San Blas – the plaza itself, Cuesta San Blas, Carmen Alto, and Tandapata east of the plaza – offers Cuzco’s best shopping. It’s the artisan quarter, packed with the workshops and showrooms of local craftspeople. Some offer the chance to watch artisans at work and see the interiors of colonial buildings while hunting down that perfect souvenir. Prices and quality vary greatly, so shop around and expect to bargain, except in the most expensive stores, where prices are often fixed. Some of the best-known include Taller Olave, which sells reproductions of colonial sculptures and pre-colonial ceramics. Taller Mendivil is nationally famous for its giraffe-necked religious figures and sun-shaped mirrors; it has outlets in San Blas and the city center. Taller and Museo Mérida offers striking earthenware statues that straddle the border between craft and art.
The same area is also home to an ever-evolving sprinkling of jewelry stores and quirky, one-off designer-clothes stores – a refreshing reminder that the local aesthetic is not confined to stridently colored ponchos and sheepskin-rug depictions of Machu Picchu. These and other mass-produced tourist tat, from textiles to teapots, are sold from pretty much every hole-in-the-wall in the historic center, and at the vast Centro Artesenal Cuzco.
If you’re the type who likes to get your souvenir shopping done fast, Aymi Wasi is for you. It’s got everything – clothes, ornaments, toys, candles, jewelry, art, ceramics, handbags… Your friends and family will never suspect you bought all their gifts in one place! And it’s all handmade and fair trade.
Cuzco is not known for its clothes-shopping, though there are a few cool stores hidden away in the Centro Comercial de Cuzco.
Tatoo has brand-name outdoor clothing and technical gear at high prices. Many shops in Calle Plateros and Mercado El Molino have a good range of lower-quality, much cheaper gear.