The Travel Guides: Shopping in Lima
Wondering what to buy in Lima? Here’s some of the best Peruvian souvenirs and where to shop in the capital city.
Things to buy
- Superfoods and herbs
- Alpaca-woven anything
- Ceremonial masks
- Jarabe, pisco and bitters
What to buy in Lima
Peru has a rich tradition of pottery making with groups like the Chavín, Moche, Nazca and Wari preserving their techniques over hundreds of years. Replicas of the Moche huacos eróticos (erotic vessels) and Bulls of Pucará are among the most common souvenir-related ceramics, but there are plenty of other types from which to choose.
Superfoods and herbs
Nutrient-rich crops like quinoa, kiwicha and sacha inchi have been staples of Peruvian diets for, well, ever. Locally grown, organic edibles make for great gifts… And, the colorful packaging on many a superfood means no need to gift wrap.
Peruvian beans-to-bar chocolate is gaining momentum and exports of the sweet stuff have increased steadily since 2001. Dark, milk or white, coconut or coca-filled, handmade or made-by-you, the choices of Peruvian chocolate are seemingly endless.
The camel’s South American cousin, Peruvian cultures have woven fine garments from alpaca wool for thousands of years. “Baby” alpaca, the first shear of the young camelid, is the most valuable and sweaters, hats and socks woven from their soft wool range from a few USD to hundreds.
Masks are still used in a number of traditional festivities and rites throughout Peru, and Lima tends to be a collecting point for ceremonial pieces. From the Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno to the three-day Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo, masks from around the country can be found in artisan shops and market spaces.
Peru has the longest, continuous tradition of textile production in the world and textiles are integral to the lifestyle and identity of many local communities. From Arequipeñan hand-loomed rugs, to embroidered mantas (blankets) and beaded Cusqueñan ch’ullu hats, beautifully woven textiles are everywhere if you care to look.
Jarabe, pisco and bitters
Loved the national drink? Then forego the powdered, pre-made mix for the real pisco sour ingredients. Vargas Original Goma Jarabe is the simple syrup of choice while the non-aromatic Quebranta grape is the ideal pisco varietal. Don’t forget the Peruvian-made Angostura bitters to top off the cocktail.
Where to shop in Lima
Lima is not considered a shopper’s destination per se, but the city does have a number of hidden gems. Most backpack-carrying tourists can be spotted meandering through the Inca Market on Avenida Petit Thouars, small shops along Avenida Jose Larco, or trying on sweaters in Larcomar at Kuna and Sol Alpaca. The Inca Market sells just about everything souvenir-related from colorfully embroidered textiles to erotic pottery while Larcomar tends to be more mainstream. If more unique, artisan pieces are more to your liking there are a number of shops, mostly in Barranco, specializing in handmade crafts.
Owned and curated by Mari Solari, Welsh-expat and decades-long Limeño resident, Artesanías Las Pallas could double as a museum. Mari’s personal collection of antique, Peruvian retablos is worth a peek (with permission).
Nearby are the renovated mansions-turned-boutiques, Dédalo Arte y Artesania and Artesanos Don Bosco. Dédalo is known for its more modern items which range from Siblings Army hats and purses, Jagüey pressed Amazonian oils to alpaca-woven clothing by modern Peruvian designers. Explore the entirety of the space. There is a small art exhibit, open-air café and small plant garden in the back. Artesanos Don Bosco, in contrast, leans toward the more traditional with detailed, Peruvian hardwood furniture and smaller decorative textiles and clothing.
Still in Barranco, the charming boutiques Plantique, Vernácula and La Zapatería are located just off the main square. Plantique is literally a “green” studio specializing in design, art and plants. Vernácula Concept Store is a boutique, restaurant and bar, carrying modern Peruvian artists and clothing brands. At La Zapatería shoe fanatics can choose from a selection of handmade leather shoes constructed from supple Argentine leather or design a made-to-measure pair of their own.
KANI Arts is run by a socially-minded anthropologist-designer duo who believe in promoting and supporting local Peruvian communities. The pair has an eye for beautifully crafted items and their shop, located by the Brazilian Embassy, may not be the easiest to find but is worth the effort.
Amazonka specializes in Amazonian black pottery, handmade from clay and Apacharama tree bark ashes using traditional methods. The museums of MAC, MATE, MALI and Museo Larco all have colorful shops stocking prints, books for any coffee table and other Peruvian crafts.
For edible goods and gifts, the San Isidro Sunday bioferia (Calle Miguel Dasso) is an ideal one-stop-shop. Specialty health food stores, such as Aranda, Eco Tienda Natural and Madre Natura, and the café shops at Las Vecinas Eco Bar and La Verde Bio-Factoría also sell gourmet Peruvian products like superfoods and craft chocolates. Chocolate-lovers should stop at the Choco Museo where cacao bars, tejas, liquors and other choco paraphernalia are sold (together with bottles of Nuevo Mundo craft beer). Wong, the “high-end” supermarket chain, is another stop for well-packaged Peruvian edibles but with less-than-direct support to the local farmers who produce them. Wong also stocks the ingredients to make an authentic pisco sour. (Duty free shops in the airport will carry pisco and powdered pisco sour mix, but they will not typically stock jarabe or bitters.)
For the adventurous, the local shopping area for clothing, housewares and miscellaneous goods is Gamarra. Literally a small city of shops within the district of La Victoria, Gamarra has almost 20,000 textile-related businesses. If it’s mass produced it’s in Gamarra. This is not a trip for the timid. Go with a good taxi driver, especially if you do not speak Spanish, hide your cash, do not bring anything on value and enjoy the experience.
Last updated June 2018.