Shopping at the Ipanema Hippie Markets in Rio

by Emma Hackwood

The Ipanema Hippie Market (Feira Hippie Ipanema) in General Osorio square is the perfect place to find an unusual, unique souvenir to represent the joyous mood of Rio de Janeiro or the amazing diversity of Brazil.

Beyond the standard t-shirt and coffee-mug souvenirs seen at tourist attraction gift shops, the Ipanema Hippie Markets in Rio offers many handmade, unique and creative goods.  In terms of art, there are plenty of artists selling their own paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures, depicting Rio being watched over by the iconic Christ the Redeemer monument, beach scenes, the city’s favelas, or the people and their love of soccer, samba, and music.  A few vendors sold leather masks painted and styled into beautiful, veiled faces.  Truly something mysterious to capture the imagination!

My favourite stall was a local artisan lady who had been selling her handmade candles for decades at the market.  I’d never seen candles like the ones she had made; the neatest designs incorporating whole cinnamon sticks into the candle construction as well as scent.

Another booth had shirts with 3-D effects, whether it was a scene of Sugarloaf Mountain featuring a movable fabric cable car or little stuffed animals pinned onto the garments.  These were adorable for children and I was excited to bring home something a little more interesting than just a regular t-shirt!

I tried my hand at haggling for a reversible leather bag of ingenious design; many vendors will accept credit card but the price may be less if you are able to pay cash.  Friends shopping with me found painted magnets made out of pop can bottoms, a delightful re-purposing of something we would otherwise recycle or discard on an everyday basis!  Others found great deals purchasing earrings and necklaces made from amethyst, topaz, aquamarine, and the other semi-precious gemstones mined in Brazil.  Numerous stalls sold hammocks or hanging chairs; I bought a hammock-for-two at a price I thought more than reasonable.

More than just an attraction for tourists, my local tour guide also came to the market and bought things for herself.  With notebooks, clothes, jewelery boxes, and artwork bearing the signature design of the Copacabana/Ipanema beach boardwalk, even Cariocans find things at the market to reflect their love of the city or bargains appealing to a local.

The market starts to set up at 7am on Sundays, and being just steps from the water, is a great way to start off a day enjoying the beachfront area!  My best Brazilian souvenirs and gifts were from this morning of shopping.  I encourage anyone visiting Rio to stop by the market and see what creative and surprising finds you can take home to commemorate your own trip to Brazil.


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