Arequipa! The White City! The second largest city in Peru! But practically no one has ever heard of it! It is, however, an excellent city for digital nomads – the best in Peru, in my humble opinion. It is stacked with suitable cafes, some of the best I have seen in my travels. It also possesses a really beautiful city center, with many of the buildings being contructed from the distinctive white stone from nearby Misti Volcano. Hence the name “The White City.” It is also very strong on restaurants, and on apartment rentals. For all these reasons, if you are looking to rent a place in Peru for a few months, rather than just passing through, Arequipa would be my recommendation.
For activities, rafting on the Chile River is definitely a winner, and Colca Canyon (the second deepest in the whole entire world!) is but a hop and a skip away. The main city plaza, said to be the most beautiful in Peru, is practically always bustling with people, and there is often music or dancing.
As far as the cafes, there are some very “happening” ones, and ones that are quieter, some with great food, and some with great views. I go to all of them, depending on how I’m feeling that day. As far as the amount of time you can stay, I wouldn’t go longer than two hours (unless you are contantly ordering more). If you want to work for longer in a cafe, you can always go to another one. Also, the cafes which are strong on food (like Crepisimo and Dispensa) are only really viable in the mid-morning hours (10 to noon), and the mid-afternoon (2-5pm). The more dedicated coffee places, like Kafi Wasi or Chaqchao, are good at all hours. And without further ado, here are the cafes themselves.
First up is Chaqchao. This is easily the most “happening” cafe. It is very popular with tourists, and the cafe where you are most likely to see other nomads. Above, you can see the outside deck, which is frequently packed out (although it isn’t in this picture). There is also a substantial inside area, which has outlets. Lastly, there is a thin balcony, with tables and chairs, overlooking the street. Chaqchao is actually a chocolate specialist, and they have daily chocolate workshops, and they are a popular stop on the walking tour (which busies the place up even more!). However, the really important point here is that they do an absolutely killer brownie, quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. Super intense, with roasted chocolate crunchy bits. Hey, they are the chocolate specialists! They gotta represent! This is my way of saying you should give the brownies a try if you make it here. The hours are 9:30pm to 11pm every day, except Friday and Saturday, when they go until midnight.
Next up is Crepisimo, which has not one, not two, not three, but four different areas. In the top pic, you can see the main dining area, and the courtyard seating through the door. Upstairs, in the second pic, is a super comfy loft area. And there is a also a rooftop viewpoint area, with great views of the volcanoes, and the church spires – perfect for a breath of fresh air. Crepisimo is no ordinary creperia and also has a great menu, with some 60+ different kinds of crepes, all super high-quality. They’ll also do you a nice scoop of better-than-average ice cream for just 6 Sols (about 2 bucks). They have plenty of outlets as well. The hours are from 8am to 11pm every day.
Lautrec Cafe is situated within the Chavez de la Rosa Cultural Center, just off the main plaza. You can see that they have a nice interior here, and they also have very nice outdoor seating in a large courtyard. There are outlets too, even one or two outside. Being the official cafe of the Cultural Center, you might think they would be a bit stuffy, but they are actually pretty laid back. Last time I was there, there must have been 4 different people working away on their computers. That’s more than you’ll see at Chaqchao! The hours are 9am to 9pm every day, except Saturday when they open at 10am, and Sunday when they are closed.
Cafe y Vino
Cafe y Vino is my favorite cafe with a view, and it is quite something. A large courtyard with a fountain, and very elaborately carved pillars, which can be partly seen in the pictures, and a church off to the right. They are the place up above in the first picture. Great outdoor seating here, and great sunset viewing. No outlets outside, but they do have them inside if necessary. The hours are 2pm to 9pm Mondays, and until 10:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The second picture above is from their seating, and you can see some other seating over to the left, which is for Mistika Resto-Bar. They have coffee drinks, wifi, and inside outlets as well. Their hours are from 10:30 to midnight every day, except Sundays when they are closed.
Palacios is a little outside of the Centro area, and it is another coffee specialist, with the various brewing methods. It has a small downstairs, but a very suitable larger upstairs seating area. It is pleasant enough, and it has the wifi and outlets. They are open from 8am to 8:30pm ever day, except Sunday when they are closed.
Casona 7Casona 7 is actually quite a pricey restaurant (at least for Arequipa). But they have an attached cafe which is very reasonable. They also have a lovely little courtyard, wifi, and outlets inside. Hours are from 8am to 9pm every day, except Sunday.
Cafe Tostaduria Kaffeehaus
Kaffeehaus has a really nice rear courtyard, seen in the picture, complete with the signature white stone Arequipa is known for (and outlets). There is also the streetfront, indoor area with normal wood tables and chairs. This establishment is run by a German expat lady, and they will do you a good french press coffee, besides the regular espresso drinks. They would be higher on the list, except I’m not sure how cool they are with people sitting and working for some hours. This is the most important quality that I look for in nomad cafes. Let’s just put it this way: they seem to check up on you a lot, and look pointedly at your half-empty cup. Maybe they’re just being attentive. I’m not sure. Anyways, you can assess it for yourselves if you make it here. Their hours are from 7:30am to 8pm every day, except for Saturdays when they open at 8am, and Sundays when they are closed.
La Petit Cafe
La Petit Cafe is over by Yanahuara Plaza, and has a nice setup, both inside and out. It’s kind of good to get out of centro sometimes, but there are not that many other places to go. So Yanahuara Plaza is one place to get out to, and it’s more of a residential area, and a little more chilled out than centro. Hours here are from 10am to 9pm Monday thru Thursday, 10am to 11pm Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6pm Sunday. At the time of writing this, the place is new, and doesn’t show up on a map search (and note that it is different from La Petit Francaise, which does show up on maps). So just get to Yanahuara Plaza, and the place is on the southwest corner, accessed through a courtyard.
Next up, La Dispensa, has a really nice interior, the kind that is generally associated with good nomad cafes. There is a nice little inner courtyard as well, and also outlets inside. They are strong on the food and pastries, and really pack out sometimes. Their hours are from 8am to 10pm every day, except Sundays when they go from 9am to 4pm.
Kafi Wasi is one of those coffee specialists that has the various gourmet methods, such as V60 and French press. So it’s a good cup of coffee, if a little pricey. Most importantly, they seem to be fine with you slowly enjoying your cup, and working at the same time. They have outlets too. Their hours are from 8:30am to 9:30pm every day, except Sundays when they are closed.
Mixtos just has a really nice setting. It’s accessed through an alleyway behind the main church which has a bunch of restaurants, cafes, and bars. You can see in the picture that it has rooftop seating, and a fantastic view of the church spires. They also have a ton of seating, and are pretty packed out most of the time. However, between 2 and 5pm, and mid-morning as well, you should be good here, and they do espresso drinks. I would skip it for working at other times though. They have wifi as well, and outlets in the indoor section. I wouldn’t normally include a place like this, it being more of a bar/restaurant kind of place, but it gets in for the setting, and it will work in the afternoon, and they do have coffee drinks and the rest. The hours are from 9am to 9:30pm every day.
Piccoli PiccatiPiccoli Piccati would not normally make it on this site, mainly because I always have the impression I have woken the owners up from a nap. Also, the wifi there can be on and off. But I want to put at least one cafe in the San Lazaro neighborhood. This area is where I first stayed in Arequipa, and I’ve always liked it. It makes a nice break sometimes from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding downtown. There are a number of craft beer places around, but not many cafes. In fact, there is Piccoli Piccati. Despite the issues I’ve mentioned, the physical setup is very nice, and there are oulets inside. So if you want to hang in San Lazaro for a bit, this is the place. Hours are from 8am to around 9:30pm every day.
There are many more cafes as well, but these are the most suitable for digital nomads, or the most distinctive or scenic. I don’t normally do write ups about chains, but there are a few Starbucks kicking around, and La Canasta is normally suitable as well. The cafes on the main plaza, on the second level, have a killer location, but are not recommended for working. For chilling out with a few friends some time, however, they are good.
There it is folks! Arequipa! The White City! It is a phenomenon on the cafes, no question. Y’all enjoy your stay now!