If you are currently travelling in Mexico or are in the midst of planning a trip, then Mexico souvenirs can make for a great reminder of your experience or as a gift to give to your friends and family. A lot of people snarl at the sheer mention of the word “souvenirs” and just associate it with tourist tat like fridge magnets and printed hats and bags.
However, the handicrafts scene in Mexico is strong and varied, and you will find an abundance of artisans from various different Mexican indigenous groups across the country who create gorgeous handmade goods with love and care. Mexico is also a gastronomer’s dream and if you are a foodie traveller, or you are looking to buy gifts for the foodies in your life, you will find lots of great places to buy ingredients, drinks, spices, candies, snacks and cooking equipment.
I have been living in Mexico for the last two years and have travelled extensively through 13 Mexican states during that time. I have been charmed by some of the cute Mexico souvenirs and gift ideas that I have seen for sale in tiendas and tianguis across the country, and I wanted to compile a list for you here.
31 Best Mexico Souvenirs: What to Buy in Mexico
I have summarised some of the very best Mexico souvenirs to purchase for the Mex-ophiles in your life below. There is something for everyone here and I will add to this list as I discover new interesting things.
If you don’t have a ton of time to scroll and read, Ill also summarise it for you here.
- Best Mexico souvenirs for foodie travellers: Herbs like achiote, Mexican vanilla, local alcohol like mezcal, tequila, raicilla and pox, cute artisanal mortar and pestles for making guacamole and other dips
- Best Mexico souvenirs for art and culture lovers: handmade paintings made by local artisans, handicrafts, woven fabrics, azulejo tiles, clay pots and cups
- Best Mexico souvenirs for history buffs: Mayan masks and sculptures of deities, coffee table books and photos from archaeological sites
The Lele doll is a charming little muñeca (doll) that has become something of a symbol of Mexico in recent years. The colourful little dolls originate from the region of Santiago de Queretaro, where you will see Lele’s image everywhere – from street art murals to the crosswalk lights.
The doll’s heritage is an ancient one. Lele dolls were first created by the indigenous Otomi people and were placed on the graves of deceased children in order to protect them from evil.
The original dolls were originally made of clay, with straw hair but with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico, the designs were modified and the dolls were made with colourful fabrics and ribbons. These days they serve a function as a toy to be played with, or a nice little bookshelf item, rather than a spiritual symbol.
If you make it to Queretaro, you will see Lele dolls sold everywhere. Around the Jardin Zenea, you will see indigenous women sewing them and selling them out of wicker baskets.
You will also see people selling bags, coin purses, fridge magnets, and other accessories with Lele’s face. Honestly, you might see Lele dolls in other parts of Mexico too.
I have seen them in Puebla and parts of Jalisco, but in Queretaro, they are everywhere. During Dia de Los Muertos, vendors were selling spooky versions of the doll with Halloween makeup.
Homeware plates and pots
If you want to add a touch of Mexico to your home and dining table, you can consider purchasing some Mexican clay “platos de barro” or ceramic cookware and dining table sets. Traditional Mexican cookware (“platos de barro”) is made with a sort of rustic-looking terracotta clay.
You may encounter these clay cazuela plates and soup bowls in certain traditional restaurants, along with the little clay mugs that are used to serve cafe de olla cinnamon coffee. You can purchase virtually every kitchen/dining table item imaginable as part of a matching set – from casserole pots and cooking trays to plates, bowls, sugar bowls, butter dishes, etc.
Usually, the artisans will paint flowers, patterns and other decorations along the edges in different designs. You will find these items sold all over Mexico, in artisanal stores and markets.
Since many of these stories focus on selling to tourists, they are well-versed in packaging the dishes in a way to protect them in transit so that they will not break. There are also different regional varieties of dining sets.
Mexican azulejo tiles
If you are doing some home renovations and you want a little something out of the ordinary, you can consider purchasing hand-painted azulejo tiles in Mexico and then shipping them to your home country. Dolores Hidalgo in Northern Guanajuato is one of the largest producers of this type of tile.
So too is Puebla and Tlaquepaque in Jalisco. They are worth the investment and look great in kitchens, bathrooms and stairwells. (I have them in my kitchen in Merida!)
Leather sandals “huaraches”
Mexican leather sandals, known as “huaraches” are stylish and comfortable shoes that you will find sold in hot, coastal parts of Mexico. The shoes have pre-Colombian roots and were originally designed to be worn by farmers in order to keep their feet warm when working out in the fields.
The shoes are great for allowing your feet to breathe and have been made by hand with intricate weaving patterns and methods that have been passed down for centuries.
Colourful Huichol beadwork
Huichol beadwork is a type of colourful, vivid art produced by the Huichol (pronunciation “Hwey-chol”) indigenous people from Nayarit and Jalisco. In Zacatecas, Durango, Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and Sayulita in Nayarit, you will see store after store selling these handicrafts.
To create them, hundreds of beads in all colours of the rainbow are set one by one onto
animal shapes and fixed with wax. The beaded art is used to create all manner of creatures – from Calavera skulls to jaguars, cats, lions, rabbits and dogs.
You can also find Huichol beaded jewellery like bracelets and hair accessories, and colourful paintings known as nierikas.
There are lots of wonderful Mexican traditional candies that you can purchase during your trip, some with a heritage that dates back hundreds of years. The city of Puebla de Zaragoza, capital of Puebla state is particularly famous for its candies. (There is a whole street here known as the “Calle de los Dulces”).
However, you will find traditional candy stores all over the country. “Camote” candies are worth a try and are sweets made by boiling, mashing, and adding sugar and flavours to sweet potatoes.
Another national favourite is the “jamoncillo” or “dulce de leche” candy made from milk and sugar, and arguably the Mexican answer to fudge. In tourist areas, you can often find little gift baskets of Mexican candies sold which include a selection of different types.
Modern Mexican candies are great too. Pica fresas are an interesting one.
These trawberry-flavored gummy candies are covered in a layer of chili, and are spicy and sour at first, before becoming sweet. “Tonys” are also worth adding to your radar.
These are hard boiled, caramel flavoured sweets that could be compared to American butterscotch and are great for keeping in your handbag.
If there is someone with a sweet tooth in your life, one of the best Mexican souvenirs that you can buy for them is perhaps an assortment of different candies and treats.
Mazapán de la Rosa sweets
Mazapán de la Rosa candies are another great souvenir choice, as well as one of Mexico’s most classic candies.
The treat dates back to the 1950s when it was created by a couple from Guadalajara who had opened a candy business to support their large family of 13 kids. It is immediately distinguishable by its yellow and transparent packaging with a picture of a rose on the front.
The simple treat is made using just powdered sugar and peanuts. It is based on marzipan, which the Spanish had introduced to Mexico during the occupation.
You will find this treat sold in little boxes on store counters virtually everywhere. Even the most random stores seem to have Mazapán de la Rosa for sale.
Machaca is dried meat (usually beef or pork) that originates from Northern Mexico. The meat is salted, sun-dried, and then smashed with a wooden hammer.
The Indigenous people starting making machaca as a way of preserving meat prior to refridgeration being invented. It is believed that they originally did this with venison before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
The name “machaca” relates to the act of pounding the meat. People usually prepare machaca as a stand-alone treat to eat in tacos, or they cook it with eggs and eat it for breakfast.
Since the meat is dehydreated, they add it to a pan along with some water and fry it with oil. However, true “Norteños” (people from Northern Mexico) will often eat fistfuls of it dry, as a meaty snack.
Although machaca is more prevalent in the north of Mexico, you will be able to find it all over the country. It is often sold in vacuum-sealed bags in particularly in delicatessens and butchers.
It is a good idea to check your country’s rules and regulations about bringing food and preserved meat from Mexico before purchasing bags of machaca. Some countries may not permit you to enter with meat products from overseas.
Mexican sports memorabilia
There are lots of different sports that are popular in Mexico. The charreria (essentially the Mexican answer to the rodeo) could be considered as being the country’s national sport and one of its proudest traditions.
UNESCO recognised the Mexican Charreria and inscribed it as a cultural asset in 2016. It sits on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
You may be able to catch a charreria show while you are in Mexico, particularly if you find yourself in Guadalajara and Jalisco where this is especially popular. Here, you can find stalls selling cowboy hats, boots, and other apparel that can make a great souvenir – especially for kids.
Baseball and British football (soccer) are also popular in Mexico. Each major city has its own baseball team.
The Diablos Rojos (Red Devils) based in Mexico City are one of the best teams in the country. In the Yucatan, you can catch a game by the Leones de Yucatán or the Tigres de Quintana Roo in Cancun.
Memorabilia is available at the various stadium stores, as well as in sports shops and baseball stores in malls around the country. These make nice souvenirs from Mexico, even if you dont follow sport or support the particular team, you can just buy a comfy jersey to lounge around the house in.
If you are going to buy some mezcal as one of your souvenirs from Mexico, why not also buy special mezcal cups to serve it in? Mezcal is usually served in a little clay cup known as a copita.
Modern copitas are also sometimes made with stone, glass, and ceramic materials however the most traditional ones are made of clay. The clay is said to enhance the flavor of the drink while also softening the bite of the alcohol.
Pox and other traditional alcohol
Tequila and mezcal may be the most popular alcoholic Mexican drinks but they are far from being the only ones. There are so many different traditional liquors in Mexico that people have never even heard of internationally.
Some drinks are native to specific regions of Mexico. Others date back over centuries, have been created by specific indigenous groups, and were historically used in religious rituals and ceremonies!
Pox is one drink to add to your radar which originates from the state of Chiapas.
It is pronounced ¨Posh¨ and you will find it on sale at various little stores and restaurants in San Cristobal de las Casas, Palenque, and all corners of the state. The drink is often used by “curanderos” (Mexican witch doctors).
People believed that drinking the liquor would perform something of an exorcism on the body and remove any unwanted spirits from within. The burning sensation felt when swallowing the alcohol (because it was so strong) was believed to be the evil leaving the body.
A selection of Mexican snacks
If you don’t have a huge budget that will enable you to get lots of expensive Mexico souvenirs for your loved ones back home, don’t worry. A fun gift that they will enjoy does not have to break the bank.
One idea is to prepare a Mexican snack box with all of the weird and wonderful Mexican treats that you find in the supermarkets or in Oxxo stores. For instance, have you ever tried a churro cappuccino?
Once your friends have tried a churro cappuccino, they will probably wonder where on earth churro cappuccinos have been all their lives. Other great ideas of things to include are Mexican potato chips (sabritas) and flavoured nuts.
Pake Taxo are great selection bags of different types of Mexican corn chips, while Takis are ultra spicy chips-
Mexican hot sauces and salsas
Hot sauce accompanies virtually everything in Mexico and there are literally hundreds of different varieties. Whether you are eating potato chips, having breakfast or eating popcorn at the cinema, chances are, the Mexicans around you will see it as a great opportunity to douse everything in hot sauce.
Salsa Valentina is a great mild/moderate hot sauce that you will often see served with corn chips. Cholula, El Yucateco, Tapatío and Huichol hot sauces are other spicier, popular varieties.
For something completely different, you can also purchase Chamoy salsa. This interesting tasting dressing is made from pickled fruit and is equal parts sour and sweet. People will often pour it over Mexican fruit.
Mexican Rock Salt
The Instagram-famous pink lakes of Mexico are more than just a pretty sight. These cotton-candy lakes are filled with salt which locals harvest and sell.
Famous salt lakes like Las Coloradas and Laguna Rosada have been harvested for their salt for thousands of years. In fact, the ancient Maya would harvest and trade salt from here too!
The Mayan ruins of Xcambó are what remains of a city which was strategically located close to the salt factories. When you venture to these various pink lakes, you can buy pink rock salt from the locals for a few pesos.
This is one of the best Mexico souvenirs for your foodie friends and people who like cooking. While salt may not seem all that exciting, there is a great story behind your purchase and it makes a nice additional item as part of a wider Mexico hamper.
A handmade hammock
Hammocks and the Yucatan go together like cheese and crackers. If you spend any amount of time on a Yucatan itinerary, you will have likely encountered a ton.
A lot of Yucatecan houses and hotel rooms have little rings in the walls where you can hang a hammock. Locals like to have hammocks in their homes as they are a nice, cool way to sleep when the temperatures soar well above 90 degrees and many people cant afford to keep their air conditioning constantly running.
A handmade hammock is one of the best Mexico souvenirs that you can pick up in the Yucatan. Not all hammocks are created equal and you need to take care to make sure that you purchase a genuine, Mayan hammock.
A Mayan hammock weave is uniform throughout the hammock bed, and the colour transition is even. Be careful of touts in tourist areas trying to encourage you to buy their hammocks.
You can ask your hotel concierge, your Airbnb host, or locals in Mexico travel Facebook groups for advice on the best places to buy an authentic hammock. There are lots of great stores in the yellow city of Izamal and nearby Valladolid.
Traditional Mexican clothing
There are 68 different indigenous groups found throughout Mexico and along with their own unique customs and traditions, they also have their own distinctive style of clothing. In the Yucatan, the Yucatec Mayans often wear crisp, white clothing with embroidered necklines and hems.
Women wear outfits known as “huipils” while the men wear “guayabera” shirts. A full Yucatecan outfit is known as a “terno” and you will often see people that work in Merida restaurants, Yucatan haciendas and hotels wearing this.
In Cholul and along the Paseo Montejo in Merida, you can find independent boutiques owned by local independent designers who create modern, contemporary versions of traditional clothing. (E.g. Mayan hupils that have been transformed into sundresses).
Traditional Mexican clothing varies throughout the country. In Chihuahua, for example, the Rarámuri women traditionally dress in long, brightly coloured skirts known as sipúchakas and flowy tops called mapáchakas.
Meanwhile, in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in western Mexico, Huichol people have their own traditional dress. Huichol men traditionally wear long white cotton pants known as huerruri.
The women wear a white waist-length blouse and a long skirt. They will often cover their head with a traditional ricuri – a light embroidered cloth.
Trinkets and Maya statues from temples and ruins
The little Maya god statues and trinkets that you can buy from ruins and temples like Mayapan, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Edzna are among the best Mexico souvenirs you can buy. They are simple and cheap, yet charming.
You can get cute reclining figurines of Chac-Mool, the Maya sun god at lots of different archaeological sites. Other deities to look out for include Kukulcán – the Feathered Serpent God, Itzamná – the God of the Sky, Ix Chel – the Mayan Moon Goddess, Ah Puch – the God of Death and Buluc Chabtan – the God of War.
Wooden Maya masks
The ancient Maya would create and carve intricate wooden masks that portrayed the devil, ancient deities, jungle animals, or deceased individuals. These masks would then be used during battle, for ceremonies and dances, and for religious events.
Today, you will find many artisans across Mexico that still produce these masks. They take explicit care to create them, using techniques that have been passed down through the generations of their families for over 2,000 years.
The masks make great souvenirs or collector’s items. You can proudly display them in your home, hang them on your walls, etc.
Mezcal is a distilled spirit which, like tequila, is derived from the agave plant. While a specific type of agave needs to be used to make tequila, more than 14 different species can be used for mezcal.
The beverage is a protected product of designated origin and is currently produced in nine different states across Mexico.
90% of Mexico’s mezcal is produced in Oaxaca. However, authorised parts of Durango, Guanajuato and Guerrero, among others produce it.
The best way to decide which type of mezcal would make the best souvenir is to taste it first. You can organise a tasting and a tour of an artisanal producer in a mezcal hub like the village of Santiago Matatlán in Oaxaca.
Artisanal mezcals almost always have alcohol levels above 45%. In Northern Guanajuato, you can find a fun (controversial?) mexcal brand named “Tus Nalguitas Serian Mias”. (Your little a** will be mine).
Ojo de Tigre (“eye of the tiger”) is another great artisanal brand founded by beloved Mexican actor Luis Gerardo Mendez. You can also add Illegal, Bozal, Los Amantes and Lalocura to your list.
Tequila makes one of the best Mexico souvenirs to bring back for your family and friends who like spirits. There are scores of excellent Mexican tequilas that are only sold domestically and do not make it overseas.
If you want to buy the best of the best, there are a few tequilas that you should have on your radar. El Tequileño is a great choice which is aged for 11 months and 2 weeks in order to obtain a rich, full-bodied flavour.
One bottle is approximately $25 USD. Siete Leguas D’Antaño Extra Añejo is another great choice that is considered the best of the best of Mexican tequila.
Street art from local vendors
In towns and cities across Mexico, you will often find street vendors selling artisanal products, handicrafts, and paintings on the sides of pedestrianized roads. These make a nice souvenir and can be something unique to decorate your home with.
Better yet, purchasing something from a street vendor is a great way to support small businesses and local communities. In Merida for instance, you will find local artists selling watercolour paintings that they have produced of local doors and buildings.
Bohemian clothing from Tulum
The popular coastal town of Tulum is a favorite Mexico travel destination for many and in recent years, it has become synonymous with a local boho-chic fashion style often affectionately referred to as “Tulum-inati”.
Tulum style is essentially a modern spin on luxury resort wear. Think flowy skirts, boho-chic rompers, caftans, and off-the-shoulder dresses with sandals.
There are tons of independent clothing stores in Tulum and elsewhere in Quintana Roo (PDC, Cancun, Bacalar, etc) selling this style of clothing. If you are not sure of the clothing sizes of the person you are buying for, you can buy a lot of great accessories, handbags, beach totes, etc here too.
A little-known fact about Mexico is that the Latin American country is the birthplace of chocolate! The first cacao plants were found here over 4,000 years ago and it was the ancient Olmec people that were the first to turn cacao into chocolate.
Chocolate in Mexico is produced a little differently than elsewhere in the world. It is minimally processed to retain the health benefits and integrity of cacao.
It is usually darker and has a grittier texture and bolder taste when compared to European chocolate which is usually made with more milk. You can purchase Mexican-brand chocolates or alternatively, buy a box of handmade treats from an artisanal store.
There are different specialty chocolatiers and types of chocolates all over the country. In Queretaro, you can purchase a local truffle infused with local liquor known as “pedos de monja” (nun’s farts!)
Día de Muertos decorations
Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an annual celebration that takes place in Mexico in November every year. The day exists to honour the lives of loved ones lost and sees locals head to the panteons (cemeteries) where their deceased family members are buried in order to decorate their tombs.
Dia de Los Muertos celebrations involve various parades and parties in cities all over the country. You can buy Dia de Muertos figures and decorations in Mexico all year round but they are more widely available in October and November.
It sounds macabre but many of these figurines – small Catrina statues or colourful calavera skulls are very tasteful. They are a quintessentially Mexican gift and a great reminder of your time in the country.
Mexican coffee beans
Mexican coffee is often overlooked in favour of Colombian, Ecuadorian, and other South American coffee. However, Mexico is actually the world’s largest producer of organic coffee beans.
90% of Mexico’s coffee is produced in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Puebla. Mexican coffees tend to be lighter-bodied and mild, with subtle flavours. If you visit San Cristóbal de las Casas or Comitan in Chiapas, you will have plenty of opportunities to buy organic Mexican Chiapas coffee.
The city is surrounded by coffee farms and you can even head to some of the plantations in Ocosingo and the Sierra Madre mountains to learn about the production process and purchase beans direct from the producers. Many quirky coffee shops across Mexico will sell bags of beans or artisanal ground coffee.
Achiote and other spices
Herbs and spices are another nice thing to purchase from your travels around the world. Achiote is an ingredient that is used in a lot of Mexican recipes, particularly when making Yucatan food dishes.
t is an orange-red condiment and food colouring that is derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. It is mostly used to add colouring, but also sometimes for its flavour. In Yucatecan cuisine, it is used to make cochinita pibil.
Other herbs and spices to consider purchasing are things like cilantro (which is used with practically everything in Mexico), Mexican cumin, cinnamon and cacao. They make some of the best Mexico souvenirs for anyone who likes food or cooking.
Lucha Libre masks
Lucha Libre masks are Mexican wrestling masks that are designed in bold, vibrant colours and designs. You will find them sold in abundance at touristic markets and stores in all parts of the country.
Lucha Libre is essentially the Mexican version of WWE. Anyone that you know who loves wrestling (Mexican, American, or otherwise) will surely love and appreciate a Lucha Libre mask souvenir. Even if you don’t really get or care about wrestling, it’s a fun little gag gift that is just so quintessentially Mexican.
Talavera pottery (Spanish: Talavera poblana) is a Mexican and Spanish pottery tradition from Talavera de la Reina, in Spain. During the 15th and 16th centuries, this town became internationally known for its ceramics, and with the Spanish colonization of Mexico, the Spanish bought these ceramic designs across with them.
These pieces do not come cheap, as every pottery item is one of a kind and of incredible quality.
One of the best places to buy Talavera in Mexico is Puebla – a city that already has a deeply rooted culture in ceramics. You should always be cautious when purchasing pottery as a lot of fakes and imitations do exist.
In Puebla, there are a few places to add to your radar. Namely, The Talavera de la Luz workshop, Talavera Celia, Uriarte Talavera, Talavera La Reyna, Talavera Santa Catarina, Talavera Armando, and the Callejón de los Sapos.
A molinillo is a traditionally turned-wood whisk used in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. It is mostly used to prepare hot drinks like hot chocolate.
You will find molinillos sold at a lot of gift shops and homeware stores. They usually have very unique, intricate, hand-carved designs. Even if you don’t think that you will use the whisk, it makes a nice souvenir from Mexico.
Fridge magnets may seem nothing to write home about. However, a lot of people still collect them and if you or someone else travels a lot, they will be excited to have additional magnets to add to their collections.
Fridge magnets are sold at historical sites, tourist attractions, and gift shops in Mexico. So, you will have plenty of opportunities to buy them. If you want, you can buy several, all from different parts of Mexico.
Final thoughts on the best souvenirs to buy in Mexico
Which of these Mexican souvenirs do you like the most? Have you picked up anything interesting from your travels around Mexico or elsewhere in the world?
It is always nice to buy little “recuerditos” that are reminders of your travels, and even if you averse to clutter and tourist tat, chances are that you will find charming, tasteful items that add something to the decor of your home.
If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you may also enjoy reading this collection of interesting facts about Mexico. I hope you have a wonderful time exploring here!
Feel free to reach out to me if you need anything about what to buy in Mexico or anything else.
Buen Viaje! Melissa Xo