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Shopping in Arequipa
There is no better place to buy garments made of alpaca wool than Arequipa since it is one of the largest centres of alpaca production. The markets in Arequipa sell garments woven from good quality wool and they are much cheaper than garments available in Lima or Cusco. Alpaca garments are delicate and are best preserved if they are washed by hand.
Markets are central to life in Arequipa, and almost anything can be bought in an Arequipa market.
Our Arequipa Shopping Guide below will tell you everything you need to know about shopping in Arequipa. If too much retail therapy leaves you tired and hungry, visit one of the great Arequipa restaurants to fuel your engine. You can find general information about shopping in Peru in our Peru Shopping Guide.
Alpaca wool is warm and downy, but baby alpaca wool is even better. It is obtained from the baby alpaca's first shearing and can be expensive for its softness. Even more expensive and sought after is vicuna wool. Unethical hunting had pushed the vicunas to the brink of extinction in the 1960s and shearing was banned in an effort to save them. Now there are healthier numbers of vicunas in the wild. As they are not easily available, garments made of vicuna wool are highly priced and sought after. A vicuna wool scarf could cost over $400.
The Fundo el Fierro is a craft market adjacent to the San Francisco Church. If you are here in August, you will find many more stalls at the market than at other times. The market sells woven alpaca carpets that are a speciality of the Cotahuasi region. Another craft market can be found in the Portal de Flores. The Mercaderes market is a place to look for art. The Pasaje de la Catedral and Santa Catalina also have shops that sell handicrafts.
You can find imitations of Inca jewellery of the Pre-Spanish period in certain shopping centres in Arequipa. Exquisite jewellery in silver and gold can also be found in jewellery outlets. The jewellery products in Arequipa are top quality and reasonably priced, especially the silver. The silver is used creatively here with regional stones, mainly the spondilus which has been used since pre-Incan times.
The leather industry had a strong presence in Arequipa in the past. Most of the businesses have moved out now, but there are a few exclusive leather shops in Arequipa still operating. The range and quality of the goods in certain stores in Puente Bolognesi cannot be easily matched. A few outlets also take orders for leather clothing at reasonable prices.
If you are looking for antiques, some of the established shops in Santa Catalina Street sell colonial handcrafts, but be warned that they are rather expensive. For cheaper options visit the shops that sell copies of paintings belonging to the Cusco School of Painting. Export of originals from Arequipa is banned so make sure you have documentation to prove that the painting is a replica.
Markets play a very important role in the life of the residents of Arequipa and they are always crowded with customers. Arequipa markets are stocked with everything that one could need in life. Shopping for fresh produce is still done in traditional markets rather than in supermarkets. The markets have daily stocks of fresh fruits and vegetables that come from the villages. The San Camillo Market is very popular among the locals as it has food stalls too. You can buy flowers and local craft items as well.
The reason why you don't see too many supermarkets in Arequipa is that people still patronise the traditional markets for most of their needs. There are however small department stores in Arequipa that stock everyday stuff. These charge more than the markets do but the convenience of shopping in them attract lots of customers. In central Arequipa you will find two well stocked supermarkets. They are in Plaza de Armas and San Francisco de Pierola Street, respectively. Suburban Yanahuara has a small supermarket where you may find things that regular markets don't keep.
Calle Mercaderes 141 Cercado
Calle Mercaderes segunda cuadra.
Calle Córdova 100 Tahuacani. Sachaca
Chocolates La Ibérica
Calle Jerusalén 136 Cercado