Shop until you drop in Lima
Lima has always been known for its arts and crafts, especially its colorful textiles. It has recently also entered the world of high fashion. You can enjoy the best of both worlds depending on where you go to shop. There is a choice of large shopping complexes, small traditional markets and independent shops. There are several different shopping areas, so we suggest you move around and try them all out.
Options for shopping centers
Larcomar: A mall by the sea
Some tour guides report that after Machu Picchu, a shopping mall is the most visited site in Peru. And for good reason. It’s not often that a mall offers spectacular views of the sea!
It’s called the Larcomar, and it’s a super-modern and stylish mall in the Miraflores district of Lima. It is teeming with small boutiques, larger stores, a cinema, an amusement arcade and even a bowling alley. At night, it comes alive as hundreds of people flock to the huge open-air food court. There are any number of restaurants, cafes and bars to suit your budget and tastes.
Like everything else in Lima, it opens late. Shops begin business at 11:00 and close at 20:00, but the eating area stays open long after.
Plaza San Miguel: the oldest shopping complex
Plaza San Miguel is the oldest shopping center in Lima. Also upmarket, it is close to the airport, near San Marcos University and the zoo. There is a large variety of shops, including a supermarket. Most people like it because it is safe, not quite as expensive as Larcomar, but also has a cinema and restaurants and bars.
If you’re looking for art
Monumental Callao: something different
A new art space has opened in the Callao district, which is the gritty seaport area of Lima. It is now filled with artists and creative people and galleries. The vision of Gil Shavit, it’s a community organization trying to promote the Callao neighborhood through art, and in doing so, bring people from the area and others together. Callao was once a booming area when ships passed through it, then on to Panama and finally on to the Atlantic Ocean. Over the years, it has fallen into decline, while other neighborhoods in Lima have flourished. On a walk around the area, you will see grand scale street graffiti, in vibrant colors. If you are an art lover, think about taking a private tour to get the most benefit out of the area.
The actual building, called Monumental Callao, has six floor of restaurants, artisanal boutiques, galleries and even studio spaces for artists.
We recommend you go to the rooftop from where you’re able to see the entire surrounding area, including the harbor and the modern port. On weekends, there’s a great vibe with music.
If designer shops tickle your fancy…
Smart futuristic designer and concept shops are springing up, showcasing high-quality traditional textiles like baby alpaca and pima cotton with grand couture styles. So much so, that many international designers, such as Chanel and Versace, are working with Peruvian designers on their collections.
Ps. If you happen to be in Lima during the annual Lima Fashion Week, you’ll have to fight with the likes of Kate Moss to get a seat. Many Peruvian designers are now working in collaboration with international designers such as Versace, giving a “Peruvian” twist to the catwalk.
One example is Mozdeh Matin, who takes her inspiration from what artisans in Peru are currently doing with textiles. Another is Andrea Llosa, who characterizes her style as “high-end urban”. If geometric patterns are your thing, pop by the shop.
Concepts shops like Unø are something new in Lima that the public are still getting used to. It looks a bit like a building site, with its concrete floors, but is actually a high-end designer shop using vintage Peruvian textiles such as Aguayo. When you see it, you’ll no doubt recognize this woven cloth that women use to secure babies or small items to their backs. The weaves are highly symbolic: a stripe can mean rain; red potato flowers reference a good harvest.
For funky, fun loving and vibrant shoes, bags and wallets, stop in at Butrich. You won’t be able to resist these gorgeous heart and polka dots creations by Jessica Butrich, a local of Lima.
The brainchild of Laerke Skyum and Adriana Cachay, a Dane and a Peruvian, is Ayni, which means “today for you, tomorrow for me” in Quechua. They work with artisans from around 400 communities in Peru to create their brand, which is rooted in fair trade, fair pay and sustainability principles. Together with the Ministry of Labor, they devised a system of certification so each artisan has a qualification that they can use in the industry. The brand has grown incrementally with sales rocketing over 600 percent last year. You can order their exquisite alpaca wool garments online, but you can also visit the workshop by contacting their Facebook page.
Classic garments made with local wool
A favorite among discerning shoppers is Sol Alpaca for its exquisite alpaca wool garments. The company has several shops in Lima. Established in 2004, it has a wide collection of luxury knitted and woven men and women’s clothing and home décor. The company prides itself on its environment friendly processes. You cannot leave Peru without buying one of these beautiful garments.
You might like to take a day to visit the workshop of Miser cordia in the San Miguel District. It was founded in 2003 by an artist called Aurelyen, who fell in love with Peru on his travels. He decided to start a project with local artisans to create high end designs under the logo of « Manos, Espiritu y Corazón »: we work with our hands, our spirit and our heart. Today, there are 20 men and women skilled in the entire process of making haute couture. Twice a year, the company produces collections of timeless classics with beautiful embroidery, using local fabrics such as Pima and Tanguis cottons, the Modal, baby Alpaca and organic cotton.
Another workshop worth visiting is Huaywasi, a clothing brand that was formed by six women from
Huaycán and international volunteers working with the Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI), an education based nonprofit. The organization trains artisans to produce exquisite home décor, bags, women’s and men’s clothing and a baby range. When you buy a Huauwasi product, you are also supporting female artisans. The main headquarters are in Chicago, but if you would like to visit the workshop in Lima, you can contact Huaywasi@lightandleadership.org.
For gorgeous jewelry
Arin exports its beautiful handmade jewelry all over the world, and also has shops in Lima. The company uses precious and semiprecious stones, enamel, gold and silver to make about a million necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings, rings, charms, and much more. If gold is your passion, you will love this jeweler, which is known throughout Peru for its innovation, social responsibility and commitment to the environment.
Best for souvenirs
If it’s more arts and crafts you’re after, like pieces of the Peruvian national dress, there are two Indian markets: the Mercado Indio de la Marina in Pueblo Libre and Indio’s Market in Miraflores.
Located on Avenida La Marina, the Mercado Indio market is a large complex with lots of small shops. Here you can get ponchos, dresses, blankets, sweaters, layered skirts, tunics, sombreros, chullos and other native pieces of clothing. They come in bright colors and often have geometric shapes. The Indio’s Market in Miraflores sells similar goods.
Many vendors don’t take credit cards and some don’t carry a lot of change, so take small notes. There are ATMs nearby though, in the likely event that you want to buy more than you planned on! You may also bargain at the Indian market.
Miraflores Central Park (or “Parque Kennedy”) is another area with small stalls for these wares. The park’s flea markets start in the late afternoon and are also open on weekends. Great for souvenirs, antiques and books. Bargaining is allowed.
And lastly, When you have To eat …
There are plenty of little corner shops to keep you going, but if you need to buy a decent amount of food to cook at home, household cleaning material and the like, the best supermarkets are Wong and Vivanda or the Real Plaza shopping mall. The Wong chain is especially known for its good service and quality goods.
Be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time browsing Lima’s shops. There is a lot on offer!