Everyone loves a bit of souvenir shopping when they’re on vacation. Whether it’s a gift for yourself or for a loved one back home, you want to make sure it’s something special. Your items should be typical from the area and objects that conjure up images of your wonderful trip that’ll bring back memories for a lifetime.
Luckily, Peru has a wealth of products that make excellent gifts and souvenirs that anyone would be happy to receive. It’s very easy to spend hours, even days, browsing the little artisan stores and alpaca shops. So, to make things a little easier for you, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of the best items to take back home with you.
What Products Is Peru Known For?
Peru is rich in many minerals, such as gold and copper, so it’s no surprise, then, that they are well-known for some stunning jewelry. They are also famous for handmade artisan products, which you’ll find all over the city.
Many people associate Peru with alpacas, and you’ll find plenty of clothing items made from their incredibly soft wool. They’re also well-known for their colorful textiles and ponchos.
The most famous drink in the country is Pisco, which you can also find in many shops. Peruvian gastronomy is growing in popularity rapidly across the globe, and they are best known for their coffee and chocolate.
What Are the Best Things to Buy in Peru?
So now you know the top products and what symbolizes the country, it’s time to dig into the best gifts and souvenirs available in Peru to take home.
We’ve already mentioned the rich minerals available in the country and the pretty pieces of jewelry available. All around the center and in many shopping malls in the cities, you’ll be able to pick up some stunning pieces.
Silver and gold are some of the best jewelry to buy in Peru. As well as simple chains, you can find gorgeous pendants, and many that resemble pieces the Incas used many centuries ago.
If you aren’t a fan of metals or want to get something for a child, you can also find woven bracelets made in a variety of fun colors.
Alpaca sweaters are perhaps the most iconic item from Peru that nearly everyone who visits buys. There’s a huge variety from cheaper options in small artisan markets to some very expensive garments in the fancy alpaca clothing stores in malls and city centers.
These make excellent gifts for friends and family and you can even buy them in tiny sizes for newborns, which look adorable, by the way. You’ll find that the price reflects the quality, so keep this in mind when shopping.
Across the country, and especially in Cusco, you’ll find some wonderful handwoven textiles that come in various colors. You can find beautiful bags, skirts, hats, and much more. These items take a long time to make and the price will reflect it, but they’re high quality and last a lifetime.
In Cusco, take the time to visit Chinchero where you can see the locals making the garments right in front of you and learn what products they use as natural dyes for the fabric. It’s truly fascinating and creates an excellent backstory to your souvenir or gift.
The country of Peru has some of the most fantastic landscapes in the world and some of the most iconic scenes from the biggest cities. You’ll find a huge variety of paintings around from pretty street views to the incredible Machu Picchu.
You can find something for every taste and they make great gifts to hang on anyone’s wall. They’re also wonderful souvenirs to look at every day and be transported back to your incredible vacation.
The most famous drink in Peru is the pisco sour, and we’re sure you’ll be trying it at least once during your travels across the country. It’s a delicious cocktail that’s simple to make. The thing is, pisco isn’t available in many countries so it can be hard to recreate the delicious drink once you get home.
If you have some space in your bags, we recommend taking some back home with you for a cocktail night with friends. It can also make an excellent gift for someone who appreciates quality liquor or tasty cocktails.
If there’s one thing that really signifies Peru, it’s the fact that they are extremely talented when it comes to making products. In every corner of the country, you’ll find fantastic artisan items that have been hand-crafted by locals in the area.
No matter if you’re by the sea, up in the Andes, or in the deep jungle, you’ll find all sorts from clothing and jewelry to incredibly intricate designs on clay pots and other decorative pieces. You’ll find wool, clay, glass, metal, and even leather goods in Peru. Whatever you or the person you’re buying for is into, you’ll find it.
Some of the more popular options include:
- Hats, gloves, and socks
- Handbags and backpacks
- Pencil cases
- Oven mitts
- Carved items
- Purses and wallets
- Leather water bottle holders
- Fridge magnets
- Bowls, plates, mugs, cups, etc.
- Fingers puppets
- Andean dolls
- Pucará bulls
We’ve already mentioned the textiles and artisan products, and iconic clothing fits into both. The top items to purchase are ‘chullos’ (woolly hats) and ponchos. These are not only stylish pieces that can be used across the globe but also traditional garments that are still worn in many parts of Peru.
You’ll find a lot of handmade pieces as well as cheaper options that are made in bulk if you want to buy one for everyone at the office.
If you head to Machu Picchu on the Salkantay Trek, you’ll pass many coffee plantations on the edge of the jungle. As you go deeper, you’ll see more. The soil in this area is perfect for growing coffee, and if you try a cup, we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
If there’s a coffee-lover in your life or you can’t get going in the morning without your cup of joe, we recommend taking back a few bags of delicious Peruvian brew. It’s also home to the most expensive coffee in the world that’s digested and then excreted by the coati!
Perhaps you have a sweet tooth or know someone who does and would appreciate some high-quality chocs as a gift. In the same regions as coffee, cocoa is grown in abundance and gets transformed into some of the most delicious chocolate you’ll likely try.
You can buy it in its purest form to melt and use in a mug of rich hot chocolate or you can buy it as a candy bar in all types of flavors from chili to coca leaf! You’ll also come across extremely dark varieties as well as classic milk choc. In a few of the bigger cities, there’s a Chocomuseo where you can actually make your own chocolates to take home.
If there’s a sound that Peru is known across the globe for, it has to be the panpipes. They forge images of being in the mountains surrounded by incredible nature. Well, you’re more than likely to hear some on your trip, and they make an excellent gift, too.
There are other instruments available as well, including flutes, charangos (little 10 stringed guitars), and bombo drums. All are excellent choices for the musically inclined in your life.
EVERYONE uses salt for cooking, and there’s an intriguing variation on offer up in the Andes. If you visit the Maras Salt Mines, you’ll see for yourself how it’s mined by families today and has been since the Inca times.
If you love using sea salt, you’ll love this pink kind as it’s just as tasty, if not more. It adds something special to your dishes and is a great talking point at dinner parties and a chance for you to recount various anecdotes of your time in Peru.
The coca leaf is highly appreciated and almost worshipped by the people from the Andean region. It’s been used since Inca times and is excellent for helping you with the effects of altitude.
In Cusco, you can drink coca tea and chew on the leaves, but you aren’t allowed to take these home. Instead, buy some coca candies to enjoy and share them with family members back home.
What Should I Buy at Machu Picchu?
If you’re visiting Machu Picchu, which you likely are when in Peru, you’ll probably want something more specific to take home. In Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the Inca citadel, you’ll find plenty of markets and shops that sell the same sort of things other places do. However, when you go to Machu Picchu, you can get one of the best souvenirs of all; a special Machu Picchu stamp in your passport! You don’t need to pay for this, but do need to remember to do it when you enter.
What Do Things Cost in Peru?
In general, Peru is cheaper than a lot of European countries as well as the US and Canada. However, some products do cost a fair amount, but this is reflected in the excellent quality of the items, especially when it comes to jewelry and alpaca garments.
Tips for Souvenir Shopping in Peru
When you’re scouting around for gifts, keep the following tips in mind to ensure you get a fair price and find the most authentic pieces.
- Barter – This is an excellent tip, especially if you’re in a market. Unfortunately, a lot of people working on market stalls will put the price up when they see foreigners. You can usually haggle the price down. However, this rule generally won’t apply when you’re in a shop.
- Don’t buy from the first place you visit – In many cities around the country, you’ll come across A LOT of places to buy souvenirs and gifts from. Even if you find something you like somewhere, you might find it in better condition or at a lower price somewhere else. We recommend taking your time and checking out a few places before you buy.
- Take cash – Many of the market stalls don’t have the facilities for you to pay with a credit or debit card, so it’s always a good idea to take cash with you. Also, some shops might accept a slightly lower price if you pay in cash, as many card machines charge them for your transaction.
Time to Write a Shopping List
There you have it; the best gifts and souvenirs available in Peru. So, to save you some precious time on your vacation, have a think about what all the special people in your life would like. Make sure you save some space in your suitcase for a few meaningful items for yourself as well.
Written by: Liv Palmer.