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With striking coastlines, the world’s most biodiverse jungle and clusters of cosmopolitan cities, Brazil is a pretty exciting country to be in. If you’re passing through on a fleeting visit, there is no better way to remember it than to pick up a few exotic items that you can only buy in Brazil. Here are 17 things you probably won’t find anywhere else.
To get the real deal on cachaça, you need to get it from Brazil. Being the country’s national spirit, this sugarcane-based drink is readily available everywhere and local distilleries ensure you’re getting it as authentic as possible. The best place to get cachaça is in Paraty, a small coastal town in Rio de Janeiro that has plenty of great distilleries. You can try before you buy – the Gabriela cachaça is particularly good.
Cangas are essentially a Brazilian beach towel with multiple uses; it can be used as a scarf, a post-beach dress, a flowing skirt or a unique throw for your sofa. They are light and come in beautiful patterns, making it practical for the beach and a great souvenir to remember Brazil. The cangas designed as a Brazilian flag are especially popular among tourists.
Not usually associated with wine, Brazil actually produces a few great wines from its wineries in the south, in Minas Gerais and in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Although especially known for its sparkling white, the rosé and the red are not to be sniffed at and go well with local cheeses such as the Canastra cheese from Rio. A trip to the south should definitely include a visit to a vineyard to pick up the local wines. If you’re staying city-bound, then both São Paulo and Rio have several specialist stores and bars to buy Brazilian wine.
There is no better place to get the renowned Brazilian bikini than Brazil. Famous for the thong-shaped bottoms, the shape is surprisingly flattering for all body types and in true Brazilian style, they come in bright, tropical colors and patterns. Swimwear is not just for women though – you can get sungas for men too, which are small, tight swimming trunks similar to speedos.
The national flip-flop that turned into a global phenomenon, Havaianas are a distinctly Brazilian brand and a must-have in any Brazilian’s wardrobe. Although these flip-flops are on sale across the world, buying them from the country of origin is a bit more special, not to mention cheaper. There are Havaianas stores dotted across all the major cities with a vast range of colorful patterns and styles.
The Bahian Ladies are actually ornaments that are typically from Bahia and the north of Brazil. Often painted with dark-colored skin, they are sometimes portrayed as wistfully looking ahead as they rest a hand on their cheek. They are dressed in a typically Bahian dress – a large, ankle-length dress that puffs out at the hips and is decorated in bright, cheerful colors.
Brazil has a strong sweet-tooth and has led to a range of wonderful sweets that are distinctly Brazilian. Some great sweets to buy include paçoca, a nut-based sweet that tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, pão de mel, a small sweet cake with honey, brigadeiro, a ball of chocolate condensed milk and canjica, a mix of white corn with condensed milk and cinnamon.
Bottled butter is a thing in the north of Brazil and is used to pour over dishes such as meat, rice and beans to give some extra flavor and a pleasant oily finish. The bottles are filled with locally-made butter and left at room temperature in the center of the table next to the salt shaker. It sounds unhealthy and probably is, but it tastes delicious and makes an interesting souvenir.
Something that many people may not know is that the cuisine in the north of Brazil has quite a fiery edge to it. Chillis are added to many different recipes and chilli-based oil is often on hand to add to snacks, pastels or dripped over main meals. Many stores in Bahia sell large bottles of chilli-infused oil that are packed with small red, yellow and orange chillis. It’s not only great for those that like an extra kick with their food, but it also makes a pretty souvenir.
Brazil has some of the most iconic monuments in the world – the Christ the Redeemer, the Sugarloaf Mountain and Maracaña Stadium to name a few. These famous tourist attractions have naturally been replicated as souvenirs and although somewhat tacky, they do make a great and unique memorabilia. Look out for mini Christ statues, glass rocks with a carving of the Maracaña inside and the classic, ‘I love Rio’ t-shirts.
Brazil has plenty of national music that is uniquely Brazilian such as samba, forró and funk. Although the big steel drum associated with samba may be tricky to take back with you, there are other traditional musical instruments such as the banjo, mandolin and the pandeiro which make great gifts for those that love music.
A hand-woven hammock made by a local Brazilian is a great way to remember Brazil. Although the large cities tend not to use hammocks, they are popular in smaller, coastal or rural towns. Locals string them up on the patios or in the garden to rest in on the hot, summer days.
If there is just one music that defines Brazil, then that’s samba. Samba comes with its own unique culture of dance and fashion and is commonly associated with Brazil’s annual carnival. The parade clothes are striking with skimpy body pieces and extravagant headdresses. The best places to get samba clothes is at the samba schools in Rio, which have many costumes left over post-carnival.
Brazilians soapstone is a kind of stone that comes from Brazil. It is commonly used as kitchen worktops due to its dark color against a light, marbled effect. However, as a tourist in Brazil, taking home a kitchen worktop is not very practical. Instead, keep an eye out for the beautiful hand-carved ornaments made from soapstones that come in all sorts of styles, shapes and images.
Brazil’s passion for football is no secret and what better souvenir to buy than an authentic Brazilian t-shirt. There are also plenty of football shirts that represent local teams if you have a favorite one. The Brazilian football shirts come in all sizes from babies to adults and are colorfully designed in bright yellow and green.
Minas Gerais is famous for its gemstones, especially emeralds. It is the best place in Brazil to pick up beautifully intricate necklaces, bracelets or rings laced with local emeralds. Brazil produces around 65% of the world’s colored gemstones and all of the major cities have specialist spots for purchasing authentic precious and semi-precious stones.
Brazil’s beauty industry is huge and the country has some great national beauty brands. Natura, Brazilian Bum Bum, Suray Brasil and O Boticário are four popular brands and many of their products use Amazon-inspired ingredients, giving them a unique smell and a natural feel.