Where to buy souvenirs and artisan handicrafts in Cusco 

In Peru, there are many great opportunities to purchase handmade items of various types and qualities. Artisan markets, street vendors, and small stores offer various options for those traveling on a budget.

However, you can also find products from fair trade organizations and elegant boutiques with high-quality items if you want to spend a little more money.

Finest alpaca and stylish handicrafts

In my eyes, Peru is the epitome of stylish craftsmanship; not without reason, the ethnic patterns have conquered the world of fashion! – Why not then buy from the inventor of this fashion?

Ponchos with pretty ornaments are genuinely eye-catching, and fluffy alpaca sweaters not only look great but keep you nice and warm!

The best city to buy souvenirs, textiles and handicrafts is definitely Cusco, plus the markets in the Sacred Valley.

In Peru, you should actually arrive with empty bags and leave fully packed. There is also the possibility to buy an excellent travel bag made of solid woolen fabric or ornate leather.

Market in Pisac sacred Valley
The traditional market of Pisac - Sacred Valley, Peru

Markets in Peru

Market in Chinchero
Dyeing of Alpaca fiber - Market Chinchero

Whether you want to buy your souvenirs in the markets of Peru or not, we recommend visiting the traditional markets.

While many are heavily geared towards international tourists and commercialized, it is still always interesting to stroll through the markets and discover the many details of the stalls.

The market in Pisac near Cusco and the San Pedro Market in the center of Cusco are two of the most popular and are open every day of the week.

In addition, small towns like Chinchero hold weekly markets, usually on Saturday or Sunday, where you can buy tourist souvenirs, traditional crafts and local agricultural products.

Shopping in Cusco

Plaza de Armas with Inca fountain, Cathedral and Compania de Jesus Church - Cusco, Peru
Plaza de Armas with Inca fountain, Cathedral and Compania de Jesus Church - Cusco, Peru
Qorikancha ruins and convent Santo Domingo in Cuzco
Qorikancha ruins and convent Santo Domingo in Cuzco

About Cusco

Without a doubt, Cusco is the most beautiful city in Peru.

The charm and atmosphere that Cusco exudes immediately draws you under its spell and transforms the time on the way to Machu Picchu or vice versa into extraordinary hours.

The former Inca capital of Cusco is located at an altitude of 3,416 meters in the center of the Andean highlands.

In 1533, Cusco was conquered and sacked by the Spanish. Then, in 1535, Manco Cápac II marched against the Inca capital, completely destroying Cusco. As a consequence, the current capital Lima was founded on the coast, and Cuzco lost its importance. 

Only when the explorer Hiram Bingham III discovered the hidden city of Machu Picchu in 1911 did Cusco regain its importance and become the most prominent tourist center in Peru.1 

In 1950, Cuzco suffered a new downfall when, due to an earthquake, almost 90% of the houses and churches that had just been rebuilt were completely destroyed.

In 1983, the restored center with its colonial buildings was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Cuzco is the perfect starting point for exploring the Sacred Valley, including a visit to Machu Picchu, a tour that is probably on every Peru traveler’s itinerary.

But the charming colonial city itself also has a lot to offer to set the mood for the ancient Inca city.

Barrio San Blas

Everyone agrees that this part of the city, just behind the cathedral, is the most picturesque and picturesque part of the old city.

If you spend the night in San Blas, you may torture yourself up the steep stairs at the end of the day. But the view over the valley basin and the built-up slopes of the city is simply fantastic.

Where better to browse for handicrafts and jewelry than in an artists’ district?

On weekends, Barrio San Blas hosts a craft market where you can buy perfect handmade leather bags, silver jewelry, textile bags, paintings, and finely painted ceramic cups and plates.

In a backyard, you can buy products made of alpaca and sheep wool, such as socks, scarves, ponchos and sweaters.

On Calle Tandapata, above the water fountain, you’ll find a small store selling painted or embroidered fabrics, made by Shipibo-Conibo people from the rainforest.

This alley is also bustling with street artists who make attractive jewelry with ribbons, wire, stones, and crystals and weave small stones, wooden beads, and feathers into the strands of tourists’ hair with ribbons.

It’s also worth walking down Calle Carmen Alto, because in the pretty store L’atelier by Grid, Frenchwoman Grid sells beautiful jewelry, small bags, vintage clothing and photographs.

Barrio de San Blas Cusco
Barrio de San Blas - Cusco

Calle Triunfo

At the top of the corner of Calle Triunfo, you can enter a backyard that leads to the restaurant Cicciolina.

Then, there is the Shaman Shop 393 – where you can admire the hand-painted drums, look at the Shipibo fabrics, admire the crystals and stones, listen to the mystical music. 

Before reaching the main square of Cusco on foot, there is a backyard on the left where there are some excellent stores.

There you can get traditionally carved wooden masks in addition to great blankets, large textile backpacks, dream catchers and jewelry.

Also tobacco pipes made of stone and wood, old coins, hats, llamas made of plush, slippers and other cool stuff is available.

Mercado San Pedro

We continue to my favorite spot for souvenir and alpaca sweater shopping.

San Pedro Market is about eight minutes south of Plaza de Armas, but gives an entirely different impression.You should allow plenty of time for the large covered San Pedro weekly market.

In addition to handicrafts, you can buy fruits, vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, treat yourself to a freshly squeezed juice, and watch the lively hustle and bustle of its vendors.

The textile stalls are located right behind the entrance. 

Most tourists leave the market with heaps of alpaca sweaters, scarves, ponchos, shawls, headbands, bags, jewelry, bracelets and llama keychains.

But it’s also worth browsing outside of San Pedro. There are many fabric stores where you can buy cheap alpaca fabrics for further processing.

Below the market, you get to Calle Nueva, which you follow to Calle Concevidayoc.

On the corner is a terrific jewelry craft store where you can buy all sorts of jewelry supplies.

The San Pedro Market or Mercado de San Pedro was built in 1925 and is the oldest market in the city.

Centro Artesanal Wanchaq

A somewhat larger detour is made to the Mercado Artesanal Wanchaq, located at the lower end of the long Avenida del Sol.

This market is excellent if you want to go souvenir shopping. Tourists can be sure they will find what they are looking for here.

In addition to typical products such as textiles made from alpaca or sheep’s wool, there are handmade instruments such as guitars, charangos and panpipes, and ceramics, leather bags and calabashes (dried pumpkins) in all colors and sizes.

The patterns and representations are very lovingly carved and tell the mythology of the Andes.

 * Disclosure: Links marked with Asterix or some picture links on world’s-finest-wool are affiliate links.  All our work is reader-supported – when you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. The decision is yours – whether you decide to buy something is entirely up to you.

Mercado de Pisac - Sacred Valley

If you stay a few days longer in Cusco and want to visit the Sacred Valley, you should definitely visit the Sunday market Pisac.

From Cusco, there are public buses and so-called “Collectivos” that go to Pisac.

Enjoy the unique ride on the public bus with typical Peruvian music. The ride lasts 50 minutes and takes you into the Urubamba Valley. This is a bit lower than Cusco, so the temperatures are a bit milder.

It is best to visit Pisac on a Sunday because then it is market day. Many indigenous people come from out of town to the Sunday market in Pisac to sell their goods.

A lively and colorful hustle and bustle, which gives insight into the daily life of the people. The perfect place to try some exotic fruits, or how about chicha, the traditional corn beer of the Incas?

In one of the surrounding restaurants, you can have a delicious lunch, and from the balconies, on the main square, you can watch the market from above.

Next to the Sunday market in Pisac, you will find a handicraft and textile market. You can find this market in Pisac every day.

With a bit of time, you will find beautiful souvenirs, handicrafts, silver jewelry, alpaca sweaters and blankets for a better price than in Cusco.

Pisac Market - Cusco - Viator Travel
Process of natural dyeing of alpaca and llama wool - Cusco
Process of natural dyeing of alpaca and llama wool - Cusco

Chinchero - City of the rainbow

Those who associate Peru primarily with the mountains and the Incas will find something like the country’s soul at 3,760 meters above sea level in the middle of the Andes in the small town of Chinchero.

Chinchero is also called “The City of the Rainbow”! In the past, the Inca believed that Chinchero was the birthplace of this natural phenomenon.

Especially in Chinchero, it is lovely to see how the Incas integrated their architecture into nature. And no matter how simple the remains may seem, they are highly complex structures.

In the center of the city, a remnant of the Inca period can still be seen in the form of a wall with trapezoidal openings for figures of gods.

The colonial period has also left its mark on Chinchero. The Iglesia Colonial di Chinchero is a church from the time of the Spanish conquest and was built at the beginning of the 17th century. It is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the valley where Chinchero is located.

Chinchero also has an extraordinary market to offer! Especially on Sundays, the locals come to Chinchero in traditional garments with their products from the mountains.

Then you can buy not only fruits and vegetables but also local handicrafts and especially the famous knitted goods made of alpaca wool. If you want to learn more about alpaca wool, you should visit the Centro de Textiles Traditionales.

Indeed, Chinchero is the center of Peruvian weaving. Visitors can watch the women spinning and weaving. Visitors can watch the women spinning and weaving. It is demonstrated how the wool is dyed

The handicraft market of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is one of my favorite towns in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is about 70 km from Cusco, is located at an altitude of 2,792 meters and is one of the best-preserved examples of Inca architecture.

Ollanta,” as it is called by locals, has a population of just over 2,000. Its narrow cobblestone streets have been inhabited for over 700 years.

This is literally the end of the road in the Sacred Valley and the last stop before you can take the train to Machu Picchu.

However, it is worth staying in Ollantaytambo for a short time rather than continuing your journey immediately. The city offers several Inca sites that are worth a visit.

The handicraft of Ollantaytambo market offers various souvenirs for tourists who want to explore the archaeological site.

This small handicraft market is located right at the entrance gate of the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo. It consists of a few dozen stalls offering souvenirs of the journey to the Inca fortress.

Near the craft market, you will also find restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels.

Center for traditional textiles of Cusco

Center for traditional textiles of Cusco  – CTTC

Each region of the Andes has its own style and expression of textile. But they have one thing in common: traditional textiles are an open book of symbols and information codes.

The art of weaving is a written form, a language with visual metaphors that conveys its values, cosmology and cultural concepts.

Visitors to the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco can admire the intricate designs and purchase handmade clothing and gifts and learn about the origins and traditions of centuries-old weaving techniques used by local artisans for more than 2,000 years.

Tips for shopping souvenirs and alpaca clothing in Peru

One of the most popular products among tourists in Peru is textiles. Keep these tips in mind when you go shopping in Cusco for souvenirs made from alpaca fabric:

Shopping in Cusco
Peruvian women selling Alpaca Cloth in Peru
Young female traveler admiring the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu

Quality of the products:

Many sellers will tell you that their products are made 100% from so-called high-quality alpaca or even baby alpaca.

However, many textiles are actually a blend of other wool types and contain only a small or no percentage of alpaca wool.

In addition, products may be advertised to you as being “naturally made with only natural dyes.”

However, fabrics with simple chemical dyes that mimic natural dyes also exist in many markets.

Fair-trade production in Peru:

Many vendors will tell you their products are made on a fair-trade basis. Nevertheless, many textiles offered to tourists are actually industrially produced.

Many sellers also work with intermediaries who buy the textiles for a low price from rural women and then distribute them in the cities.

Attract customers to the store:

These tips apply just as much to other types of products in Peru, not just textiles.

Don’t feel obligated to buy something in a store just because the salesperson promises you the “best deal.”

Also, be aware that tour guides sometimes make deals with store owners. For example, the guide gets a certain commission if he takes his tour group to a specific store.

When you are in a store looking around, feel pressured to buy something. Say “Gracias” and go to the next store to compare prices. If you really liked a product, you can go back to the first store if you have any doubts.

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