After spending most of my last four years in RIO DE JANEIRO, yes, I can tell you for sure that this is indeed a wonderful city.
I doubt anyone who has experienced living in this city had felt completely indifferent towards it. Rio is extreme. You love it or you hate it.
I fell in love.
I can’t say for sure what snatched my heart. It may have been the sun, 365 days of heat, the beaches, hills, forests and waterfalls, the happiness in the people eyes and smiles, the tamarins, a cup of beer while staring at the sunset, the food… ahhh the food! Or it may have been the mess and chaos of the city, the neverending party glitter, the carioca style, the best sunrise on the beach, taking sea baths at any time of the day or night, or dancing and the music that never ends.
Rio is like that – restless, beautiful and happy.
When to go
If you want to know the city in its purest state, avoid the festive seasons, like carnival and new years eve.The price shoots up in the little things and it seems that the whole world falls there. The best time would be from March to July. It’s not high season, so the prices are more accessible and the temperature is mild, perfect for enjoying all the city has to offer.
Beach. Beach. Beach
If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to your mind when yout think of Rio de Janeiro is… the BEACH! You are forbidden to visit this city without feeling sand below your feet!
Rio de Janeiro has a unique coast with unique beaches, but if you’re in a hurry visit you cannot missed the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
Copacabana is the most emblematic neighborhood of Rio, famous worldwide, mostly because of the beach, which opens 360 degrees giving the feeling that the city embraces the sea. My favorite area of this beach is the post 6. There you have the whole perception of the size of the beach and you can still see the Sugarloaf peak from there!
Relax for a while, drink a coconut water and smile: you are in RIO DE JANEIRO!
Ipanema is the most trendy beach. All young people go there, especially in post 9. The view the beach has of the hill of the Two Brothers it’s pretty unique and mesmerizing.
One thing that you are not allowed to miss is watching the sunset at Arpoador, a large rock at the beginning of Ipanema beach. To watch the sunset there is easily one of the best experiences you could have in your life. The landscape is breathtaking, making for one of those moments when nature “disarms” you. In the end, when finally the sun disappears behind the horizon, everyone applauds for this spectacle of nature.
The bohemian side
Santa Teresa. This neighborhood shows us another side of Rio de Janeiro, more bohemian, cultural and some incredible views over the city.
Santa Teresa is located in the central area of the city. To visit it i recommend going in the newly opened cable car or “bodinho”. It pass through the upper part of the famous arches of Lapa and makes us travel back in time while scrolling through the neighborhood streets.
Get ready to see you surrounded with several small craft work shops, perfect to buy souvenirs.
It is also a favorite neighborhood to taste the delicious Brazilian cuisine with excellent restaurants. You can find a place to eat a delicious feijoada or a succulent fish muqueca, both typical Brazilian dishes!Here you will also find pubs or “botecos” the most famous is “Bar do Adão” perfect to regroup, drink one, two or three beers and then ask the famous bean pastries!
Also in Santa Teresa is located the Cultural Center Parque das Ruinas. Composed of a recovery project of the ruins of an ancient palace. Even you dont want to watch any spectacle is always nice to visit the ruins and admire the views of the city. Due to its elevated location we have a global perspective of the city. It is a quiet place, perfect for a coffee and to disconnect from the city confusion.
The wild side
Rio de Janeiro must be the citie that best mix urban areas with nature. So quickly we are in the city chaos as we are in the middle of a dense forest that we forget we are in a city!
There are several natural parks scattered throughout the city. But my favorite is Parque Laje located in Jardim Botanico neighborhood.
Parque Laje integrates with perfection architecture with nature. It has a villa with an incredible inner courtyard where there is a central pool and an incredible view of the Redeemer Christ. Nowdays it houses the School of Visual Arts of Rio.
The best program is to arrive in the morning and take breakfast at Café du Lage, then explore the spaces of the building that usually have small exhibitions and finally get lost in the gardens! The gardens are beautiful. You can enjoy a few hours getting lost in the middle of all that abundant nature, where you will cross with caves, aquariums, tamarins, lakes and even small waterfalls!
For those who like adventure and nature Rio offers excellent hiking trails! I recommend to start with the hill of the Two Brothers, it is quite easy to climb and offers you an amazing view of all famous beaches. You will take photos like postcard images of Rio!
This track also has the particularity to start rising in a well-known favela, the favela of Vidigal. You can take a bus to the top or if you are more adventurous you can take a moto-táxi (motorcycle taxi) and the fun begins right from the start! The beginning of the trail is well located and the path to the top is well flagged. I advise you to go in the morning or early in the afternoon to get up enjoy the view and come back with sunlight.
Rio is a party town! If it isn’t raining you will easily find the parties happen in the squares and streets in the center of the city or on the beach, where you can dance and to party all night!
However, Lapa is the heart of the party in Rio. It is a whole mix of people, you’ll see everything here! Lapa becomes a big party at night, especially on the weekend. It has several bars with live samba and other attractions. I recommend Carioca da Gema and Lapa 40 degrees. You will have fun in these places!
If you don’t go out dancing I recommend the Bar of Cachaça, right in the heart of Lapa, a very typical place with relaxed atmosphere and a large number of cachaça to try!