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Brazil’s breathtaking landscapes and incredibly diverse culture are guaranteed to make you fall in love. Are you planning to join the millions of tourists who flock to the country every year but are unsure what to surprise your friends and family with? You need to look no further: check out our list of the best souvenirs from Brazil for great ideas.
You can always get some Brazilian teacups at the airport. Still, adding some local flavor to your gifts (even if you’re buying them for yourself!) is the sweetest way of carrying some of Brazil back home with you. And in case you’re debating which part of South America you should fly to next, take a look at our post on Brazil’s unique attributes and you’ll book your tickets and pack your swimsuit in a New York minute!
Delicious drinkable souvenirs from Brazil
1. Brazilian coffee
Brazil has been the largest coffee exporter worldwide for the best part of two centuries now, accounting for about 35% of the world total. Second only to Italians in their obsession with the beverage, Brazilians prefer it short, though longer than a typical espresso. Taking a batch of coffee beans home with you will evoke sweet memories from your time in the country.
2. Jabuticaba liqueur
The tastiest jabuticaba liqueurs are the ones found in random countryside shops. Despite not being too easy to track down, the sweet and rich flavor of this drink will make up for the booze hunt. Jabuticaba (or the “Brazilian grape”) is a tiny fruit native to South America which, oddly enough, grows on its tree’s trunk. Bringing a bottle of this liqueur to your place will certainly impress and thrill your loved ones.
The Brazilian national liquor and the main ingredient of delightful caipirinhas, cachaça isn’t for the faint of heart. Mainstream brands like 51 may be available abroad, but nothing really beats craft cachaça. Small distilleries have sprung up across the country since the early 2000s. The historic beachside town of Paraty near Rio de Janeiro remains however a haven for liquor lovers.
4. Caipirinha set
Speaking of caipirinhas, you should definitely take your bartending skills up a notch by buying a tool kit to match your bottle of cachaça. A wooden cutting board, pestle, and spoon, plus a knife and cocktail shaker will make the perfect tropical addition to your bar. Then all you’ll have left to do is getting some limes and entertaining your guests with your Brazilian tales and a couple (or a dozen) caipirinhas.
Chimarrão is used to drink mate, a bitter herbal tea made from namesake yerba mate. It’s popular throughout the southernmost part of South America (i.e. the Southern Cone) and a symbol of gaucho culture. Since you’ll probably have a hard time finding the herb back home, you can get a gourd simply to use as an ornament (or drink some other hot beverage from it, though you should never tell that to a local).
Irresistible food souvenirs from Brazil
6. Biscoito globo
I’d risk saying that going to the beach in Rio without munching on biscoito globo + iced mate (yeah, the same drink from no. 5, just ten times sweeter) should probably be considered a capital sin. This extra crunchy treat, crafted from cassava starch (just check no. 7), tastes slightly sour in both its sweet and salty options. It’s refreshing and fun to eat — but make sure to pack it in your carry-on if you don’t want to be left with cassava crumbs!
7. Tapioca starch
You heat tapioca starch to turn it into a sort of crunchy pancake, then you fill it with whatever you like (as long as it includes cheese!) and eat it as a snack. One of many scrumptious finger foods sold in towns across Brazil, it’s made from local staple cassava and is among the top Brazilian products to carry home in your suitcase.
8. Canastra cheese
Originating in the Canastra Mountains in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, canastra cheese is the undisputed star of Brazilian dairy. Whether fresh, half, or fully cured, it has a mildly spicy and full-bodied flavor. You can find cured canastra in dairy shops throughout the country these days. It tastes its best when paired with cachaça and makes a match made in heaven with the next item on our list.
9. Doce de Leite
Doce de leite is better known in English by its Spanish name — “dulce de leche”. This rich confectionery is the one dessert that binds all of Latin America together. Possibly too sweet for more delicate palates, locals love it nearly unanimously. When in a more fudgy consistency, it’s perfect as candy. When creamier, stores typically mix it with grated coconut, pumpkin jelly, or prune marmalade. Decadent and superb!
Goiabada is the third dish you can’t miss upon visiting the historic towns of Minas Gerais, right after doce de leite and canastra cheese. The latter, in its fresh version, is typically served along goiabada, a nationwide famous duo that goes by the suggestive name of “Rome and Juliet”.
The hearty dessert is a pretty consistent guava paste that resembles Jell-O in its consistency (though a bit sturdier). Mainstream brands are within reach in any supermarket, yet craft goiabada tastes 100% better.
11. Bolo de Rolo
Coming from sunny Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil, this yummy roll cake is filled with none other than guava jelly. Like many other products made only in Brazil, it’s a classic example of a foreign dish that at some point locals adapted (may we say improved?) to their peculiar tastes. Pickier eaters can relish the chocolate-filled variety.
Sold in an impressive assortment of sizes (including bite-sized cakes), bolo de rolo is among the most original, delicious — and practical — souvenirs from Brazil.
Stunning wearable souvenirs from Brazil
12. Indigenous jewelry
Whereas Brazilian native communities are concentrated in the Amazon basin, companies from large cities have emerged in recent years with the express purpose of promoting indigenous art. Buying jewels like the ones advertised by Tucum, for example, is a wonderful way of helping Brazilian first nations while sporting the most stunning souvenirs from Brazil.
13. Brazil’s national soccer team jersey
Surely, the British created soccer. Yet Brazilians claim to have reinvented it, especially since becoming the sole nation to win five World Cups. Regardless, the Brazilian soccer team’s official jersey makes for the quintessential souvenir from the country. Both colors (yellow might seem more traditional, but navy is actually older) will look fantastic on you.
14. Brazilian bikini
Brazilians love a good beachside trend, and bikinis are a particularly valuable commodity on this turf. One summer everyone’s wearing crochet bikinis, then next year it’s fluorescent ones. These in turn are replaced with cutout swimsuits.
A bikini embellished with shells like the one above is timeless and instantly recognizable as a Brazilian item. So I’d say it’s among the coolest souvenirs from Brazil that you can bring home.
15. Bonfim wish ribbons
Attesting to Salvador da Bahia’s mystical aura, Bonfim wish ribbons are to be donned until they fall off. That should happen whenever the wish they were put on for comes true. Many visitors tie them to the fences around Senhor do Bonfim church, as you can see above, yet if worn as bracelets or anklets they make stunning fashion (and faith!) statements.
Only in Brazil would a Southeast Asian garment become the ultimate beachside accessory. Kangas’ colorful patterns and versatility, in that they are both a bathing suit coverup and a makeshift mat, turned them into a national favorite. No Brazilian would even consider going to the beach (or a picnic in the park) without carrying a kanga along — or getting one upon arrival.
Kangas are available in easily recognizable patterns (e.g. the mosaic pavement on the Copacabana promenade or renderings of Christ the Redeemer). Plus, you can find them all over the city’s beaches, so they’re among the best souvenirs from Rio de Janeiro.
As one of Brazil’s most globalized brands, Havaianas flip-flops are a source of national pride. Though now you can shop them online in most countries, nowhere else will you run into the myriad of patterns and layouts that dot local stores. In addition to looking beautiful and being really useful, Havaianas weigh virtually nothing, and you can easily cram them into your suitcase. That means they’re awesome if you need to give away lots of souvenirs from Brazil.
Brazil souvenirs to dive into the culture
18. Brazilian handicrafts
Brazilian craftwork is one of the strongest iterations of the nation’s popular culture. Each region has its specialty. Mestre Vitalino’s works in clay, for instance, inspired generations of new artisans in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. The Louvre has since added them to its permanent collection.
Then there’s amazingly creative Brazilian ceramics. In Marajó — the largest island on the Amazon delta, where indigenous peoples have been making them for millennia — you’ll retrieve the most prestigious items. Ornaments and accessories in capim-dourado (literally “golden grass”) are a local treasure from the area around Jalapão, in the northern state of Tocantins.
Finally, carrancas are striking figureheads once common in the São Francisco river valley. In recent decades, they went on to become a cultural icon across lower northeastern Brazil. See how there’s something for every taste here? So if you want to steer away from mass-produced souvenirs, authentic Brazilian crafts from local communities are the way to go.
Essential to the practice of Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira, this percussion instrument makes for an original and visually appealing souvenir. Yet if packing a 1.2-to-1.5-meter long bow is an issue for you, you’ll find miniature versions in most gift shops. Berimbaus are ubiquitous in northeastern Salvador da Bahia. They’re nonetheless also available in Rio and other coastal cities where capoeira remains a living heritage.
20. Brazilian music
The strength of Brazil’s music industry is second only to that of the United States. While samba and bossa nova are now world-famous, the country boasts a vast range of genres to pick from. Highlights include funk carioca (a fusion of gangsta rap over a Miami bass beat), MPB (urban pop music), and axé (or samba+reggae, widely played during Carnival).
If CDs might feel somewhat old-fashioned these days, vinyl records are on the rise again among music aficionados. They’ll make a cool, off-the-beaten-track gift from Brazil. What’s more, they will introduce you and your loved ones to a whole new world of rhythm and artistry.
21. Brazilian literature
Critics hail Machado de Assis’ “The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas” as an ageless masterpiece of world literature. Yet if late-nineteenth-century Rio is too specific a setting for you, Jorge Amado’s “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” will be a great casual read with its perfect tropical twist.
Either way, Brazilian books are definitely some of the finest things to buy in São Paulo. Brazilian fiction is gaining more popularity in the English-speaking world and is an amazing way of learning more about this fascinating country. Though most bookstores in large cities offer a decent array of local classics translated into English, we won’t tell anyone if you skip someone’s gift while you’re there and get it from Amazon instead!
Here’s a list of the best books about Brazil to keep you occupied for weeks.
I’m sure our list of the best Brazilian souvenirs to bring home from your trip got you pumped to visit the South American giant. Don’t forget to tell us in the comments below which gifts from Brazil you’re hot to put your hands on. Hopefully the only issue now is that you have so many things to buy in Brazil you’ll need an extra suitcase to fit everything!
Oh, one last thing! For those of you who can’t wait to mingle with locals but don’t even know how to say “hi” in Portuguese (that would be “oi”, FYI), don’t panic. Dig into our list of the best apps to learn the language for a truly unforgettable time in Brazil!