Visiting Unique Shops and Artisan Cafés
In the first article in this series, I discussed the idea of staying one day longer to explore Cusco during your private Peru vacation. I mentioned several interesting art galleries and museums that are well worth visiting. In this second article of the series, I’ll talk about shopping in Cusco!
During your visit to Cusco, you will have the opportunity to purchase items such as alpaca sweaters, ponchos, scarves, carved gourds, t-shirts, rugs, etc. on your custom Cusco tour. However, if you have an extra day and still need some Andean souvenir items, check out Centro Artesanal Cusco, located on Avenida Tullumayo 28 by the beautiful Paccha Fountain. It has numerous stands offering any type of souvenirs you may have forgotten.
If you find yourself with a free day to explore Cusco during your private Peru vacation, and it happens to be a Saturday, hale a taxi and head over to Plaza Tupac Amarú, where the weekly Saturday market transforms this plaza into a bustling feria, or street fair. You will have the opportunity to mingle with the local folks and at the same time find numerous booths selling practically any items you can think of, including clothing, baby items, household items, craft items, and furniture. There is also a food booth area, where depending on the time of year, you can sample local dishes like fried trout, pollo asado, (roast chicken), torrejas (savory pancakes), and even cuy asado (roast guinea pig), if you’re feeling adventurous. Don’t forget to try the handmade wooden-barrel ice cream ”spun” into icy deliciousness right before your eager eyes!
Back to the general area of the Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s Main Square, you can head up the stairs off Choquechaca Street, to the San Blas neighborhood, where you’ll find numerous tiny galleries and shops. One such shop is L’atelier, located on Calle Atoqsayk’uchi 605-A, here you will find vegan pastries and delightful coffee drinks served in a mellow atmosphere. Check out the unique designer clothing and handcrafted jewelry for sale in this French-owned café.
Proceed on your explorations of the San Blas neighborhood to the nearby fashion boutique known as Hilo, located at Carmen Alto 260. You will find vintage and handmade clothing made for both men and women. Owner Eibhlin Cassidy designs the clothing by hand, and also does custom alterations on site.
Do you want to the purchases you make on your private Peru vacation to count for local communities?
Check out Cocoliso Café, tucked away in a patio on Calle Palacio 126, where artisanal pastries, organic coffee drinks, and a variety of herbal teas are served. This concept café/ boutique boasts unique alpaca fashions made by local communities. It’s a sweet and restful place to stop during your Cusco holiday, and what’s more, your purchases help to empower local artisans.
In the same vein, all purchases made at Xapiri, located at Calle Garcilaso 210 in the historical center, support indigenous cultures from the Peruvian Amazon. This all-in-one cultural center, art gallery, and shop offers fair trade textiles, jewelry, basketry, and more – all handmade by people across ten Amazonian ethnic groups.
If you are looking for something for that hard-to-please relative or friend, visit Pedazo de Arte, located on Calle Plateros 334-B, half a block from the Main Square. This shop is filled with charming limited edition merchandise such as clothing, jewelry, and artisanal items. 70% of the merchandise have been crafted by Japanese-born owner, Mizi Suzuki, who opened the store in 1994.
These are just a few of the unique and quirky shops you can find on your extra day wandering around Cusco, a city whose Andean beauty and magnetism will stay with you long after your personalized trip to Peru.