When visiting Rio de Janeiro, the last thing you should think about shopping. Shopping in Rio de Janeiro is not so much fun, because it mostly takes place in the big shopping malls. Though, outside of you compulsive shoppers, during your time in Rio you may want to buy some souvenirs back home. For yourself, your family or your friends. It may not be that easy to find the good places to get these souvenirs, so if you want to go shopping in Rio we have you covered.
Shopping in Rio de Janeiro – The Street Vendors
Sitting on the beach or walking along the streets you’ll be offered to buy all these products by street vendors. They actually many times offer really good deals, so if you find something you like and the price suits you, there is no need to hesitate. Yes, you will pay a five or ten reais more than the local that speaks Portuguese (they won’t speak English, outside of a couple of words maybe). In Europe or the United States, we are not really used to this type of selling and instinctively we avoid it. But in Brazil it is a big part of the culture, so buying something from a street vendor is nothing strange.
Shopping for Souvenirs
Another thing that is really popular are football shirts. Especially the nice green and yellow home jersey from the Brazilian national selection is a best seller. Original shirts you can find in the better sports stores and prices are about the same everywhere. And they are not cheap. If you want to buy the copies there will be guys selling on the beach or on the streets. With a little bit of haggling you can find yourself a simple shirt for around 50 reais. If you prefer a shirt from a local team, then your best option is the red and black shire from Flamengo. This is the most popular team in Brazil and you will find these shirts everywhere. There are also two markets where you can look for those shirts, in the Urugaiana market – which is a great option if you are exploring the city center and looking to do some shopping there – and the night market in Copacabana.
Beach Towels & other Souvenirs
You actually don’t take your towel to the beach in this city, only gringos do. If you’re a guy you either sit on the sand or rent a chair, if you’re a girl or a couple you can get yourself a canga, which is the kind of a beach sheet they call sarong in Asia. The best place to buy these are probably (just like with the football shirts in Rio) on the beach or on the street, for somewhere around 30 reais.
Shopping for souvenirs and hammocks in Rio is also best on the beach or in any of the two markets mentioned above. The night market is less exciting but you have more Brazil shirts, wooden Jesus statues and hammocks. A tip for good presents are the products of the designer Gilson Martins with Rio de Janeiro inspired bags and accessories.
There is something that everyone seems to buy when in Rio de Janeiro, and that is Havaiana flip flops. They are pretty expensive outside of Brazil, so it is a great opportunity to buy them here. We have made a separate post about these famous flip flops, to make sure you will have all the information to find your favorite Havaianas in Rio.
Shopping for beach wear in Rio de Janeiro
The bikini and sunga (speedo) are very important for cariocas. Since the beach in Rio is the most important place in town, these are essentials. In order for you to fit in on the beach you’d better get a new one. One of the secrets behind those well trimmed bodies on the beach is a bikini that keeps it all in the right place. It’s the combination of quality and design that does the trick. There is also beach fashion for guys, further down on this page I will dig into that.
There is a notion that the Brazilian bikini is extremely small, but the days of the fio dental (English: dental floss bikini) are long gone. Today’s trend has gone retro, back to the more flowery patterns of the sixties, the sizes and shapes are a bit larger. But for many Western girls these Brazilian bikinis will still feel ridiculously small anyways. For the guys, a speedo is the thing to wear in Rio. You won’t like it, but it is pretty comfortable. If you don’t feel like buying one, then getting to the beach in a surf short is also fairly common.
Buying this beach wear in Rio de Janeiro is easy. Bikinis you can even buy on the beach, with one of the vendors. A typical scene on the beaches of Rio. But if you prefer a different setting, go to the shopping center Rio Sul in Botafogo or along the main street in Ipanema, Rua Visconde de Pirajá. In Shopping Leblon you also have a good selection.
Shopping in Rio – Shopping Malls
As said in the beginning of this article, most cariocas frequent shopping malls. These are not the most interesting places to visit during your stay in Rio. But if you are in need of some clothes or just want to spend some time inside because you have to deal with one of those rainy days in Rio, it can be a good option. In Barra de Tijuca you have several, the biggest is Barra Shopping which really is huge. But since most tourists stay in the South Zone, it is a bit far.
On the way to Barra de Tijuca you have one of the most exclusive shopping in town; Rio Fashion Mall with international stores and an atmosphere of healthy and wealthy. Ironically it’s located right in front of Rocinha, the biggest favela of the city. One of the best examples in Rio showing the huge inequality in the city. In the South Zone there are two good options, first is fancy Shopping Leblon, and the other one is Rio Sul, located in Botafogo (just after the tunnel from Copacabana). This one has a nice mix of cheaper and more expensive stores.
Along the main street in Ipanema, Rua Visconde de Pirajá, starting from the square General Osorio, all the way until and into Leblon you have plenty of good boutiques.
Other stuff to buy in Rio
These are not the most looked for, but there are some people desperately looking for local cigars and local music, especially the old vinyl. Cigars (charutos in Portuguese) are produced in Brazil, the best brands are from Bahia in the Northeast. You can get a quality cigar for 20-25 R$, the best ones are Dona Flor or Le Cigar. There are a lot of options of lesser quality and price. Imported goods like cigars are heavily taxed, so Cuban and Dominican cigars are really pricey.
Buying vinyl is serious business, In Shopping Siqueira Campos on R. Siqueira Campos 143 in Copacabana you have a few second hand stores where you can dig in.
After all this shopping, you will be in desperate need of some food. Check out our restaurants in Rio de Janeiro guide to see where to go to get your energy level up. And if this is your first time in Rio de Janeiro, make sure to read our Ultimate Guide for First Time Visitors in Rio.