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Sociedade de Amigos das Adjacências da Rua da Alfândega, better known as SAARA, is a collection of over 600 stores encompassing Andradas, Passos, Alfândega and Buenos Aires streets, in addition to Praça da República. At this wonderfully vibrant market, frequented mostly by locals, one can find all manner of things at extremely reasonable rates. For a unique shopping experience in Rio, SAARA is the place to check out.
The first residential street to be built in Rio de Janeiro, Rua do Lavradio is a long cobbled road flanked by tall and handsome colonial buildings. Many of these have been transformed into bars and restaurants, while others are now, fittingly, antiques stores. It is in Rua do Lavradio that you will find the excellent Feira do Rio Antigo, a bustling clothes, arts, and antique fair held on the first Saturday of each month. The bars and restaurants all have pavement tables and chairs, making this a wonderful spot to enjoy a cold drink and a bite to eat as you watch the world go by.
Seeing the prices in drugstores and many clothing outlets, visitors to Rio can often be left wondering just how locals afford to look so good. Very often, the answer lies here in Uruguaiana. Mercado Popular da Uruguaiana is a vast space of interlocking market squares – some covered, some open air, selling everything from football shirts and sportswear to jewelery, cosmetics, and necessities such as deodorant and batteries. All are available at much cheaper prices than in the shops, but be aware, this is not a market aimed at tourists– don't venture here after dark, and keep your wallet out of sight.
The first large shopping center in Rio, it is one of the preferred shopping areas for tourists and locals alike. Located between the beaches and the city center, it has a large parking garage and is served by taxis and special buses that stop at all the hotels on the beachfront. There is an infinite variety of stores that sell everything from clothes and accessories to house ware, toys, CDs, souvenirs, books and electronics, including state-of-the-art home theatres and digital cameras. Scattered over its floors there are restaurants for all tastes and budgets, and fast-food places. Other services include beauty parlours, pharmacies, cinemas, a complete fitness centre, a travel agent, and a bank. While you take a break from shopping, enjoy one of the many events that take place here, like free concerts and book launches, or even pay a visit to Santa's grotto throughout December. There are some cash dispensers that will issue local currency for those who have an international credit card.
Standing in the heart of Leblon, the sprawling Shopping Leblon offers a complete shopping experience under one roof. From designer fashion brands like Chanel and Ferragamo to the best in home decor and accessories, the mall's 200 boutiques cater to a large audience. Head to the food court for an excellent array of restaurants and food stalls. With a four-screen cinema, as well as a very popular theater located within the mall, there's no excuse to be bored. The mall's food court remains open till late. Check website for more information.
Since the late 1960s, at the peak of the hippie movement, this huge outdoor market has been selling everything from handicrafts, silver jewelry, paintings, furniture and sculptures, to old clothes and typical regional food from the North and Northeast of the country. Occasionally you can spot a famous artist mingling in the crowd, which is made up mostly by tourists, especially foreign. It is not hard to find an English or French-speaking salesperson.