The City

arequipa1Arequipa, founded in 1540, is Peru's second largest urban area, with a population of over 1.1 million. The city is located 1,000 kilometers southeast of Peru's capital, Lima, at 2,235 meters above sea level, and is next to three volcanoes: the still-active Misti and the extinct Chachani and Pichu Pichu. The weather is sunny year-round, warm during the day and cool at night. The average temperature from January to May is approximately 15 degrees Celsius, with a high around 20 degrees Celsius.

Arequipa is an important center of Peruvian arts and culture. Its downtown area, with buildings made of white volcanic rock (sillar) blending native and Spanish styles, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Arequipa's Main Square (Plaza de Armas) is among Peru's most beautiful, with an impressive cathedral and colonial arcaded buildings full of restaurants and cafés.

arequipa2A notable attraction near the square is the 400-year old Santa Catalina Monastery, which is like a city within the city. The Monastery will be the location of the LATIN 2012 banquet. Not too far from the bustling downtown area, there are quiet neighborhoods where you can take a pleasant stroll. One of these is Yanahuara, with a charming square and excellent view of the city, the mountains, and the surrounding countryside. Another is San Lazaro, with pedestrian streets and winding alleys. San Lazaro is the location of San Pablo Catholic University (UCSP) where LATIN 2012 will be held. The UCSP campus lies along the Chili River and has a clear view of the Misti volcano. All over the city there are excellent restaurants, where you can sample Arequipa's cuisine, which occupies a special place in Peru's world-renowned gastronomy.

General information:


  • Elevation: 2,335 m (7,661 ft)
  • Latitude: 16° 23' S
  • Longitude: 71° 32' W
  • Time Zone: UTC–05:00
  • Population: 1,152,303
  • Oficial language: Spanish
  • International dialing code: +51 54

The Surrounding Area

arequipa4In addition to the appeal of Arequipa itself, there are other attractions within easy reach. The countryside around the city, known as the Campiña Arequipeña, is worth exploring. Farther away is the spectacular Colca canyon, one of the world's deepest and home to the Andean condor. Getting there from Arequipa takes a few hours by car, and at least an overnight stay is recommended.

arequipa6The Southern region of Peru, where Arequipa is located, has many points of interest, including the Nazca lines, the Paracas Natural Reserve, the Altiplano, and Lake Titicaca. The Cusco region deserves special mention. Its capital Cusco is about half an hour by plane from Arequipa. That city was the capital of the Inca Empire, and was a major administrative center after the  Spanish conquest. It contains numerous buildings attesting to its rich history. There are several major archeological sites near Cusco, including Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Choquequirao, and, most famously, Machu Picchu.

See our travel section for more information.

Distances to other major cities:

  • 1.003 km to Lima
  • 513 km to Cusco
  • 326 km to Puno

Currency and forms of payment


The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/.). The US Dollar is accepted in some local businesses, restaurants, and gas stations at the day's exchange rate. It is also possible to exchange foreign currency (USD and Euros) at hotels, banks, and authorized exchange houses.

Working hours for most banks and exchange houses are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The country's main cities have ATMs that accept different kinds of debit and credit cards. The most widely accepted credit cards are American Express, VISA, Diners Club, and MasterCard. Not all establishments accept traveler's checks, so we recommend asking first before attempting to use them to make purchases.