The Best Places to Buy Souvenirs in Antigua, Guatemala
Wooden masks, Antigua Guatemala | © vanja b / Flickr
Antigua Guatemala is known for its colourful Mayan culture and fascinating history, making for fantastic souvenirs. Whether you’re looking for bright textiles to take home, authentic wooden sculptures, beautiful jade jewellery or unique local art, you’ll have your pick. Here are the best places to buy souvenirs in Antigua.
Mercado de Artesanías
Most people consider the Artisan Market to be the best tourist market. Full of patterned tablecloths, traditional blankets, wooden masks, jade jewellery and woven purses, you’ll find all manner of treasures to fill your case with here. Because it’s aimed at tourists rather than locals, it’s the most organised market in town, with clean, swept floors, a pretty entrance and orderly stalls. Never buy anything at face value and haggle hard – vendors usually increase the price by three.
La Casa del Jade
Antigua is known for its beautiful jade, which played a significant role in Mayan culture for thousands of years. Located inside the Casa Antigua El Jaulón shopping arcade, La Casa del Jade is the best place in the city to pick up some striking handmade jade jewellery. As well as being a jewellery shop, La Casa del Jade is a museum that displays pre-Hispanic jade trinkets, and also has a workshop where you can admire the work of modern craftspeople.
Located on Antigua’s 5th Avenida, Nim Po’t is one of the best places to find traditional Mayan clothing and textiles to take home. This huge hall is a consignment store, with beautiful garments arranged by region, so browsing the intricate huipils, cortes and fajas is like a fun geography lesson. If you’re not hunting for clothes, Nim Po’t also has an extensive collection of traditional masks, wood carvings, kites, paintings and refrigerator magnets.
Mercado del Carmen
Sitting next to the ruins of the Iglesia El Carmen, this market is one of the lesser-known artisan markets in Antigua and is far less crowded. It’s a good place to shop for souvenirs such as textiles, pottery and jade at a low price, and the blankets here are especially good value. The inside is chaotically laid out, and it can be difficult trying to find what you’re looking for, but that often means you’ll stumble upon some hidden gems. On weekends, the activity spills out onto 3a Avenida Norte, where many of the vendors have lovely textile accessories such as Mayan belts and headdresses for sale.
Another excellent place for the more style-conscious traveller to pick up some souvenirs is Algodones Mayas. This lovely boutique has a great selection of natural cotton items in an elegant array of colours, as well as traditional-yet-stylish woven bags and shoes. It’s an especially good place to pick up a colourful scarf, which you can wear during the crisp Antiguan nights as well as at home.