Best Cities for Shopping in South America

Overview shot of Mercado Municipal

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Shopping in South America can vary greatly depending on what part of the continent you are visiting and the local products and specialties. Some of the most developed cities tend to enjoy large shopping malls that can rival the best in Europe and North America, while other cities enjoy amazing markets where it is possible to find some of the most stunning souvenirs and clothing. 

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Quito, Ecuador

The largest city in Ecuador is not only one of the best shopping destinations in the country but is also a beautiful place to spend time having been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to the city will find that many of the products made by the indigenous people make some of the best souvenirs, with woven sweaters and scarves both being very popular indeed. Where possible, shopping at one of the fair trade stores that pass on the majority of the profit to the producers will help the industry in the country to be more sustainable. 

The city is also home to several craftspeople and artisans who produce unique items of a very high quality, with candles, leather products and guitars of the finest quality to be found in the artisan markets like Otavalo.

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Sao Paolo, Brazil

As one of the largest cities in South America, Sao Paulo is also one of the most popular places for shopping, and while it isn't really the best place for bargain hunters, it has some of the best of Brazilian products side by side with international brands. There is a strong preference among the city's residents to go shopping in the malls of the city, which offers protection from the unpredictable weather, with Cidade Jardim and Iguatemi both being very impressive and popular shopping malls.

One of the highlights of shopping in Sao Paulo is a visit to the Mercado Municipal, the city market, which is located in a wonderful ornate building with a series of stained glass domes decorating the roof. The market itself specializes in fresh food and dried goods, but also enjoys live music events held on most Sundays.

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Iquique, Chile

Situated on the northwest coast of Chile, the port of Iquique has long been one of the most important trading areas of the country, but as the amount of trade going through the port decreased in the twentieth century, the introduction of the Zofri duty-free zone has revitalized the city. This area is located in the northern area of the city and draws visitors from across the country looking to take advantage of the competitive prices on electronics, perfumes and other goods. This large shopping area is open every day of the year and is also home to several events and entertainment performances as well as the huge variety of stores on offer.

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Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The largest city of Bolivia is also its most prosperous, and as such has a wealth of shopping opportunities ranging from the top brand stores through to independent boutiques and bustling markets. Some of the most interesting products here are the carvings that are made of tropical hardwoods and also carved into the smaller ​tari nuts, while llama and alpaca clothing is also available. One of the best places to shop for these souvenirs is the Avenue Rene Moreno, where a variety of retailers have these items on sale, while there are also several jewelry and art cooperatives with stores that benefit the artists from across the country.​​

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

Second only to Sao Paulo in terms of its size, it is no surprise that Buenos Aires is one of the most popular cities in the country for those looking for excellent shopping in welcoming surroundings. The malls in the city are usually open until 10 pm seven days a week, although smaller independent stores and boutiques are likely to close at around 8 pm.​

Lavalle Street enjoys a pedestrianized shopping experience, as does Florida Street, and both of these have a variety of national stores and independent retailers, while there are also plenty of street vendors to be seen too. Plaza Serrano in the Palermo district is another of the popular destinations in the city for shopping as it enjoys a trendy atmosphere with bold designers offering unique clothes and artists offering their products

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