Eat, Play, Stay: Arequipa, Peru

Every country seem to have one – a chill out place for us to relax and unwind, no itineraries required: In Vietnam, it was Hoi An. In Thailand, it was Chiang Mai. Sucre in Bolivia. Udaipur in India. And for Peru, it’s Arequipa.

Arequipa’s European influences, Baroque-style buildings and cobble roads makes the city easy to love. We fell right at ease the moment we arrived. It’s a big city compared to the ones we’ve visited thus far with options, like especially food. They even have a McDonald’s! I know, as sad as that sounds, we were both relieved to see more familiar food after a month of pollo con papa fritas.

mcdonalds arequipa

We spent a leisurely 5 days doing absolutely nothing but meander the streets running day-to-day errands like grocery runs, laundry, visits to the open market, resting.

Eat

Arequipa is the city where Peruvian cuisine shines. One of the few places where we found fresh ceviche – raw fish cured in lime juice with aji. And the best is located at the Mercado de San Camilo at the Cevicheria Polita stall. It’s so good, it’s one of our most memorable meals in 2012.

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Also at the market, be sure to try rocoto relleno, a chili pepper stuffed with meat, garlic and onions and veggie medley topped with cheese and broiled to toasty perfection. First few bites are deliciously mild but the chili kicks in quick.

chicharoones peru  rocoto-relleno

Also at the market: pork sandwiches and fresh fruit salads made to order.

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Another local specialty is chupe de Camarones, soup made with tomatoes, shrimps, hot peppers, potatoes, milk and eggs. You can get this at any local restaurant or my favorite is at the San Camilo Market. It’s also cheap too!

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Play

The neighborhoods. We didn’t “see” the major touristy stuff you’re supposed to see when visiting Arequipa. No Cathedral or Monastery, no museums. Instead, we did our own walking tour and walked across town to check out the different neighborhoods. We crossed the river and caught a glimpse of the volcano in the distance. A must see we can recommend, one that we made daily visits to, is the Mercado de San Camilo.

arequipa view

There’s a couple of museums, Cathedrals and Monasteries to visit. We did not go to any because by now, we were quite burnt out being tourists. We also couldn’t justify paying some of the entrance fees. However, one thing we did a lot that I’d recommend is also free! Go sit in the main square, Plaza de Armas, feed some pigeons and just people watch. It’s a beautiful square and many locals flock here late afternoon when the weather has cooled.

plaza de armas arequipa

Funny story: We spent enough time people watching before we realized we were the ones being watched by a school of Peruvian tweens. One by one, they made their way to Gerard and ask if they could take a photo with him. They probably thought he was the Asian Justin Bieber. Soon, he had the entire class hovering around him, it was quite entertaining to watch.

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Stay

We stayed at Amazing Hostel Arequipa in a quaint part of town and just a short 10 minutes walk to Plaza de Armas. They offer spacious rooms and recreational area with ping pong tables and large kitchen. Mornings are filled with delicious banana pancakes and omelets. The staff is extremely nice and helpful, they can book all your Arequipa and beyond excursions including bus rides out of town.

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arequipa streets

This was a much needed break for us. Places like this, Arequipa, helps us to recharge and get over travel fatigue and we highly recommend spending a few lazy days here doing absolutely nothing. If you don’t want to lazy around like we did, popular nearby trips include rafting Rio Chili/Cotahuasi and the enormous Colca Canyon.

What are your favorite things to do in Arequipa, Peru?

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  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    Awesome! I think it’s absolutely okay not to do all the sightseeing if you don’t feel like it. It gets redundant and there’s nothing worse than being dazed by travel! We’re looking at South America for our next destination, timely post!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yup! By the time we hit S. America, we got real lazy and just vegged out. LOL.. When will you be there?

  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    Awesome! I think it’s absolutely okay not to do all the sightseeing if you don’t feel like it. It gets redundant and there’s nothing worse than being dazed by travel! We’re looking at South America for our next destination, timely post!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yup! By the time we hit S. America, we got real lazy and just vegged out. LOL.. When will you be there?

  • pasturebraised

    We absolutely love Arequipa, and much like you two, didn’t do much of anything. The open air market there was one of the best in Peru. Such an amazing variety of produce, grains, and meats. They even had a kick ass Quechan medicinal herbal section where you could literally find a holistic herb to cure just about anything! The food was great, we ended up eating at the Peruvian/Swiss fusion place one night which had the most amazing fondue featuring a wide array of Peruvian potatoes. We don’t have a lot of pictures to show, but we have a lot of fun memories.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I think the holistic herbs are the best! 😛 I’m jealous, Peruvian/Swiss sounds very intriguing.. especially the potatoes!

  • pasturebraised

    We absolutely love Arequipa, and much like you two, didn’t do much of anything. The open air market there was one of the best in Peru. Such an amazing variety of produce, grains, and meats. They even had a kick ass Quechan medicinal herbal section where you could literally find a holistic herb to cure just about anything! The food was great, we ended up eating at the Peruvian/Swiss fusion place one night which had the most amazing fondue featuring a wide array of Peruvian potatoes. We don’t have a lot of pictures to show, but we have a lot of fun memories.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I think the holistic herbs are the best! 😛 I’m jealous, Peruvian/Swiss sounds very intriguing.. especially the potatoes!

  • Lazy Travelers

    oooh sounds like arequipa was done in true lazy travelers fashion! we like it, we like it!

  • Lazy Travelers

    oooh sounds like arequipa was done in true lazy travelers fashion! we like it, we like it!

  • http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com/ Anita Mac

    Sounds awesome. I breezed through Arequipa far too quickly – saw the convent, Juanita at the museum and a little lazing in the Plaza! Don’t remember the food looking quite so fantastic – that bowl of fruit looks amazing.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I think of our month in Peru, we ate very well here. It’s regional too which adds variety to the typical Peruvian dishes we were accustomed to. I’m craving fruit salad now.. lol

  • http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com/ Anita Mac

    Sounds awesome. I breezed through Arequipa far too quickly – saw the convent, Juanita at the museum and a little lazing in the Plaza! Don’t remember the food looking quite so fantastic – that bowl of fruit looks amazing.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I think of our month in Peru, we ate very well here. It’s regional too which adds variety to the typical Peruvian dishes we were accustomed to. I’m craving fruit salad now.. lol

  • OCDemon

    Some of my favorite places are the ones that lack world-class monuments, but are just nice towns to wander around aimlessly. They’re those “I wish I were writing a novel because I’m right here and it would be great” places.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hear hear.. :)

  • SnarkyNomad

    Some of my favorite places are the ones that lack world-class monuments, but are just nice towns to wander around aimlessly. They’re those “I wish I were writing a novel because I’m right here and it would be great” places.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hear hear.. :)

  • The World Wanderer

    So great! This is making me think of Santiago, and how I wish I had had more time to go up to Peru! Ceviche…omg, I’m obsessed now. Sigh. One day I will get here, one day…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Aww.. we didn’t get to hit up Chile. I’m SO obsessed with ceviche now, I crave it often. There’s one good Peruvian place in San Jose we frequent if we need our Peruvian fixed.. might have to go there for dinner soon. hehe

  • The World Wanderer

    So great! This is making me think of Santiago, and how I wish I had had more time to go up to Peru! Ceviche…omg, I’m obsessed now. Sigh. One day I will get here, one day…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Aww.. we didn’t get to hit up Chile. I’m SO obsessed with ceviche now, I crave it often. There’s one good Peruvian place in San Jose we frequent if we need our Peruvian fixed.. might have to go there for dinner soon. hehe

  • Lola DiMarco

    Fantastic pictures! The volcano in the background looks unreal. Looks like a great place to recharge!

  • Lola DiMarco

    Fantastic pictures! The volcano in the background looks unreal. Looks like a great place to recharge!

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    I love getting lost in a city and just spend time there..

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Right?! I look back at the places we’ve been and those cities, the ones where we did nothing but wander and get lost are among my favorite times.. just chill without a huge itinerary. :)

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    I love getting lost in a city and just spend time there..

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Right?! I look back at the places we’ve been and those cities, the ones where we did nothing but wander and get lost are among my favorite times.. just chill without a huge itinerary. :)

  • David Sasaki

    Arequipa was one of our first destinations on our yearlong trip but we did pretty much the same as you – great place to hang out.

    We loved Mercado de San Camilo. Our favorites were the queso helado from a woman on the second floor with news clippings saying “el mejor queso helado” and the chicarron stall in the middle of the floor.

    On the other hand, we had some of our least favorite food in Arequipa at a place called Zig Zag. It was an early lesson to never trust TripAdvisor for food reviews.

  • David Sasaki

    Arequipa was one of our first destinations on our yearlong trip but we did pretty much the same as you – great place to hang out.

    We loved Mercado de San Camilo. Our favorites were the queso helado from a woman on the second floor with news clippings saying “el mejor queso helado” and the chicarron stall in the middle of the floor.

    On the other hand, we had some of our least favorite food in Arequipa at a place called Zig Zag. It was an early lesson to never trust TripAdvisor for food reviews.

  • Pingback: #FoodFriday I love ceviche! | YQ travelling

  • http://perrypuzzles.com/meet-the-owner/ Photomosaics jigsaw puzzles

    unique site and
    interesting too… keep it up…looking forward for more updates.

  • http://perrypuzzles.com/meet-the-owner/ Photomosaics jigsaw puzzles

    unique site and
    interesting too… keep it up…looking forward for more updates.

  • Sarah & Steve

    Hey GQ, my boyfriend and I found your blog before leaving Dubai to go travelling in April and revert to it often. We’re in Arequipa now and will be checking out the market tomorrow.

    We think it’s a great blog, really factual and interesting and like us, you guys love your food too!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Awww. So glad you like it. It’s always great to hear this blog is helping people out. Enjoy Arequipa! Where are you headed next?

  • Sarah & Steve

    Hey GQ, my boyfriend and I found your blog before leaving Dubai to go travelling in April and revert to it often. We’re in Arequipa now and will be checking out the market tomorrow.

    We think it’s a great blog, really factual and interesting and like us, you guys love your food too!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Awww. So glad you like it. It’s always great to hear this blog is helping people out. Enjoy Arequipa! Where are you headed next?

  • Pingback: Glutton in Peru: I ate at San Camilo market and didn’t get food poisoning | YQ travelling

  • bob

    You are a vile woman.

  • bob

    You are a vile woman.

  • KK

    The first thing I did when I went to Arequipa was go to the Tourist Info office and ask “Where is your closest McDonalds?” haha I was also sick of pollos and papas fritas.

    Except I ended up eating KFC.

  • KK

    The first thing I did when I went to Arequipa was go to the Tourist Info office and ask “Where is your closest McDonalds?” haha I was also sick of pollos and papas fritas.

    Except I ended up eating KFC.

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