MACHUPICCHU.CENTER logo


BEST SHOPPING IN CUSCO


There is an abundance of souvenir and clothing shops dotted around Cusco catering to the almost two million visitors each year. A lot of the items on sale are the exact same in each shop or market you visit.

This is great for a few gifts or souvenirs to take home, but if you are a keen shopper and like to collect authentic, high-quality souvenirs and objects when you travel in a country then check out our list of the best shops in Cusco that offer something just a little bit different…


TATOO SOUVENIR STORE CUSCO SANTA CATALINA

tatoo souvenir store

We love nothing more than picking up great souvenirs when we travel and we’re pretty sure you’re the same, so we’re delighted to include the Tatoo Souvenir Store in Cusco Santa Catalina in our best places to shop in Cusco category.

Souvenir shops with cheap souvenirs abound in Cusco but its hard to find high quality souvenirs to take home to family or friends or as a memory of your own trip to Peru that are useful, look great and that you can actually use when you are back home. This is where the Tatoo Souvenir Store excels. You will have already seen that Tatoo is one of our favourite outdoor adventure gear stores in both Cusco and Lima and we love the newest addition to their stores in Santa Catalina that offers high quality and well-designed souvenirs as a memory of your trip.

Their range includes sweatshirts, hoodies and t-shirts with design-led illustrations of iconic Peru destinations like Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuaman as well as a modern take on traditional elements of Peruvian culture like the ‘chullo’ hat t-shirt design which is a firm favourite with our team. They also offer smaller souvenir items like mugs and stickers as well as emergency items you might need on your travels including security locks for your backpack and energy bars for those day hikes.

Located just one block from the Main Square in Cusco this is definitely a convenient spot to stop and pick up some design-led souvenirs of your trip.

MCHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS

  • Check out their great range of t-shirts and hoodies with illustrations of iconic places in Peru that you will wear again and again when you get home.
  • The Tatoo adventure gear stores in Cusco Plaza and the Tatoo adventure gear store in Lima are also great places to pick up or rent outdoor hiking and climbing equipment.

ESMA HAND-MADE PERUVIAN JEWELLERY CUSCO

esma hand made peruvian jewellery

When you enter the Esma hand-made Peruvian jewellery store you get the feeling that acquiring one of their pieces is something special. It’s more than just a purchase and is in fact an act intended to turn a small object into something unique and personal.

Rocio, the creator of Esma and her daughter Daniela know this well. It shows in each of their different and unique creations which are all original pieces that make the buyer aware that they are acquiring a piece of pure creativity.

Rocio and Daniela have successfully created a distinctive, avant-garde brand of jewellery from their store in Calle Triunfo in the heart of historic Cusco over the past 15 years. Jewellery lovers will find a store filled with attractive and appealing display cases filled with small treasures like a glittering mosaic that is hard to resist.

The different creative lines make choosing just one piece very difficult! Their creative lines of copper, alpaca silver and bronze pieces accompanied with other materials like leather, seeds from the jungle, enamelled copper, textiles and quartz crystals and their silver line with semi-precious stones like topaz, amethyst, and Australian opals are in keeping with latest trends and customer tastes.

Their store is one of our favourite places to shop in Cusco and is a great place to pick up a beautiful piece of jewellery to take home as a souvenir of your trip!

COCOLISO CUSCO CLOTHES STORE

cocoliso cusco clothes

Tucked away in a patio off Calle Palacio, the Cocoliso Cusco clothes store is easy to walk past, but this little gem of a store is one that you won’t want to miss! Run by French-Peruvian Architect Elise who like a true French woman has always loved clothes and fashion. When she moved to Cusco she decided to try her hand at designing clothes and open the fabulous Cocoliso store.

A lover of photography, she started off by using serigraphy to stamp her photos of locals onto cotton bags and t-shirts for a modern take on local Andean tradition. Check out her current collection which features llamas and a dancer from the ‘Candelaria’ festival in Puno.

Elise then started experimenting with other materials and now exhibits her unique range of hand-made knits including sweaters, ponchos, gloves and hats made from baby alpaca. The quality of her designs keeps getting better. Elise selects her own wool and then designs each piece. Garments are then manufactured by hand by local women’s knitting cooperatives from the communities of Rumira in Ollantaytambo, Mollepata in Anta and Quillahuata near San Sebastián in Cusco that are all paid fairly for their work.l

Cocoliso also stocks the fabulous SaKé brand of handbags which are all ethically manufactured using organic leather and traditional Peruvian weaving designs as well as gorgeous jewellery by Lorena Pestana and there are also a few of Elise’s own vintage pieces on display.

This is one of the few stores in Cusco where all items are made of high-quality, local Andean materials and where designs are edgier and more fashionable than what you find elsewhere in Cusco.

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • After all that retail therapy head across the patio to the Cocoliso Cafe run by Elises’ husband Tomas for one of Cusco’s best hot chocolates…
  • Elise, inspired by the birth of her first daughter has also recently developed a gorgeous range of baby alpaca knitwear for babies. Don’t miss the gorgeous baby ponchos which make great gifts!

TATER VERA CERAMICS CUSCO

tater vera ceramics

Tater Vera is a Cusco native from a family with a deep love of art and antiques. This little gem of a ceramic store is located in San Blas on Suyt’uqhatu street and is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy high quality ceramics.

Tater Vera specializes in the glazed ceramic technique that was traditional in Cusco following the arrival of the Spaniards back in the 15th century. After the earthquake in Cusco in 1950 most of the potters lost their workshops and shut up shop. It was no longer a viable business with the arrival of cheaper materials like plastic and metals on the market. Tater became interested in ceramics back in 1990 and started investigating the glazed ceramic technique with the vision of saving this lost art from extinctio

Thus started a love affair with pottery that involved ten years of study at the School of Fine Arts in Cusco where he learnt to create his unique pieces. Tater originally began by creating replicas of traditional colonial pottery – vases, jars and plates using the traditional symbols and imagery. Slowly his work has evolved always using the traditional techniques as a base but with a more contemporary twist with brighter colours and new shapes and forms.

Tater has won numerous awards for his work including most recently the UNESCO Excellence Award for Handicrafts in 2014 and is remarkably approachable as an artist. We were expecting an older perhaps more senior man when we went to visit Tater recently and were pleasantly surprised by the sprightly, playful 50 year old man who greeted us with a smile.

Tater has won numerous awards for his work including most recently the UNESCO Excellence Award for Handicrafts in 2014 and is remarkably approachable as an artist. We were expecting an older perhaps more senior man when we went to visit Tater recently and were pleasantly surprised by the sprightly, playful 50 year old man who greeted us with a smile.

His most popular pieces include the ‘Toros Cusqueños’ or Cusco Bulls, the hen series and his colourful array of plates and bowls which are also items that can fit in your suitcase to take home. He also creates stunning larger pieces that are on display in the luxury Palacio Nazarenas and Palacio del Inka hotels and include large urns, nativity scenes and vases.

No two pieces are the same and each piece is created entirely by hand using purely ancestral techniques. Tater works with a group of female potters from the town of Raqchi and with students from the School of Fine Arts to help train and spread these traditional pottery techniques. He welcomes visitors to his studio in the district of San Sebastian and is more than happy to share his story and passion with visitors.

Definitely worth a visit if you want to pick up a beautiful, unique keepsake from your trip!

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • They will ship items internationally so if you fall in love with a bigger piece they will make sure it finds its way safely to your home.
  • If you have more time and are a serious pottery lover, a visit to the workshop In the San Sebastian area of Cusco is definitely worth it! Call the shop on (+51) 84 506 228 to make an appointment.

TATOO ADVENTURE GEAR STORE CUSCO PLAZA

tatoo adventure gear

Cusco is an outdoor junkies’ paradise with vertiginous peaks and gentle valleys to climb, bike and hike. But, what happens when you forget an all-important piece of your kit back home? Left behind your warmest fleece or that all-important carabiner clip? Don’t despair. We are delighted to add to our category of ‘Best Shops in Cusco‘ the Tatoo Adventure Gear store.

Now, just so you know, Cusco is packed with shops selling and renting knock-off outdoor clothing and hiking gear, but don’t be fooled! When you find yourself camping in the Andes at over 4,000m you’ll be glad you invested in the real deal to keep the cold, wind and rain at bay.

Tatoo Adventure Gear is our go-to store for all our outdoor equipment including the basics such as daypacks and fleeces to more technical equipment like water purifiers, camping gear and climbing equipment. They stock only the best international brands including Marmot, Osprey, Rab, Buff, Lowe Alpine, Salmon and their own Tatoo brand. The Tatoo store is where you will find everything from clothing, Nalgene drinking bottles, stainless steel coffee pots and mosquito nets to carabiners, quickdraws, harnesses and everything else in-between!

If you don’t feel like carrying bigger outdoor adventure gear all the way from home, Tatoo Cusco Plaza also offer one of the best equipment rental services in town. All gear is extremely well-maintained and includes everything from backpacks and tents to technical climbing equipment.

Staff are all outdoor enthusiasts and spend their free time out biking and hiking in the Andes so can give expert guidance and advice on the right gear for you. This is definitely one of the best adventure gear stores in Cusco stocking an impressive selection of items for general and technical outdoor use.

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • Fake outdoor clothing is common in Cusco so don’t get stung. Tatoo guarantees only original brands and products. Trust us when we say quality gear makes a big difference when you are out in the elements high up in the Andes.
  • Check out Tatoo’s comprehensive range of hiking boots for all you travellers who need a great pair of hiking boots for the Inca Trail!
  • Tatoo also have a great souvenir store at the Plaza Santa Catalina where they sell quality souvenirs as a memory of your trip to Cusco.

POMATAYLLA TEXTILE STORE IN CUSCO

pomataylla textile store

Peru is known for the quality and variety of its handicrafts produced largely by hand by men and women all over the country. Ayacucho is famous for the production of colourful, high quality crafts including ceramics, ‘retablos’ or altarpieces, filigree jewellery and woven textiles.

Most travellers to Peru don’t have time to visit Ayacucho and discover the crafts from this region. This is what inspired Diana Pomataylla to open her store and bring the best of Ayacucho to the Incan city of Cusco to share with travellers from all over the world!

Diana’s father Marcelino is an accomplished Ayacuchan weaver who began learning his trade over 50 years ago. He now runs a studio in Ayacucho where he works with local women creating traditional weavings with a modern touch and beautiful needlework fabrics that reflect the colourful clothing and character of the locals.

Three dimensional woven wall hangings with traditional symbols from the pre-Inca Wari culture including llamas and geometric patterns are created with modern colours for take home pieces just that little bit different from what you find in the markets. The colourful needle-work cushions, table runners, purses and belts are in a colonial style with brightly embroidered birds and flowers.

Diana also stocks some of Ayacucho’s finest and most well-known artists including the angel ceramic series by Señor Aristides and the vibrant tin candelabras created by Señor Araujo.

The colourful altarpieces or ‘retablos’ are also from Ayacucho and were originally brought into the country by the Spanish conquerors who liked to have small portable altars with them where they could worship their saints. The custom evolved and you can now find colourful wooden carved altarpieces representing typical elements of the culture including bull fights and local festivities.

While they specialise in handcrafts from the Ayacucho region thay have also recently added a lovely range of high quality baby alpaca shawls and scarves and a range of leather handbags with an alpaca fur trim which we haven’t seen anywhere else in Cusco.

This is a colourful store packed with high-quality, traditional handicrafts and is a nice place to stop if you want to get a feel for another part of Peru and are looking for some nice souvenirs to take home!

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • Pomataylla is located on Calle Triunfo in the interior patio just under Cicciolina restaurant but there is also another entrance on Calle Palacio just around the corner.

ALPACA INTERNATIONAL BABY ALPACA CLOTHING STORE CUSCO

alpaca internaional baby alpaca clothing

For those of you who have spent any amount of time in Cusco you will know that alpaca clothing abounds but that finding high quality, original designs that you can actually wear once you get back home is a little more difficult!

Alpaca International is a small locally-owned boutique in the heart of Cusco that we fell in love with recently. It’s easy to walk past the store front on Santa Catalina Angosta street as from the outside it doesn’t look like much. Don’t be fooled though, because the real magic of the Alpaca International creations only become apparent when you browse through the shop filled with different styles and the assistant starts pulling out different collections that look great on and are above all unique and exclusive designs.

As the name suggests, Alpaca International specializes in the highest quality baby alpaca. Peruvian Zia Boccacio was first inspired by this mythical Andean animal when she was just aged nine and saw her first alpaca. This encounter started a love affair with Zia now designing and creating her unique alpaca wool creations in her native Peru and exporting to the U.S.

Alpaca has been a symbol of Andean civilization for thousands of years and is also known as the ‘Gold of the Andes’. Zia uses only 100% pure baby alpaca in her designs. Baby alpaca is a luxurious natural fiber that is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool and has a soft, glossy feeling like silk that keeps you warm when it’s cold but is also breathable in warmer temperatures

Zia, now based in the U.S is proud of her Peruvian heritage promoting the Peruvian culture and textile tradition through her alpaca designs and has won a range of awards including the ‘Succesful Peruvian Business Woman in America 2014.’ Her sister Ligia manages the Peruvian operations and can often be found in the Cusco Alpaca International store selling personally to her clients.

Alpaca International has a whole range of original designs but our favourites were the versatile Frida cardigan, the Suri cape made with the softest baby alpaca available on the market and the Intarsia range designed in collaboration with the designer Intiwara and found exclusively in Alpaca international. We also loved all of their ponchos and the baby alpaca throws hand-embellished with a silk floral design

Creations cost a little more than you find in the markets around town and are geared more towards the 30+ age group. These are nice original, investment pieces that you will be able to wear once you get back home and have as a nice memory of your time in Cusco!

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • Don’t forget to claim your free baby alpaca finger puppet or doll with any purchase. Just let them know that you heard about Alpaca International from Best of Peru Travel in the store!

AWANA WASINCHIS PERUVIAN TEXTILES CUSCO

awana wasinchis peruvian textiles

It is a feat almost impossible to walk more than 50 metres in Cusco without passing some sort of shop selling a variety of ‘traditional Peruvian’ souvenirs. After just a few days it’s easy to grow tired of seeing the same stuff being sold everywhere. It’s also disappointing to learn that a large proportion of handcrafts sold in Peru are actually made industrially in Bolivia, so it was with great pleasure that we stumbled across Awana Wasinchis Peruvian Textiles Cusco.

Awana Wasinchis is an unofficial fair-trade cooperative made up of more than 250 weavers from the Bombon and Pitukiska regions of Cusco specializing in Peruvian textiles. They aim to improve the standard of living of these extremely poor indigenous communities in the mountains surrounding Cusco by selling their beautiful traditional Andean textiles to tourists.

Now, weavings and various textile products abound in Cusco but the ones we found at Awana Wasinchis are some of the best quality and variety we have seen. The colours are earthy yet bright and there are a variety of weaves available from tight (these ones are more expensive as they take longer to weave) to looser ones. Apparently the looser weaves are woven by the elderly women in the communities, less nimble fingers and weaker eyes means the weaves aren’t as fine. Yet despite this, they are still finer than many of the weavings you will find around Cusco. Plus, we like the idea of supporting a ‘mamita’ who probably survives on only the meager income she makes from her weavings.

Mother and son team Rafael and Modesta set up their store to help these communities and are really passionate about their project. Pop-in and they will explain all about the different communities, the cultural significance of Andean weavings and how the weavings are made. (Did you know that the communities use urine that has been stored for between 2-3 months to mix with the natural colour dyes so that the dye doesn’t run? Don’t worry they wash them before they are sold!.)

A word of notice, Rafael and Modesta don’t yet have the official fair-trade certification as they can’t afford the membership just yet, but rest assured that 80% of the cost of each weaving goes back to the weavers. Pieces are made from wool and baby alpaca and include bags, ponchos, scarves, shawls and blankets and each piece is individually tagged with the name of the weaver and the community they are from.

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • Awana Wasinchis is definitely not the most attractive store in Cusco with a confused organisation but don’t be fooled by the hand-written sign at the door or the jumbled presentation of products as this place is a real gem. It’s the perfect place to buy ‘real’ Peruvian textiles with all the profits going to a great cause.

TRADITIONAL TEXTILE CENTRE CUSCO

traditional textiles

The Traditional Textile Centre Cusco is a non-profit association located on Avenida Del Sol that was set up in 1996 to preserve and protect the weaving traditions that were fast disappearing in this part of the Andes. The centre works with nine indigenous Quechua communities near Cusco (including the Chawaytire community) helping them preserve their ancestral weaving techniques, attain a better standard of living and value their culture and heritage.

The centre itself boasts an interesting on-site museum with detailed information and displays about textiles. The current exhibit entitled ‘Weaving Lives’ presents the different functions of textiles in the different stages of life of the local people in this region and provides a nice insight into the local textile culture.

Additionally the centre hosts weavers from the various communities so that visitors can watch textiles being created and ask weavers any questions about the process without having to leave Cusco. A broad range of extremely high quality textiles are for sale in the centre including bags, scarves, ponchos, throws, tablecloths and decorations and if you have half an hour to spare it is definitely worth a visit.

COLOURFUL SAN PEDRO MARKET CUSCO

colourful san pedro market (2)

The streets become noisy and crowded as you approach the San Pedro Market Cusco, a place where (almost!) everything can be bought. A swirl of colour, unknown smells, and the characteristic buzz of the place hit you as soon as you step inside. Wandering through the busy aisles, my eyes fall upon the Alpaca ponchos while my legs want to take me to the fresh juice stalls. In the same moment an old women in traditional dress tries to catch my attention with an “Amigo, what do you want to buy?” and points to piles of rice, quinoa, maca and medicinal herbs.

My first quest, in a mood to discover the typical dishes of the valley is for a simple meal of trout ceviche, fried pork and chicken soup. This is where you will find all the locals at lunchtime but be aware that service is basic, prices are low and we can’t guarantee you won’t leave with a nasty stomach upset! It is still worth a visit though, even just to wander through the food aisles. Bon appetit!

The best advice we can give for a visit to San Pedro Market is to take your time, wander slowly and marvel at the heart of Cusco where goods from the Peruvian coast, jungle and Andes are exchanged every day. The market allows a glimpse into the Cusco or ‘Cusqueña’ culture and is definitely not to be missed.

Meat, fruit and vegetables, chocolate, grains, cheese, bread, spices, nuts and dried fruits and several varieties of Peruvian potato all jostle for position with the more touristy stalls selling the typical Peruvian handcrafts, alpaca ponchos, jumpers, gloves and hats as well as mystical items such as the scented wood stick ‘palo santo’ or the medicinal San Pedro cactus.

MACHUPICCHU CENTER RECOMMENDS:

  • The Saturday market is the largest of the week and it extends to the adjacent streets.
  • Be careful of your valuables in and around the San Pedro Market. There are security guards patrolling the market but the area in and around the market is a little less secure so watch your wallets, cameras etc.