Canta, ríe, bebe (sing, laugh and drink), or so goes the popular Peruvian holiday jingle, and without a doubt, we would have to add: shop. Because, quite simply, Peru is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts for family, friend and of course yourself!
In Lima, also known as the “City of Kings”, shopping options are just about unlimited. Peru’s bustling capital is ground zero for some of the finest traditional handicrafts (a definite perk on your trip to Peru), and offers seafront malls, unique boutiques and some of South America’s best haute couture.
Here are our top Christmas gift suggestions for travelers passing through Lima:
1. Alpaca clothing & accessories
Kuna offers stylish and luxuriously soft garments made from the finest Andean camelid fibers (alpaca, vicuña, and guanaco), as well as an elegant home collection, which features products such as blankets, quilts, sheets and rugs.
Also worthy of note: Peruvian designer Meche Correa’s irresistible creations, sold in her flagship boutique. These include clutches of various sizes crafted with unusual materials such as alpaca wool, plastic, wood and tooled leather. Designer Titi Guiulfo crafts beautiful hand-woven accessories, including shawls, hats and carpets, as well as clothing made form baby alpaca fiber and pima cotton.
2. Silver jewelry and silverwork
Your best bet is Ilaria, renowned for its silver collection of outstanding quality, which includes fine silverware, vases and other home décor products, as well as contemporary and pre-Colombian inspired pieces of jewelry which elegantly combine 925 silver and Peruvian stones, such as Andean opal, Peruvian turquoise, quartz and amethyst. Another great option is Esther Ventura’s studio, where you will find beautiful silver jewelry inspired by pre-Incan designs.
3. Original Peruvian artwork
Head on over to “Dédalo”, located in Barranco, Lima’s seaside bohemian district. This boutique and art gallery, located in a refurbished 14-room house, features the work and creations of emerging and established Peruvian artists. You will find exceptional handmade ceramic pieces inspired by Inca tradition, handbags and designer jewelry, hats, silver objects, blown glass, and the latest in textile design.
4. Handicrafts and arte popular
The “Mercado Indio”, or Indian Market, located on Petit Thouars Avenue and the “Artesanía Miraflores” market, on Ricardo Palma Avenue, are rim-filled with some of Peru’s finest handicrafts. At this time of the year, original tree ornaments, hand-made Nativity scenes, ceramics and amusing Christmas-themed finger puppets and toys are great options. For those who prefer one-stop and haggle-free shopping, we recommend Larcomar shopping center which, though not a market, offers a wide variety of handicrafts. Finally, the “Kuntur Wasi” boutique is a must for lovers and collectors of Peruvian arte popular, and the “Museo-Galería Popular de Ayacucho” is the perfect address for anyone with a specific interest in the fine folklore of this Andean region.
Great high-end fashion boutiques and top designers include Andrea Llosa, Sumy Kujón, Sitka Semch, Claudia Jimenez, Harumi Momota, Naty Muñoz, Sonia Lozada, Pepe Corzo, Gerardo Privat, Meche Correa and Lorena Pestana (jewelry). Many more shops can be found along Conquistadores Avenue, in the upscale San Isidro district, and Jockey Plaza’s “Boulevard”, Peru’s most luxurious place to shop.
Sold in droves at Christmas and during other special festivities, this Italian-inspired sweetbread is filled with dried fruits and, sometimes, chocolate chips.
Obviously, during your trip to Peru, you’ll wander beyond Lima. In Cusco, Inca markets and art galleries, where you can pop in and see artists at work, are part of the ancient city’s charm. One of the top shopping destinations for handicrafts is the “Centro de Textiles del Cusco”, a store-museum where expert weavers sell stunning high-quality textiles made according to Inca methods and craftsmanship, and with traditional materials and dyes (another bonus: the communities keep 70% of the sale price).
Christmas shopping in Cusco should definitely include a visit to “Artesanías Mendivil”, where unique religious figures and mirrors are sold, and “Guilianna Testino”, a boutique that offers stylish alpaca clothing which is also sold at Neiman Marcus and Barney’s.
Some of the most authentic and colorful Inca markets can be found in the neighboring Sacred Valley, in towns such as Pisac, where hundreds of locals and tourists spill into the central plaza on Sundays, and Chinchero (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays).
Those who plan to travel to Puno should keep in mind that the locals on the Amantaní and Taquile Islands on Lake Titicaca produce some of the finest and most exquisite woven textiles in Peru. In Arequipa, travelers will find export-quality alpaca and baby alpaca-wear boutiques (in the old cloisters of the La Compañía Church). And, finally, travelers looking for rare (and expensive) vicuña items should head to the Incalpaca factory outlet, located about 10 minutes away from the city.