When you travel to Peru, your first and last stop is Lima, the country’s bustling capital. In addition to Peru’s best museums, divine gourmet restaurants, great examples of Spanish colonial architecture and a luxury golf course, the “City of Kings” also offers a wide variety of Inca markets. Lima, as such, can be ground zero for some of Peru’s finest handicrafts, including textiles, tapestries, shawls, ceramics, as well as intricate wooden carvings.
If your Peru travel package didn’t include a visit to Ancash, where delicately-carved gourds and textile weavings can be found, or to Ayacucho, best-known for its red and cream-colored clay ceramics and retablos (portable altarpieces), don’t panic. Just breathe easy. You can find such items in the “Mercado Indio”, located on Petit Thouars Avenue in the posh Miraflores district. The “Artesanía Miraflores” market, on Ricardo Palma Avenue is also a great option. Get ready to haggle!
If you prefer one-stop shopping (and haggling is not your idea of fun), it would be best to head to the Larcomar Shopping and Entertainment Center, the capital’s largest and most fashionable mall. Though it is not a market, fine alpaca clothing, silver-plated sculptures, silk pashminas and a wide variety of handicrafts are sold here. And many stores, such as Kuna, Arte & Canela and Qala, offers special tourist discounts (have your passport on hand). Other great one-stop shopping destinations that should be on your Peru travel list include Esther Ventura’s studio, where you will find beautiful silver jewelry inspired by pre-Incan designs, “Las Pallas”, a mansion-turned-boutique located in the bohemian district of Barranco, “Kuntur Wasi”, a must for lovers and collectors of Peruvian arte popular, and “Museo-Galería Popular de Ayacucho”, the perfect address for anyone with a specific interest in the fine folklore of this Andean region. Those looking for something with a modern twist should visit ”Dédalo” art gallery, which offers unique handmade ceramic pieces inspired by Inca tradition, designer jewelry, silver objects, blown glass, and the latest in textile design.
Traveling to Cusco is flavorful, picturesque and, without a doubt, unforgettable. 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 and museum with onsite demonstrations, where expert weavers from the surrounding rural indigenous communities 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). There is also Ilaria, renowned for its silver collection of outstanding quality, which includes fine silverware, vases and other home décor products, as well as modern and pre-Colombian inspired pieces of jewelry which elegantly combine 925 silver and Peruvian stones, such as Andean opal, Peruvian turquoise, quartz and amethyst. Also interesting are “Centro Bartolomé de las Casas”, a non-profit organization that works closely with rural communities, “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.
Colorful pottery, high-quality and beautifully crafted silver jewelry, fine alpaca clothing and traditional Inca textiles steeped in centuries of history are some of the gems that you will find in Peru. So, enjoy your travels and, please, don’t come back empty-handed!