Salvador was once the capital of the Portuguese Empire and today it is the third-largest city in Brazil. Salvador is a fun place to visit. There are many parallels to be drawn between the city and Lisbon in the fact that Salvador also sits on a series of hills and has similar styles of architecture as Lisbon. It has a European style that is blended with African influences and the colors and vibrancy of Brazil.
There is great shopping in the commercial area of Lapa which has several shopping malls and numerous cheap clothing shops. In contrast, Barra has a huge fashionable mall and many expensive designer shops. If you love markets, the main one held in the port area is fun and the perfect hunting ground for cheap souvenirs – and here you can bargain for better prices!
So, let us have a look at the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Salvador.
1. Buy a stylish pair of Havaianas flip flops
Buy these wonderful summer sandals at the start of your time in Salvador, so you can enjoy wearing them! Havaianas are the Brazilian brand of ‘must-have’ flip flops. They were first made in 1962 and were inspired by the Japanese Zōri sandals and now they are known and loved the world over! The great news is that they are much cheaper to buy in Brazil!
The flip flops are made in rubber in more than 300 different colors and designs. In the early days, they were cheap so were worn by poorer people. Originally they had a white insole with colored outsoles and straps and their brand name came from the Portuguese word for ‘Hawaiian’. Since the 1990s they have become a global fashion trend and the special design for the 1998 FIFA World Cup depicting the Brazilian flag was a total sell out! The best way to check if your Havaianas are the ‘real thing’ is to turn them over because the soles are patterned to look like the straw soles of the Japanese Zōri sandals. More than 290 million pairs of Havaianas are sold every year.
2. Choose some Bahia bands
Bahia bands or ribbons can be found everywhere in all different colors and the idea is to wear several of them on your arm. Each color signifies a different wish for example; orange for joy and white for inner peace. You can buy them in numerous shops and churches and many have special messages from the Lord printed on the ribbon. Along with wearing them around your wrist, Bahia bands can be tied on your key ring or used to decorate your hat or tee-shirt.
3. Admire the Bahian lace
This is a very traditional handicraft brought to Brazil by the Portuguese. The patterns are very intricate and time-consuming, but the lace is still made in many villages – especially in the northeast of the country. Would you like to buy some Bahian lace? There is plenty to choose from including doilies, tablecloths and the prettiest beach cover-ups.
4. Treat yourself to a Moqueca pot
You will be tasting some great Brazilian dishes during your stay in Salvador, so why not try recreating them once you get home? The moqueca pot is quite a heavy pot for your travel bag, but you can buy a variety of sizes. The great news is that the pots are sturdy and will last a lifetime and are perfect for making all kinds of delicious meat and fish-based stews.
5. Promise yourself a great coffee
Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer so why not pack some coffee beans to take home? Find the coffee beans that you like the taste of best. It is best to visit a specialty shop for this because you are ensured of buying top quality beans with the option to ‘try before you buy’. It is best to buy coffee beans so that you can grind yourself, as and when you need them, as this guarantees you the freshest tasting coffee – with a great aroma.
6. Try resisting Pão de Mel
What a lovely accompaniment to a good cup of coffee! Pão de Mel is the local ‘honey bread’ and is a fun souvenir to pop in your travel bag. You can also buy a version that is filled with doce de laite and covered with a thick layer of chocolate to make it irresistible! Both types of Pão de Mel are available individually wrapped which makes them ideal for snacking during your travels and giving as little gifts to friends!
7. A hammock for lazing
The hammocks available in Salvador are good quality and are reasonably priced so if you have room in your luggage, the hammocks are available in a variety of sizes and every color imaginable. Some hammocks are plain in color, many are patterned and the extra snazzy ones are decorated with fringing and lace.
8. Select a colorful beach canga
It is best to buy a canga (Portuguese for ‘beach sarong’) early during your stay in Salvador, so you can use it, but you may well want to buy several more as presents too. These colorful sarongs are made in light, fine cotton and are very inexpensive. Cangas are used as a beach cover-up and always as a beach towel! They are easy to pack in your bag and can be bought everywhere. Cangas come in every color and design imaginable and are so easy to pack to take home.
Once you have your Canga, head for the beach Praia de Porto da Barra which is popular with the locals, it is small, busy and with a great atmosphere, or if you prefer, Praia do Farol da Barra is larger, quieter and perfect for a daytime snooze!
9. Admire the Mayan handicrafts
There is a rich assortment of beautiful handicrafts on sale in the market, including vibrantly colored baskets, tapestries, and blankets. If space is tight in your travel bag, there is some unusual jewelry made from local shells and seeds. To ensure you get a good price, it is worth trying some good-humored bargaining.
10. Enjoy some Cachaça
Cachaça is the most popular drink in Brazil so it makes the perfect souvenir! Cachaça is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugar cane juice. It can be drunk straight but it is more commonly enjoyed in the popular cocktail Caipirinha (also known as Caninha) – which is viewed as the national cocktail! The cocktail is made from a shot of Cachaça mixed with two teaspoons of brown sugar, a quartered lime and plenty of ice – delicious!