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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Brazil > Rio de Janeiro

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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.

Key areas

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.

Markets

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.

Shopping centres

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.

Opening hours

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.

Souvenirs

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.

Tax information

ICMS (sales tax) in Rio's shops is 19%. There is no tax refund scheme in Brazil.

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Rio Hostel

This hostel in an old colonial building in Santa Teresa has basic dorms as well as three- and four-bed rooms, which are ideal for families. With its hillside location, Rio Hostel offers great city views and it also has a tiny swimming pool. Facilities include laundry service, tour information, Wi-Fi connectivity and air conditioning in some rooms. The staff are friendly, some are multilingual, and they serve a decent buffet breakfast.

Copacabana Palace

This elegant establishment is almost as famous as its beachfront location. Since it was built in 1923, famous guests have included Robert De Niro, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles and Princess Diana. The Copacabana Palace is one of the grandest classical buildings in Rio de Janeiro; its creamy pillared façade dominates Avenida Atlântica, and is protected by a preservation order. The plush interior is even more impressive with marble floors, chandeliers, grand ballroom and elegantly decorated rooms. Facilities include a rooftop tennis court, a majestic swimming pool, a well-equipped fitness suite and a business centre. The two restaurants, Cipriani and Pergula, offer fine dining.

Hotel Mama Ruisa

This tasteful boutique hotel lies in the heart of Santa Teresa in a converted late 19th-century mansion. Laidback French proprietor Jean Michel Ruiz has had each of the seven rooms individually decorated in tribute to icons of stage and screen, including Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda and Maria Callas. The spacious lounge is filled with modern designer furniture and its walls are hung with original works of art and ethnic artefacts. The private walled garden has a small pool, with a terrace and veranda where meals and cocktails are served.

Rio Design Hotel

Rio de Janeiro's first design hotel is a modern establishment one block from Copacabana Beach. Its 66 rooms, suites and apartments have been individually styled by top Brazilian artists, giving the hotel an exclusive and contemporary feel. This Rio hotel is a popular choice with visitors who are looking for something a bit chic but not prohibitively expensive. All rooms are comfortable, with flat-screen TVs and broadband internet access. Other hotel facilities include a business centre, fitness studio with spa and sauna, and a rooftop restaurant, but no pool.

Windsor Barra Hotel

Windsor Barr Hotel is a good choice for exploring Rio's western suburbs and beaches, particularly for surfers and for those planning to attend the 2016 Olympics. This modern, high-rise hotel facing Barra da Tijuca beach has 338 comfortable if not luxurious rooms with all mod-cons. It also has a restaurant, bar, two swimming pools, fitness centre, sauna, and airport shuttle bus.

Fasano Rio

Still the coolest luxury hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Fasano Rio is a place where both Brazilian and global celebrities come to see and to be seen. Overlooking Ipanema Beach, this stylish designer hotel brings a modern concept of hospitality, elegance and sophistication. The interiors are a joint venture of renowned architect Philippe Stark and the restaurateur and hotelier Rogério Fasano. The décor combines dark tropical woods with light and airy drapes and furnishings. All 79 rooms and 10 suites have a balcony and most with a sea view. Its rooftop terrace and pool gives a superb view over the beach to the Dois Irmãos mountains, stunning at sunset. The restaurant, Fasano Al Mare, is under the capable hands of three-Michelin-star chef Luca Gozzani.