With neither Lima’s selection nor Cusco’s nightly consistency, the bar and club scene in Arequipa has long been considered relatively tame by Peruvian city standards. In recent years, however, this reputation has slowly begun to change. While Sunday through Wednesday are still pretty sleepy in the White City, come Thursday night thirsty locals and travelers head to a handful of downtown strips that put Arequipa’s wild side on display. And surprisingly enough, it’s no meek offering.
You won’t need to remember too many street names, as the 2 sets of parallel thoroughfares that compose Arequipa’s main nightlife hub form a rectangle just north of old quarter’s unmistakable Basilica Catedral (San Francisco and Santa Catalina running north/south, Zela and Paseo de la Catedral running east/west). Here you’ll find a number of tantalizing bars and clubs, with familiar names like Farren’s and Siwara holding down the pub front and Kibosh and Forum Rock Café keeping things a little more dance oriented. Paseo de la Catedral in particular, with its profusion of shops, restaurants, and bars, has become known as Arequipa’s cleaned up version of Cusco’s “Gringo Alley.”
On the other side of the spectrum and situated a 5 minute cab ride southeast of the city center, Ave Dolores offers a lower-priced, locally-frequented alternative to the bars of the historic district. The vibe along this stretch of bars and discothèques is different but no less lively, affording visitors the opportunity to feel less like a stereotypical tourist and more like, well, an Arequipeno. Best to cab it here, though, as the neighborhoods between Dolores and downtown can be a bit sketchy. Enjoy!