20 Unique Gifts and Souvenirs from Peru
If you are headed to Peru you’ll want to leave extra space in your bag for souvenirs. As you tour the country you will find markets full of beautifully crafted goods in eye-catching colors and motifs. Below are the top 20 best gifts and souvenirs from Peru.
1. Alpaca clothing
At Peru Hop, we think sweaters, hats, scarves and blankets make for a long lasting souvenir, and you will find markets and stores everywhere stocked with them. Alpaca products are as insulating as cashmere, they’re also lightweight, hypoallergenic, and best of all, they don’t itch. Baby alpaca clothes are made from the fleece of the first shearing of alpaca, which is supremely soft. Many products are advertised as 100% baby alpaca, but chances are, they are blends of alpaca wool or even acrylic and synthetic fibers.
If you want the real thing skip the handicraft markets and visit boutique stores such as Kuna or Sol Alpaca where the prices will reflect the quality. Arequipa is where many of the products are manufactured and if you are passing through, this will be the best place to buy alpaca products.
Traditional Peruvian clothing and products ranging from shoes to tote bags are made out of bright, bold textiles. There are stacks of beautiful fabrics for sale at local markets that you can buy as tablecloths, table runners, placemats, and pillow cases. By the time you leave Peru you just might be imagining a bolder paint scheme for your home to match the patterns you fell in love with.
3. Chullo hat
A chullo is an Andean style hat with earflaps that can be tied under the chin. These hats are made of brightly colored vicuña, alpaca, llama or sheep’s wool and make a great accessory when passing through the high altitudes of the Colca Canyon during a tour or trek or The Andes. Miniature sized chullos can also make a cute key chain or bottle topper for Pisco.
If you are in need of a place to store all of your goodies from a trip to Peru, a new backpack is the answer. You can find many backpacks made out of the traditional textiles or invest a little more in a traditional hiking or travel backpack sold at a trekking store. Duffel bags also come in similar traditional patterns and we saw multiple people at the airport putting these to good use. Once you have your backpack, make sure to check out our top tips on backpacking Peru!
Perhaps the best way to remember a trip to Peru is to take home some artwork you can admire every day. Women in native dress make for great subjects as does the unrivaled landscape of Machu Picchu. Visit one of the many galleries or stop one of the many street vendors selling prints around Plaza de Armas in Cusco.
6. Musical instruments
Peruvian music is beautiful to listen to and has Andean, Spanish and African influences. If you are musically inclined, you may wish to bring home a new instrument. Choose from a wooden flute, a panpipe made of eleven graduated reed tubes known as a zampona, beat a bombo drum, or strum a ten string charango.
7. Retablos Altar Piece
Retablos are brightly colored wooden boxes which depict religious, historical, or everyday events that are important to Peruvian people. The delicate figures in these boxes sometimes appear on two levels: the upper level symbolizes heaven and the sacred Andean animals, while the lower lever portrays life on earth. Sizes and prices are as varied as the scenes inside.
8. Carved Gourds
The traditional Peruvian art form known also as ‘mates burilados’, dates back 3,500 years. The gourds tell a story of the customs, culture, people, history, and animals. Hang them from a Christmas tree or use them as a decorative piece around your home.
Weaving is a skill that has been passed down through the generations. The designs, colors, and quality of the textiles vary from one region to another. Many of the pieces will reflect native beliefs and designs such as the Inca Cross and sacred animals shown here. Woven goods include headbands, rugs & throws, wall hangings and much more.
This 38-48% spirit is the base ingredient in Peru’s national drink, a Pisco Sour. Many walking tours end with a demonstration of how to make a Pisco Sour and you will not want to leave Peru without trying this unique drink topped with egg white. Check your country’s duty allowances before stocking up on Pisco. For those looking into visiting a vineyard, El Catador Vineyard is one of Peru’s biggest vineyards.
11. Coca Candy
Coca is a popular natural remedy for altitude sickness. Around Peru, you can find coca tea, leaves, and candies. Before buying as a souvenir, please check your countries guidelines. For example, it’s illegal to bring coca tea and coca leaves back to the USA but the candies are permitted.
Related: The Best Gifts and Souvenirs From Lima
12. Peruvian Pink Salt
If you are an avid chef, or just want to impress your dinner guests, then you will want to add this unique item to your spice rack. Peruvian pink sea salt is hand harvested from an ancient ocean trapped underground at 10,000 feet in the Andes Mountains. Visit the salt mines in Maras and see it for yourself.
13. Friendship Bracelets
Friendship bracelets are affordable, take up no space in your suitcase, and can be worn with everything. You may notice some backpackers around town sporting a wrist full of bracelets as a reminder of their past travels. Even if you are not a long term traveller, you’ll like the visual reminder of your trip to Peru when you are back home.
14. Inca Cross
These necklaces may just look like a geometric shape but after a trip to Peru, you will know that this is the Inca cross and has deep meaning and importance for the Quechua people. You will see the carving on many of the archaeological sites. In brief, the hole at the center is said to represent the city of Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, and the Southern Cross constellation. The cross is then divided into four quadrants with three steps each. The first quadrant represents the tiers of the world: the lower world of death, a middle world of human life, and an upper world of gods and celestial beings. The second represents the revered animals corresponding to each world: the snake, puma, and condor. The third symbolizes three commands of the Incas: don’t steal, don’t lie, and don’t be lazy. And the fourth represents human principles: love and well doing, knowledge, and work. Now are you tempted to purchase this sacred and meaningful symbol?
15. Toro de Pucará
Pucará bulls are given as a wedding present to Peruvian couples. If you look closely at the rooftops in Peru you may see a pair of these bulls who are believed to bring fertility, prosperity, happiness and protection for the home. If you’d like to wish the same luck for someone you know, you’ll want to bring home a colorful bull of your own.
16. Ekeko the Smoking God of Prosperity
Ekoko is the God of abundance, prosperity and good fortune. Instead of buying this for yourself, you should give it away to someone who you wish success upon. The small offerings made to the God are what a person hopes to receive or achieve in return.
17. Andean Dolls
One of the most beautiful things about Peru is the people. These dolls are a wonderful gift for a child to learn about the lifestyles, dress, and culture of traditional Peruvian women.
18. Alpaca Dolls
First get an alpaca selfie with the real thing, then get an alpaca to go. I couldn’t resist the keychain but you can buy larger dolls for children or one to just put front and center on your couch as a conversation piece. You’ll have a hard time letting go of these fluffy white friends.
19. Finger puppets
Throughout your trip to Peru, you will have heard many stories of the ancient Inca civilization. Pick up some hand-woven finger puppets and use them to teach the little ones about the Inca Empire.
20. Passport Stamps
If you can spare a blank page in your passport bring it along on your trip to Lake Titicaca, and Machu Picchu for some one-of-a-kind stamps. In Lake Titicaca, you will find the stamp station on the Uros floating islands. The cost is just 1 Sol. At Machu Picchu, look for a small table at the exit by the bus line.
If you have enjoyed this guide about the best things to purchase for others on your travels in Peru, check out our guide on the best markets in Lima, or find out more about the best way to get around Peru, seeing everything that you want to see on your way!