequipa starts from around $70 and takes 1h30m
  • Bus – You’ll have to get to the main town of Ica from Huacachina first. From there, you can take an overnight bus. Buses start from $24

 

Check out my Huacachina city guide here if you’re planning to go.

How To Get To Arequipa From Cusco

  • Flights – a flight from Cusco to Arequipa starts from around $50 and takes 1 hour.
  • Bus – You can take an overnight bus which takes 10 hours. Buses start from $19.

 

Head here for a full Cusco itinerary.

How To Get To Arequipa From Puno

Bus – You can take an overnight bus which takes 10-12 hours. Buses start from $15.

 

Head the this post for the full guide to visiting Lake Titicaca in Puno. 

Arequipa, the White City (Peru)

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Arequipa FAQ’s

Should I Go To Arequipa Before Or After Cusco?

I recommend visiting Arequipa before Cusco for a couple of reasons:

 

  • Altitude – Arequipa is at 2,335 m (7,660 ft) above sea level which is around 1000m less than Cusco. So visiting Arequipa first is a great way to start acclimating to higher altitudes.

 

  • Route – if you want to see more of what Peru has to offer, then an itinerary that starts in Lima and then makes its way down the coast to Paracas, Nazca and then Arequipa is a great option. You can then visit Puno and Lake Titicaca from Arequipa before ending in Cusco

The amount of days to spend in Colca Canyon depends on what you want to achieve:

 

  • 1 Day – you can visit it on a day tour but this will only be the viewpoint. You can’t hike it

 

  • 2 Days/1 night – this is the standard amount of time taken for hiking tours into Colca Canyon. You hike down into the canyon on the first day, stay over night at the oasis and then hike back out on the second.

 

  • 3 days / 2 nights – there are some extended tours on offer to Colca Canyon or you can do this self-guided. With an extra day and night in the canyon you can explore some of the other trails.

Arequipa is known for its safe streets and friendly atmosphere.

 

Whether you’re exploring the historic center or taking a stroll in the picturesque neighborhoods, you can feel at ease knowing that the city is generally safe for tourists.

 

Just remember to stay alert and take normal precautions to ensure a pleasant experience in Arequipa.

It’s 100% worth staying in Colca Canyon over night!

 

The oasis a fun place to relax after a long hike, especially with the swimming pool. Also once the canyon gets dark, you’ll get one of the best views of the night sky.

You can easily spend 48 hours in Arequipa. 

 

Visit the museums, eating at the picanterias and enjoying the rooftop bars will easily fill two days. 

 

However, 2 days isn’t enough if you want to do the Colca Canyon hike as this takes 2 days/1 night. 

The most popular day trip from Arequipa will be a Colca Canyon tour. This is popular for tourists who don’t want to complete the trek.

 

Other great day trips from Arequipa include:

 

  • Salinas Lagoon (similar to the salt flats in Bolivia)
  • Sillar Quarry – where you can see the famous white stones of Arequipa being cut

It’s definitely a challenge!

 

The first day is tough on knees as your going down into the canyon for around 5-6 hours. However, you get a lot of time to rest at the oasis when you reach the bottom.

 

The second day is also tough as you’re climbing back out which takes 3-4 hours.

One day in Arequipa isn’t really enough to enjoy the city or see Colca Canyon. 

 

If you are just passing through then you can see most of the highlights of the city in 24 hours. I’d recommend a walking tour to see the best places such as Plaza de Armas and the Santa Catalina Monastery.

 

However, if you want to see the city and Colca Canyon, I recommend 2-3 days minimum.

Two days in Arequipa is enough to see the city but probably not Colca Canyon.

 

If you are just passing through then you can see most of the highlights of the city in 24 hours. I’d recommend a walking tour to see the best places such as Plaza de Armas and the Santa Catalina Monastery.

 

You could then do a day tour to Colca Canyon on the second.

 

However, if you want to do the Colca Canyon hike, I’d recommend 3-4 days minimum as the hiking days 2 days / 1 night.

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