Rio de Janeiro
Combining beach time with shopping in Rio is easy because the two most famous beaches abut the best areas of the city for shopping (and dining). Exhausted the areas near Ipanema and Copacabana? Head downtown for more shopping in the Centro district. Brazil is the world's largest producer of colored gemstones (hence the presence of so many reputable international retailers like H. Stern), and is also a major gold producer. Other possibilities to add to your Rio shopping list include designer clothing, handicrafts, leather goods and unique fabrics.
Ipanema is the heart of chic and glamorous Rio, featuring lots of one-of-a-kind and designer boutiques, pleasant parks, and outdoor cafes. The main drag, where you'll find the majority of upscale shops, is Rua Visconde de Piraja.
Every Sunday, rain or shine, Ipanema hosts the Feira Hippie, a handicrafts fair held at Praca General Osorio (a former hippie hangout in the 1960's). It's a great place to browse for jewelry, leather goods, artwork and other handmade items.
Virtually adjacent to Ipanema is Copacabana, which offers a more eclectic array of shopping spots. The best of the area's bookstores, clothing boutiques, souvenir shops and other retailers can be found on Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana (and its adjacent streets). Also worth a look is Avenida Atlantica, which offers some of the city's best jewelry and hosts the work of Brazilian artisans on evenings and weekends; it's a great place to find local handicrafts and artwork.
Downtown in the Centro district are more affordable places to shop for shoes and clothing, as well as plenty of street vendors peddling a variety of discount goodies. Check out streets like Rua da Alfandega, Rua Uruguaiana and Rua Buenos Aires.
Looking for musical instruments -- like tambourines or small drums -- to take home as souvenirs? There are a number of music stores clustered together on Rua da Carioca.