The Best Markets in Olinda and Recife, Brazil

Mercado de Artesanato da Sé, Pernambuco
Mercado de Artesanato da Sé, Pernambuco | Prefeitura de Olinda/Flickr
Photo of Harry Stewart
20 February 2018

Keen to pick up some authentic handicrafts in northern Brazil? Then the twin cities of Recife and Olinda are an essential stop, featuring a number of quirky street markets and shops packed full of exquisite artisanal wares. Give the soulless shopping malls of Recife a miss and check out these options instead.

Mercado de Artesanato do Alto da Sé

Market
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Mercado de Artesanato da Sé, Pernambuco
Mercado de Artesanato da Sé, Pernambuco | Prefeitura de Olinda/Flickr
Situated on a hill above the historic center of Olinda, this expansive outdoor market specializes in handwoven bags from long grass and other local fibers as well as an excellent selection of embroidered works. The views are spectacular while food stalls and live performances add to the lively atmosphere.

Mercado da Ribeira

Building, Market
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Mercado Da Ribeira
In addition to food stalls, Mercado Da Ribeira offers fresh produce at low prices | Marina Watson Peláez / © Culture Trip
Set in a morbid 18th-century colonial building, the site was once a slave market used to imprison African inmates before being sold into the lucrative sugar industry. These days, it’s a more upbeat affair, featuring a smorgasbord of knickknacks and colorful souvenirs from throughout Pernambuco. Be sure to check out the mamulengos, giant puppets that are ubiquitous to the region.

Mercado de São José

Market
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Mercado de São José
Mercado de São José | © Nathalia Verony/Wikipedia
Moving over to Recife now, and the city’s most vibrant market is undoubtedly the bustling Mercado de São José. Aside from the endless groceries’ vendors and stalls touting everyday goods, there are a number of great Pernambuco artisanal wares up for sale such as woven baskets, clay sculptures, and lots of leather goods.

Artesanato Casa da Culture

Built out of a colonial-era prison, each of the 150 cells in this busy locale has been converted into an arts and crafts stall, selling everything from leather, clay, and ceramic numbers to intricate wooden artworks. It’s the most important Culture House in the state so don’t be surprised to run into a live performance of some kind.

Artesanato Casa da Culture, R. Floriano Peixoto, 141 – Santo Antônio, Recife – PE, Brazil +55 81 3224-0557

1024px-Casa_da_Cultura_-_Recife_-_Pernambuco_-_Brasil (1)

Artesanato Casa da Culture | © Alberto../Wikipedia

Feirinha do Recife Antigo

Market
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Happen to be in town on a Sunday? Then make your way to Recife Antigo (old town) as a weekly open-air flea market brings this normally sleepy neighborhood to life. Expect your typical selection of dresses, jewels, and knickknacks on the pavement outside, while live music attracts plenty of punters to the region’s many bars.