Famous across the world for its vibrant Mayan culture and fascinating history, Guatemala is one of the best places in the world to do a spot of shopping. Whether you’re looking for traditional textiles to take home as souvenirs, intricate jade jewelry to buy as gifts, or some authentic wooden sculptures to place around your house, here are the best places to buy souvenirs in Guatemala City.
Looking for a gift for a child? Head to La Jugetaria, a family-run toy store that’s been in business since 1927. Located on bustling Avenue 6, this shop is in one of the best shopping districts in the city, but despite their history, La Jugetaria is a struggling business. Its location means it must pay very high taxes, and it’s losing business from illegal vendors (who are everywhere in the city). Support a hard-working local business by treating any kids in your life to a new and unique doll, costume, game or book.
Museo Ixchel de Traje Indigena
Enjoy some souvenir shopping with a spot of culture at the Museo Ixchel de Traje Indigena. This museum has outstanding exhibitions which will teach you all about Guatemala’s intricate Mayan textiles and indigenous dress, and after you’ve had your fill of learning, head downstairs to the museum shop. Here you can browse an incredible range of beautiful textiles (all made by local weavers) and handmade jade jewelry. It’s obviously much pricier than what you find at the markets, but if you want to be sure you’re supporting fair trade, it’s worth paying the extra.
6A Calle 6, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala +502 2331 3622
Mercado de Artesanías
With around 30+ stalls selling woollen goods, traditional textiles, wooden carvings and jade jewelry, the Mercado de Artesanías is the biggest craft market in the city. Here you can choose from a large variety of antiques and Mayan handicrafts – although remember that prices for tourists are always marked up, so haggle hard. If you’re into art, you can buy wonderful paintings here at incredible prices, and there’s usually some food stalls selling local delicacies if you get peckish. The pretty garden with a fountain is a lovely spot to enjoy your food after a successful shopping spree.
Guatemala City, Guatemala +502 2475 5915
If the Mercado de Artesanías is the tourist market, then the lively Mercado Central is more the local market. Still, you can pick up excellent souvenirs here too, as the maze of underground passages are packed with leather goods, wooden masks, ceramics, tablecloths, wallets, decorative bowls, etc. It isn’t necessarily the prettiest of markets, but it’s definitely one of the most authentic, and the handicrafts are considerably cheaper than the touristy markets in Antigua or Chichicastenango. Keep your belongings close to you, however, as pickpockets are known to roam here.
8 Calle, Guatemala +502 2230 1579
Guatemala City Airport
It may not seem like the most inspired choice, but Guatemala’s main airport is a great spot to do some last-minute souvenir shopping. If you’re a rum enthusiast – or you have a friend or family member who is – you surely can’t leave the country without at least one bottle of Zacapa. Heralded as being one of the best rums in the world, Zacapa has won countless international tasting competitions, and the 23-year-old Zacapa Centenario dark rum is wonderfully warming, rich and smooth. While you can pick up Zacapa at most supermarkets and alcohol shops in the city, you’ll get much more bang for your buck at the airport. Zacapa also comes in 15 and 25 year aged variations.
9 Av 14-75, Zona 13, Guatemala +502 2321 5000
If you’re someone who loves finding bargains in thrift shops, head to Guatemala City’s Megapaca. This used clothing chain is a treasure trove of cheap-yet-decent clothing, and you’re sure to find some truly unbelievable bargains. Whether you want to treat yourself to a new outfit or are looking for a gift for your fashionista friend, you can buy everything here – from suits to prom dresses to coats and shirts. There are more than 50 Megapaca stores in the country, but the one in Guatemala City is easily the best.