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 some world-famous Brazilian supermodels, local trends are now spreading worldwide. Havaiana flip flops are a global brand and skimpy Brazilian flag bikinis are a hit in Capri, while Naomi Campbell and Madonna swear by Gilson Martins’ 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 in Ipanema and Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva in Leblon. Rio also has plenty of good bookstores and music shops, many that host live events or boast pleasant cafés. The western suburbs of São Conrado and Barra have some of the biggest and most modern malls. Santa Teresa, meanwhile, offers a peaceful atmosphere for browsing the galleries and handicraft shops lining its cobblestone streets.
Rio doesn’t have many markets, but some are worth a visit. Feira Hippie (Hippy Market) on Praça General Osório in Ipanema sells handicrafts and artwork every Sunday, while Feira do Rio Antigo, Rua Lavradio in Lapa, offers a wonderful mix of antiques, art and music on the first Saturday of the month. Adjacent to downtown, the giant Feira de Sao Cristovão, has hundreds of stalls selling food, drinks and products from the northeast of Brazil. It is open Tuesday to Sunday and often has live music and entertainment on weekends.
Rio offers many shoppings (shopping malls), some providing a free shuttle-bus service to and from larger hotels. Many malls are located in the Zona Sul, but bigger and more luxurious malls are springing up in the western suburbs, particularly along Avenida das Américas in Barra. Shopping Leblon, Avenida Afrânio de Melo Franco 290, is one of the city’s biggest malls, 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 is Fashion Mall, Estrada da Gávea 899. This trendy mall includes Clube Chocolate, the ultimate destination for fashionistas. The farthest flung, but biggest shopping centre, is Barra Shopping at Avenida das Américas 4666, Barra da Tijuca. Its 600 outlets include fashion, music and home décor as well as restaurants, cinemas, a bowling alley and even its own monorail line.
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 malls are generally open daily 1000-2200, with limited opening on Sunday afternoon. Banks are open Monday to Friday 1000-1600.
Unsurprisingly, Rio’s most popular products relate to its beach life: 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, authentically sourced handicrafts from all over Brazil are sold in the gift shops of the Museu do Indio and Museu do Folclore, and in several specialist stores across the city. Cachaça, cane rum, is the main ingredient of the fiery Caipirinha cocktail and is widely available in gift shops. But it is cheaper and with a wider choice in supermarkets. Prices are much higher now that the Brazilian economy is booming and most things cost about the same as in major European cities. Nevertheless, haggling is possible if you pay in cash at street stalls and markets.
ICMS (sales tax) in Rio's shops is 19%. There is no tax refund scheme in Brazil.