Shopping in Rio is oodles of fun especially when you consider that the city is brimming with gargantuan malls, trendy boutiques and a plethora of hip markets and street stalls. Retail therapy is just not something most tourists can ignore.
Rio is still a very cheap shopping mecca for certain goods and although prices for major items like electronics have fallen dramatically over the years, there is still not much point wasting your time trying to find a new i-pod or i-pad here. It will likely be more expensive than in your country, so we’d suggest leaving those items off your list. As far as souvenirs are concerned, well…the world’s your oyster!
Follow our guide to the best souvenirs to buy in Rio and our recommendations as to the best places to head to for a comprehensive Rio shopping experience.
The world’s most famous and arguably its most comfortable rubber flip-flop is as iconic of Brazil as caipirinhas, samba and very rounded behinds. We didn’t really write that.
Bringing home two dozen pairs of colourful Havaianas for family and friends back home is about as good as souvenir-collecting can get. They weigh next to nothing, pack tight and can be bought by the truckload in less than five minutes! In Brazil you can buy Havaianas EVERYWHERE and, shock horror, will only pay about USD3 a pair!
The home of the flop boasts more styles and colours than you’ll ever see anywhere else in the world and if you couldn’t think of any possible downsides to this, you’d be sadly mistaken. Once you buy a pair for a few bucks you’ll never again be able to spend ten times the amount back home. Then it’ll have to be…back to Rio!
Coffee & Cachaça
Both beverages are ubiquitous in Rio and just because you’ll no doubt be indulging in them during your vacation, there’s no reason your friends can’t do the same when you get back home. If you have no idea what Cachaça is, ayayay, you’ll need to educate yourself! The sugarcane rum is the main ingredient of the world-famous Caipirinha and one of the hardest and most expensive liquors to buy outside of South America.
In Rio you’ll find both bottles of Cachaça and vacuum-packed packets of coffee sold cheaply in all supermarkets. Stock up on that java and your friends will be mighty appreciative.
A wonderful souvenir to bring home is the hammock, one of the most sought-after and popular products made and sold in Brazil. Sturdy, colourful and long-lasting, your hammock should be of top quality if you wish for it to last longer than a few swings.
For this particular item, and other super arts and crafts from Northern Brazil, head to the Feira de São Cristóvão, one of the most interesting and enticing markets in the whole city. Bargain hard for your hammock and make sure you don’t pay more than about R100.
Don’t be surprised if most of your shopping will revolve around beach-wear. Brazil is über-famous for its itzy-bitzy bikinis and, although most female tourists find they’ll never have the guts to wear them at the beach back home…they’ll all buy a pair nonetheless. The lure is just too great!
Sarongs, beach towels, hats and sundresses are found in stalls and boutiques all along the beachfronts of Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema and all are absolutely gorgeous. Super colourful, flowy and cheap, these ‘clothing’ items are extremely popular and for very good reason. They are unique, inexpensive and pack to nothing (well, maybe not the beach towels) and will definitely score you major brownie points with all those mates you left behind to come holiday in Rio. Make them just a little more jealous and buy them a Brazilian flag sarong as a present. They’ll love you! 🙂
Arts & Crafts
For top-quality locally made crafts you can’t go past the Hippie Fair held in Ipanema on Sundays. If you’re in Rio for just a couple of days we’d strongly urge you to plan for it to be over a week-end. The goods here are so varied that you could easily do all your souvenir shopping in just a few hours. At the hippiest of fairs you’ll find fantastic painted canvases, handbags, jewellery and all sorts of brilliant knick-knacks. Expect to pay a little more for your goods (this being Ipanema and all) but don’t forget to bargain like a trooper nonetheless! A great people-watching and shopping experience filled with culture and charm.
But wait, there’s more…
Rio is home to some grand shopping malls and, although they may not be our favourite shopping destinations, we do appreciate the fact that they are superbly convenient on rainy days in Rio. Just don’t expect to be buying very much! Clothing and accessories sold in malls in Rio are almost twice as expensive as anything you’ll find in Europe or North America; but if you do suffer a rainy day in the city then head to one of the largest malls for window-shopping, eating and bowling.
Shopping Leblon is actually a rather charming shopping mall (an oxymoron, we know) and is popular with visitors because not only is it brimming with hundreds of gorgeous designer boutiques but has a lovely food court and is easy to reach on foot from Copacabana and Ipanema.
Havaianas via Pinterest
Cachaca, by Barbara Eckstein via Flickr
Hammocks by Barbara Eckstein via Flickr
Beach seller by hanuman via Flickr
Ipanema Hippie Fair by Janice Waltzer via Wiki