Arequipa might be one of the largest cities in Peru, but in comparison to Lima, you can actually do a lot on foot. The oldtown is one of the biggest and nicest we have seen. 90% of the hostels are located in the center and that’s where you should stay. Arequipa has also one of the best central markets, with plenty of food and fruit options for very affordable prices (2€ a meal). It is worth staying in Arequipa a couple of days.
Arequipa has very good weather throughout the whole year, in June/July, which is Peruvian winter, we had constantly 25-30 degrees Celsius.
We stayed in 2 hostels. First in los los Andes bed & breakfast and afterwards in the Mango hostel, both are in the same street, 1 minute away from the central square. We paid roughly 15€ for a private room in los Andes and 18€ for a private at the Mango hostel. We can recommend both of the places highly. While los Andes has the better breakfast and a huge open space, Mango has more of a backpacking vibe.
In our opinion who comes to Arequipa should not miss out on doing a trip (for at least 3 days) to the Colca Canyon which lies a couple of hours outside of the city. The canyon is stunning and a perfect spot for hiking and being in touch with nature.
Colca is the most famous canyon in Peru and definitely worth a visit, especially if you like a good hike. In order to get to Colca you need to take a bus from Arequipa either to Chivay or to Cabanaconde, depending on where you want to start your canyon hike. Although the canyon is only 100km away, the trip can get take some time (in our case: 6 hours to Cabanaconde). The road after Chivay is narrow and goes all along the mountains and therefore the bus has to go slow.
We recommend staying a night in Cabanaconde and then start your trek early in the morning. Of course, if you prefer you can also go with a tour, booking it in advance in Arequipa, but in our opinion there is absolutely no need for that. We stayed in total 3 days in the Canyon and loved the nature and peacefulness we experienced throughout our hike. During the hikes we were mostly on our own, while the overnight stays at small hostels/guest houses gave us the chance to get to know fellow backpackers. We are going to release a more detailed Colca Canyon article soonish, including prices and the most important spots in and around the canyon.