From the fantastic central beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema where you can sip the traditional caipirinha, to the nightlife in Botafogo with the taste of churrasco, Rio de Janeiro offers that vibe that you can only experience in South America. In constant development and still full of contrasts, it reminds how different life can be between people living in the same place. You will soon discover that Caipirinha tastes different here, it is always time for having one and that cassava chips could be even better than standard fried chips – if only you knew them when you were a kid!
Discover now the 10 tips that will make you wish to book a flight to Rio de Janeiro
Brasil – Rio De Janeiro
1. Cristo Redentor
Over the last few years Rio has hosted important international events like the World Cup and the Olympics, that have increased this beautiful and complex city’s media visibility across the globe.
For sure the Cristo Redentor has represented one of the most exploited landmarks. And for a reason, I would say.
As it is beautiful and grants a breathtaking view on the city and the bay.
Because of all the reasons explained above, most likely it will be super crowded (and hot in summer!), so try and visit early in the morning or later in the day if you want to enjoy the sunset.
To get to the top get the tram do Corcovado – you will now need to schedule your ride in advance if you want to avoid long queues.
Info and booking here.
2. Theatro Municipal
Going for a stroll in the city centre of Rio is not a bad idea at all. Especially if you cross stunning buildings like the Theatro Municipal, built at the start of the 20th century.
This Theater is considered one of the most famous in the whole of Brazil.
Have a look at the programme here if you have a night you can dedicate to arts.
Once your visit is complete have a nice sweet break at the historical Confeitaria Colombo.
A real must!
3. Lapa – Escalera de Selaron
Lapa is one of the most controversial areas in Rio. Well known and on the map, but still not completely safe to walk around.
Unless you are visiting a friend that knows where to go, the best decision is to stick to the heart of Lapa.
Apart from the amazing night-life, we recommend to spend a couple of hours walking around the centre of the area.
Our recommendation is to start from the arches and getting to the famous Escalera de Selarón.
You will be enchanted by the thousands of decorated and colourful tiles written in a myriad of languages.
They will be giving you a breath of the whole world in just a few steps.
4. Pão de Açúcar (not in James Bond style!)
Question time: are you or do you know someone who is a big James Bond fan? I am! I watched all the movies and I was even considering to get the whole collection for our lazy Sundays – (subtle hint to Ale and to any of you who is or knows a great James Bond’s fan: this is a good gift idea -> James Bond’s film collection on Amazon).
If you are as well a James Bond fan, you probably have already caught the reference to Moonraker (Watch it on Amazon) and you will have for sure dreamt of visiting Rio and the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) at least once in your life.
Definitely in a more relaxing way than how James takes the cable car, the bondinho to Pão de Açúcar is a stunning trip.
Especially if you plan to get to the top of the Sugarloaf at sunset.
However, be prepared for a long queue to get your ticket and remember… Rio can be extremely hot in summer!
To plan your visit it is worth getting your ticket sorted in advance here
5. View from Pão de Açúcar
Rio is for sure a city you enjoy the most from the top of the hills around it, leaning onto the bay.
The view from the Sugarloaf is for sure one of the most romantic places in the world.
One to definitively bear in mind for a lifetime long proposal.
For a fantastic dinner after your visit, head to the close area of Botafogo and try the amazing churrasco and caipirinhas at Fogo do Chao: food, drinks and a fantastic location.
6. Rio City
Rio is vibrant and a safe city to visit if you stick to central areas and do not adventure too far on your own.
A must do is for sure the area of Leblon, with its beach, the famous Mirador and the vast choice of bars for a nice night out.
Rio has hosted some major world sports events recently, that have pushed new developments and attracted loads of tourists despite the fears of it still not being a very safe city.
For many other places in the world, it just requires a bit of attention and common sense. For this reason, we opted for visiting the touristic areas of the city and found that you need to be careful on beaches where small thefts happen frequently but police are patrolling regularly.
As a foreign tourist, you will be offered easily guided tours organised by locals to take you to favelas. Up to you to decide, we personally thought that there is nothing ‘touristic’ to see in a favela.
For sure what we’d be shown would be distant from the true reality of those areas that are shut down for anyone not ‘belonging’ there.
Sometimes there are just limits to what you can experience if not part of the community.
Speaking of nostalgic memories we cannot mention the official taste of every trip to Brazil, Her Majesty the Caipirinha.
Caipirinhais made with just some lime and sugar cane blended to Brazilian cachaça .
Pay attention, it can be easily addictive, especially if accompanied by Cassava chips! Oh, my…
Brazilians say that no matter where you live or you come from, beaches in Rio is where kids ‘do asfaltu’ (from the asphalt) meet those most unlucky ones living in on the favelas just outside, surrounding the city.
This is where you will see clans of teenagers behaving like adults but where you’ll also meet groups of kids playing football with their loud chats and laughs.
And the rhythm of samba playing at a distance.
Copacabana and Ipanema are for sure the most iconic and busy beaches in Rio. An experience you cannot miss and a nostalgic memory you will jealously keep with you and bring back home.