Arequipa is known as Peru’s White City, recognizable for the baroque white stone architecture set against a stunning landscape with volcano views. While many travelers spend their entire trip to Peru exploring Lima, Cusco, and the Amazon, they’re missing out by skipping over Arequipa. This colonial-era city is set among three impressive volcanoes and offers a chance to learn more about Peru’s history while also enjoying its stunning natural landscapes. Get off the tourist track in Peru and discover the best of Arequipa with these ten must-do activities.

10 Stroll Through Plaza De Armas

Plaza de Armas is the main city square in Arequipa and is perhaps one of the most beautiful central squares in South America. Admire the incredible baroque architecture while strolling the old streets, or take a walking tour of the city to learn more about its history. Travelers should plan to visit Plaza De Armas around lunch or dinner time to indulge in one of the many restaurants lining the quaint streets in this area of the city.

9 Hike Chachani

Not for the inexperienced hiker, Chachani Volcano is an epic hiking route near Miraflores, Arequipa, that makes a visit to this region extremely memorable. The loop is 30.9 km and takes 12 hours and 50 minutes to complete, on average. It’s rated as a hard hike with 2115 meters of elevation gain, and it’s possible to complete the journey in a single day for those with a good fitness level. Ideally, travelers should stay in Arequipa for a few days before attempting the hike to get used to the altitude.

Related: 10 Peruvian Dishes To Try in Peru (& Where to Find Them)

8 ​​Tour The Basilica Cathedral Of Arequipa

The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa lines one side of the Plaza De Armas, an impressive neoclassical structure made of white stone with towering columns. The construction of the cathedral began back in 1621, based on plans from Andrés de Espinoza. Building the cathedral took decades, and it was finally completed under the supervision of Juan de Aldana in 1656.

7 Visit Museo Santuarios Andinos

The Museo Santuarios Andinos is Arequipa’s most popular museum and is a look into the history of the region and Andean culture. The archaeological museum is a worthwhile place to spend an afternoon and gain a better appreciation for Arequipa and its past. The museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except on Sundays when it closes at 3:00 p.m.

6 Learn About Sabandía Mill

Sabandía Mill, or Molino de Sabandía, is a tranquil, historic water mill in Arequipa. The colonial mill was built in 1621 by Francis Flores. The water mill, which is three centuries old, is located in the countryside of Arequipa, in a peaceful area that allows visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the region. It’s possible to walk to the mill in about 45 minutes from the historical center of the city or drive there in just 10 minutes.

5 Hike And Spot Wildlife At Salinas Y Aguada Blanca National Reserve

The Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve is located in a protected area of Peru, in Arequipa and Moquegua. The reserve seeks to protect local flora, fauna, and wildlife that are unique to Peru. Travelers should plan a day trip to the reserve from Arequipa for hiking among the many varied and spectacular landscapes. Within the park, there are lagoons, plains, volcanoes, mountains, and wetlands.

Visitors can bring binoculars for bird watching and wildlife spotting. Animals living within the reserve include llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, guanaco, Andean mountain cats, Andean foxes, and more.

4 See The Views From Yanahuara

Yanahuara is a district outside the city center of Arequipa that offers travelers unmatched panoramic views of the landscapes surrounding the city. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun go down behind El Misti Volcano. After watching the sunset, visitors can stroll around the quaint neighborhood and admire the white stone buildings, colonial architecture, and charming plazas.

Related: 10 Most Instagrammable Things To Do In Peru

3 Shop At Mercado San Camilo

Mercado San Camilo is a bustling market in Arequipa where travelers can find everything from artisanal stands to fresh local produce and butcher’s shops. The market is open seven days a week, with reduced hours on Sundays. Stroll through the colorful streets and explore stalls selling crafts, fruits, smoothies, and more. This is the perfect place to grab a souvenir to remember Peru.

2 Visit Santa Catalina Monastery

Santa Catalina Monastery is one of the most popular attractions in Arequipa for a good reason. Its colorful exterior and intricate architectural design make it an impressive landmark in the city, dating back to 1579. The Monastery was a convent for nuns for 400 years and was first opened to the public in 1970. The stunning red stone walls are an icon of Arequipa.

The monastery is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, with the last entrance at 5:00 p.m. On Thursdays, the monastery is open later until 8:30 p.m.

1 Day Trip To Colca Canyon

A trip to Arequipa isn’t complete without a day trip to Colca Canyon. The sweeping natural attraction is one of the deepest canyons in the world and is a popular spot for trekking. This canyon has Andean vegetation and steeped terraces that make for a jaw-dropping view on any hikes through this area. The easiest way to get to Colca Canyon from Arequipa is by bus, which takes approximately 5 hours.