Rio’s shoppings are more than just malls: They are microcosms where Cariocas can shop ’til they drop, and also wander around, gossip, flirt, read, eat, drink, check out a movie or play, and even go skating. Depending on the neighborhood, the clientele, shops, and ambiance vary vastly.
Shopping Rio Sul (Rua Lauro Müller 116, Botafogo, tel. 21/3527-7200, www.riosul.com.br, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 3–9 p.m. Sun.) is one of the oldest and most popular shoppings. Its convenient location in Botafogo, close to the tunnel entrance to Copacabana, means that every single bus under the sun passes right in front of its doors. In 2007, it emerged from a makeover looking considerably refreshed.
Until recently, the chicest shopping in town was the appropriately named São Conrado Fashion Mall (Estrada da Gávea 899, São Conrado, tel. 21/2111-4444, www.scfashionmall.com.br, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 3–9 p.m. Sun.), a small but decidedly sleek mall accessorized with plenty of tropical foliage and skylights. The boutiques are all “feshun” (Carioca speak for “fashion”), i.e., tasteful and pricy. Most of the food court offerings follow suit.
Giving São Conrado a serious run for its reais is the newest shopping on the block, Shopping Leblon (Av. Afrânio Melo Franco 290, Leblon, tel. 21/3138-8000, www.shoppingleblon.com.br, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 3–9 p.m. Sun.), which opened its glittering doors at the end of 2006. Befitting its Leblon address, it is a beautiful place for beautiful people. Aside from 200 stylish stores, cinemas, and a cultural center, its food court boasts stunning views of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Corcovado.
In a sprawling suburban neighborhood filled with massive malls (and parking lots) Barra Shopping (Av. das Américas 4666, Barra da Tijuca, tel. 21/4003-4131, www.barrashopping.com.br) is the most massive of Rio’s malls, with over 500 stores, an indoor amusement park suggestively dubbed “The Hot Zone,” and the most “modern” bowling alley in all of Latin America.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition