While the first Saturday of each month sees tourists flock to the lively antiques, clothing and collectibles fair at Rua do Lavradio in Centro, the real bargains are to be found a short walk away in the less illustrious surrounds of Praça XV de Novembro. The weekly Feira da Praça XV has been held for as long as memory serves on the flagstones of this antique square that sits beneath a concrete fly over, although the ongoing regeneration of Rio de Janeiro's Port Zone means that days are numbered for the fair in its present incarnation.
Rio's Saturday flea market takes place in front of the downtown ferry terminal — Photo courtesy of Charlie Phillps
Tourists with an eye for a bargain and a love for the curious and the collectible should head here while time permits; the event sees hordes of vendors set up stall to sell everything from highly collectible vintage vinyl to old-school sunglasses and clothing via antique furniture, old coins and war memorabilia.
While the main square is the favored haunt for those serious sellers who have long practiced their prize pitches, the surrounding flagstones are the gathering point for street dwellers and others anxious to scratch a profit from such oddities as broken children's toys, dusty headless dolls and landline telephones.
For anyone in the market for antique furnishings, there are some real bargains to be found here, while "crate diggers" (hunters of rare vinyl) make this their first port of call when heading to Rio. When it comes to hunting out the real deal, you'll need to exercise, however. Some unscrupulous sellers are not averse to passing off reissues as originals and charging a small price for scratched disks.
For the best prices, it is really a case of the early bird catching the worm. Some serious buyers turn up as early as 6 a.m. to root through sellers' collections before they have even set up stall.