By Sanhita Reddy, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There is much more to Ipanema beyond sunbathing at the infamous Posto 9, and those fortunate enough to call this neighborhood home know that. Running or biking along the long stretch of beach, window-shopping on Rua Visconde de Pirajá, or grabbing an ice cream at Mil Frutas… Ipanema boasts access to the best of Rio de Janeiro.
The relatively small neighborhood is between arguably the sexiest beach in the world (as ranked by the Travel Channel in recent years), and the Lagoa — a lagoon that borders just a few of the most elite neighborhoods in Zona Sul (South zone).
Near the beach, residents enjoy the bike path in the mornings, play futevolei (volleyball with no hands) and beach volleyball in the afternoons, and grab a beer to watch the sunset behind the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) Mountain, a view granted only to those who live in Ipanema and Leblon.
Those who aren’t interested in living at the beach can stroll through the tree-lined streets and shop at the number of boutiques scattered through the barrio. Osklen, Farme, Blue Man, among others, have stores here.
One of the safest neighborhoods in Rio, residents revel in the number of choices that they have. One can opt to buy their groceries at one of the only 24-hour supermarkets (Zona Suls) in Rio de Janeiro, or support the local farmers by getting their fruits and vegetables at the largest and most famous farmers market in Praça General Osório (on Tuesdays) or Praça Nossa Senhora (on Fridays).
Restaurants are tucked away in nearly every corner of the neighborhood, and range in variety and style. Chains like Mega Matte and Bob’s are found in this neighborhood, but so are upscale dining like Gula-Gula and Via Sete, and family-centered rodizios (all you can eat) and per-kilo restaurants like Fronteira.
For those missing the comforts of home, American-style diner the Gringo Cafe offers everything from pancakes and milkshakes to apple pie (and perhaps the best hamburgers in Rio). Another Irish-American bar and restaurant, Shenanigan’s will serve up chicken wings, Guinness, live Blues, and every sport you may be missing on it’s many TVs.
On Sundays, the Feirra de Hippie (Hippie Fair) takes place in Praça General Osório , where tourists and Cariocas come to find jewelry, clothes, trinkets, and eat some acaraje, the Bahian street-snack that is sold by the corner vendors at the fair.
Book-lovers can spend hours checking out the books and drinking coffee at Livraria da Travessia, and find used treasures at the book fair in Praca Nossa Senhora. Many restaurants have live music during the day, and places like Bossa Nova can be the perfect afternoon agenda for a music lover.
The opening of the metro station in Ipanema in December 2009 has no doubt contributed to the significant housing market inflation in the neighborhood.
A recent search to buy a one bedroom, one bathroom found prices starting at R$450,000, more than double the starting prices from just two years ago. Expect to pay upwards of R$600,000 for a two-bedroom, and don’t be surprised to find some beachfront homes hovering around R$18-25,000,000.
Renting is not cheap either, but transportation is much more accessible than neighborhoods like Jardim Botanico and Urca. The same search found that a one-bedroom, one-bathroom starts at R$2,500 per month, with prices averaged around R$3,500 for a two-bedroom.