Markets have always been a part of my daily routine and visiting them has always been a great experience. I believe you can find the essence of a city in its local markets from the customs, colors, foods, interactions, and people. The markets are where you bargain while smiling, all business is done through friendly negotiations and each stall has it’s own unique history behind it. This is what brings me back to the markets even as newer supermarkets constantly pop up closer to home, and why any traveler should be a part of this truly Peruvian experience. In Lima there are countless local markets like this, where you can find literally everything, from everyday supplies and goods to the strangest things you didn’t know could be sold. And this is what makes visiting a Peruvian market so wonderfully unique. While you’re in Lima, take the opportunity to visit it’s markets, full of history and wonderful people, and get a glimpse into thee daily life of a Peruvian. Here’s our list of the markets you can’t miss while visiting the Peruvian capital and some of the things that await you in each one. Bring small change, be ready to bargain, and go hungry!

 

Mercado Numero Uno / Surquillo District

A 5 minute walk from the center of Miraflores is a world full of colors, sounds, smells and tastes in the Mercado #1 Surquillo, one of the most famous markets of Lima and one of the richest experiences of the capital. From pig heads, chickens hanging and even ingredients to make Thai curries, this market is incredibly diverse and has a lot to offer in a small space. You’ll see fruits and vegetables you’ve never heard of, smell spices from every corner of the world, and have some of the best ceviche in the city (go to any of the seafood stalls, but El Peruanita is our favorite).

Every Sunday is “The Bioferia” just outside, where only organic produts are sold. Health nuts will find all of the things they’ve struggled to find elsewhere while traveling.(Lima actually offers some great health food and this is where everyone gets their ingredients from- the perfect stop for people looking to eat or cook vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free while in Lima!).

 

Read more: “Foodgasm” In Lima: A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Dishes

 

Mercado Numero Dos / Surquillo District

While some of the best meals can be found at Surquillo #1, #2 is only a couple blocks away, feels much more authentic and has a pretty thorough selection of…supplies, if you will. While #1 offers mainly food, #2 is where you can find things such as fabrics, antique furniture, and seamstresses, in addition to a large array of produce and meat stalls. For ceviche, we prefer #1, but it’s worth walking to #2 to look around, and it’s perfect for those not trying to stray too far from tourist areas but wanting to see a very local and gringo-free market.

 

Mercado Numero 1 Surquillo Lima Peru

 

Mercado Central / Centro – Downtown

The Central Market is only about 5 blocks from the Plaza de Armas downtown. This is the biggest market you’re going to find, and in my opinion, the most exciting. The official market is a tall building full of vendors booths, selling every kind of food you may need. You can wander the endless aisles and see the wide variety of vegetable that exist in Peru, with some vendors dedicating their entire booth to the many potatoes, corns or avocados found here (Peru definitely has the best avocados). You’ll see vendors husking corn for tamales, offering samples of fresh fruits, and crabs that are still kicking in the seafood section.

But the best part, in my opinion, is the chaos filling the streets surrounding the building, which are an even bigger extension of the market itself. Every toy, type of clothing, party decorations, pet animals- you name it, it’s here. It’s a bit of a sensory overload, but in an exhilerating way. A “can’t-miss” while in Lima.

 

Mercado Chino o Calle Capón / Centro – Downtown (Chinatown)

A few steps from the Central Market is the “Chinatown” of Lima. While it may not be as spectacular as the Chinatown’s or other major cities like New York, it’s as diversee as any. For lovers of Thai, Japanese and Indian food, you will also find all of your ingredients here. Cheap Chinese food is available on every corner, and the famous “Chaufa” (Peruvian-Chinese fusion food) is naturally best here. When you hear the sudden decrease in Spanish and notice all of the vendors speaking to each other in their native languages, you’ll forget you’re in Lima for a moment.

 

Read more: Viñac: Five Hours and a World Away from Lima

 

Terminal Pesquero / Villa Maria Del Triunfo District

 

Fish Market Villa Maria del Triunfo Lima Peru - Markets Can’t Miss Lima

 

This is the largest fish market in Lima, as you can imagine, there is an incredible variety of fish, many with names we’d never heard of before. But as they say in this seafood-loving city, the rarer sounding the name, the more delicious the fish (but even the most basic weere incredible here). This market is the most impressive seafood selection we’ve seen so far in Lima, with thousands of live crabs, giant fish, sharks, clams, mussels…Anything that lives in the sea is available on a bed of ice for you here! The reason we went was because of our undying-love for seafood and wanting to see where it comes from, buy like a chef, and go home and make the best ceviche and chicarron de mariscos possible. Anyone interested in this will love the experience, you’ll even recognize some very famous faces selecting the fish for their restaurants if you go early enough. But make sure to wear boots or some type of higher  shoes- the floor is wet and the fish smell in your shoes when you get home is not the prettiest!

If your plan is to make your own ceviche, which anyone who has a few days in the city should try, you can buy the whole fish for much cheaper than pieces and have it cut and cleaned for just 2 soles. It’s almost unfair that ceviche this fresh is that cheap!

 

Read more: The Best Ceviche in Lima: Local Spots That Are Way Better Than Five Stars

 

Gamarra / Biggest Clothes

One of the busiest and craziest streets of Lima, this is the largest shopping mall in South America where you can find everything. It’s overwhelming the unmber of people who will be yelling deals and shoving a million things in your face, but it’s an adventure nonetheless. If you need to stock up on clothing for your trip, this is the place in South America to do it- there’s nothing quite like it!

 

Las Malvinas / Black Market

The Lost & Found of the city, where you can find and recover just about anything. On our trip there we saw a jetski, camping gear, laptops, cellphones and brand name clothing, Because it’s the black market, that iPhone you see probably didn’t come from an Apple store- but you are going to get an incredible deal on it. You can buy and sell, so if you have electronics or other valuables you don’t need, they’ll buy it from you on the spot. This one is further from most tourist areas and you have to be a very wary shopper, but it’s an experience. How many tourists have shopped the black market? A tamer version of the famous Ciudad del Este en Paraguay.

 

Jesus Maria Market (Jesus Maria Neighborhood)

 

 Mercado de Jesus Maria Lima Peru - Markets Can’t Miss Lima

 

Further from Miraflores than Surquillo, but close enough for tourists, this little market won’t have any other foreigners in it and it offers some of the best food at a much better price. It’s small and doesn’t have too much to explore, but the food is delicious and it’ll show you a different area of the city, it’s definitely more of an authentic feel. Don’t leave without getting ceviche at one of the stalls!

 

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