Maybe you’ve heard? Lima is a gastronomic hub, and Peru is rated among the top in the world for its cuisine.
Naturally then, there are a lot of markets to buy all those ingredients. But aside from this, Lima has plenty of unique and adventurous non-food markets.
So, I’ll introduce you to some of the best markets in Lima to explore based on my two years of living in Peru’s capital.
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1. Surquillo Mercado #1
As its name implies, this market is located in the Surquillo district of Lima. From Kennedy Park, you can arrive in Surquillo in about 10 minutes, on foot.
The Surquillo Market, also known as Mercado #1, is an indoor market with plenty of outdoor sprawl to make it even larger and more interesting. Inside, you’ll find a plethora of fruit, vegetables, spices, nuts, meat, and seafood. The market is divided into sections, so all you vegetarians and vegans out there will know your boundaries.
There’s also a section for meals inside, although they tend to be along the lines of sandwiches, smoothies, and coffee.
The real meal fun is found just outside the market. Side streets are lined with tables and dry erase boards offering the day’s menu list.
You can also find sub-markets behind the Surquillo Market, offering more of the same things that you found inside, just with an even more local flare.
If you’re on a budget, this is for you.
Just keep in mind that between Lima’s poor water quality and questionable sanitary practices at the menu places, you may end up paying for that meal in a different way, if you get my (smelly) drift.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 7:00am – 6:00pm; Sunday 7:00am – 3 – 4:00pm
Address: Corner of Via Expresa with Av. Ricardo Palma, Surquillo
2. Mercado 28
I know what you’re thinking- Are there really markets named #2 – #27 in Lima?
No. At least, not all those numbers.
The 28 in Mercado 28 comes from the market being located off of trendy 28 de Julio Avenue.
This new market offers a more upscale scene on the second-story floor of the Balboa Strip Mall. Wooden picnic tables are scattered about the center of the market. Along the perimeter, you’ll find loads of restaurants serving traditional Peruvian food, drinks, and deserts.
The market is especially popular in the evening and on weekends. They’ve got music playing in the background creating a fun, upscale bar-like ambiance. Live bands play sometimes, too!
There isn’t a dress code and you’ll see tourists wearing…well, what tourists wear. But if you want to fit in a bit more, do as Peruvians do and put on a nice pair of jeans and a blouse or button-down shirt.
As you would expect in an upscale area, prices are higher (by a lot) than the other markets on this list. Expect to spend $20+ USD on a meal and drinks.
If your budget is tight, you can still get the experience for a lower price. Just plan on ordering one drink, appetizer, or dessert.
Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 8:00am – 11:00pm; Thursday – Saturday 8:00am – 1:00am
Address: Vasco Nuñez de Balboa con 28 de Julio, Miraflores
Travel Tip: Each stand has its own hours within Mercado 28’s operating hours. You can view the full list of the stands and hours here. At this time, the page is only in Spanish, but since numbers work the same in English, you should be able to get the gist.
3. Barranco Feria
If you’re visiting Lima, the Barranco district should be on your list. It also just so happens to have an awesome market!
As one would expect from Barranco, the Feria has a bohemian style feel to it. Boutique stands are filled with repurposed handmade artwork, vintage clothing, and specialty foods.
There’s also a food court section that has plenty of Peruvian cuisines to choose from. However, if you’re craving pizza, sushi, gyros, hamburgers – you name it- they’ve got you covered here. Vegetarians and vegans- you’ll have options, too!
This is one of the best markets in Lima because it has a permanent stage for live bands. It’s totally free and there are picnic tables to have a beer or meal while enjoying the show.
Make sure you plan your trip to the Feria accordingly- it’s only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
The Feria gets hopping in the late afternoon and evenings. If you’re looking for a fun night out on the town, consider heading there to start your evening.
Hours: Friday 12:30pm – 10:30pm; Saturday & Sunday 11:00am – 10:30pm
Address: 108 Jr. Union, Barranco
Travel Tip: Just a little further down Jr Union Street on the same block as the Feria, you’ll come across a place called “CC El Capullo.” This is a local market with fruit and veggie stands, small restaurants, hardware stores, etc.
4. Bioferia Market
Located on the street beside the Surquillo Market, the Bioferia is an organic market open only on Sundays.
You’ll find a smaller, but solid, selection of primarily organic vegetables and some fruit. Organic eggs, cheese, chocolate, olive oil, and protein powder from plants you’ve never heard of are among the items that can be found at the Bioferia.
There are also a few stands that sell vegetarian and vegan food and baked goods.
Prices are cheap by U.S. standards, but of course, are more expensive than what you would find at non-organic markets.
The Bioferia is one of the smallest markets in Lima and won’t take up more than around 30 minutes of your time, so it’s a good idea to combine it with a visit to the Surquillo market.
This isn’t a bargaining type of market.
If you’re buying produce in big quantity, you can try asking for a discount, but as a whole, it’s frowned upon.
Bonus: The Surquillo and Bioferia markets are located right by the Ricardo Palma metro stop. I recommend visiting these markets on a Sunday morning and then hopping on the metro to get into Lima’s historical center for a full day of touring.
Hours: 8:00am – 3:00pm
Address: Corner of Via Expresa with Av. Ricardo Palma, Surquillo
Travel Tip: The Bioferia doesn’t really kick into gear until around 9:00am. If you go earlier, you’ll find people still setting up and less action on the side streets around the market.
5. Mercado Central
If you’re seeking a “non-touristy” vibe, Mercado Central is one of the best markets in Lima for this.
As its name implies, this is Lima’s main market. It’s an indoor market located in downtown Lima, so it’s a great stop in conjunction with your visit to the historical center. Just don’t expect to find many witchcraft goods; the San Camilo market in Arequipa is better for that.
What I like most about Mercado Central is how open it is, with lots of natural light and airflow. This is a rarity for indoor markets in Lima.
Mercado Central takes up an entire block, but it may not jump out at you right away when you’re looking for it. That’s because the market is in a low-lying, white building that only has the tiny words “Mercado Municipal” written above the entrances. You’re better off looking for the larger words “Gran Mariscal Ramon Castilla.”
There are large apartment complexes built above the market, so it’s easy to mistake the market for being a residential building. Take a look:
Inside the market, you’ll be able to find every food, household item, electronic, and party item you can think of. Relatively speaking, the vendors aren’t too pushy, and although it can get crowded, there’s a tranquility about the market, compared to the streets you were just on.
Let’s talk about those streets.
A Market within a Market: The Streets of Mercado Central
As mentioned before, the Mercado Central takes up a whole block. I highly recommend walking around all four streets that surround the market.
You’ll probably mistake the streets for being pedestrian streets—until a car nearly runs you down.
The hustle and bustle of the streets around Mercado Central, to me, are more exciting than the indoor market itself. You’ll find a lot of the same things being sold, just in a disorderly, more pushy kind of way. It’s a cool experience if this is your travel style.
It should go without saying in any crowded area, but…
Watch. Your. Stuff.
Downtown Lima is safe enough during the day on the main streets, but pickpockets abound.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 7:00am – 9:00pm, Sunday 7:00am – 6:00pm
Address: Jirón Ucayali 615, Cercado de Lima
Hey! Thinking about heading to the Amazon? It’s easy to make the mistake of choosing the wrong destination. Head over to my guide on Iquitos vs. Puerto Maldonado for details on what to look out for.
6. Mercado Chino
I’d tell you to exit the Mercado Central by the meat section to get to Mercado Chino (Chinatown). However, Mercado Central has multiple meat sections.
So, to avoid confusion, exit Mercado Central anywhere and walk around the perimeter of the building. I recommended doing this anyway for the experience, remember?
Before long, you’ll come to this:
That’s Lima’s Chinatown!
You won’t need to allot much time here, since Chinatown is basically a block length pedestrian street. But since you’ll be right there with your Mercado Central visit, it’s absolutely worth passing through.
Chinatown feels touristy and you’ll see plenty of Peruvians, and some foreigners, taking pictures by the Asian-influenced architecture scattered about.
However, here’s a secret tip– look for building #749.
Building #749 is a little alley that leads into an area that has a much more authentic feel. Suddenly, you’ll be surrounded by people of Asian heritage and will see Asian mini supermarkets and little food stands.
Don’t get too excited, though, since it’s very small. Nevertheless, it hands down has the most authentic Asian feel of the area.
There are also some Asian restaurants and supermarkets on the outskirts of the pedestrian street.
Hours: Open daily, but varying hours, depending on the locale. I recommend aiming for mid-morning to late afternoon.
Address: Block 7 of Jiron Paruro, Lima center
Travel Tip: You can easily visit the Surquillo Market, Mercado Central, Mercado Chino, and Lima’s downtown historical center all in one day using public transportation. A stop at Polvos Azules can be added in, as well as the Bioferia market (if you’re touring on a Sunday).
7. Inka Market, Indian Market & Inka Plaza
Looking for souvenirs? You’ve found your place(s).
Not only are the Inka Market, Indian Market, and Inka Plaza too similar in their offerings to list separately, but they’re all within a minute’s walk from each other.
These are artisan and souvenir markets designed for tourists. You’ll find all kinds of hand paintings, pottery, silver, textiles, and the typical items that you’d expect to find in any tourist destination. Any magnet collectors out there?
The markets typically aren’t very full, so you’ll be able to browse through the countless stalls without having to shove your way through. By being at these markets, it’s assumed that you’re a tourist. As such, you’ll be invited into each stall (usually in English) as you pass by.
From my experience, the vendors aren’t too pushy, although declining the invites can get tiring.
Since we’ve got three markets in Lima listed here, let’s talk about how to get to them. From Kennedy Park (the end where McDonald’s is located) head down Arequipa street for two blocks until you reach a sign that says “Ca. Gral. Pershing.”
Turn right onto this road. Then, walk one block.
You’ll see this Inka Market sign in front of you:
The Indian Market and Inka Plaza are literally less than a block down to the left on Petit Thouars Avenue. They have big signs, similar to this one, at their entrances. However, in case you’re unsure or have a burning question that needs answering, there’s a tourist information desk right in front of the Inka market.
If you only have time for one stop, go to the Inka Market.
The Inka Market has the largest selection to choose from. Nevertheless, you’re going to see a lot of the same stuff between all three markets, as well as other little non-market tourist shops along Petit Thouars Ave.
Hours: Daily, 9:00am – 6:00pm
Address: Petit Thouars Avenue. The Inka Market is located on the corner of blocks 54 and 53 (although technically its address is the intersecting street, Jr. Gonzales Prada 280). The Indian Market and Inka Plaza are located on block 53 of Petit Thouars Ave, directly across from each other.
Travel Tip: Lima has a reputation for having more expensive souvenirs than other parts of Peru. If you’ll be traveling to Cusco, check out the San Pedro Market. You’ll likely get the same items for cheaper, and you’ll have a more authentic market going experience.
8. Polvos Azules
Now we’re getting to the extra good stuff.
Polvos Azules is…a sight to see.
For starters, the name in English translates to Blue Dust. The building is blue. As for the dust part, it probably came from the fact that it used to be an outdoor street market. Those were also the days when it was a black market.
Nowadays, the Peruvian government has embraced the market, and it’s perfectly legal to visit Polvos Azules.
Before you get too excited, know that this market is only for the most adventurous traveler.
You’re not going to find many, if any, tourists. English speakers are essentially non-existent. To top it all off, it’s super easy to get lost inside.
Once you enter this multi-story complex, you’ll come across racks upon racks of shoes, clothes, and technology. Most are knock-off brands, so be leery of what you’re told. There’s also a food section on the top floor where you can buy every Peruvian cuisine imaginable.
There’s not a lot of natural light entering the building, and many parts aren’t very well lit. It can feel a bit creepy, especially on the lower floors and if you’re by yourself. It doesn’t stop me from going on my own as a solo female traveler, but when I do I stick to the busier, main aisles.
As in any crowded area, beware of pickpockets. There’re security guards here and there, but I’ve never found them to be abundant, given the market’s size and being in a sketchier area.
Bargaining is an absolute must here. Not only is it expected, but, especially as a tourist, they’re going to slap on an extra high initial cost on items.
As a little side note to my fellow backpackers out there, I bought a knock-off North Face backpack. After four years of near-constant use, it’s still going strong!
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00am – 9:00pm, Sunday 9:00am – 8:00pm
Address: Av Paseo de la República, La Victoria (across from Parque de la Exposicion)
The phrase “last but not least” could not be more true here. Loving markets is in my blood, but Gamarra just may take the cake on all the other markets in Lima.
That said, I’m not going to beat around the bush.
Gamarra is the kind of market that is best to go with a local Peruvian or a group of non-local Spanish-speaking people. It’s crowded. Polluted. Easy to get lost. And in a red zone district…aka, a pretty darn dangerous area.
I brought my camera along for you, dear readers. However, I recommend leaving yours at home and bringing just enough cash to get you by.
You can get to Gamarra by taxi or metro train. I personally recommend the metro train since it drops you right off in the heart of the market. You won’t miss the stop- it’s called “Gamarra.”
Gamarra is made up of one main-road-turned-pedestrian street, Jr. Gamarra. Jr. Gamarra Street runs for seemingly endless blocks. The side streets along Jr. Gamarra are filled with market activity as well.
Aside from hundreds of street vendors, there are brick-and-mortar department stores that line the street. Enter these stores and you’ll feel like you just walked into a sub-market.
Gamarra is primarily a clothing market. What I found fascinating was the diversity of clothes being sold. It wasn’t stall after stall of everyone selling the same thing as you see at so many other markets in Lima.
There are little food stands around where you can try some authentic Peruvian snacks if your stomach is willing to give them a shot.
Word has it that items get cheaper at night, as people try to meet their sales goals for the day. I’ve been to Gamarra at night once, and although it has great energy, I’d much rather pay the few extra soles and get out of there before dusk.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00am – 8:00pm, Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm
Address: Jr Gamarra, La Victoria
Calling All Animal Lovers!
If it breaks your heart to see homeless dogs and cats, volunteering or donating to an animal shelter in Lima is an excellent way to do your small part to help.
Fundación Rayito and Patitas con Futuro are two shelters in Lima that are active in their community. They take in abandoned and abused animals, run spay and neuter campaigns, and promote animal care education.
Find Your Market
I hope this post helped to give you a glimpse of the wide range of markets in Lima. I’d love to hear about the markets you visited and if you have any Lima market favorites that aren’t on this list. See you in the comments section!
P.S.- Will you be traveling to the Lima airport? Check out our post on taking the Airport Express Lima bus. Also, if you’re craving a Peruvian beach destination, our post on Mancora vs. Paracas will help you determine the best beach getaway for your interests.