Local Host Picks
Forte do Leme
A 20-minute walk to the top of this fort on Leme Beach leads you to one of Rio’s best-kept secrets. Take in the 360-degree views of Copacabana and Guanabara Bay while sagui monkeys dart around.
Housed in a renovated warehouse that was once an antique store, this bar in the hip Lapa neighborhood is considered to be the most beautiful in Rio.
Chef Ana Castilho hosted a community event at her home in 1996 and never closed the door. Her Brazilian-fare restaurant takes up several rooms in her charming home and trickles out into the garden, where you can enjoy views of downtown Rio.
Rua da Carioca
The berimbau, a wooden string instrument, is one of the most popular Brazilian souvenirs. Rua da Carioca, dubbed “Music Row” due to its numerous music shops, is the perfect place to purchase one.
Tijuca National Park
For a break from the city, take a walk through this lush rainforest with 30 waterfalls and over 300 plant species.
São Conrado Beach
While the tourists flock to Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, head to this secluded beach for a little more space and beautiful mountain scenery. It’s also fun to watch the hang gliders descend to the landing strip here.
Admire the colonial architecture and baroque churches before hitting the Uruguaiana Shopping District for local treasures. The soft Brazilian cotton is extremely popular.
For a break from the glitzy and hedonistic side of Rio, take the streetcar to this charming, authentic village. Colonial houses have been converted to small inns and art studios, and the women are more likely to be in peasant skirts than halter tops.
Misiones Province Jesuit ruins
Most people stop at breathtaking Iguassu Falls on their way from Rio to Buenos Aires, but don’t just visit the amazing waterfall. The Misiones Province area has much to offer, including the 17th-century Jesuit ruins.
Colombo Tea House
If you want to travel back through time and eat in the past, then Colombo is the place for you. This magnificent Continental café has changed little since opening on September 17th, 1894, and it retains an air of restful elegance on its upstairs restaurant balcony.
Enjoy a paradise of plants and trees from the four corners of the earth. Founded in 1808, it spreads over an area of approximately 340 acres. It has over 5,000 species of plants, including the impressive Imperial Palms planted in 1842.
Barra Da Tijuca
Rio’s longest beach, it stretches over 18km along Av. Sernambetiba. A hot spot on the beach is the area around the Barraca do Pepê, a bar named for a famous Brazilian hang glider who died competing outside Brazil.
Recreio Dos Bandeirantes
This is a charming 2km long inlet at the end of Sernambetiba Ave. Sheltered by a large rock, Recreio is safe for swimming.
A secluded sandy strip 700 meters long, Prainha is a surfer’s beach. It is an Environmental Protected Area.
Enjoy the reddish sand in an unspoiled setting. The sea is often rough here. It is also an Environmental Protected Area.
Out beyond Barra, the vegetation is almost virgin. If you have time, visit Prainha and Grumari beaches—much loved by the surfers. The vegetation is protected, and building is not permitted. Nearby is the estate where the famous landscape artist, Burle Marx, lived. This is open to visitors and is perfect for an ecological/photographic safari. It contains plants from all over the world, though the emphasis is on wonderful examples of Brazilian flora.
There are open fairs, such as the Hippie Fair in Praça and General Osório in Ipanema, where all sorts of handcrafts, art, and leather goods can be found. At the Babilônia Feira Hype (in the Jockey Club in Gávea), every fortnight the booths are loaded with clothes—mainly for the young. A typically Brazilian event is the open street market—selling fruit and vegetables—which moves around from borough to borough, so a little local knowledge is needed to know when one is operating near your hotel. The show of fruit and greens is spectacular, and prices are reasonable.