To truly know a country one has to visit its markets. The food, people, crafts and activities give you a glimpse of the country’s culture. You will see how the locals talk, eat and dress. The colors, sounds, smells and tastes of a market are an experience within itself. Peru prides itself as gastronomic country filled with native art and traditions. Visiting its food or craft markets is necessary to really see the authentic peru. Our guide to the best food, crafts and flea markets in Lima, Cusco and Arequipa:
Surquillo Market N1
Just a five minute walk away from the center of Miraflores is the Surquillo Market. It’s one of the most popular and diverse markets in the country. Upon entering you’ll be surprised at the colorful assortment of tropical fruits that can only be found in Peru: Chirimoya, Lucuma, Goldenberries and more. Continue walking along the market and you’ll observe the vast amount of vegetables, dry goods and spices from around the country as well as very hard to find ingredients from around the world. A truly authentic market with butcher stalls that have hanging chickens, organ meats on hooks and seafood stalls where you can sometimes find seafood so fresh you can find crabs still walking on the stands. You’ll find plenty of options among the stalls to have some extremely fresh Ceviche or a hearty ¨Menú¨ (a typical inexpensive combo meal that includes an appetizer, entree and dessert) alongside Peruvians on their lunch break. Every Sunday there is an organic food and product fair held just outside on the Boulevard that is worth the visit. Keep walking along the Boulevard and you will find one of our favorite Ice Cream shops in town: La Fiorentina Gelaterí. Unique and delighful flavors such as avocado, aji and lucuma make it unforgettable.
San Isidro Market de Productores
Overlooking the ocean and in the affluent San Isidro district is the Mercado of Productores. A small, very clean market that is surprisingly quiet and filled with photogenic fresh fruit and vegetables from nearby farms. The seafood is particularly good at this market, you can find fish and shellfish for a great price. It’s a wonderful and safe place to acquire more knowledge of the peruvian fruits and vegetables, buy nuts and sweets per pound, taste coffee from different parts of the country all while surrounded by beautiful flower stands. Most stalls offer samples but you’ll still have room to enjoy a delicious and inexpensive breakfast or lunch at one of its three small restaurants.
Gamarra is a massive clothing and textile shopping area in La Victoria district. It’s perhaps the largest in America and considering that Peru has one of the best cotton in the world, visiting these more than 20 blocks of clothing vendors is well worth it for shopaholics.
Although La Victoria is not a safe district, Gamarra has plenty of security during normal hours. You can find absolutely everything clothing related for very cheap prices. From dog clothes, uniforms, t-shirts, and jeans to wedding dresses and designer knock-offs.
This is the perfect place to go to in Lima if you are looking for beautiful souvenirs. Located in the heart of the Miraflores district, this large and quiet market has handicrafts from every part of Peru. You can truly find every peruvian souvenir imaginable here: handmade silver jewelry, colorful blankets from the Andes, purses with amazon print, alpaca scarves, Peru’s famous Chullos (beanies), native instruments and more. No matter your style you will find fun, unique, beautiful pieces for yourself and loved ones back home. Just keep in mind that bargaining is normal in Peru, so go ready to haggle a little.
Cusco Mercado de San Pedro
Just walking distance from the main plaza is the San Pedro market. Built in 1925, it’s the oldest market in the city of Cusco and was designed by Gustav Eiffel. Smells and colors invade every corner of the market filled with main stalls and peddlers. Smiling women and men in traditional andean dress are happy to offer samples of their different products and will happily yell out their fresh fruit juice stand menu to get your attention. You will of course see produce, meats and cheeses from the region but you will also find souvenirs, alpaca scarves and jumpers and other knick knacks such as keychains and magnets. There is even an entire aisle dedicated to chocolate! Of course if you are feeling more adventurous there is Pig head soup, frog juice and guinea pig dishes fro you to try. You you want to feel the buzz of the city of Cusco, see the typical ingredients used in traditional Cusco dishes, hear Quechua spoken by true natives and try delicious typical dishes and desserts the San Pedro market is an obligatory stop. Be prepared to be entertained for at least a couple of hours.
Mercado Centro Artesanal Cusco
The Mercado Artesanal is a great shopping experience where you can choose from a simple scarf but also acquire a fine piece of art. Cusco has beautiful souvenirs and this market has all of the handicrafts you can think of, making it a perfect one stop place to fill your suitcase with presents and mementos.
The market is safe, clean and quiet but also very vibrantly colored and filled with kind vendors. Each stall offers different handicrafts from Cusco such as textiles, silver jewelry, chocolate and coffee, Inca-style masks, clothing in Andean styles, leather items such as wallets and backpacks and much more.
Arequipa Fundo El Fierro
One cannot leave Arequipa without buying a souvenir from this beautiful “white city”. The best place to buy a unique handmade item at a reasonable price is the city’s primary craft market Fundo El Fierro. Occupying a lovely colonial sillar (white volcanic rock) courtyard next to the Iglesia de San Francisco, here you will find paintings, clothes, handmade crafts and jewelry. Be on the lookout for rare woven alpaca carpets that are typical in the Cotahuasi area.
Mercaderes is the only exclusive pedestrian street in Arequipa. It runs four blocks from the Plaza de Armas to the 15 de Agosto Plaza. Mercaderes is merchants in english and that is very much the case for this street full of vendors and stores. Take a stroll with a coffee in hand and you’ll find trendy local stores, crafts, pharmacies, little food stands and electronics stores on this cobblestone path.