Shopping in Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian style has claimed its place on the world’s stage, or the catwalk at least. Thanks to key fashion events like Rio de Janeiro Fashion Week and world-famous Brazilian supermodels, local trends are now spreading worldwide. Havaianas flip flops) are a global brand, skimpy Brazilian flag bikinis are a hit in Capri, and Naomi Campbell and Madonna swear by Gilson Martins’s trendy bags. Where to shop in Rio? Cariocas prefer the ease of modern malls but the city offers plenty of shopping options for all tastes and budgets.
The key areas to shop until you drop are Rua Visconde de Pirajá, Ipanema, and Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, Leblon. Rio also has plenty of good bookstores, many with pleasant cafés. The western suburbs of São Conrado and Barra are good for malls, while Santa Teresa offers a peaceful atmosphere for browsing its galleries and handicraft shops.
Rio is not famous for its markets, but two are worth a visit. Feira Hippie (Hippy Market), Praça General Osório, Ipanema, gathers the best of Brazil’s handicrafts and artwork every Sunday, while Feira Rio Antigo, Rua Lavradio, close to Lapa, offers a wonderful mix of antiques, art and music on the first Saturday of the month.
Rio offers many shopping malls, some providing a shuttle bus service to and from hotels. The best malls are located in the Zona Sul. Shopping Leblon, Avenida Afrânio de Melo Franco 290, is one of the city’s biggest, perfect for clothes and beachwear. Shopping da Gávea, Rua Marques de São Vicente 52, has a great selection of home décor as well as theatres and cinemas. Bordering the western suburb of São Conrado, Fashion Mall, Estrada da Gávea 899, is a trendy mall and includes Clube Chocolate, the ultimate destination for fashionistas. The farthest flung, but biggest mall, is Barra Shopping, Avenida das Americas 4666, Barra da Tijuca. Its 600 outlets include fashion, music, and home décor, as well as restaurants, cinemas and a bowling alley.
Shops in Rio are usually open Monday to Friday 0900-1900 and Saturday 0900-1300, although hours vary according to the location and type of business. Shopping centres are generally open daily 1000-2200, although some have more limited opening hours on Sundays. Shopping malls are generally open daily 1000-2200, with limited opening on Sundays.
Unsurprisingly, Rio’s most popular products relate to its beachlife: sunglasses, swimwear, and flip-flops (Havaianas reign supreme, but cheaper brands are available too). Fashion is also excellent, as well as gemstones, handbags, shoes and other leather goods. High quality handicrafts from all over Brazil are sold in the giftshops of the Museu do Indio and Museu do Folclore, and in several specialist stores in Ipanema. Cachaça – cane rum – is widely available, but is cheaper in supermarkets. Prices are much higher now that the Brazilian economy is booming, but haggling is possible if you pay cash at street stalls and markets.
ICMS (sales tax) in Rio’s shops is 18%. There is no tax refund scheme in Brazil.