Otavalo Market: Biggest indigenous market in Ecuador

The Otavalo Artisan Market in Ecuador has a surprise in store for visitors: This modest place in the Andes is home to the largest indigenous market in all of South America. The Otavalo Artisan Market that makes this city famous is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular in all of South America.

Plaza de Los Ponchos

The Otavalo Artisan Market is located in the well-known for the locals, “Plaza de los Ponchos”. This place is famous all over the world for its textiles and handcrafted products.
An amazing maze of brightly colored fabrics and clothes spreads from there through a large number of streets surrounding the Plaza.

In the Otavalo Artisan Market are enough aisles and merchandise to lose yourself for hours among the small stalls.
You can find almost everything! From coats, through armadillo charangos; paintings; costume jewelry; crafts; wall hangings; hand painted dishes; indigenous costumes; false and shrunken heads; and all kinds of spices you can imagine.

Best Day to Visit

The best day of the week to visit this corner of the Andes is Saturday. This day the market expands through the streets of the city from its original place in the Plaza de los Ponchos.

Ultimately, what everyone is here to see, is the textiles. Fabrics in this city have a very long history, dating back to pre-Inca times.

You can find otavaleños (the people from Otavalo) in many corners of the world, selling their products.


The city of Otavalo has many important traditions and a great deal of history.

The customs of the city are complex and the celebrations are sacred. Everything is celebrated, from marriage to the day of the dead.

There is even a festival once a year specifically to cleanse the air of evil or unwanted spirits.

Otavalo also has a rich indigenous music scene, with musicians traveling around the world to showcase their art at different festivals and events.

In addition, the city plays a prominent role in the indigenous festival called Inti Raymi.

This happens every year to celebrate the summer solstice. Musicians play and people dance.


The history of the town of Otavalo is as happened and complex as its textile garments.

They were forcibly incorporated into the Inca empire, providing textiles to the conquerors.

When the Spanish arrived, his work began to benefit the Spanish.

The superior weaving skills of its people led the Spanish to create textile workshops in Otavalo.
The conditions of these workshops were very hard, of intense work.

Despite this, the textile industry in Otavalo remained active after the departure of the Spanish and continues to flourish to this day.

The Otavaleños

The Otavaleños have possibly become the most prosperous and famous indigenous population in all of Latin America.

In recent years they have spread around the world in a successful campaign to bring Andean culture to the world.

It may be that in part because of their economic success, the Otavaleños have managed to preserve hundreds of years of traditions and cultural identity.
They are proud and they show it.

They are still easy to identify by their traditional wardrobe: the women in their white embroidered blouses and their necklaces of beads or golden mullos.
While the men wear long hair woven into a braid, white pants by the ankles, ponchos and sandals.

Inside Information

A tip: First of all, don’t limit yourself exclusively to the Plaza. Walk and haggle the furthest streets and you may get better prices out there.

Second of all, The more you buy, the better prices you will get.

In conclusion, you should not be afraid to get away from the main streets, as the entire city of Otavalo is a great market where you can find everything imagined and still to be imagined.

These are just some of the tours we would like to recommend you, that include a visit to this amazing place:

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close