The famously beautiful Arequipa is, like all grand and majestic cities, full of hidden surprises.
One of these is the Museum of Contemporary Art. For a tiny admission fee, you can browse a compact but well-chosen collection housed in a lovely building of Arequipa’s typical colonial architecture and colonial gardens. The staff is extremely friendly and quite pleased to talk to people who come off the beaten path to view their gallery.
In the world of art, also worth taking a look at is the collection housed in the colonial manor of Tristán del Pozo, located just off the main square on Calle San Francisco. Not only is the house itself worth seeing as a prime example of the architecture of the period, it also houses a Numismatic museum and an art gallery.
One of the main tourist spots for everyone who visits Arequipa is the Santa Catalina monastery, which actually is what we would call a convent. The attraction is certainly worth a visit but, when you are done with your tour, go across the street to the Biondi pisco shop.
Even if you aren’t particularly interested in drinking the national liquor, the staff at Biondi does a good job of explaining how it can be made from different varieties of grapes and, therefore, result in a different flavor. Especially if you aren’t planning a trip to the main pisco-producing Ica region, this gives you a good grounding in the subject of pisco, a source of national pride for many Peruvians.
Dining out is easy and varied here as well. If you have it on your list to try guinea pig, one of the national delicacies of Peru, this is the city to do it in. The word for guinea pig is cuy, and cuy chactado is deep-fried and tasty. Granted, many steer away from deep-fried foods these days but, then again, most of us don’t eat guinea pig on a regular basis either.
It’s worth it to take a trip outside the city to get a panoramic view and enjoy the countryside. There are many locations one can choose for this purpose. One such, about a 20-minute ride outside the city, is Carmen Alto. From here you can get stunning views as well as enjoy some of the traditional fruit juices.
Also worth a trip are some of the outlying regions such as Characato and Sachaka. These offer a great opportunity to get the feel for local life as well as to try some of the local food offerings at one of the traditional restaurants, known as picanterias.