Cusco is a great, extensive place to go shopping. It became our night time entertainment . Here you can find here a great variety of handcrafted articles the trouble is limiting yourself. We were travelling with backpacks so we could onlt buy so many of those wonderful hats and sweaters. Forget the blankets...just wasn't room!! The beautiful designs...oh what a shame to leave them behind.
Any market in the Sacred Valley.
What to buy: The one thing that you have to buy in Peru is anything Alpaca. The rugs, scarves and sweaters were of very good quality and the prices are very cheap. But remember to bargain, you could probably get up to 30-50% off the first asking price.
When we visited the llama farm in the Sacred Valley, we got a tour of its adjacent store, which sold hand-woven products directly from its own llamas and alpacas. They showed us the process for dying the wool using natural materials and the traditional way of weaving the material by hand. It was all very interesting.
Then of course, they showed us their wonderful shop. Inside was a great variety of high-quality alpaca/llama goods. Luckily, Jose, our B&B owner, warned us that the shop was overpriced and advocated waiting until Pisac market to buy anything alpaca.
What to buy: During our visit to the shop, we were confronted for the first time (but not the last time) with the decision to buy machine-made versus hand-made goods. Obviously, the hand-made goods are more expensive, but it's up to you to determine if that really makes a difference to you. But if it does, realize that you cannot always trust the word of the seller, and we recommend buying a product only if you like it and not for the perceived extra value it would have because it's supposedly hand-made.
One should not visit the Sacred Valley of Peru and return home without something made from the fur of the local animals -- alpaca, llama or vicunya. The locals have been making sweaters, blankets, rugs and knit hats from these cameloiids for centuries, and they excel in both the artistry and the practicalities of production. The results are both beautiful and useful: the sweaters are warm; the blankets comfy and the rugs great to rollon (just ask our dogs!). Almost all the markets carry alpaca products in almost any color you could want. They even had an alpaca clothing fashion show on our train from Machu Picchu to Cusco.
If you want to buy wool to make your own sweaters, scarfs, hats, etc., there is a store close to the Plaza de Armas where you can buy "baby" alpaca wool. Sorry, I forget the name, but it is up the street from Alpaca 911.