The last few days of any trip is usually spent trawling through shops and fairs on the prowl for suitable souvenirs for family and loved ones back home. Besides the Christ the Redeemer mini-statues and ‘I Love Rio de Janeiro’ T-shirts, what great gifts can you take back with you? We round up some typically Brazilian souvenirs that you can get in Rio.
The national spirit of Brazil makes an ideal gift and serves as a great reminder of the country’s famous cocktails, caipirinhas. Cachaça, a spirit made from sugar cane extract, is available at any supermarket or alcohol specialist store in Rio. Opt for the gold cachaça – one that has been aged for longer – for a smooth, pleasant taste.
A staple fashion accessory for almost all feet in Rio de Janeiro, Havaianas make a great souvenir. The classic flip-flop brand has long dominated the footwear market in the city, and there are several stores dotted across Rio dedicated to Havaianas flip-flops and clothes. The extraordinary range of colours, styles, and sizes allow you to customise your choices to loved ones’ preferences.
Goiabada – guava paste – is a popular dessert in Brazil. The texture is like a thick cross between jelly and jam and is often served with mild Minas Gerais cheese, a combination known as Romeo and Juliette. You can buy goiabada paste in prettily decorated boxes or tins, making it an ideal present to take back home.
Bananada is another popular preserved Brazilian sweet that will last any long travel back home. The sweet is typical in Rio and is a combination of banana pulp and sugar. A slightly healthier version that uses sweetener or honey instead of sugar is also available, or you can ramp up the sweet levels by buying the version coated in chocolate – both are delicious.
Pão de Queijo mix
Bringing back pão de queijo is not exactly practical – it is, after all, cheese bread and will not remain fresh for long. However, a great gift idea for loved ones who are keen bakers is pão de queijo mix, which provides all the main ingredients in powder form. To make fresh pão de queijo, simply add water and bake for about 20 minutes. This bread is one of the most popular Brazilian snacks and will take you back to sunny, tropical mornings in Rio.
Hippie Fair in Ipanema
Head to the Hippie Fair for innovative and unique gifts for loved ones or simply as a keepsake for yourself. Wander around and pick out beautiful pieces of handcrafted jewellery, clothes or bags. Keep a look out for the weekly stall that sells handmade boxes with a wooden inlay, or the stall that sells bowls and coasters made from dried beans and resin. These make unusual gifts and capture some of the essence of Rio.
For peanut lovers, paçoca is a wonderful gift. Made with crushed peanuts, cassava flour, and sugar, it has a distinct nutty flavour and is suitable as a gluten-free option. Another peanut sweet is pé de moleque, which is whole peanuts set in toffee. Just be warned that it didn’t earn its nickname as ‘teeth breaker’ for nothing – it is exceptionally hard and may not be suitable for everyone.