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
Mercado da Ribeira
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.
Brazilian Imaginary Arts
Mercado de São José
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.
Centro de Artesanato de Pernambuco
This spacious indoor handicrafts center is packed full of woodwork and ceramics in the typical Pernambuco style. Visitors prepared to spend big can even pick up some curious locally made furniture or large eccentric metallic sculptures to have shipped back home.
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.
Feirinha do Recife Antigo
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.