Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s most popular city, with a population of over 6 million people, breathtaking landscapes and a world famous 73.4 kilometers coast, it is not hard to understand why the city is often referred as ‘cidade maravilhosa’ (marvelous city) by its residents.
This is certainly the most exciting time to visit, as this sports loving city is set to host the 2014 Worldcup and 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. Although prices may be compromised due to the aforementioned, we have selected some of the best activities for first time travelers to the city embraced by Christ the Redeemer.
Therefore, Pack your best beach wear and laidback attitude, and join us on a trip through the best spots in the city!
The best areas to stay in Rio are in the Zona Sul ( South Zone) or Centro ( Downtown), as most landmarks, beaches and iconic monuments are located in these districts. We have a wide variety of rooms in these areas for every kind of budget.
Praia da Gávea
If you are in adventure mode this is the beach for you. Most famous for its Paragliding, hang-gliding and surfing, this is the best beach if extreme sports is your cup of tea.
Praia de Ipanema
One of the most famous beaches in the country, it has served as inspiration for many Bossa Nova writers and poets in the city. Even today the beach is the liveliest, Posto 9 is the most famous among the LGBT community, whom lay their towels in front of Farme de Amoebo. Meanwhile, ‘trendsetters’ divide themselves between the Vinícius de Moraes and Maria Quitéria streets. The landscape is incredible, beautiful people, white sand, and sometimes it hosts outdoor concerts. The best option for a more laidback experience, with plenty of coconut water, tanning and mingling.
Praia do Leblon
Surrounded by luxurious residential and resort buildings, this beach is a continuation of Ipanema Beach. Leblon is a more family oriented beach, with ‘Baixo Bebe’ facilities at Posto 10, catering to children with many toys, playing areas and diaper changing facilities. It is also a great place for a scenic morning jog.
Praia de Copacabana
This is a national reference when it comes to beaches. This beach hosts the famous NYE fireworks and, when it is crowded, it serves as the postcard for the Carioca summer. The beach offers standardized stalls, as well as well-equipped toilets which allow attendees to shower (for a small fee). The Avenida Atlântica walk is also very famous among residents and tourists, whom usually enjoy the scenic view from their skates, bikes, jogging or snapping some pictures with the statue of Carlos Drummond de Andrade ( at posto 6).
Rua Dias Ferreira, 636, Leblon, Rio de Janeiro – RJ – Brasil
+ 55 21 2529.2329
Brazilians love their meat, and this ‘fancy butcher’ is one of the best options for a taste of Brazilian typical dishes. The menu is quite diverse and includes Farofa de pão , lamb chops, apple mash with passion fruit and the best quinoa Risotto in the city.
R. Joana Angélica, 40 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro – RJ – Brasil
+ 55 21 2247.9101)
With a cozy atmosphere, this is a great place to have lunch with friends or loved ones for a pleasant experience. Make sure to ask for a balcony table!
Rua Frei Leandro, 20, Jd. Botânico, Rio de Janeiro – RJ – Brasil
+ 55 21 7864.9622
If you are a fan of inventive cuisine, this restaurant is a must. Chef Felipe Bronze and his staff offers the best of the molecular gastronomy, with steamy dishes and varied flavors. How about some açaí with banana, tapioca and a cold foie gras powder or a liquid shrimp ‘muqueca’and crunchy farofa?
If you are on a budget, this restaurant is a great possibility to save a few bucks while eating incredibly tasty food. The menu covers a large selection of salads, pasta, desserts, pies and quiches.
An insight into Rio’s street culture
Lapa is one of the most diverse party districts in Rio. This is one of the only places in the city where you will find people from all social classes, tribes and genres rubbing elbows in a relatively democratic way. Friday night is the best night to experience this bohemian neighborhood at its peak, with a very large crowd drinking and dancing through the streets.
For the less sociable, the place can also be experienced on Saturday evening for a calmer night out. Do not forget to visit the famous Lapa arches and some of the trendy or shabby bars, clubs and venues available.
Rua dos Arcos – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20230-060, Brazil
+55 21 2533-0354
A historic venue, which marked the start of some of the most famous 80’s rock bands in the country such as Barao Vermelho and Blitz. Today, the venue is still open with concerts of established and newcomer musicians.
Rua dos Arcos, 24, Centro, Rio de Janeiro – Rj – Tel: (21) 3212-0800
This former stove factory has become one of the hottest venues for MPB and international acts in the city. This venue also offers a series of theater, dance, philosophy, percussion, acrobatics, prop making, graffiti courses to students in the region.
Rua do Lavrario, 20 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, Brazil
+55 21 3147-9000
This old building is house to some of the best samba nights in the city, it is also an antiquarian, therefore the pieces exposed also serve as decoration for this picturesque bar. In 2006, it was spotted in a top 10 list of the best bars in the world by The British Press Awards.
R. Mem de Sá, 66 – Centro – Rio de Janeiro – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(21) 2224-6367 | (21) 2226-9691
This is one of the largest venues in the neighborhood, with a 700 people capacity, it sports some of the most eclectic nights in the city such as MPB, Forró, Samba, Rock and events for the LGBT community.
Lapa 40 graus
Rua Riachuelo, RJ, 20230-010, Brazil
+55 21 3970-1338
A humongous bar with pool tables and MPB or Samba concerts. This is a club owned by Carlinho de Jesus, a known name in Rio’s carnival. We recommend a visit on Friday nights, where a really nice band called “Moinho” plays.
We still have a lot to uncover in the city, stay tuned for part II of our Ultimate Guide to Rio de Janeiro.