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Expert Tips

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Smarter Travel

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Neighborhood Spotlight

There's more to Rio de Janeiro than beaches, and this leafy neighborhood that clings to the jungle-clad hillside above the city is well worth sacrificing the sun lounger...

 

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Get Your Bearings in Rio de Janeiro

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Hot Tips: Don't venture into Tijuca National Parkwithout a guide - it is all too easy to get lost.

Hot Tips: Don't walk around with your camera on display - keep it out of sight until you need to use it.

Hot Tips: For cheaper prices, leafy gardens and a more personalised service, avoid the beachfront and head for the independent guest houses of Santa Teresa

Hot Tips: Hotels in Copacabana backstreets - air quality is terrible thanks to backed up traffic.

Hot Tips: Street food in Rio can be delicious - look out for Tapioca pancakes stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings, and Acaraje - a Bahian bean patty filled with shrimp and spicy sauce.

Hot Tips: Fruit juices and smoothies from the ubiquitous corner juice bars. Don't miss acai, a nutrient-packed Amazonian power berry served as a kind of sorbet.

Hot Tips: The strip of restaurants along Avenida Atlantica in Copacabana. With few exceptions, these are touristy joints serving less than spectacular food.

Hot Tips: Don't miss the Lapa street party on Friday and Saturday nights. Tens of thousands of revelers descend for a night of drinking, dancing and flirting.

Hot Tips: Many bars and clubs operate a consumption card policy, with drinks marked on a card and paid for on exit. Losing the card can result in paying a fixed (and very steep) fee.

Hot Tips: For vintage fashion, rare vinyl and all manner of collectibles, check out the flea market held each Saturday at Praca 15, in front of the ferry port in Centro.

Hot Tips: Don't express interest unless you intend to buy – vendors often become pushy if they think they have a chance of making a sale.

Hot Tips: Don't even think about heading home without several pairs of funky Havaianas flip flops, which are widely available and very affordable.

Rio de Janeiro Neighborhoods

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro


Rio de Janeiro is known for...

Five of Rio de Janeiro's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Beaches and beach bodies:

Think of Rio de Janeiro, and it's hard not to conjure up images of beautiful  people lounging on equally attractive beaches.

Far from being mere myth, these images are brought sharply to life when the tropical sun beats down on Rio. Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon throng with beautiful people in the skimpiest of swimwear, with the white sands, crashing waves and mountain backdrps framing the social scene perfectly.

When the clouds gather and the rains fall it's a different story, with the beaches looking windswept and forlorn until weather conditions perk up again.

2. The Christ Statue:

There are few images more iconic than that of the statue of Christ the Redeemer standing tall over Rio, embracing the city, its mountains and its beaches, with his outstretched arms.

Visible from almost every point in the city, the statue is best seen up close, and the funicular railway which runs to the top of Corcovado mountain is the best way to visit the statue. Head up on a clear day, for spectacular views over the city.

3. Sugar Loaf Mountain:

Only marginally less famous than Corcovado mountain and the Christ Statue, Sugar Loaf mountain juts right out of the ocean, and the views from its peak are nothing less than breathtaking.

While a few hardy souls are up to scaling the mountain itself, the vast majority of visitors ascend to the top of Sugar Loaf by cable car - a dizzying two-stop journey that calls first at the smaller Morro da Urca.

There are bars and coffee shops at Sugar Loaf's peak, and sipping a caipirinha as the sun sets over the city is an unforgettable experience.

4. Carnival:

A lively, flamboyant city that revels in excess, Rio de Janeiro really comes into its own over Carnival, when residents shed the few inhibitions they may have and slip into full-on party mode.

While the eyes of the world are on the spectacular samba school parades at the purpose-built Sambodromo stadium, the vast majority of the city takes to the streets to join in the riotous blocos or street parties, that take  place across the city.

5. Samba:

So you think you can dance? Wait until the Brazilians show you how it's really done. The city is synonymous with samba, and you're never far from an opportunity to take to the dance floor in Rio.

For the most authentic samba clubs, head downtown to Lapa, where seriously skilled dancers take to the floor at spots such as Rio Scenariun and Carioca de Gema. The quality of the live music is every bit as impressive as the dancing, s even those with two left feet will be able to enjoy watching others strut their stuff.

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