6 Best Places to Shop in Merida and the Andes, Venezuela

Galeria Tierra y Arte

Galeria Tierra y Arte, on the third floor of the Mercado Principal, has some great wooden pieces among some ghastly artwork—take your time and you can score a few gems.

La Calle Mayor

Sift through the cheesy mass-produced stuff to find great handicrafts by local artists at La Calle Mayor, on the third floor of the Mercado Principal.

La Casa del Paramo

La Casa del Paramo is great one-stop shopping for Andean souvenirs: there are three rooms filled with local wood carvings, paintings, sculptures, and jewelry to peruse.

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For gift-worthy jams, jellies, pickled goods, dried fruits, and sweets, go past the fruit-and-vegetable section on the first floor to Labrantía.

Mercado Principal de Mérida

The best souvenirs to be found in Mérida are the traditional carved wooden sculptures (often depicting saints, Simóon Bolívar, or angels) made in small surrounding mountainside villages such as Tabay. If possible, head straight to the source—driving around Tabay looking for streetside vendors and "artesanías" (crafts) signs pointing toward homes is our favorite way to go—but you can also have a look around the nearly 500 stalls of the Mercado Principal de Mérida, which offer everything from flores (flowers) and frutas (fruits) to crafts and recuerdos (souvenirs). Begin your morning by sampling traditional Andean pasteles (pocketlike pastries) filled with pork, chicken, or beef. You can take home a cuatro (traditional four-string guitar) or a supposedly hand-loomed blanket from any of the dozens of shops that crowd the top two floors. The quality here has taken a nosedive in recent years (though it's still great fun to explore these stalls), so consider making your big purchases elsewhere.


Morera, if tiny, has some of the best textile work in Mérida. In the back hallway on the second floor of the Mercado Principal, this glass-enclosed shop twinkles with possibility: choose between turquoise, magenta, chocolate-brown, and ivory woven throw pillows; handmade silk scarves; lush throws; and intricate, mixed-fiber table runners. You can't go wrong here. If you really fall in love with the shop, take a short cab ride to their mountainside outpost (Pedregosa Alta, Via Principal, Km 3.6 0274/266–1545 and shop with a view.)