Covering eleven blocks of downtown Rio between Rua Uruguaiana and Avenida Presidente Vargas, sits the Saara (Sociedade de Amigos das Adjacências da Rua da Alfândega – the road on which it centres), a dazzling collection of stalls and shops selling everything. A historic association of traders, the multiple cloth and material shops of Rua Buenos Aires are also filled with little beads and balls with which to craft the ultimate fancy-dress outfit for Carnival, but there’s a Havaianna store, outdoor sports shop and a whole unit dedicated to fridge magnets among the 600+ waiting to be explored. Plus a huge covered market starts at Rua Uruguiana, with sections dedicated to mobile phones, watches, DVDs, suspiciously cheap ‘Nike’ trainers and even fishing rods. Also known as the Arab Quarter thanks to the influx of immigrants who turned a once-busy shipping supply region into a thriving, sprawling market now consisting of over 1,200 shops, it is a rewarding slice of old-world South American chaos for those prepared to fight the crowds. Ideal for pre-carnival accessories and outfit-creating, the chaotic shopping sprawl packs in everything from fishing gear to electronics.
Rua Alfândega, Centro, Rio de Janeiro
Monday to Friday – 9 am to 6 pm
Saturdays – 9 am to 2 pm