Often considered Peru’s second city, Arequipa is the main destination in the country’s southern region! The city is considered a melting pot between Spanish and indigenous cultures, making it a popular destination with tourists wanting to dive deep into the country’s history and contemporary culture.
Though Arequipa is one of the safest cities in South America, its large town centre takes up around a third of the area – making it tricky to navigate. Online map services often mislabel some of the areas in the city, so it’s important to understand the most important neighborhoods before you arrive.
That’s why we’ve created this guide! We’ve figured out the four best neighborhoods in Arequipa, and categorised them based on who they are best for. The best hostels, hotels and AirBnBs are also included – making your planning a little easier.
So let’s get started!
- Where to Stay in Arequipa
- Arequipa Neighborhood Guide
- 4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Arequipa
- #1 Vallecito – Where to Stay in Arequipa for Your First Time
- #2 PeruRail Station – Where to Stay in Arequipa on a Budget
- #3 Selva Alegre – Best Neighborhood in Arequipa for Families
- #4 Plaza de Armas – Where to Stay in Arequipa for Nightlife
Looking for a specific place to stay while backpacking Peru? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Arequipa.
If you’re traveling on a tight budget, we’d recommend one of the great hostels in Arequipa. Find a cozy but affordable place to rest your head, so you’ll be well-rested for your next adventure. Staying at hostels also give you the opportunity to meet likeminded backpackers.
Best Airbnb in Arequipa: Breakfast Included
As one of the few AirBnBs in the city that provides breakfast, this is a popular choice with large groups and families visiting Arequipa! It’s only a short walk from Plaza de Armas, keeping you well connected with all of the main attractions.
The host also has superhost status, ensuring high levels of service.
Best Hostel in Arequipa: Arequipay Backpackers Downtown
As the best-rated hostel in Arequipa, Arequipay Backpackers Downtown had to take our top spot for backpacker accommodation! They provide plenty of excellent facilities, as well as social events where you can mingle with other guests.
It is also well placed right in the heart of the city.
Best Hotel in Arequipa: Hotel Boutique Villa Elisa
This three-star hotel goes above and beyond its rating with excellent facilities – all whilst still providing budget-friendly rates! Decorated in the traditional colonial style, it allows guests to experience a little piece of Arequipa history.
It is also designed with families in mind – perfect if you’re travelling with kids.
Just south of the Plaza de Armas neighborhood, Vallecito is considered a part of the historic centre, and is often the main pick for visitors that want to stay in the centre without the bustling atmosphere of the main area!
Down in the far south of the historic centre, the Perurail Station is surrounded by a variety of small neighborhoods that are less touristy than other parts of the city centre!
Plaza de Armas
Right in the heart of the city centre, Plaza de Armas is the main tourism hub of the city – and also where you will find most of the nightlife!
Named after the large park in the area, Selva Alegre starts in the north of the historic centre and stretches far into the outer city. This area is the perfect choice for those that want to stay close to the city centre but want a calmer alternative!
Arequipa is considered a UNESCO Human Heritage Site thanks to its unique mixing of Spanish and indigenous cultures! The city centre is known for its colonial architecture, and most of the locals have a mixed heritage – allowing you to experience a more authentic side of Peruvian culture whilst in the city.
The Historic Centre takes up around a third of the urban area (though there are plenty of other towns nearby worth visiting). Due to its size, we have divided it up into four areas – each with their own distinct atmosphere and attractions.!
Right in the heart of the Historic Centre is Plaza de Armas! This is where many tours of the city start – and is also the cultural epicentre of the city.
For those wanting to experience the city’s unique nightlife, Plaza de Armas is the place to be. It is also home to some interesting historical attractions, as well as trendy restaurants.
For more of an authentic feel, Vallecito is the area just beneath the Plaza de Armas neighborhood! Also considered part of the Historic Centre, this is where you will discover the city’s oldest attractions – including the famous whitewashed buildings.
Though generally calmer than its northern neighbor, Vallecito can still get quite busy during the peak tourist season.
If you are looking for something a bit calmer, heading to Selva Alegre in the far north of the Historic Centre is a great option! This area is known for its huge park – as well as an abundance of family-friendly attractions.
It is also a great starting point for tours heading to the towns and villages surrounding Arequipa, as well as the famous El Misti volcano.
On the opposite end of the Historic Centre is a collection of small neighborhoods surrounding the PeruRail Station. Aside from obviously being the best-connected neighborhood with the rest of Peru, this area is also one of the best priced.
Arequipa is already a fairly budget-friendly city, however, the neighborhoods surrounding the PeruRail Station are perfect for those on a very tight budget.
Still need some help deciding? Check out our more extensive guides below!
4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Arequipa
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the four best neighbourhoods in Arequipa. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
Just south of the Plaza de Armas neighborhood, Vallecito is considered a part of the Historic Centre, and is often the main pick for visitors that want to stay in the centre without the bustling atmosphere of the main area! Vallecito still benefits from the beautiful whitewashed architecture that the city is known for, as well as views of El Misti volcano.
It is also the cultural hub of the city – featuring multiple museums, art galleries and even independent theatres! It has a more local atmosphere than the touristy centre, giving first-time visitors the chance to get a first-hand experience of how modern Peruvians live.
Best Airbnb in Vallecito: Private Apartment
This family-owned apartment comes with fantastic reviews thanks to the excellent service provided by the hosts – who have superhost status! If you want to live like a local, whilst also enjoying some great recommendations, you cannot go wrong with choosing this apartment.
It also has great views across the river.
Best Hostel Vallecito: Arequipay Backpackers Downtown
This well-rated hostel is right in the heart of Vallecito! They offer free yoga sessions, as well as tours of the surrounding area. Guests can also enjoy complimentary bicycle hire, breakfast and fitness facilities.
It is a little pricier than other hostels in the city, but well worth it.
Best Hotel in Vallecito: SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western
Best Western are known for their comfort across the world – and their SureStay Plus Hotel is housed within a traditional building, allowing guests to enjoy a little slice of Arequipa history from their room! A complimentary breakfast buffet is provided every morning, and there are some parking facilities.
Things to See and Do in Vallecito:
- Head to the Mercado Central to pick up some fresh local produce, as well as great souvenirs, whilst mingling with locals
- The Museo de Arqueologia is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists – they have two buildings in the area
- Try your hand at making local cuisine with the Peruvian Cooking Experience – they do a variety of classes, including vegetarian friendly experiences
- Phaway Viajes offer local tours of the city – as well as the surrounding region and up to the El Misti Volcano!
- If you’re looking for some excellent cuisine from across Latin America, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Señor Chicharron
Down in the far south of the Historic Centre, the PeruRail Station is surrounded by a variety of small neighborhoods that are less touristy than other parts of the city centre! This not only makes them perfect for those on a strict budget, but also a great way to experience the local culture.
This area doesn’t have many typical tourist attractions when compared to the rest of the city centre – but in many ways this is part of the charm! The locally-owned restaurants, quaint shops and dive bars become attractions in their own right, giving you a unique experience when compared to the rest of the city.
Best Airbnb in PeruRail Station: Beautiful Apartment
Truly living up to its name, this gorgeous apartment has modern furnishings that create a bright and airy atmosphere! The kitchen is well equipped – and even comes with a coffee maker and bags of ground coffee to help perk you up in the mornings.
It is only a two-minute walk from the train station.
Best Hostel PeruRail Station: Arequipa Dreams Inn Vallecito
Though technically located on the edge of Vallecito, Arequipa Dreams Inn is only a short walk away from the PeruRail Station! They offer private rooms at excellent rates, as well as spacious communal areas where you can mingle with other guests and still enjoy a typical hostel atmosphere.
Best Hotel in PeruRail Station: La Casa de Tintin
Built in the traditional colonial style, this hotel comes with gorgeous views of the surrounding volcanoes and rivers! The on-site restaurant is open to both guests and outsiders, making it a firm favourite with tourists and locals alike.
An American style breakfast is provided to all guests every morning.
Things to See and Do in PeruRail Station:
- Catch a local football match at Estadio Melgar – or if you prefer other sports, check out their listings online
- Playa los Arcos is a small park in the neighborhood that is a popular picnic and meeting spot for locals and visitors alike
- The Arequipa Museum of Contemporary Art is located just next to the train station, and is the largest collection of art in the city
- Camino Peru offer excellent walking and hiking tours of the country – with buses departing from the station
- La Casona del Ferrocarril is a popular, and budget-friendly, restaurant located within the train station offering local cuisine
Named after the large park in the area, Selva Alegre starts in the north of the Historic Centre and stretches far into the outer city. This area is the perfect choice for those that want to stay close to the city centre but want a calmer alternative!
It is particularly popular with families thanks to the amazing attractions that simply everyone loves.
Though Arequipa is already one of the safest cities on the continent, Selva Alegre has a particularly safe reputation – ideal for those with any worries about staying in the city! It also comes with the best views of El Misti Volcano, as well as interesting local scenery.
Best Airbnb in Selva Alegre: La Quinta
This magnificent two-bedroom apartment comes with sweeping views across the city and towards the El Misti Volcano! Though it officially sleeps four, the living room sofa can also accommodate small children – making it a great choice for larger families.
It is securely locked for your peace of mind.
Best Hostel Selva Alegre: Selina Arequipa
Right on the boundary between Selva Alegre and the Plaza de Armas area, Selina Arequipa is perfect for backpackers wanting to stay in a quieter neighborhood that is still within walking distance of all the major attractions! They also have a coworking space, making it popular with digital nomads.
Best Hotel in Selva Alegre: Hotel Boutique Villa Elisa
This hotel is designed for families, so naturally, it takes our top spot for hotels in Selva Alegre! They provide a complimentary breakfast buffet, as well as high-speed WiFi access throughout. There is a reasonably sized pool outside, surrounded by a balcony with views across the city.
Things to See and Do in Selva Alegre:
- Parque Selva Alegre is the largest park in the city centre and comes with great facilities including candy stalls and pedal boats
- If you want to discover some interesting pre-colonial art from Peru’s indigenous population, head to Museo Puriqruna
- Parque Lambramani is not a park, but actually a large shopping mall right next to Selva Alegre Park with international brands
- Visit Mundo Alpaca, an interesting attraction dedicated to the history of alpaca farming in the country – they also have a herd outside
- Picanteria la Mundial is an excellent spot to enjoy a hearty Peruvian meal without breaking the bank
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Right in the heart of the city centre, Plaza de Armas is the main tourism hub of the city – and also where you will find most of the nightlife! The nightlife in Arequipa has a more laid back ambience than in other Latin American cities – which creates an easy-going cool throughout all of the bars and nightclubs.
Nightlife aside, Plaza de Armas has the same gorgeous architecture as its neighbor to the south, though maintains a vibrant atmosphere throughout the day! The cafes, restaurants and stores are full of life, creating an infectious charm that will have you not wanting to leave.
Best Airbnb in Plaza de Armas: Breakfast Included
Guests at this AirBnB are treated to a complimentary breakfast of toast, butter, jam and tea every morning! It is also well-stocked with coffee to last you for the duration of your trip.
It is one of the most centrally located apartments – only a three-minute walk from Plaza de Armas itself.
Best Hostel Plaza de Armas: Holidays Backpacker Hostel
This hostel is fairly basic but stylish – and their great service combined with cheap rates make it one of the best-rated hostels in the city centre! They provide a complimentary breakfast every morning, and they have a spacious patio and terrace where you can mingle with other guests.
Best Hotel in Plaza de Armas: CIRQA – Relais & Châteaux
This five-star hotel is the most expensive accommodation in our guide – but absolutely worth it if you’re looking to splurge! Rooms are fully air-conditioned, and come with luxury finishes to add to your comfort. Free high-speed WiFi is available throughout the hotel, and there is a gorgeous pool area.
Things to See and Do in Plaza de Armas
- Brujas has to be our top nightlife spot in the city – its cosy atmosphere and excellent cocktail menu makes it the ideal spot for mingling with locals and other travellers
- Mono Blanco is another great bar, though has more of an upmarket atmosphere and the prices to match
- Plaza de Armas itself is the main square of the city, featuring some important historic buildings – it is also a major gathering point for locals
- Calle Mercaderes is the main shopping street in the city – take a walk down to enjoy some retail therapy from international and local brands
- Looking for a cheap bite to eat? La Lucha is an excellent restaurant offering typical Peruvian cuisine with a modern twist
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Arequipa
Arequipa is a beautiful city that should be included on every itinerary to Peru! With whitewashed walls, historic attractions and mesmerising views of the surrounding volcanoes, it provides a calm respite away from the hustle and bustle of Lima and Cusco.
For the best area, we are going to go with Plaza de Armas! This truly is the beating heart of the city, and features an eclectic array of attractions, restaurants and bars waiting to be explored.
Nevertheless, every area mentioned in this guide has its own charms – whether you want somewhere peaceful, or somewhere that lets you explore your adventurous side. We hope we have helped you to better plan your upcoming trip.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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