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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Known as the marvelous city, it's impossible to disagree. Gorgeous landscape, nice people and delicious food. You will fall in love with it!

From the Airport

Born and raised here, I'm giving you here great insights about this marvelous city. If you are landing at the International Airport (G(G), I'd highly recommend for safety reasons to take an Uber. If you want to take a taxi, make sure to book it prior of going out of the security area. Don't accept taxi rides from solicitors. 


If you are landing at the domestic airport (SDU), the easiest way out is with a taxi or an Uber. Last time I took the Uber was only 20 Reais to Copacabana. No complains about that! :)          

Places to visit: 

Sugar Loaf (Pao de Acucar): You can take the bus 511 from Rua Visconde de Piraja in Ipanema, or at Av. Nossa Senhora de
Copacabana on the way there, and back on bus 512. Cab drives are cheap on the way there, but be careful on the way back – they try to charge a lot if they see you are coming out of the cable car… I usually walk a little by the main street there and take a cab from there. Uber rides would be probably the easiest from all options. 


 If you go there around 3:30-4pm, take a look at the Urca beach before taking the cable car. Looking at the beach, go to your left and take a walk at the “Caminho Claudio Coutinho”. It’s a nice and relaxing walk! You can also then from this path walk up the first mountain (Morro da Urca) and then get your tickets to go up the Sugar Loaf from there. It will help you skip the lines. Wait until it gets dark, to enjoy day & night views. Urca is a safe neighborhood. It’s all military base & most of them live there too.

Copacabana: enjoy the beachside cafes and the beach! Copacabana is one of the reasons why people fall in love at first sight
with Rio. The Princess of the Sea is one of the best areas for you to stay, with a higher concentration of hotels than any other
neighborhood in town. Like Ipanema and Leblon, Copacabana and Leme share the same beach. This is where Rio's New Year's
Celebrations happen, attracting 2 million people every year. For hotels in this area, which I would recommend, it's JW Marriott, Copacabana Palace, and many other options in this neighborhood. Make sure to search on Google, and look at the reviews and location. Ideal is a block or two from the beach and at the most central area Copacabana Beach. From the Copacabana Palace all the way to the Othon Palace Hotel, will be the busiest areas along the beach. There are tons of "quiosques" by the beach, where you can grab delicious caipirinhas and drinks, plus food is quite delicious!  My favorite is Nativoo. I can go there every day and be very happy with the food and drinks I get there. Oh, plus live music!!! So much fun!

Attention Hikers: if you want a safe and easy hike in through a cobblestone path in the middle of a jungle, don't miss visiting Morro do Leme. This is inside the Military area, which you feel safe. The view from the Fort on the top of the mountain is absolutely stunning. Surprisingly, not many people visit this place, so you can get breathtaking views from the Sugar Loaf and from Copacabana from here. When I visited it in 2023, there was no charge to go in. 


Forte de Copacabana: The structure that dominates the corner of
Copacabana and Arpoador is well worth a visit. This is where you get to take the classical photo of Copacabana Beach you see on postcards. Take a short walk uphill for photos of Arpoador Park, Ipanema and Leblon. The Forte was built by the military around 1908 in the spot where the old
Copacabana chapel used to be. Powerful cannons were installed in the rock to protect the city from invaders. Today Forte de Copacabana is a cultural center, and you are welcome to visit inside. The fireworks cascade along Forte de Copacabana is one of the highlights of the New Year's Eve  festival.

Corcovado: take a cab to the Corcovado train station and then take the train up & down. The cab driver will try to convince you to take you all the way up. Take the train, it’s more fun. Make sure to be the first to arrive there, I would highly recommend to be there by 7:30am. It's not as hot and you can easily by a ticket there and secure a ride on the first train up. 

Jardim Botânico: Botanic Garden – very pretty & relaxing… It is located in the heart of the South Side, minutes away from Ipanema and Copacabana. The Botanical Garden extends over 350 acres and is home to more than 6,000 different species of both tropical and subtropical plants and trees. The garden is known as one of the ten most important Botanical Gardens in the world. It is dotted with historical buildings,  sculptures, fountains and monuments, with dated from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. The most well-known symbol of the park is the royal palms, dating back to the period of Dom João VI. The Jardim Botânico also includes many threatened species of plants including the “pau-brasil”, “acará amarelo” and “pau mulato”.

If you are in Jardim Botanico, take a short (I mean short) cab ride and go to Parque Lage. Look up and you will monkeys and beautiful and more wild nature. 

More and more Beaches

Prainha: one of my favorite beaches in Rio… can only get there by car. The ultimate surfing beach in Rio. Prainha Beach is a smaller isolated surfer beach a short drive southwest from Rio de Janeiro. The alfmoon
shaped beach is bordered on each side by rocks and high cliffs, causing the waves to come in fast and with multiple breaks.

Grumari: even more remote than Prainha, it's a must to get to see Rio as the locals enjoy it.. Water and sand are so clean and the whole landscape is phenomenal around it. Don't miss it!

Lagoa (Lake): It’s great (GORGEOUS) to rent a bike and ride around it… It's not for swimming or diving. Unless you want to get sick.

Ipanema: Go to Arpoador & enjoy the sunset! This is what most of the cariocas love to do! Go also during the day to the Mirante do Leblon to enjoy the amazing view. The area around Rua Barão da Torre e Rua Garcia D’Avila has nice restaurants and shops. A drink at the roof from Hotel Fasano at Avenida Vieira Souto is also very popular. Garota de Ipanema Bar:  This is the bar where the writers of the Garota Ipanema song used to see the girl walking by. Many people like to go there because of it. Popular, maybe go at night, before going to Lapa.

Lapa: Take a cab and ask the driver to drop you at Lapa. You will see the famous arch from Rio’s old town. Take a look at the Escadaria Selarón is a set of world-famous stairs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claims it as "my tribute to the Brazilian people". There are 250 stairs measuring 125 meters long which are covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. Selarón considers the work as "never complete" and claims that "This crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death".

For Lapa’s night life (a must see!): get there around 10 - 10:30pm. The main street below the arch closes at 10pm on Friday and Saturday. The most popular bars are Bar da Boa and Boteco Belmont (they are basically across from each other). Walk around the small streets. The streets are pretty dirty & old, but locals just love to hang out there to drink a beer and chat. You will meet the richest and the poorest people partying together. Only on Fridays & Saturdays.

Rio Scenarium: in the list of top 10 best bars in the world! I loooooooooove this place!
Rua do Lavradio, 20 – Centro Antigo Tel: +55 21 3147 9005 for Saturday night (start around 8 pm for dinner &/or enjoy the night there!). It has live samba music, and different dance floors and shows.

Old downtown Rio: not a must-see, but if you have time to kill, it’s a great option. Plan your visit during the week and during the day. Take the subway to the opposite direction of Ipanema and get off at Carioca. Walk the opposite direction of the cars at Avenida Rio Branco, and take Rua da Assembléia (walk in the opposite direction of the cars as well). You will arrive at Rua Primeiro de Março. You will see the City Hall, and right beside it the Paço Imperial. This was used as residents for Kings of Brazil and also later for a workplace for the Kings. Then keeping walking at the same street (Rua Primeiro de Março), but this time in
the same direction of the cars, until you will find the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. Make sure to walk the tiny streets between this street and Rua do Mercado. Explore the downtown area. There are different things to see. 

Food & Shopping

Below are my favorite places:


Siqueira Grill
One of my favorite places & affordable!!!
Rua Siqueira Campos, 16b Copacabana – RJ 


Quiosque Nativoo

I love coming here in the evenings, after a walk along the beach. Perfect place to enjoy some live music (every day something different), drinks and most importantly, the food! Portions are generous, so a plate for one, serves easily two. 

Fogo de Chão

One of the best meats you can eat in Rio and delicious caipirinha, this is a must when in Rio. Besides, it has a great patio and view of the Guanabara Bay and Sugar Loaf. Avenida Reporter Nestor Moreira, 12 - Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22290-210, Brazil +55 21 2542-1545

Manoel & Juaquim: 3 different locations in Copacabana and many around the city, this is a popular bar (botequim) between locals. Go for their options to share and their caipirinhas (passion fruit is amazing!) and you won't regret it. 


If you happen to be in Copacabana, please visit my favorite snack bar called "Baby Lanches". It's at Rua Constante Ramos, between the beach and Domingos Ferreira. You can have delicious fresh fruit juices and order the most traditional Brazilian snack called "coxinha". Hmmmm... I'm now craving it!!!


BB Lanches

Rua Ataulfo de Paiva (approx #1200) with Rua Eristides Espinola – Leblon - Healthy and yummy juices & sandwiches



Great fresh juices, nice crepes and so many food options. Enjoy some delicious burgers as well. Many locations in Rio.  In Copacabana is at Rua Santa Clara, 36 - Tel : 2255-5000 


You will find a few places in Copacabana, it's a chain. Juices are good too, very clean.



To get the best prices, there is a building in Copacabana called “Santa Clara 33” and it’s located at Rua Santa Clara 33. Go all the
way to the 12th Floor and go down all the way to the 2nd using the stairs… Tons of clothes, most for women, but you can find for men as well.

Souvenirs: Monday-Saturday from 8-11pm, on Avenida Atlântica, between Rua Miguel Lemos and Rua Sá Ferreira, in Copacabana.

Rio Sul Shopping: I looooove this mall… It’s in Botafogo, close to Copacabana. Rua Lauro Müller, 116.

Babilonia Feira Hype: this is an awesome "fair" that opens only during certain weekends in the month. Check their website for dates and times. You will find tons of local and small boutiques, plus tons of options for small bites. It's a very fun atmosphere. 

Feira Hippie Ipanema: the largest open-air arts & crafts and art galleria in the world. Every Sunday from 7am-7pm at Praça
General Osório.


Feira de Antiguidades da Praca XI: great flea market with antiques and other things on Saturday mornings. Make sure to bargain!


Barra Shopping is another massive mall at Barra da Tijuca, along with Village Mall or Fashion Mall for luxury shopping. Please keep in mind, any imported items are extremely expensive in Brazil due to 60% importation tax plus other fees. Brazil is not the place to buy any items that are not from Brazil. 


LGBT Scene

Don't miss going to Farme de Amoedo in Ipanema at night and on that same direction during the day at the beach. You will be surrounded by beautiful people! For a night out  To Nem Ai is very popular. 

If you have any questions about Rio, don't hesitate to write under the comments below. Also, if you also found some hidden gems, nice restaurants, or shops, don't hesitate to write below your recommendation. 

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