Arequipa vs. Huaraz: Which Should You Visit?

If you’re planning a trip to Peru, the first step is deciding which places to visit and how much time to spend in each. You’ll probably end up in Lima for a day or two when you’re flying in and out, and obviously spend time in Cusco when visiting Machu Picchu. But, what about the rest of your trip? If you’re debating between visiting Arequipa vs. Huaraz, I have everything you need to know to make a decision. I spent one month in each, so I’m ready for the showdown!



If you’re big into nature and hiking, Huaraz is a no brainer. It’s the access point for Huascaran National Park, which contains one of National Geographic’s best treks in the world: Santa Cruz. Daniel and I solo hiked the Santa Cruz trek over 4 days and it was an awesome experience.

Huaraz also boasts Laguna 69, an absolutely stunning and surreal day hike from the city, mountain climbing like our one day climb of Nevado Mateo (which was one of my FAVORITE experiences from my entire 4.5 month trip through Peru), and other common trips to visit lakes and glaciers in the area.



Arequipa’s most popular attraction is Colca Canyon, a weekend trek through the second deepest canyon in the world. While in the city, Daniel and I also foolishly tackled the climb up Misti Volcano (and almost died, but thats another story) but it’s really not a hike I would recommend unless you’re an experienced mountain climber. I enjoyed the Colca Canyon hike, but thought it was less beautiful than pretty much everything we saw in Huaraz. For me, the answer is clear.

Arequipa vs. Huaraz Hiking Winner: Huaraz



Huaraz is a small mountain town of 100,000 people, and Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru with a population of more than 700,000. I think you can probably guess who is going to win this round. Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city built with all white buildings, and has much more restaurant and bar options than Huaraz. It has party hostels and plenty of places to drink the night away.

Huaraz, on the other hand had only one small area that was really built for backpackers to “go-out” in, and it’s about two blocks big. The nightlife is really lacking here, but they do have the Sierra Andina tap house and a new brewery opening up as well, so if you’re into craft beer in Peru and a relaxed vibe, this town may be for you. On the whole, though, it doesn’t compare to a weekend in Arequipa.

Arequipa vs. Huaraz Nightlife Winner: Arequipa 


Accommodation and Daily Life

When Daniel and I travel, we usually stay in each city we visit for a month at a time. That means we become well acquainted with the less glamorous parts of the towns like  grocery stores and pharmacies. When it comes to accommodation and daily life for long term travel in Huaraz and Arequipa, which is better?

Like I said, Arequipa is a big city. That means it has malls, giant grocery stores, American chains and fast food restaurants, and cuisines of all varieties. Wifi is fast(ish) and there are coworking spaces to join.

In Huaraz, not so much. We stopped by a small corner store to buy some essentials, and asked where the bigger grocery stores were to visit the next day. After some confusion, we understood what the cashiers were saying… there aren’t any. Most people only shop at the large market in the center of town. We basically lived off premade foods like mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, granola bars, etc. because the options at the small store were so limited.

Also, even though we were staying in a nice Airbnb our wifi also had plenty of issues that I think were due to the limited access the town as a whole has to the internet. I have a Sprint International phone plan, and the whole month we were in Huaraz my data just… didn’t work. In the past year, it’s the ONLY place I’ve had that issue before. Since Huaraz is smaller, Airbnb options and hostel choices are more limited as well. The beauty of Huaraz is stunning, but living in the city for a month wasn’t easy.

Arequipa vs. Huaraz Accommodation and Daily Life Winner: Arequipa 


Day Trips and Things to Do

In Arequipa, there were tour shops on every corner selling excursions. Downhill biking, climbing Misti Volcano or Chachani, trips to Lake Titicaca, rafting, rock climbing, and more were all on offer. They prices were pretty cheap too. However, a lot of the things to do were far away and took all weekend. Our weekend in Lake Titicaca required a 12 hour round trip, and our trip to Colca Canyon was still around 3 hours away. The downhill biking we did was a total disaster as well. The surrounding area just isn’t that beautiful, and the city doesn’t lend itself well to day trips and excursions to escape the pollution and crowded streets.



Huaraz also had an abundance of tour agencies on every corner. Here, the rock climbing and rafting are in the Cordillera Blanca, one of the country’s most beautiful mountain ranges. You can also ice climb a mountain on a half day excursion, and hike to so many nearby lakes and valleys. We even did a one dollar day trip to Wilcacocha Lake. In Huaraz, the day trips were closer and better (in my opinion) but as far as things to do, there wasn’t much inside the city. During the week we worked at coffee shops, ate dinner out, or enjoyed some drinks on our balcony. In Arequipa, theres a lot more to do in the city like visit the Monastery de Santa Catalina, the Cathedral and main square, markets, museums, scenic overlooks, and endless shopping and restaurant options.

So, this one is split. If you’re a city dweller, you will prefer Arequipa. If you’re a nature lover, Huaraz wins.

Arequipa vs. Huaraz Day Trip Winner: Tied


Cost of Living

I spent four and a half months in Peru, split between four different cities (Cusco, Arequipa, Huaraz, and Lima). The cost of living was similar between all of them. The only major difference I found was that the cost of food in Huaraz was pretty high. Because the market was so small and options were limited, I’d compare it to buying your groceries every week at a Walgreens. We got less food for more money. In Arequipa, the grocery stores were bigger and cheaper.

For weekend costs, in Huaraz we could do day trips for as little as one dollar, and even a trip to Laguna 69 will only run you around $10 or $12. In Arequipa, you will spend more on longer outings or just eating and drinking in the city.

In both, you can find hostels for any price range in your backpacking budget. Because most people who travel in Peru don’t get apartments and cook regularly, the weekend trip costs in Arequipa slightly edge out Huaraz and make it a bit more expensive. But honestly, unless you’re running VERY low on cash, there isn’t much difference at all between the two.

Arequipa vs. Huaraz Cost of Living Winner: Huaraz



Huaraz is only an 8 hour bus ride from Lima. That makes it easy to visit when you fly into the country or before you leave. Peru is HUGE and the distances are often deceiving.

Arequipa requires a flight from Lima if you don’t have the patience for a 18 hour bus ride, and even requires a 10 hour bus ride from Cusco. Clearly, Arequipa farther and more difficult to get to. As someone who hates traveling (like the actual act of getting from one place to the other) because I can never sleep or read on the buses or cars, the relatively easy to access location of Huaraz is a big plus in my book.

Arequipa vs. Huaraz Location Winner: Huaraz



Arequipa vs. Huaraz: Which One Is Right For You?

I’m a bit surprised to learn that the two countries almost tied in my break down, because I personally have such a strong preference for Huaraz. But now that I look at it, it’s pretty clear that the city you choose just depends on your own travel preferences. If you like ease of living, city life, nightlife, and better food and restaurants, visit Arequipa. If you love hiking, getting outdoors, beautiful scenery, and small(er) town life, then choose Huaraz. Or better yet, just extend your trip to Peru and spend time in both!

If you have any questions about the two cities, comment below and I’ll get back to you. Otherwise, enjoy your trip to this amazing country!

All my love,



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18 Travel Photos from 2017 That’ll Make You Book a Flight Right Now

2017 is coming to a close, and I can’t believe it. In the past year, I have…

Lived in 3 Countries
Visited 9 New Cities
Spent 6 Months in Colombia
Spent 4.5 Months in Peru
Took 17 Flights (and countless more busses)
And started my travel blog, Slight North!

This blog was started based on two principles… to showcase gorgeous photos, and write simple, helpful, and honest travel articles. This past year has been a dream, working for myself, exploring the world, and documenting it all. Now, looking back, I can’t believe all the beautiful places I was able to visit!

It was a hard choice, but here are my top 18 travel photos from 2017… I guarantee they are all the inspiration you need to book your next flight today!


Guatape Medellin, Colombia
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Machu Picchu Cusco, Peru
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Girl in a waterfall

Arenales Waterfall Medellin, Colombia
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Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
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girl laughing on door step

Walled City Cartagena, Colombia
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Poblado Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
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Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Jardin, Colombia
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Rainbow Mountain Cusco, Peru
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Humantay Lake Cusco, Peru
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Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
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Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
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sitting on terrace, grey goose, city view

Boutique Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
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Laguna 69 Huaraz, Peru
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Spratt Bight Beach San Andres Island, Colombia
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Santa Cruz Trek Huaraz, Peru
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boat and beach

Playa Blanca Cartagena, Colombia
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Huacachina Oasis Ica, Peru
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Nevado Mateo Huaraz, Peru
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Which one is your favorite? Stay tuned for more travel photos from 2018, from Mexico, the US, and many more countries TBD (I really need to get to that whole planning thing…) Thanks for reading, commenting, and coming along with me this year. It’s been a pleasure to share my travels with you and I can’t wait to see what’s next 🙂

All my love,

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The Lima List: My Favorite Restaurants in Surco

I lived for one month in Surco, a suburban neighborhood in Lima. The neighborhood is near Miraflores and Barranco, and a great place to stay for a longer term trip to the city. Of course, while I was here I ate my way through Surco and found some amazing restaurants along the way. Next time you’re in town, don’t miss my favorite restaurants in Surco!


1. Guru Indian & Pakistani Cuisine

So, if you read any of my food posts here on Slight North, you know I’m in love with Indian food and have been on the hunt for a great Indian restaurant in South America. While trying restaurants in Surco, I’m happy to say I finally found one! I’m not really surprised, because Lima is one of the food capitals of the world, and luckily Guru Indian & Pakistani Cuisine definitely didn’t disappoint.

Best of all, the restaurant has a happy hour from 5 to 7 on weekdays where all their curries are half off, meaning we got a butter chicken curry for only $5. That’s an amazing deal. We also shared a large garlic naan (seriously it was huge) and a side of white rice. Sharing one meal was definitely enough for two.

Total cost for a dinner for two here during happy hour? Only $12 without drinks. Not too bad.


2. Shimaya Ramen

Ahh this place is so good! If you’re into Japanese cuisine, definitely add Shimaya Ramen to your to-do list. So far, we tried the sushi ($6 for a roll of 10 pieces) and two of their different ramen bowls. Both were amazing! The ramen is made with homemade noodles and comes as small, medium, or large. For me, the small was definitely enough for one serving, and only cost $4.50 per bowl.

The ambiance is also great and the place was packed when we went on a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was so delicious, we ate there more than once during out month long stay. Oops 🙂



3. Quintessence Tea Shop

I don’t talk about tea too often, but in the past few years I’ve become a major tea lover. Coca tea is super common in Peru, especially on the treks and tours, but I personally prefer the sweeter, fruitier blends. That’s why I was so happy to discover the Quintessence Tea Shop!

First of all, the ambiance is amazing. The shop is small, cozy, and well lit, and best of all, smells amazing. They also have cute products and books lining the walls to browse, but personally I was distracted by the menu. It had a seriously extensive list of different tea types to try in every imaginable flavor, which you can get either by the cup or by the pot. Tea lovers in Lima, definitely don’t miss this unique shop!


My three favorite restaurants in Surco all have pretty much nothing to do with traditional Peruvian cuisine or seafood, but hey, it is what it is. If you’re only passing through Lima and want to try the most famous restaurants and dishes here, this list is probably not for you. However, if you’re planning to stick around for awhile and want to try something new in the neighborhood, check out my three favorite restaurants in Surco!

All my love,

PS If you’re traveling through or planning a trip to Lima, check out what to do for a day in Barranco, and my perfect weekend trip from Lima!

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Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis: A Photo Diary

The Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis are both only a few hours away from Lima, and make for a perfect weekend trip from the city. Water, sun, and sand are very different from the mountain treks and high altitude hikes we are used to in Peru, but I’m definitely not complaining! Check out our photos from the weekend, and click here to get all the travel details!
























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The Perfect Weekend Trip from Lima

After being in a city of 8 million for over two weeks, I really needed an escape from the noise and pollution. Daniel and I decided to take a weekend trip from Lima to the Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis. While there we met up with one of my best friends who is currently doing the Gringo trail and passing through Peru. We had an awesome time, and now I definitely recommend visiting the Huacachina Oasis on a weekend trip from Lima!



Day One – Lima to Paracas

Our first stop was the Islas Ballestas in Paracas. They are a four hour bus ride from Peru. We caught the bus on a Friday afternoon for our weekend trip from Lima at the Soyuz bus station on Avenida Mexico where the Soyuz and Peru Bus lines both run. They leave every 15 to 20 minutes on the Lima to Ica route, and cost $12 per person.

The bus dropped us off in Pisco, and from there we had to take another 20 minute and $8 taxi ride to Paracas,  a small town right on the water. It has a tiny beach front and a strip of restaurants on the ocean. We met up with our friends, grabbed dinner and a few drinks, and called it a night.


Day Two – Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis

The next morning, we woke up for the 10 am Islas Ballestas tour. The tour cost $8 with another $5 tax, and it is super easy to buy tickets at any of the hostels or agencies around the square. We walked to the pier right in the center of the small town and loaded up on the small boat.

The Islas Ballestas are called the poor man’s Galapagos, but honestly, I think that’s a bit of a stretch. The tour was just… ok. Some factors into my less than enthusiastic review include a hangover on a choppy boat, crowded and uncomfortable seating, crappy gray weather, and worst of all the absolutely horrible and strong smell of exhaust that engulfed us whenever the boat stopped to point out birds or animals. It was extremely unpleasant and definitely impacted my enjoyment of the trip.



However, there were still a few highlights. Most notably was the teeny tiny penguins who lived up on the rock cliffs with the birds, and of course the sea lions. These fuzzy and strange creatures were such a delight to see up close (even though in the back of my mind, I felt awful for being complicit in bringing so much horrible exhaust and boat fumes into their habitats.) The boat tour was two hours total, and we saw the birds, penguins, and sea lions for about 30 to 45 minutes of the trip.



My Tips

If you decide to do the Islas Ballestas tours, my tips would be to bring warm clothes because the boat ride is cold and the wind is strong. Also, if I did it again I would have spent the whole weekend and both nights in Huacachina, and just booked the tour through an agency there to take us out and back, and skip the night in Paracas (although this may be more expensive).

Finally, if you’re really into wildlife you can also add on a second trip to the Paracas National Reserve after your island tour. This is 5 more hours, but only costs an extra $5. Definitely something to consider if you have a lot of time on your hands.


Paracas to Huacachina



After the tour and lunch in town, we started the next leg of our weekend trip from Lima. This time it was off to the Huacachina Oasis. To get to the oasis from Paracas, we waved down a taxi to take us to the Pisco bus station. Although it is back tracking, it was cheaper to take the bus than the $35 taxi ride to Ica. At the bus station, we took an hour long $1.50 bus ride to Ica, the large city that Huacachina lies just outside of.



The oasis may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but in reality it’s only a 5 minute taxi ride from the Ica bus station. Huacachina is a small little town built around a small little lake. The town and lake are surrounded by looming sand dunes on almost all sides, and it has a really awesome and lively atmosphere on the weekends.

The markets, shops, restaurants and bars surround the small lake, and palm trees shade the walk. This oasis was never at the top of my bucket list, but it’s been one of my favorite destinations in the country and is a perfect weekend trip from Lima if you want to just chill and relax.


We stayed in the Carola hostel (which isn’t actually completely constructed yet) and spent the afternoon lounging in our swim suits by the large pool and enjoying the sun. Later, we climbed up onto the sand dunes to enjoy the sunset, and then ate an awesome dinner and delicious wings at the Huacachina Backpackers House. Our hostel warned us they were going to be partying in their bar until 6am, and they didn’t disappoint. Music blasted and the club filled up until sunrise.


Day Three – Sandboarding, Dune Buggies, & the Tacama Winery



Sunday was off to a slow start. We woke up and ate a late breakfast, then split up for the afternoon. My friends decided to try out the sand boarding and dune buggies, while we went off to the Tacama Winery.

The sand boarding and dune buggy tours leave every morning at 10:30 and every afternoon at 4:30. They cost $11 each and are two hours of riding around on the surrounding dunes, and boarding down them at sunset. This tour is one of the most popular in Huacachina and seems like a blast.



However, we opted to hit up the Tacama Winery instead, and I’m so glad we did. This winery is the oldest vineyard in South America. It was founded by the Spanish Conquistadores in the 1540’s and has been continuously run ever since. The winery is also so beautiful that it is regularly used for weddings and events, and I can definitely see why.

The entrance is a long tree covered lane lined with flowers, and the winery itself is surrounded by a lush green lawn and colorful gardens. Inside we did the $3 tour and tasting, and were able to see the old monastery, chapel, and courtyard as well. So beautiful.



The best part about the Tacama winery (which also serves Pisco, the national liquor of Peru,  if that’s more your style) is that the bottles were delicious and cheap at only $7 each. The four of us split a bottle of red and white while sitting out on the lawn, breathing the fresh air and watching the sun begin to set.

The only complaint I had is that the winery closed at 5:30 and we had to leave… even though it is probably for the best. The vineyard is secluded so they even called a taxi for us to take us back to the Ica bus station.



Passport Theft

From here, it was time to head home. We took the 8pm bus for $8 back to Lima. The five hour ride was uneventful for us, but not my friend. She was on the 7pm bus after the sand boarding, and unfortunately her boyfriend’s backpack containing one phone, two laptops, and BOTH their passports was stolen from under the seat while they were asleep.

This devastating discovery has been tough, and means they’re going to be stuck in Lima for two weeks instead of two days while they work on getting their passports replaced at the US Embassy. If you have valuable stuff in your bags on the busses in Peru, make sure you keep them on your laps or under your feet at all times, because losing a passport is every traveler’s worst nightmare.


All in all, and besides this (pretty major) setback with the passports, the Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis were the perfect weekend trip from Lima. They are all situated close together and super easy and cheap to get to from Lima. The oasis is also an amazing place to relax and unwind for a weekend from work or travel. Definitely don’t miss it on your way through Peru!

All my love,

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The Lima List: What to do for a day in Barranco

A lot of blogs and articles recommend heading to Miraflores for the best that Lima has to offer, but if you do, you’re missing out. Barranco is far and away my favorite neighborhood in Lima. It’s trendy, hip, and artsy. It has amazing food and nightlife, and a super chill and happy vibe. It’s easy to spend a day in Barranco, and when you do don’t miss out on my favorite spots!


To Do

One of my favorite places to stop by during a day in Barranco is definitely Dedalo Arte y Artesenia. This store is almost like a gallery because everything they sell is so beautiful. Trust me, it’s not like the other tourist markets with the same alpaca sweatshirts and knick knacks. At Dedalo, every room has a different theme, from jewelry, to art, to my favorite with gorgeous ceramic tea pots that I definitely can’t afford but still will dream about. There is also an outdoor cafe with craft beer, coffees, artisanal chocolates and desserts and an amazing secret garden ambiance. Don’t miss stopping in Dedalo if you’re in the area!



La Feria market is another can’t miss spot in Barranco. It’s one street up from the main square, but only open on the weekends. If you can, plan your trip around being here because it’s amazing. Stalls sell homemade products, clothes, art, and of course amazing food. There’s a sushi stall here I really want to try, as well as crepes, ice cream, coffee, cocktails, pizzas, and plenty more. There’s a stage for live music at night, and the last time I was here there was even an adoption stall with puppies and the tiniest kittens we could hold and play with. It seriously does not get any better than that!

Feeling outdoorsy? The beach walk is a great, free, and relaxing activity to add to your to do list. Barranco is located on cliffs overlooking the ocean, and there are little parks, paths, and green spaces along them to walk or sit and enjoy the waves. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it’s not gray and smoggy, you’ll also get awesome skyline views of Lima as well.



Finally, the Bridge of Sighs is probably the biggest tourist attraction in Barranco, and it’s cool for a couple reasons. Built in the 1800’s the bridge is the historical center of the neighborhood. It’s surrounded by amazing graffiti, an old church, and a score of restaurants and bars. It has a view of a cobbled street packed with vendors and you should definitely spend some time wandering the area, relaxing in the flowered park, and taking in the ocean view from the nearby vantage point.


To Eat

Barranco has some amazing spots to sit down for a bite to eat. While there, we tried a lot, and passed by more restaurants we wish we had room for!

The first is La Panetteria. This cute little bakery is perfect for a meal or a snack. We got iced coffee, a smoothie, and some fresh ciabatta to take home, but they also have sandwiches and amazing looking desserts. It’s right by the main square and a perfect place to chill. They even had some craft beers on the menu that I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Peru, like a cream and cocoa brew.

I’ve been craving a good burrito forever (miss ya Chipotle!) so when I read the reviews for the Burrito Bar, I knew we couldn’t miss it. It’s for sure the best burrito I’ve had in my 10 months in South America, and also cheap. It was only about $5 for a burrito that is definitely big enough to split. The tortillas are so fresh and tasty, and the barbacoa meat was really flavorful. It’s easy to order and build with the exact toppings you want, so if you’re missing good Mexican food, the burritos, quesadillas, and tacos here are a must.



Some honorable mentions on this list are two restaurants I passed by but didn’t try. Both were packed, and one even had a line of people waiting out the door. The first is Isolina Taberna. This restaurant is Peruvian and must be amazing. The decor inside was cool, and the menu was surprisingly cheap for how nice it looked. Interestingly, the menu states that every meal is big enough for three people! The Peruvian dishes seemed heavy on the meat, but were still only $10 to $20 each. Not bad to feed a whole group. They also had $5 fish and pork sandwiches that sounded delicious. Second, if you’re craving seafood and ceviche (Lima has some of the best in the world) then check out El Muelle. It was packed all day and the dishes people were eating on the patio looked gigantic. If I head back to spend a day in Barranco again before I leave Lima, this is definitely at the top of my list and I will report back on the experience!


To Drink

By far my favorite bar in Barranco is Wick’s. This traditional English pub is run by a English-Peruvian couple. All of the staff spoke English and best of all… they had draft cider! If you’re a cider lover like me, you’ll be in heaven! I haven’t had a good one since I moved to South America so it was a delicious taste of home. They also have their own house beers on tap, as well a a daily deal for a meal and a pint for $10.

The Barranco Beer Company is another great bar for beer lovers to visit during a day in Barranco. The bar is big and you can see their brewery in the back. The Barranco Beer Co. has a few different house beers like the new Saca Tu Machete on tap with 10% ABV. We tried the oatmeal stout and the lager and both were really good. If you’re sick of drinking Cusquena and Pilsner, this is a great place to try something new.



If  you’re more into cocktails than beer (I’m not, so I didn’t try this bar but it has rave reviews) check out Ayahuasca Resto Bar and let me know how it is. The bar features craft cocktails and is built in a renovated colonial mansion. Nothing more hip than that!


If you’re in Lima and planning to spend a day in Barranco, don’t miss these top spots to shop, take in the sights, and of course eat and drink some of the best Lima has to offer. Barranco is a trendy, hipster neighborhood in Lima and feels like as escape into a totally different world. Definitely don’t forget to add a day in Barranco to your Lima to do list!

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