Most of the time, travelers want mementos of their stay in incredible destinations around the world. After being in Colombia, the chances are you will hop on your flight home looking as busy as a Christmas tree.
Worry not, we are here to lend a helping hand. This is the ultimate guide for decidingwhat to buy in Colombia.
When we say you could go home looking like a holiday tree, it is not necessarily a figure of speech. Many Colombian souvenirs are items of clothing: from hats and bags, to shirts and traditional ponchos. So, what to buy in Colombia?
The most famous hat is the sombrero vueltiao. Made from arrow cane fiber, it is traditionally from the states of Córdoba and Sucre, in northern Colombia. Other than these two places, the Atlantic Coast is definitely the best place to find an authentic sombrero vueltiao. It comes in many designs, all of them symbolizing natural elements of the Zenú indigenous culture.
Shoulder bags known as mochilas have become more popular in mainstream fashion all over the world. These pieces are woven by indigenous women artisans using wool, cotton and other natural fibers.
The Wayuú community, from the northern state of La Guajira, makes the more colorful ones. The Arhuaco community, from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, creates white and brown mochilas.
Colombians in colder areas, especially farmers, frequently wear ruanas: woven wool ponchos meant to keep them warm. The term itself, which means “Land of Blankets”, is derived from the Muisca indigenous language.
The finest ones are made from virgin sheep wool and sold in the state of Boyacá, a few hours north of Bogotá.
An astounding two thirds of emeralds in the global market today come from Colombia. Not only that, but they are of the best quality as well. These precious stones hail from Boyacá, but can be purchased in the country’s major cities.
Bogotá and Cartagena are the best locations for visitors to buy emerald jewelry: from the purest, most expensive stones, to more affordable ones.
When wondering what to buy in Colombia, consider getting filigree jewelry as well. The birthplace of these artisanal works of art, made from silver and sometimes gold, is Mompox, in northern Colombia.
This small riverside town is also known for its Spanish architecture, and for inspiring the work of Colombia’s literature Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel García Márquez. This is a great thing about Colombia: you visit a destination for a reason, and then fall helplessly in love with all of it.
If you are not that into owning or gifting souvenirs to wear, we have you covered. Colombia has plenty of souvenirs for placing around the home.
In the olden days, people from small towns located on the Colombian Andes mountain range used to transport their fresh produce in small buses. Their honk sounded like a goat bleat, so they became known as chivas, a Spanish term for goats.
Over 40 years ago, a local artisan created a model of a chiva using clay, full of color and details, depicting Colombian life. Today, a chiva is a quintessential national souvenir, found pretty much everywhere, and in all sizes.
You will notice that the chiva is still used in many parts of Colombia. The more rural the area, the more chivas you will notice. Read more about Colombia´s transportation system here.
Werrengue palm bowls are another great pick for a decorative souvenir. They are made by the Wounaan indigenous community, from the Pacific Coast states of Chocó and Valle del Cauca.
Now, sometimes the answer to the question of what to buy in Colombia is pretty simple: coffee. You cannot really come to the homeland of the world’s best coffee and not take home a bag or two.
Fortunately, you can purchase it virtually anywhere: airports, specialty stores in major cities, or even better, on traditional coffee farms.
The Eje Cafetero, or “Coffee Axis”, is at the center of Colombian coffee culture. Not only that, but it is also hometo some incredible landscapes. So, swing by and get your caffeine fix. (Read more about things you can discover in Colombia)
If you visit Bogotá, you will probably be able to find most traditional souvenirs. The same goes for other main cities or, even more likely, at local markets.
However, it is always best to purchase them directly from the source. This way you will be one hundred percent sure that they are the real deal, and that you are contributing to the livelihood of local artisans.
And if you do not really enjoy shopping, remember that haggling is a rather effective way to learn Spanish in Colombia. Enjoy!
If you need help organizing your trip to Colombia, don´t hestitate to contact us. You can do so by clicking here.