In Recife's downtown neighborhood of Santo Antônio, the streets around the Pátio São Pedro and in between Avenida N.S. do Carmo and Rua Primeiro de Março are all jampacked with little shops. Some of the alleys are so narrow that they resemble Asian street markets. The best time to explore is weekdays during office hours; in the evening this part of town is deserted. Larger, more fashionable stores are located just on the other side of the Duarte Coelho Bridge on Avenida Conde da Boa Vista. There are large modern malls located out in Boa Viagem as well as the new Paço Alfandega, the restored 18th-century Customs hall in Old Recife.
Olinda's historic downtown also offers prime shopping: Two markets sell excellent souvenirs, and you will find many more galleries and interesting shops once you start to explore the winding streets.
Gifts & Souvenirs -- In Olinda there are two excellent markets for local handicrafts. Mercado Eufrasio Barbosa (also called Mercado Varadouro) is located in the former Customs house at Sigismundo Gonçalves s/n (tel. 081/3439-1415). Open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm, this market has great souvenirs at reasonable prices. Up the hill close to the Praça João Alfredo is the Mercado Ribeira, Bernardo Vieira de Melo s/n (tel. 081/3439-2964), which is open daily from 9am to 6pm. The merchants there specialize in religious arts, paintings, woodcarvings, and regional crafts.
Olinda is jampacked with studios and ateliers that are open to the public. If you like colorful artwork, visit Imaginário, on the Rua Bispo Coutinho 814 tel. 081/3439-4514). This large store displays a comprehensive collection of high-quality local artwork. More expensive but worth checking out is the Estação Quatro Cantos, Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo 134 (tel. 081/3429-7575).
In Recife, a great shop with above-average souvenirs is Paranambuco, Rua do Bom Jesus 215 (tel. 081/3424-1689). The best spot for picking up local crafts is in the Casa da Cultura, Rua Floriano Peixoto s/n, next to the train station (tel. 081/3224-2850). Those who are staying in Boa Viagem can visit the large crafts market on the Praça Boa Viagem; Monday through Friday 3 to 11pm and 8am to 11pm on weekends.
Malls & Shopping Centers -- Shopping Center Recife, Rua Padre Carapuceiro 777, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3464-6123), is a modern mall; all buses heading downtown stop here. Farther along the beach where Boa Viagem becomes Piedade there's another pleasant mall, Shopping Center Guararapes, Av. Barreto Menezes 800, Piedade (tel. 081/3464-2211; www.shopping-guararapes.com.br). The most beautiful mall is the Shopping Paço Alfandega, Cais da Alfandega 35, Recife Antigo (tel. 081/3419-7500; www.pacoalfandega.com.br). Housed in the restored 18th-century Customs building, this is one of the city's prime shopping destinations. The bookstore Livraria da Cultura has an above-average selection of English-language books. Malls are open Monday through Friday from 10am to 10pm and Saturday from 10am to 8pm.
Markets -- A bustling fruit-and-vegetable market in a lovely old iron-and-glass building, the Mercado de São José, Praça Dom Vital s/n, Santo Antônio (no phone), is a great place to browse. Vendors sell locally made hammocks, baskets, ceramics, and lace. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 6am to 5:30pm and Sunday from 6am to noon.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.