Souvenirs, or lembranças as the Brazilians call them, run the gamut from kitschy to meaningful to world-class works of art. In Salvador, when you are buying a souvenir from Brazil, there is something for every style and budget.
What souvenirs should you buy?
Musical instruments (percussion)
If you are looking for a musical trinket, any of the painted instruments in Praça da Sé, Mercado Modelo, or the streets of Pelourinho will do.
If you are a musician that wants a playable instrument, go to the shop of Mestre Lua, Dinho Artes, or Oficina de Investigação Músical Bira Reis in the Pelourinho. These three shops have top-end instruments and are where the working musicians of Salvador shop.
If you want a Salvador tote bag, keychain, or something else that says Salvador or Bahia on it, visit any of the countless shops in the Pelourinho or Mercado Modelo. There are souvenir shops throughout the city, but you won’t do better than the Pelourinho for sheer density. One of the best shops in terms of quality is Pelômania.
Brazil is the second-largest exporter of gemstones globally, with many of those gems coming from Chapada Diamantina national park in Bahia. As such, gemstones are a mainstay of jewelry in Salvador — with prices to suit every budget. The Pelourinho and Santo Antônio’s numerous options do include a few high-end shops with stunning work.
If “high end” is out of your price range, there is still a bounty to be found. Brazilian women love jewelry — and the bigger, the better. Much is sold from street vendors in the Pelourinho and on the Orla (boardwalk) in Barra, and I like supporting the street vendors and their one or few-of-a-kind crafts. If you prefer to buy from a shop, try the Pau Brasilis shops in the Pelourinho.
Capim dourado / golden grass
This lovely golden, plant-based jewelry is closely associated with Afro-Brazilian culture. The plant grows almost exclusively in northern Brazil and is used for jewelry, purses, and household decorations. The most reliable place to buy it is from the street vendors in Praça da Sé.
Missed your chance? We have a selection on our site.
The ultimate symbol of rest and relaxation and is really the epitome of a souvenir from Brazil. If you can’t imagine returning home without a hand-woven hammock, the most reliable place to buy one is Mercado Modelo at the bottom of the Elevador Lacerda (Praça da Sé).
Where to buy your souvenir from Brazil
If you aren’t sure what you want but know you need to go home with something, there are three primary shopping destinations.
This is where you’ll find:
- High-end musical instruments
- Salvador memorabilia
- Gemstone jewelry
- The Olodum and Ilyê Aiyê retail shops
- Lots of paintings
- Cute clothes
This large retail center was built with the tourist in mind. Located at the foot of the Elevador Lacerda (Praça da Sé), it has everything, including:
- Salvador-branded merchandise
- Non-professional instruments
- Liquor (cachaça and infused liquors from the interior of the state)
- Candomblé items
- Leather goods
- Dendê (palm oil for traditional cooking)
- Traditional cooking vessels
The Santo Antônio neighborhood is filled with small shops and boutiques. Here is where you will find:
- African-inspired headbands
- Mid-range and expensive jewelry
- Boutique clothes
You can happily spend a half day wandering the main road, Rua Direta do Santo Antônio, all the way up to the capoeira fort — browsing and buying. As a matter of fact, I highly recommend it!
Negotiating the price
Negotiation (or haggling) is a part of the culture, but I’m the first to admit that I am awful at it — and much to my husband’s chagrin — won’t do it. If I sense we are about to pay too much, I make him do the talking. Otherwise, I pay the price and grumble about it later.
Price negotiations are highly personal, so I can’t give you a rule of thumb — plus, I’m awful at it. You have to do what feels right for you. Local residents can spot a tourist passing by a mile away, but you will have much better luck if you at least attempt to communicate in Portuguese.
Free gift with purchase
Many shops, particularly if they get a good vibe off of you, will throw in a freebie, or a brinde as they call it. It is so prevalent it even has a name — brinde da sorte or a “good luck present”. While you can attempt to turn it down politely, it’s considered bad form not to take it in the end.
Use this map to get around the Pelourinho with ease
The Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, is a true must-not-be-missed experience for every visitor to our magical city. It is the is the heartbeat of the city.
Discover the most important things to see and find your way around with ease using this handy, printable, and free map.
30+ historical, musical, and cultural attractions.Get the map