Rio – the sound of this name is for most people close-knit to Samba, carnival, Copacabana and a wide range of spectacular landmarks and architecture. Not just since the soccer world cup took place in 2014, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the Southern hemisphere and have always been de rigeur for the international jet setter.
But even if the city became a much safer place over the past years of economic advancement it’s still good to know where to go and where not especially if you don’t have a carioca (resident) among you friends. Due to the immeasurable dimensions of the city you can hardly see a glimpse of the faces and places Rio has to offer within 24 hours. This is why our guide concentrates on the more hyped areas in the South Zone (Ipanema, Leblon, Santa Teresa) and Downtown. Those areas are generally safe but you should still avoid to show everyone you’re a tourist putting your camera in your bag not around your neck and adapt to the local dress code (shorts, shirts and flip flops). Stick to these rules and you will have an unforgettable time in this dazzling and colorful city filled with lovely and hospitably people.
In this post we focused on Rio because we didn’t have the feeling we could recommend the right places to go in Sao Paolo since its huge and we didn’t have the time to figure out the best places. We visited a lot of great places though. One of them was the mid century design store called Loja Teo, wich blew our mind. For interior lovers its a must to go there. If you can’t life without some of the pieces they even ship it to wherever you live.
While being one of the biggest export countries for coffee beans it’s maybe strange to say but it’s hard to find some Brazilian Coffee in Brazil, especially in Rio. Armazém do Café is one of a few places which only serves and sells brazilian beans and local roasts. Order some tasty pastry or a descent cigar with your espresso and make yourself comfortable on the patio before it’s getting to hot around noon.
There are just a few design/boutique hotels in Rio de Janeiro. One of them is Case Mosquito, located in the hills behind Copacabana and Ipanema.
It’s the first boutique hotel with an ocean view and the spectacular rooftop terrace with it’s stunning pool is a perfect spot to have some drinks in the evening (even if you’re not staying at the hotel). The renovated 1940’s mansion and it’s cutting edge annex only offers 9 suites. So make sure you book your room early enough if you plan to stay at the Casa.
Street Food in Lapa
Street food is super popular in Rio and not only at the beach. You find food trucks, kiosks and push carts with snacks, drinks and sweets all over the place. In the middle of the trendy street Lavradio in Lapa, opposite house # 172, a plain stall stands here for more than 11 years now. And business is in full swing since day one. There are no neon signs, not even a name, but the people here know that the Marques family stands for quality, good service and tradition. To keep it short: They have simply the best snacks in the city. Forget your diet and try their risoles, enroladinhos, bolinhos and croquetes, always freshly baked by the families mother and still warm sold by her son who’s called Sorriso as he’s never not smiling.
Also check out: Tapioca, X Tudo Burger, Amazonia Soul, The Oysters of Copacabana
After breakfast and a walk in the botanic garden you may want to relax a little bit at the beach. Good for you Rio is home to more than a dozen. The most popular ones are Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Copacabana is still by far the most visited beach in Rio, while Ipanema is kind of the hip place right now. The closest beach to the botanic garden is Leblon which is also the safest of those three. There are work out stations all over the promenade and fitness studios are offering gym classes at the beach every evening. The cariocas are well-known for their obsession with beauty and fitness so you may want to spend some time at the pull-up bar before you drop your shirt at the beach.
Also check out: Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca
Bars & Shots
Bar da Cachaça
Next to beer Cachaça is by far the most popular drink in Brazil. There are hundreds of different brands and flavors available. There are bars at almost every corner serving the holy water. One of them is Bar da Cachaça located next to Casa da Cachaça in the same building on Av. Me de Sá in Lapa. So make sure you go to the one on the right, Bar da Cachaça. Their speciality is a home-made Ginger Cachaça, maybe the best in whole Rio and something you certainly haven’t taste before.
Also check out: Canastra, Bar do Mineiro, Rio Scenarium
Samba is Rio and Rio is Samba. There’s nothing more important to the people in Rio than Samba and the Carnival. More than just musical groups, the schools are the neighborhood associations that cover a variety of community needs, such as educational resources and medical care. Founded in 1928, Mangueira is the oldest and one of the most established Samba Schools in Rio. They are pioneers of the carnival and winning all three events of the first Carnival at the Sambadrome in 1984 made them legends. If you don’t have time to see them at the carnival they are truly worth a visit as well during the important pre-Carnaval rehearsal period, which starts generally in August and goes on until the final week just before the actual parade.
Started out in 1923 and moved to it’s current location in 1969 Nova Capela is a venerable Rio de Janeiro institution and one of 12 bars listed as Cultural Heritage of the City. The bar is very popular among locals and busy most of the day. They are open 17 hours every single day starting at 11am and you still have walk ins by locals when they are done partying and dancing Samba in Lapa after midnight. The restaurant offers a wide range of local dishes and is considered a leader in what Brazilians call baixa gastronomia (“low cuisine”), which can be translated simply as bar food. There roast lamb with broccoli rice is a local legend and they serve the best codfish croquettes in the city.