Rio de Janeiro is a vivid and colorful city that emerges facing the ocean in the heart of the jungle. This brutal contrast between the city and the amazing landscape will bring your senses to life. The locals, called cariocas, are friendly and they´ll make you truly enjoy your stay.
What to do and visit:
– Pan de Azucar: Take this funicular to the mountain top to have a panoramic view of the city, simply spectacular.
– Corcovado: The iconic Cristo do Corcovado that overlooks the city from the top of a mountain and welcomes you with its arms open. Try to visit it in the morning when it is less crowded.
– Lagoa: The huge lagoon in the middle of the city. Strawl through the ring that surrounds it. You may have a drink at Bar Lagoa in business since 1934 (when it was known as Bar Berlin), this Lagoa institution features a graceful Art Deco interior, cold clear chopp, and a menu drawn from Germany.
– Sunset at Urca beach: The most stunning sunset is seen from this point in the lagoon, Lagoa. Check the popular and very well known within the locals Garota Da Urca.
– MAC of Niterói: The Contemporary Art Museum designed by Oscar Niemayer looks like an ovni situated at the Boa Biagem beach.
– Jardim Botanico: Founded by Emperor Dom João VI, the botanical garden has thousands of species of tropical plants and trees, and it looks more like a piece of jungle than a garden.
– Barrio de Santa Teresa: This beautiful and decadent neighbourhood on a hillside was the home for the coffee plantation owners. Visit its aqueduct “Arcos da Lapa” through which all the drinking water was delivered to the rest of the city. You may ride the “bonindno” or tram up which is a cheap and fun experience.
Where to stay:
– Fasano: The coolest hotel in town with an unbeattable location. Its rooftop pool has a stunning view of Ipanema and Leblon beaches.
The pros: Location, Ipanema area is safe. The staff, dedicated and attentive. Its “Londra Bar” the place to be at night. The cons: overrated prices.
– Copacabana: This historic and emblematic hotel has been newly renovated but has still a tired look. I wouldn´t recommend staying at this hotel, but book for its superb by the pool sunday brunch at La Pergola.
– Santa Teresa: A beautiful and small villa of only 40 rooms in the heart of Sta.Teresa. No wonder it is a Relais Chateau, its restaurant Térèse is considered to be the best of Rio.
The pros: its relaxed pool, its Descasados bar and of course its panoramic loft suite considered the best in the world by the WallPaper magazine in 2010.
The cons: location…its not close to the beaches, nor any of the attractions, and the area is not very safe at night.
– Praia de Ipanema: Perfect location at the Ipanema beach, a simple but nice and affordable hotel with beautiful views.
Where to eat:
– Térèse: Considered the best restaurant in town. Nicely decorated, in a cool and relaxed way. Its lobster dishes are a must.
– Aprazivel: It is worth visiting. Its very popular between the locals. It is a rustic open air restaurant surrounded by lush vegetation in a typical native brasilian wooden decoration.
– Sushi Leblon: Brazil has the second biggest japanese community after Japan, you will have no doubt when visiting this restaurant. The hippest japanese in the heart of the arty Rua Dias Ferreira.
– Anna: A fancy italian restaurant with beautiful decoration and service and better food.
– Antiquaria: The best and most traditional portugese restaurant in the city. It has a kitch decoration but an excellent service and food.
– Astor: Young and cool restaurant, ideal for drinks after dinner. It reminds of a typical new yorker brasserie.
– Gero: From the same owners as Fasano Hotel, it is a delicious italian restaurant with a beautiful people ambience.
– Fogo do Chao: The best place to have a tipical Rodizio, an all you can eat party that brasilians celebrate during the weekends, where you are constantly served different types of carbón grilled meats.
Where to have a drink:
– Londra: Excellent music, decoration and people, the hippest bar in town at the Fasano Hotel.
– Bar do Descasados: At the Sta.Teresa Hotel has wonderful views over of the coffee plantations owners old villas, a place to chill-out over a caipirinha.
Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabanna are the most famous beaches. Visit them, but I wouldn´t recommed swimming…they are not clean at all. Avoid going on the weekends, it is too crowded!
Take a ride to other beaches outside the city to find secluded places.
Where to shop:
– Leblon Area: Walk around Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva which are full of local brands such as: Lenny Niemeyer (luxury bikinis),Schütz (incredible shoes) , Santa Lolla (more amazing shoes), Bobo (bohemiam chic clothing), Farm (Young and stylish clothes), Salinas (bikinis)….
– Shopping Leblon: This is a fairly new shopping centre featuring all the latest local and international brands, filled with dozens of fashionable designer shops. The shopping centre also includes a stylish cafe, a cinema and some very tempting restaurants.
– Ipanema Area: The Rua Visconde de Pirajá is also a shopping area to visit.
– Hippy Market at Ipanema on Sundays: A vivacious street market, it sets up its stalls every Sunday on a large city square. Products available are of much better quality than those at other street markets. If you want to buy something from Brazil as a memoir then this is the best place.
– Buy a brasilian bikini at the beach, they are cheap and nice!
– Buy colour ribbons with “Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia” printed on them and bring them as a gift to your friends. They are supposed to give good luck!
– Drink a Caipirinha.
– And drink “ague de coco” directly from a coconut.
– Learn to dance samba.
– Listen to “La Garota de Ipanema” as you walk by Ipanema.
– Avoid visiting during the Carnaval…its way too crowded!
– Buy something from Granado,an antique pharmacy thats now the most upscale sabonete shop.
– Try all the tropical delicious fruits and juices!
– Avoid the Favelas…not even the ones that are supposed to be safe…
– Avoid wearing expensive watches or jewellery.
– Take taxis but always from a taxi safe point