Finding souvenirs of Rio is easy – for example, after every five steps in Copacabana, or at the touristy points around the city. The hard part is to find presents that aren’t mass produced, ugly, expensive, not worth the investment, and only good for sticking on a shelf or to be left aside in the back of the wardrobe. For this reason, we made this guide about shopping in Rio, which includes decorative pieces, accessories, clothes, photographs and carioca arts and crafts markets – there’s even where to buy the famous and always needed beach canga for a cheap price! – excellent ideas to give as a present (to yourself).
Mini sculptures of famous landmarks in Rio de Janeiro, like Christ the Redeemer (R$149, medium; R$289, large) and Lapa (R$149, medium), are hand made in the MatériaBrasil workshop. You assemble the parts yourself, perfect to put in your suitcase without the risk of breaking it. They are made with tropical Brazilian wood that have documented origins, are sustainable, biodegradable, and the packaging is printed in kraft paper using natural organic ink, such as urucum (annatto), cocoa, saffron, cinnamon and paprika. You can find these beauts on the internet, but if you’re looking for other 100% Brazilian creations go to Tucum, a craft shop in Santa Teresa, where indigenous art and sustainable design are sold through respectable partnerships with many indigenous tribes in the country.
The first creation of the designer Gilson Martins was in 1982, when he made a green and yellow backpack from the material of a beach chair. It was at this point that he showed the world what he could do. Twenty years ago, he opened his first shop in Ipanema, where he sells bags with Rio related themes or with the Brazilian flag. These classic national designs have been around the world in exhibitions, like in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Coin purses, glasses cases,beach bags, and design bags, are a massive hit among foreigners, a great option for taking Rio with you, prices vary.
When the world finds out that beach cangas, and not towels, are the best way to sit on the sand, beaches will be an even better place to relax. This simple piece of colorful cloth should be among the most needed items for a foreigner visiting Rio. There’s a reason why there are so many venders selling cangas at the, and charging extra for the convenience. To get a good deal, go to this shop in the epicentre of Copacabana in Santa Clara Street (you can go straight to the beach from there). They sell extremely beautiful pieces (take a look at this video) and at a much more affordable price than the ones at the beach. The average price is R$25 per unit. Besides using it here, you can also take it in your suitcase, it doesn’t take up a lot of room.
People who appreciate literature and the history of the Marvelous City can’t miss visiting this bookshop that occupies charming houses in Ouvidor Street, in the heart of the Old City Centre. Books with carioca chronicles, samba stories, football legends, and other subjects full of “bossa” fill the shelves. For those tourists that can’t speak Portuguese, there are lots of art books about Rio with spectacular photography. There’s no doubt you can find fine pieces to have as a souvenir or to give as a present. Often, at the weekend, cheerful and free samba gatherings happen in front of the bookshop.
Since 1968 the arts and crafts street market has taken place in praça General Osório, in Ipanema, every Sunday. There are lots of trinkets, it’s true, and it can be uninteresting for people who seek something different. At the same time, it comes in handy for people who want to buy little gifts in big quantities, or buy everything at once. Jewelry, leather items, art, clothes, bags, miniatures of touristic sites, post cards, and other things are sold here. Cool made in Rio presents can be found too. To eat, there’s an “acarajé” stand (typical food from Bahia) that normally gets very busy. However, whoever is in the city on the first Saturday of every month could swap the Hippie street market for a visit to the Lavradio street market, in Lapa.