By Ruth Faulkner, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Ipanema could certainly be considered Rio’s favorite neighborhood, with famous beaches, mountain views, chic shopping and popular bars and restaurants. As many consider it more stylish than Copacabana and more happening than Leblon, Ipanema attracts the young and the active to its bustling streets and stunning beaches.
Considered a world-class beach, Ipanema beach is marked by postos (posts) that point to different personalities along each stretch of beach. For example, the area in front of Rua Farme de Amoedo by Posto 8 is known as the gay section, marked by its Technicolor flags, while Posto 9 is for hipsters and sport lovers.
From all along the beach, visitors can enjoy the view of the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) mountains and frequent one of the many beach-side bars for an Aqua de Coco or beer. Incidentally, the word ‘ipanema’ is an indigenous word for ‘bad, dangerous waters,’ which shows why the area is popular for surfers and will occasionally fly ‘no-swim’ flags to warn visitors.
Swedish Colombian couple Paola and Isak offer their Ipanema apartment for short-term rentals on AirBnB. They describe the area as “an ultra-chic area of Rio that’s a favorite hangout among the young and beautiful Brazilian locals. Ipanema can definitely keep you up from dusk till dawn with its fun-filled attractions and gorgeous seascape.”
Visconde de Pirajá, Ipanema’s main high street, features enough shopping options to satisfy any shopaholic, ranging from luxury brands like Louis Vuitton to the popular ‘Hippie Fair’ held every Sunday on Praça General Osório. Twice a week locals can also buy their fruit and vegetables from the large popular street markets, while on Tuesdays a small organic market is held at Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz.
A British expatriate living on Visconde de Pirajá, Gavin McMahon explains what drew his interest in the beginning: “Ipanema was the area of choice for my gringo colleagues when I arrived in May 2013. I wanted to have some sort of support network. […] I feel very lucky being here, nice bars, restaurants and shops and all within a stone’s throw of a fabulous beach.”
Ipanema’s attractions also include its fantastic eateries. Delirio Tropical is set apart from the rest thanks to its strong commitment to healthy food, growing their own certified organic crops.
Those dinning on a slightly higher budget should consider Riso Bistrô, a cute garden restaurant inside the stunning 1970s building of the Galeria de Artes Riso.
There is also Garota de Ipanema (Girl From Ipanema), made famous by bossa nova songwriters Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, which now offers traditional Brazilian churrasco and share-sized pizzas.
Chic cafes include the bookstore and cafe Livraria da Travessa and European style cafes such as Cafeina. The Gringo Cafe is a known favorite for expats looking for an American style brunch of eggs or pancakes and it also hosts special menus around events like Thanksgiving and the Superbowl.
Real estate in Ipanema is some of the most expensive in all of Rio (and all of Brazil). For renters, prices have seen a slight drop of -1 percent since February 2015 to R$65 per square meter. This makes the month of April 2015 the joint lowest over the last twelve months, with October 2014, coming down from a high of R$68 per square meter in April 2014.
This downward trend continues for buyers, with prices at a twelve month low of R$12,957 per square meter. Prices have gradually reduced by -1.6 percent since July 2014 where they reached R$13,269 per square meter.
The trend is also seen in commercial rents, falling -3.93 percent over the last twelve months. Real estate experts predict that there is limited time to use and enjoy this period of lower prices, before they inevitably rise for the 2016 Olympics.