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Guide to Shopping in Zona Sul

By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Marvelous City offers a fantastic shopping experience with everything from exclusive fashion boutiques to cheap football jerseys on the roadside. Different areas are good for different products so this quick guide will provide some general advice on how to find items of special interest or value in the city.

Bartering is not an important part of the commercial culture beyond a small discount when asked for. The big exception is with street vendors specialized in tourist sales – comparing their prices with other vendors is a good policy and they can often be knocked down by up to 25%. In many shops a standard 10% discount can be given when paying in cash.

The Sunday Hippie Fair on Praça General Osório has a lot of arts and handicraft, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
The Sunday Hippie Fair on Praça General Osório has a lot of arts and handicraft, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

Souvenirs, Arts and Handicraft – There are two markets that stand out for the artisans’ end of Rio shopping. The touristy Night Market in Copacabana is open Monday to Saturday from around 6 PM until midnight, located on the beach front road close to Posto 6. Lots of football shirts – copies, original and even vintage – alongside Christ statues, cheap jewelry, favela paintings, tourist instruments, hammocks and marble parrots – all in one place.

Alternatively the Hippie Fair on Sundays on Praça General Osório does have souvenirs but also a lot of other items on offer. Handbags, handicraft, furniture, jewelry and art of all standards and styles. Finally the beach itself is also a good place to buy momentous, and vendors offer Caipirinha kits, football shirts and beach towels at reasonable prices – and what a place to shop!

Bikinis and Beachwear – The bikini is a very important item in Rio, since no Carioca girl would dream of going to the beach in any old rag. The best stores in Zona Sul are along Rua Visconde Pirajá in Ipanema and in the two shopping malls Rio Sul in Botafogo and Shopping Leblon. Cheaper, lower quality alternatives can be found in shops along Av. N. S. de Copacabana and in franchise stores like Renner and C & A. A selection of male swimming trunks is available in all mentioned above.

Surf Gear – High-end surfgear is available, just like bikinis, along Rua Visconde de Pirajá and in the two aforementioned shopping malls. However the best place to go is probably Galeria River on Rua Francisco Otaviano 67 in Arpoador, a collection of stores specialized in surfing, skating, climbing and other related sports gear. Cheaper alternatives again can be found in the franchises and the Saara market close to the Uruguiana metro station in Centro always throws up a world of bargains, though not all genuine. For boards the best place to go is undoubtedly Galeria River, but if you are planning a trip outside of Rio – to Florianopolis for example – you’ll get far better deals there.

Fashion – Rio de Janeiro has a lot to offer its wealthy customers, both from domestic and international designers. Along Visconde de Pirajá in Ipanema towards Leblon, starting from Rua Vinicius de Moraes, there are plenty of excellent small boutiques. Shoes, handbags and everything besides that Carrie Bradshaw would need. Over In Leblon there are more stores along Av. Ataulfo de Paiva and also in Shopping Leblon on Av. Afrânio de Melo, and the neighborhood also offers plenty of chic lunch spots for a refuel.

Music – There are a few stores that are recommended to visit:
– Modern Sound: Barata Ribeiro 502, Copacabana. The biggest selection in town, but at a price.
– Toca de Vinicius: Rua Vinicius de Moraes 129, Ipanema. A store specialized in bossa nova, chorinho and samba, all the music that is native to Rio. Also sells books but again is expensive.
– Musicale: Av. Ns. de Copacabana 1103, Copacabana. A good store that sells high quality second hand CD´s as well as some vinyl.
– Musicale: Visconde de Pirajá 207 and 483, Ipanema. Second hand Cd´s of all genres.
– Baratas de Ribeiro: R. Barata Ribeiro 354, Copacabana. A very good place to buy vinyl in the more alternative categories, the shop also has a second hand bookstore.
– Lojas Americanas: They have shops all over Rio piled high with cheap popular CD´s.

Hakan Almerfors is Swedish and has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He has been working with tourists ever since, in 2007 he created the Rio travel information site

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