Local Markets in South America

Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a real taste of South American culture at a vibrant local market.

Almost every town you visit in South America will have a market, bursting with colour, intoxicating aromas and local handicrafts. Visit the covered market of San Telmo in Buenos Aires to sample some delectable delicacies or, while in Chile, stop by the historic Mercado Central, a bustling hub that has been serving the people of Santiago for almost 150 years. Each with its own unique story to tell, exploring a local market is the perfect way to uncover the true identity of your chosen destination.

No matter where you travel in South America, up and down the continent you will have the opportunity to try out your bartering skills at one of the local markets that spring up everywhere, from tiny townships to sprawling metropolises. Possibly one of the most iconic is Ecuador’s Otavalo Market. Small through the week, this market peaks on a Saturday and sees visitors flock from far and wide to sell their wares. Pick up brightly coloured textiles, beautiful beads and carefully painted ceramics as you potter around this huge collection of stalls. Meanwhile, over on Uruguay’s coast, you can make a pit stop at Mercado del Puerto during your time in the capital city of Montevideo and feast on succulent cuts of meat before you take time to tour the rest of the market.

For a touch of European culture in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest be sure to put a visit to the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa in Manaus on your to-do list. Built in France and then transported over to South America in the 1800s this market is a fantastic place to spy the catches of the day, straight from the nearby river, before you embark on your Amazonian adventure. If your expedition is taking you into the Sacred Valley, however, then Pisac Market will meet all your shopping needs. Nestled within the mountains, roughly an hour from Ollantaytambo, you will be greeted by villagers whose stalls are festooned with all manner of locally made goods. Finally, for something out of the ordinary, a trip to La Paz is not complete without an afternoon at the famous Witches’ Market. Here, witch doctors sell everything from amulets to bring luck, to herbal remedies and much more; even if you are not planning to buy anything it is well worth a browse.

Local Markets in South America Highlights:
  • Browse the textile-laden stalls of the Otavalo Market, Ecuador
  • Discover traditional handicrafts on display at the Pisac Market, Peru
  • Peruse the collections of bizarre trinkets and potions at the Witches’ Market, La Paz, Bolivia
  • Taste irresistible street foods at the Mercado del Puerto, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Sample just-caught fish at the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, Manaus, Brazil
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