With You, "My" Rio de Janeiro:
Despite growing up in the state of Rio, I lived outside Brazil for many years. But, as I've always been in love with this city, every time I came on vacation I did everything I could to live it intensely.
And now that I'm an official resident, nothing has changed because I know I haven't seen it all! Rio offers a multitude of programs, for all tastes (and budgets).
People always ask me for tips, so here are my favorites and your "must do" things in this city:
Nothing like starting the day with a beautiful breakfast, right? Literally speaking!
Here I've listed the most special, separated by neighborhoods:
Try the combo at Café 18 do Forte or savor the pastries from the branch of the iconic Confeitaria Colombo in Forte de Copacabana. You have to pay an entrance fee to the fort to attend them, but I guarantee that the sight of this breakfast is priceless!
Brunch with a view of the garden of this beautiful house which is a landmark of 1950s modern architecture and an attraction in itself. After, enjoy the interesting exhibitions at this photography museum.
Café do Alto in Santa Teresa neighborhood takes you to the northeast for a rich gastronomic experience! It's even better if combined with a tour of the surroundings!
The ARP restaurant at the charming Hotel Arpoador also offers a great beachside "breakfast with a view".
Highlighting the delicious pancakes!
In addition to these, I recommend the very charming brunch at Bistrô da Casa, in Glória;
A "local's favorite" the traditional Talho Capixaba, in Leblon;
The Slow Bakery, in Botafogo, with its award-winning artisan breads; and
La Bicyclette in Jardim Botânico.
After you are well fed, how about visiting a postcard of this wonderful city?
To visit Christ the Redeemer, there are vans leaving Copacabana at Praça do Lido, Largo do Machado and the Paineiras Visitor Center (accessible by Uber or car), but it is also possible to take the fun and centennial Corcovado Train.
If you go by car or Uber, I suggest adding a visit to the Dona Marta viewpoint.
I recommend buying tickets for the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) in advance, to avoid lines and also reserve a time in the late afternoon, in order to see the sun going down from there.
In addition to the view, the iconic cable car ride is awesome!
How about enjoying the tropical greenery through the city's parks and gardens?
The Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden) and its row of imperial palm trees is, definitely, one of the most beautiful places in this city!
But he's special not just for them.
Its existence is directly linked to the history of Brazil, in the times when it had an emperor and its extremely rich botanical collection, in the open air, is admirable.
Nearby is Parque Lage, which, unlike the Botanical Gardens, has free entrance. The tip is to combine it with lunch or breakfast at Café Plage, located in the mansion, facing the famous swimming pool:
A tour of the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and the Aterro do Flamengo is also a must-see, whether walking or, even better, by bike. Which you can rent, as in other cities.
The latter, which is unfairly overlooked by travel blogs, is super nice, being part of a beautiful and historic landscaping project by renowned Burle Marx, with a privileged view of the Sugarloaf.
Cultural Centers: Rio doesn't live only on its natural beauty! The Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã) in Praça Mauá has a really cool proposal, in addition to iconic architecture!
Just ahead, it's worth checking the MAR schedule, the museum that has interesting exhibitions referring to Rio de Janeiro and a beautiful terrace!
Right there, on the Olympic Boulevard, there are various graffiti, including the artist Kobra ethnicity mural.
Still in the city center, I like to admire the architectural beauty of its historic buildings, where cultural centers are located, such as the CCBB, known for its good exhibitions, and, beside it, the Correios (Post Office) cultural center.
In the beautiful Cinelândia square of , you might think you are in Paris when you see "our Opéra": the Municipal Theater. There, it is worth visiting the National Library and visiting the Museum of Justice.
Stopping by for a coffee at the iconic Confeitaria Colombo or the traditional Casa Cavê, head to the Real Gabinete Portugues da Leitura (Royal Portuguese Reading Room), to discover one of the most beautiful libraries in the world! No exaggeration!
In addition to these, spread across other neighborhoods, we have the beautiful Palácio do Catete (Republic Museum) and its garden, the MAM on Aterro, the former houses of Rui Barbosa, Roberto Marinho, and Oi Futuro.
One of the Rio's differentials for me is how complete this city is!
Where else do we have an urban forest with waterfalls and incredible views, in the middle of a big city?
There are easy ones, such as climbing Morro da Urca, which is the bottom of the Sugar Loaf; Parque da Catacumba in Lagoa, Forte Duque de Caxias in Leme, Mirante do Penhasco Dois Irmãos, or longer trails such as Pedra Bonita, through the waterfalls of Horto, Morro Dois Irmãos, where you have to go trhought the Favela to access it; and the most feared and longest one: Pedra da Gávea, from where it is possible to have a real dimension of the incredible geography of the city.
I recommend to go with someone that knows the trails, and suggest myself as a guide!
Check out my project: Women Who Hike Rio! (We make exceptions for guys :-) )
Of course, there can't be a beach day missing from this itinerary!
Here in Rio, the stretch of beach you frequent depends a lot on where you live or "the tribe you belong to".
During the week, I like to go to Arpoador as it is arguably the most enjoyable stretch there, with the most beautiful view. But the strip of sand is small so on weekends I prefer to go between Posto 9 and 10 in Ipanema or Leme, which is reputed to have the most alternative and coolest visitors!
Copacabana is great for walking on the sidewalk and drinking coconut water, but the sea can get pretty rough and the kiosks in general have poor service and tourist prices.
Unfortunately, here you need to be extra careful about pickpockets/phone thefts.
Besides that, the beach in Barra is very beautiful and more "virgin", but it takes a car/uber ride.
I recommend going to Bar do Gil once there.
Despite not being culturally frequented in Rio, the number of terraces has grown to take advantage of the city's view. Most are in hotels where you need to eat or spend the day. In addition to the famous and starred Fasano, there is Hotel Arpoador right next door, The Fairmont Hotel which has a very nice lounge overlooking Copacabana; and Yoo2 in Botafogo, where they usually play lively music in the late afternoon, overlooking the Sugarloaf and The Christ; also the recently opened branch of Boteco Belmonte, in Vieira Souto, in Ipanema.
After a beautiful day, enjoying the sunset is a "must do", whether at the iconic Pedra do Arpoador, at he end of the beach, where we clap our hands for this spectacle of nature, especially from November to January when the sun sets into the sea:
Or at Pedra do Leme, with the beautiful Copacabana coastline in the background:
Or at Mureta da Urca, (the wall by the water), another darling of the city, where people watch the dusk sitting by the water, sipping a beer and eating the famous Bar Urca pie or pastry (empada in Portuguese).
Lapa is the traditional bohemian neighborhood of Rio, despite this spirit being present in many corners of the city. To get a good sense of it, listening to quality samba, I recommend going to the Rio Scenarium, to admire also the decoration of the old house. Or Carioca da Gema
In addition, stop by the bars of "Baixo Botafogo", or Leblon such as Jobi, or in Dias Ferreira Street, such as Boteco Boa Praça, or at Braseiro da Gávea.
The newest hot point of bohemian Rio de Janeiro is Bafo da Prainha, located in the "little africa", in Largo da Prainha, right next to Pedra do Sal, where one of the most famous samba circles in the city takes place.
In the same square , other traditional Rio food places to eat are Casa Porto and Angu do Gomes.
And with luck, who knows, you'll even catch a Carnaval bloco (parade) walking down the street!
A day In Santa Teresa Neighborhood:
This old neighborhood is the most picturesque in Rio and personally a darling for me, so it deserves a post just for it, check it out here.
This urban piece of art, is a work of a Chilean artist who lived in one of the houses by the staircase which takes to Santa Teresa, the neighborhood in the hills.
The staircase is 125 meters long and has 250 steps. There are more than 2,000 colored tiles carefully placed by Selarón since the 90's.
In addition to the traditional Feira Hippie (Hippie Fair in Ipanema), which takes place on Sundays and has already launched exhibitors to the world; we have the antique fair on Rua Lavradio, on Saturdays, which nowadays have sellers of everything and a jazz band; the Feira da Glória, on Sundays with grocery and food stalls and live music sessions; Junta Local, which is a gastronomic and itinerant fair, with interesting gourmet foods; and my dear neighbor Praça São Salvador, which has a market on Saturdays and Sundays, with different rhythms of music, like Samba, or Forró, or Jazz, or Chorinho, played in the bandstand, depending on the day.
Where to eat:
Rio's cuisine or gastronomic scene reflects the casual lifestyle here. We have very good restaurants and renowned chefs, but I think the symbols of the city are the unpretentious juice houses, the bar food, and our traditional and heavy/affectionate cuisine, in other words, the strong point here is the "healthy easy" or the "comfort food". Here is a list separated by neighborhoods.
Furthermore, I hope that you feel embraced by Rio and that it enchants you too! :-)