Arequipa City Guide
OVERVIEW: Arequipa, Peru. The country's second biggest city after Lima. The city's center is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although it isn't as impressive as many other of the World Heritage Sites in Latin America. Main industries are manufacturing, trade and tourism. It's a fairy developed city by Latin American standards, with a solid healthcare services and decent infrastructure.
WEATHER: Cool, desert climate. Temperatures rarely exceed 25°C. Can get cold in winter (under 10°C ).
SAFETY: It isn't completely safe here in Arequipa. The main thing you'll have to watch out for is taxi drivers - several are criminals and will take your shit or pull an express kidnapping. Mexico City gets a bad wrap but Arequipa is far worse. This is a problem they must deal with. Even locals will warn against taking random taxis. It feels safe to walk around during the day/night in centro. Lots of people, lots of police
MUST DO: Buy alpaca gear. Their wool makes for good sweaters, and Arequipa is known as being a good place to buy. There are also volcanos and rivers in the area if you are in to outdoor stuff.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN AREQUIPA: $500.00 will do just fine. Personally, I wouldn't want to live here. It's kind of unremarkable. But if you love Peru and if you find Lima too chaotic but still want a big city atmosphere, Arequipa could work for you.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT $10.00 or less will get you in a hostel. There are several here in Arequipa to choose from.
NIGHTLIFE IN AREQUIPA: 6.5/10
6.5 could be a bit harsh. Maybe I'm missing something. Luckily there are a lot of bars located around Plaza de Armas, where you can easily find a hostel. There are a number of bars and clubs around here but...meh. Nothing special for a city of this size. I found nightlife to be somewhat expensive here.
I recommend: Deja Vu. I can't vouch for this directly because I haven't been, but it was recommend to me. If anyone reading this happens to go to Arequipa and hits it up, shoot me an email and let me know how it is.
BOTTLE OF BEER: $2.00
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP IN AREQUIPA: 7/10
As per usual in mid-sized Latin American cities, most girls will live at home. Not a big deal if you have your own place or if the girl is cool with a love motel (if she's willing to hook-up with you the same night she met you, she probably is). Like Peru in general, if a girl is interested in you, you'll know. She'll stare at you. Cold approaches work well, but expect a bit of hesitancy because there aren't as many foreigners here as in Lima or Cusco. Girls are friendly and kissing comes easy but don't expect to be able to rack up one night stands. Most girls here won't spread their legs for a tourist just passing through.
***ONLINE DATING: Latin American Cupid allows you to talk with girls and set up dates before you arrive in the country. For this reason, I recommend it.
ARE GIRLS HOT IN AREQUIPA?: 6.5/10.
Lima is still the best option in Peru for finding hot girls...aside from Playa Asia in the summer, where all the hot girls you never knew existed in Peru seem to come out of the woodwork. But that's a whole other post. Anyway, the quality here isn't too bad. It seems to be one of those cities where you see no attractive women walking around town during the day, but when night falls they magically show up in the bars. Don't come here expecting the quality you'd find in Colombia, but you can certainly expect it to be better than Ecuador or Guatemala.
If you want to meet women in Arequipa, you will need to speak some Spanish. Peru is known for having a pretty high number of English speakers, but this becomes less true outside of Lima. The Pickup Spanish program is the only course of its kind, designed specifically to teach you Spanish for meeting Latinas in Latin America.
GROCERIES: Milk (1L)= $1.30 Loaf of Bread= $1.75 Eggs= $1.70 Water (1.5L)= $1.00 Cigarettes= $2.50
JOB OPPORTUNITIES: You could hack it teaching English here. As far as I know there aren't too many international companies operating here in Arequipa so don't count on a transfer.
TAXI: $3.00. It's best to call one from your hostel or hotel. Mitigates the risk.
NOTES: I don't reckon I'd go back. It's a hard city to fall in love with. If you have several weeks in Peru it is worth checking out. If you're just backpacking through give it a miss. Traffic is miserable and, although the center is nice enough, it's not something I'd go out of my way to see. I'll toss it a 6.5/10.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10
*More city guides from Peru Here!