Getting from Arequipa to Lima: A traveler review

Soaking in views of the Andes Mountains, arriving in Lima in less than two hours, and keeping your eyes peeled for vicuña are all factors to consider when planning your trip from Arequipa to Peru’s capital. 

So, whether you’re heading to Lima for seafood tasting and museum hopping or you’re on the last leg of your Peru trip, I’ll help you choose the best way to get to Lima from Arequipa.

Weighing your travel options

Arequipa isn’t around the corner from Lima, with the Arequipa to Lima distance being just over 1,000 kilometers. The good news is that if you choose to fly, you can travel from Arequipa to Lima faster than you can cross from one side of Lima’s 43 districts to the other.

The fast approach

If you’re short on time, deciding how to get to Lima from Arequipa is easy—take a flight.

Flights to Lima, Peru, depart regularly from the Arequipa airport. Best of all, the airport is small, making it easy to squeeze in some last-minute sightseeing in Arequipa’s historical center before hopping in a cab for the 30-minute drive to catch your flight.

Most Arequipa to Lima flights run without layovers, so you’ll land in Lima in only 1.5 hours. Several airlines offer this direct route, including:

Once you arrive in Lima, taxi services inside the airport will be happy to take you on the 30 – 60 minute drive to one of the city’s tourist districts. Alternatively, if you’ll be flying home, you won’t have to change terminals upon landing in Lima—simply walk a few dozen feet from the domestic flight area to the international check-in counters.

The scenic option

At around an 18-hour journey, taking an Arequipa to Lima bus isn’t for everyone. However, it’s undoubtedly the most scenic way to arrive in Lima. 

If the thought of seeing the sun set, rise, and be on its way to setting again without leaving your seat doesn’t have you scrolling past this, here’s some comforting news—the seats on these long-distance buses recline more than average. They range from 140 to 180 degrees, depending on the bus company and how much you’re willing to spend on your ticket.

Some of the most reputable companies that run the bus route from Arequipa to Lima include: 

When choosing your bus, the departure times will likely play a role in your decision-making. You can expect most departures from Arequipa to fall between the late afternoon and early evening. 

To my surprise, I had a full bus both times during my round-trip journey between Arequipa and Lima. So, if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants type of traveler, I recommend temporarily clipping those impulsive wings so that you show up at the bus station with your ticket to Lima in hand.

All aboard! Or not…

Peru has limited but stunning train routes. Unfortunately, an Arequipa to Lima train isn’t among them. 

So, if you’d like to take a train in the Arequipa region and your budget allows, I recommend booking a seat on the Belmond Andean Explorer before you head to Lima. This train runs between Cusco, Puno, and Arequipa on set days of the week. 

A first-hand account of the Arequipa to Lima bus experience

I’m the type of traveler that loves a long bus ride if the views don’t disappoint. And when it comes to the trip from Arequipa to Lima, the scenery was worth it. But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s first talk about the bus station.

What to expect at the Arequipa bus station

I won’t beat around the bush here—waiting to board your bus at the Arequipa bus station can feel chaotic. Countless bus companies sit scrunched along a line that runs the length of the massive station, and they shout the destination’s name when the corresponding bus arrives. 

In the case of my Exculciva bus, there was another bus company heading to Lima at the same time. It was a bit confusing, but the staff was friendly and helpful. 

Paying an Arequipa bus station departure fee

Minutes before my bus departed, the Excluciva staff informed me that I needed to pay a bus station departure fee. The amount was only three soles (less than $1). However, I had to run to a small kiosk in the middle of the bus station to pay in cash.

The bus staff seemed accustomed to this last-minute tax-paying rush because customers from my bus and others flocked around the kiosk. Meanwhile, the staff patiently waited with their lists in hand, checking that everyone boarded before giving our driver the okay to depart.

Long story short? Head to the Arequipa bus station a few minutes early so that you can pay the three soles per person fee. Make sure to have your bus ticket in hand, as they’ll staple it to your receipt. 

Making the most of those beautiful views

The bus journey from Arequipa to Lima begins by winding down through the mountains. If you depart Arequipa in the daylight, keep an eye out for vicuña. These llama-like animals live in the Andes and sometimes grace the passersby with their presence. 

As a warning for anyone with a fear of heights or those who get motion sickness, there are steep drop-offs and many curves along this route. But after a few hours, you’ll mostly be on flat terrain near the coast. In fact, if you book your seat on the driver’s side of the bus, you can enjoy periodic views of the ocean.

Are you ready to head to Lima?

Saying goodbye to Arequipa’s sillar architecture is never easy, but Lima’s delicious cuisine and seaside views are waiting to win you over.

The best way to get from Arequipa to Lima will vary according to the traveler. But whether you choose to go by plane or bus, several companies and time choices are just a click away. 

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