I've stayed in two hostels, both in the historical centre, so I can only comment on the area with the cathedrals and pretty buildings. It's this area that gives Arequipa its nickname as the White City, thanks to the volcanic stone the buildings were made from.
But the best thing about Arequipa is its setting on a plain beneath three snow-capped active volcanoes. My first hostel, Park Hostel, was in a nice colonial building with a fabulous roof terrace that looks over the roofs of the centro histórico over to the volcanoes. What a sight for breakfast.
From here you can do all manner of trips, including white-water rafting, mountain/volcano climbing, and hiking. Not being an adrenalin-junkie myself, I'm doing a one-night two-day trip to Colca Canyon, which is one of the world's largest canyons, even outdoing the Grand Canyon. That's Wednesday-Thursday, so I've got tomorrow to explore Arequipa some more.
But the girls I met in Rio (god that feels like ages ago, and it was only two months) are joining me in the hostel I'm in now. It's a full on party hostel, The Wild Rover, which also has branches in La Paz and Cusco. I haven't stayed in a lively hostel like this before. I love a good party, but I tend to like my partying and sleeping to be in separate places. We'll see I guess. Got to try these things! I'll pretend I'm a one-man lads on tour group.
So anyway, it'll be really nice to see them again. I assume we'll do some kind of sightseeing tomorrow, then I've got Colca Canyon for two days (booked through the hostel - 75 soles for the one-night tour). And then I've booked a bus for Tacna on Friday, and from Tacna I'll go by bus to Arica, in Chile. Then it'll be goodbye to Peru!
Oh also, I took a Cruz Del Sur bus from Puno to Arequipa, and it was very comfortable. Cruz Del Sur is generally regarded as the safest bus company to travel with in Peru, so it's a bit more expensive than you'd pay with other companies. It cost me 59 soles for the cheaper level (top level) for the five and a half hour trip here. There was a small snack included, and blankets! You still don't get a choice about whether to hear the films they played on the overheard screens though. Four hours of Ben Hur and I was ready to Ben Hurl. But then they played Tangled, which I'd actually wanted to see when it came out. Well done Cruz Del Sur.
Anyway, my lively hostel awaits my presence. Will update soon!