Many people go to Peru for an adventure and leave with a suitcase (or backpack) of memories. Peru is a fun place to shop in, as they have so many markets, high-quality options, and artisanal pieces of work.
Whether shopping is your primary purpose in Peru or not, you’ll likely leave with at least a few souvenirs from your time in this magnificent country.
Whether you’re in the market for some of Peru’s most comfortable and beautiful pieces of clothing, for something sweet or unique to take home as a memory, or a part of an intricate and detailed piece of art to hang at home, there is something in Peru for you.
I will talk about some of the most popular souvenirs from Peru and some tips and tricks for shopping in Peru. It can be hard to navigate a market in a foreign country, especially if you don’t speak the language. Hopefully, this guide will help prepare you for all your Peruvian purchases.
Disclaimer: most of the items you see photographed in this post are actually souvenirs from Peru I bought during my most recent trip. Some of them were bought in shops, others at the market, and many were bought in local artisan communities we visited.
You should also read my posts The Best Things To Do In Peru and A 2 Weeks Classic Peru Itinerary.
The Best Souvenirs From Peru
Clothing / Fabric
Peruvians take pride in their textiles, as they should. Textiles in Peru are a fascinating piece of the country, as they reflect the culture of Peru. Clothing, accessories, blankets, and everything in between is often colorful, comfortable, and breathable.
Textiles are an essential part of the culture and identity of many Peruvian communities, especially in the Andean region. You’ll notice villages have very different styles, fashion, and textile designs.
Because of the unique aspect of textiles, high-quality production, handcrafted nature, and colorful designs, textiles are the perfect souvenirs from Peru to bring home.
Textiles in Peru can differ, depending on the technique to make them, the region you purchase in, and the materials used. Some of the most common materials are:
You can purchase Peruvian textiles in several different places across all Peru. You will see many materials in local markets, artisan markets, shops, and other specialty factories. A good place to buy textiles are local weaving communities like you will find scattered on the Sacred Valley.
Alpaca blankets are made from alpaca wool harvested from the fleece of alpaca animals. Alpaca blankets are often handwoven by local artisans that use local, traditional techniques. That is why Peru is the absolute best place to buy your alpaca blanket.
These blankets are known for their softness, warmth, and durability. In addition, they are hypoallergenic and water-resistant, making them the perfect long-term throw.
You’ll find them in all different shapes, colors, and styles throughout Peru. Each region has its unique twist on design and technique. If you decide to get an alpaca blanket to bring home, try to go with a handmade blanket, as they are significantly softer and of higher quality. I bought mine at the Ccaccaccollo Community and Women’s Weaving and it was a lovely find – albeit expensive.
Alpaca Wool Clothing
While alpaca blankets are prized souvenirs, you can get any clothing made from alpaca wool. You’ll find alpaca clothing throughout almost all of Peru. Some of the most common pieces of alpaca clothing are hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, coats, and socks. These are incredibly soft and perfect for your trip, and make excellent souvenirs from Peru to bring back as presents too.
I purchased several pairs of alpaca socks to bring back home to friends. They are the perfect gift because they don’t take up a lot of space and aren’t as pricy as some of the larger pieces of clothing.
Baby Alpaca Clothing
If alpaca wool clothing isn’t soft enough, you have to check out the baby alpaca clothing. Baby alpaca refers to the fiber harvested from the first-ever shearing of a young alpaca, typically under one-year-old. Alpaca and baby alpaca clothing and quality are similar, but baby alpaca clothing is softer and more lightweight. The feeling I had when I tried on my baby alpaca coat was that of a soft, cozy embrace.
Baby alpaca clothing is rare. Therefore, it is usually more expensive than alpaca clothing. However, many (including myself!) believe it is worth the upgrade because the texture is silky and smooth.
I would like to note that shearing does not harm the baby’s alpaca (or the adult alpaca). It is considered more humane as it helps keep the alpaca’s coat clean and tame. Many people probably know this, but I wanted to verify it before purchasing any baby alpaca products.
Chullo hats are a traditional piece of Peruvian headwear in many parts of Peru. A chullo hat is a hat with flaps that cover the ear and strings that hang down from the hat, sometimes with a small ball attached.
Some chullo hats are made from alpaca wool, but not all. Before purchasing, you should check the label and verify if you are looking for an alpaca chullo hat. These hats are really fun to buy in Peru, as they’ve become a symbol of Peru and Andean fashion internationally.
Traditional clothing in Peru is generally very eye-catching because the clothing is full of so much color and made from unique designs. The Andean region is known for its unique style, but you can see this anywhere outside Lima.
Most markets are filled with all traditional clothing styles, colors, and patterns. You can bring a piece home as a remarkable memory of your time there.
If you’re looking to purchase a complete set of traditional clothing, be careful to do so in a respectful manner. Some people may take offense to foreigners dressing entirely in traditional clothing for “the fun of it.” But if you’re interested in this, there are ways to do it tastefully and respectfully.
Peru also has some beautiful jewelry, ranging from expensive high-end pieces to more affordable small pieces. Peru is most known for its pink and blue opal gemstones. You can find many different pieces of jewelry made with these opals.
I purchased a tiny, cute pair of real gold earrings shaped like tiny alpacas. I am not a huge jewelry person, but jewelry shopping in Peru is really fun because it is intertwined with Peruvian culture and style.
Food / Beverage
Pisco is an unaged brandy made from Peruvian grapes. It is a staple in all popular Peruvian drinks, such as Pisco sour. Peru is one of the few places in the world to find Pisco, and it actually has a very unique and enjoyable flavor. So you should stock up on some pisco for yourself or friends in Peru.
Higher-end distilleries will have full bottles of good-quality Pisco. But you can also find fun, travel-sized ones of various flavors in local artisan markets. We bought some Pisco at a local Pisco makers in Ica.
Did you know 60% of the world’s cacao production comes from the Amazon basin? Chocolate quality worldwide varies from place to place, but Peru is one of the few places on this planet that consistently produces incredibly rich, flavorful, and high-quality chocolate.
Peru produces three different varieties of cacao: Amazon foreign, Creole, and Trinitary. One of the best ways to truly experience Peruvian chocolate is by visiting the Choco Museum of Cusco or trying a Choco Museum tour (where you learn how chocolate is made).
This Choco tour is highly-rated and the perfect way to experience chocolate production. From there, you can bring home the perfect heavenly Peruvian chocolate.
Coca tea is a common altitude sickness remedy in Peru and a really unique gift to bring home. Coca tea is very good, healthy, and harmless (well, except it is very high in caffeine). And Peru is one of the only places in the world to find fresh, pure coca tea.
However, you must first check any travel restrictions before traveling with coca tea or any variation of coca. For example, coca leaves or tea of any type are not permitted in the US.
Sal de Maras
Sal de Maras is a type of salt produced in the town of Maras in the Sacred Valley near Cusco. Sal de Maras is reportedly one of the world’s healthiest and most nutritious variations of salt, and you can only find it in the Andes or Himalayas.
You can actually visit the salt ponds in the Sacred Valley, where the salt is mined. You can then bring home a small pouch for yourself, or friends, as a friendly reminder of the magic in the Sacred Valley region of Peru.
For example, you can join this guided tour. It is an incredible day tour and a unique way to learn about the history behind sal de maras in Peru.
Household / Other Souvenirs
Ceramics and pottery-making in Peru date back thousands of years. It is connected to many ancient cultures, such as Moche, Nazca, and Inca. The ceramics in Peru are some of the best in the world, as people still incorporate ancient techniques, vibrant colors, and hand-painted designs.
If you are looking for ceramics in Peru, look for small shops with hand-crafted pieces. They might have minor imperfections, but that is the charm of genuinely hand-painted crafts. Handmade pottery pieces in Peru may have slight variations in color and texture, which is part of the authenticity. I bought some ceramics at a local pottery in Nasca, where we also saw the making process.
The Inca Cross, Chakana, or Andean Cross is a symbol commonly found in Peru and holds the utmost importance in ancient beliefs and culture. The Inca Cross comprises a square and a cross, with each element reflecting different aspects of Andean cosmology.
The square represents the four elements of nature (earth, air, fire, and water) and the four directions (north, south, east, and west). The cross represents the three levels of existence – the upper world (hanan pacha), the middle world (kay pacha), and the underworld (ukhu pacha) – as well as the three principles of Andean spirituality (love, knowledge, and work).
If you are looking for a piece of art that reflects Peruvian history and culture, the Inca Cross is a perfect representation. And you can find it in many forms: on mugs, shirts, bags, keychains, magnets, and more.
It should be no surprise that Peru has some incredibly unique and inspiring art pieces. You can find handpainted wonders in practically every town or village throughout all Peru. In more tourist areas, you can find locals selling their art in the central park and square, artisan markets, or simply on the side of the road.
The art is such a great piece of Peruvian culture, and it reflects the ancient history, culture, landscape, and so many other aspects unique to Peru.
Peruvian musical instruments are the perfect souvenir to bring home for music enthusiasts out there. Traditional Andean music is a significant part of Peruvian culture that still exists in many regions today. In addition, Peru is home to some unique musical instruments with beautiful sounds.
Here are some Peruvian instruments you can find across the country:
If you’re shopping for Peruvian instruments, choose a specialized shop. You can ask them to play or sample the instrument to see how it sounds. Try to select an instrument made with high-quality materials for better performance and durability.
Of course, you can take home more traditional souvenirs from Peru, like magnets, keychains, t-shirts, playing cards, and more. In almost every major destination, there are large artisan markets that target tourists looking for cute, small trinkets.
There is much to choose from, especially in major destinations like Cusco and Arequipa. The costs are relatively low, and the options are endless. Just be sure to shop around for a while so that you can pick out the perfect little gifts or souvenirs.
Tips For Buying Souvenirs In Peru
Know when to haggle
Haggling is a big piece of Latin American culture, but it’s important to know that you can’t negotiate everywhere when you buy souvenirs from Peru. Typically, large local markets require some haggling. If they notice you’re a tourist or foreigner, they may be inclined to charge outrageous prices, so don’t be afraid to talk them down.
If you are shopping in more established stores or shops, you most likely can’t haggle. Sometimes I would ask, “precio final?” (final price?) if I was unsure, or ask for a small “descuento” (discount) in case I wanted to buy more than one item. However, the general rule of thumb is shops and higher-end fronts discourage and may feel offended by haggling.
Baby alpaca clothing is expensive
Getting authentic alpaca clothing is more expensive than any knock-offs or look-alikes, but baby alpaca clothing is going to be even more expensive. You’ll unlikely find baby alpaca clothing in the mass local markets with boxes of the same items. Baby alpaca clothing is much harder to find and made of much higher quality.
You will find it in higher-end shops in Cusco and Arequipa, for example. I got my baby alpaca sweater and coat from two different shops by the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, and they were not cheap (I paid the equivalent of €470 for the coat!) Therefore, expect to pay a higher price tag.
Go to actual shops for higher quality
Alpaca and baby alpaca products are much easier to find in actual shops, which goes for most products of high value. You won’t see a $100 sweater lying on the side of the road, and you don’t want that. A shop is much more secure and reliable for anything of value. They often include a certificate of authenticity, as well, and when you buy authentic alpaca textiles, the vendors will go out of their way to explain how to keep and wash the items you buy!
Check the ‘made in’ label
So many tourist trinkets are made in places like China, Vietnam, or the Phillippines. Of course, this can be discouraging because you might want a unique and special souvenir of the region or country. Most products will have a “made in” tag, so check before purchasing. I tried to avoid buying my souvenirs from Peru if I noticed they were made in China; it feels slightly less special.
I came across a shop in Cusco, in the San Blas district, right by the Museo de la Coca, that had locally made hand painted ceramics. I know for a fact it is hand painted because when I asked if they had two different coffee cups of the same kind, the owner told me his wife could paint me one by the next day!
Handmade products are hard to find
One of the reasons I suggest to go to an actual shop for all your high-value souvenirs from Peru is that it is tough to find handmade products. If you go to the artisan market in Cusco, everyone will tell you everything is handmade. But then you’ll look behind the counter and see boxes and boxes of the same items. They unlikely made all those little cups or mugs on their own.
When I am shopping for small handmade trinkets, I try to pay attention to what’s going on in the street. Sometimes, you’ll see a woman sitting on the sidewalk knitting a hat with a small pile of hats in front of her. Other times, you’ll see a man set up in the park with a table of unique jewelry pieces while he crouches over a pair of earrings he is working on. If you see a local working on something they are selling, you can be assured it is genuine and supporting the local people.
Give yourself plenty of time
Do not try to rush your souvenir shopping in Peru. If you’re looking for high-quality souvenirs from Peru, like a baby alpaca sweater or blanket, you don’t want to scramble on your last day. These products can be hard to find, and even harder to find one you love and will regularly use.
My friend was looking for a specific color/design for a baby alpaca sweater because she knew it was expensive and wanted perfect clothing. She went to several shops with no luck. Most of the shops don’t carry a large amount of stock, either. She finally found a shop in Lima that could get what she wanted, but she had to wait several days before it was available in the store.
I visited many shops before I could find the perfect coat – the color and style I wanted – and tried on so many! But I wanted to be 100% happy with my purchase.
Unless you are only looking for small trinkets, set aside time to find the perfect Peruvian souvenirs to bring home, after all, this might be a centerpiece in your apartment or household for years to come.
Have an idea of what you want and pack wisely
Try to know what kind of Peruvian souvenirs you want before your visit and pack accordingly. It is easy to get bogged down in the endless isles of cute and eye-catching pieces of Peruvian culture and tradition. But your backpack or suitcase is unlikely to have enough space for everything you want.
I ended up having to send stuff back home with a friend because my backpack could not hold all my shopping, but it was just pure luck she had space in her suitcase and was traveling the same route as I was!
Try to figure out the souvenirs from Peru you are most drawn to, and focus on those first. If you have extra space toward the end of your visit, you can always add a few more things.
To better plan your trip to Peru, you may want to read the following posts:
- 25 Things To Know Before Visiting Peru
- The Best Time To Visit Peru
- Is Lima Safe For Tourists?
- A Guide To Peruvian Food