For most visitors to Mozambique, local African crafts and artwork is a favorite for souvenirs and gifts as they represent the ancient cultures and beliefs of the region. Traditional handicrafts include wood carvings with vibrantly-colored masks the most popular buy for their individuality and tribal significance. Each represents a different character from one of the dances. Other great souvenirs include traditional tribal jewelry, soapstone and malachite carvings, gaily-printed textiles, mats and baskets woven from reeds, pottery, decorative home wares, and leather articles.
From Maputo’s malls and department stores, huge markets and rows of little stores to roadside stalls and the local markets in every Mozambique town and village, there’s a huge choice of shopping venues. Pemba is known for its unique curios and handicrafts including the iconic Makonde carvings and Ibo Island jewelry. The Mezimbite Forest Center outside Beira is another great source of wood carvings as well as a hub for local forest conservation and the training for artisans doing high-quality carving, jewelry design and furniture making.
Maputo’s massive Central Market on Avenida Septembro is a unique experience for people-watching as well as shopping. Everything from food and clothes to traditional arts and crafts, cookware and home goods are on display with bargaining accepted amidst a surprisingly laid-back vibe. In the beach resorts you’ll find rows of street stalls backing the sands and offering a wide selection of handicrafts, while the markets in the small towns sell everything under the sun. Batik paintings make great wall-hangings and are extremely inexpensive from roadside stalls.
If you’re looking for a more formal shopping in Mozambique, the eight malls in Maputo cater to the expat community and offer a choice of fashions and imported goods, but aren’t nearly as much fun as the markets. For upscale souvenirs and clothes at a higher price point, the shopping arcades in the better city and beach resort are useful, and Pemba’s Artes Maconde will take orders for large wooden items to ship them to your home country. If you’re shopping in the markets, use common sense and take good care of your belongings as pickpockets congregate in crowded places.