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Rio de Janeiro
Travel Guide


Plan for Rio de Janeiro with Local Expertise

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Rio de Janeiro at a glance

Rio de Janeiro is surely up there among the greatest cities in the world. A bustling metropolis full of great food, nightlife, culture and an energetic people, coupled with stunning stretches of golden beaches that are framed by the voluptuous peaks of Brazil’s Atlantic coast, make Rio a singular destination unlike anywhere else on earth. Totally tropical in its energy and attitude, Brazil’s cultural capital is not for the faint hearted, as life moves at a pace here that requires a certain amount of stamina to keep up with. This city is all about enjoying life, and is known colloquially by the locals, who are nicknamed the Cariocas, as The Marvellous City. Rio’s location is unmatched by any other city, and the lifestyle here takes full advantage of the incredible setting. Rio’s mountains overlook the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic and the Guanabara Bay, and its most famous beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana, have long been immortalised in song. Visitors to Rio are sure to take a trip up to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, where you can take a selfie and then observe this iconic city from high above it. The Sugarloaf Mountain stands guard over the bay, but there are many more lesser known mountains that enthrall and entice visitors onto their slopes in search of the numerous panoramas and vistas that can be enjoyed from the lookout points located in the hills around Rio.

Experiences around Rio de Janeiro

What not to miss

Rio is an active city, and there is plenty to keep you occupied, whatever your persuasion. Beach bums will delight in the relaxed nature of Rio’s many beaches, where you can relax and sun yourself as you watch families and groups of friends play volleyball or beach soccer alongside the water. Indulge yourself in some surfing, or just lie back with a caipirinha and soak up the sun and good vibes. Nightowls will find an endless array of bars, restaurants and clubs that cater for Brazilians and travelers who love to get down and dance. Music can be heard everywhere in Rio, and expect to be pulled out of your seat by a local to shake your hips and have a good time to Brazilian samba, a national musical staple. Soccer fans will be enamoured by Rio’s enormous Maracanã Stadium, as well as the many venues that were built for the Olympics and World Cup. After a few days spent living it up in Rio, it will be almost possible to deny that this is most certainly one of the best cities on the planet.

Backgrounds of carnival Top

Rio is internationally recognized for its grandiose Carnival Parade and Samba. But only a few people really know how the parades are made. With this tour, you will get to know the origins of this world known festivity, visiting the Sambadrome (Carnaval stadium) and its cultural center; the revitalized port area where the samba has its roots, including a visit to the charming port area neighborhood of Morro da Conceição an old hidden historical area nowadays full of artists and ateliers; the historical site Pedra do Sal, where the samba started, familiarize yourself with the African-Brazilian culture, the period of slavery and all the pillars that have supported the modern day Carnival. Undoubtedly the highlight of the tour is the visit to a samba school atelier, where you can experience how the carnival in Rio is being done behind the scenes. The impressive and gigantic work of designing and building all the magnificent floats that will be used in the famous parade at the Sambadrome during carnival.

Culinary Cooking Class in Rio Top

Journey into Rio de Janeiro’s unique local food scene on a Brazilian flavor adventure. Discover and learn not only the history of the three most traditional recipes in Brazil, but also learn their secrets we’re talking about the famous caipirinha drink, the delicious feijoada meal, and the delectable brigadeiro dessert. We’ll show you how locals navigate the city by riding the subway. This yummy experience will start by mixing up all the flavors of the night, as you’ll sample a creative new appetizer, deliciously designed to be the starter of our tour: the feijoadeiro, or feijoada brigadeiro. It will be accompanied by a traditional caipirinha, which matches the feijoadeiro perfectly. Then, once you’ve got your taste buds tingling, it’s time for a hands-on cooking class with a local chef. Your private chef will teach you about the cultural uniqueness of the feijoada, and explain all the little secrets you need to know to prepare this classic Brazilian dish. As well, you’ll get a lesson in preparing a typical brigadeiro, Brazil’s national truffle that is typically enjoyed at children’s birthday parties. Once it’s all ready, you’ll savor your Brazilian dinner in a friendly local setting, tasting centuries of local history. Come enjoy yourself and indulge your taste buds in a way you won’t find anywhere else but in Rio de Janeiro!

Corcovado & Sugarloaf Mountain Top

Explore Rio’s main landmarks with a local guide will fill you in with all the history, facts and figures about Rio’s highlights as well as provide some insiders’ tips on where to go and what to see during the rest of your time in Rio. Departing from your hotel, this tour will take you to visit Rio’s main landmarks. Entering through the Tijuca National Park, the world’s largest urban forest, you’ll arrive at the top of Corcovado Mountain where the statue of Christ the Redeemer stands. Enjoy eye-catching views of the forest below and where Rio de Janeiro’s mountains dive into the clear blue water. The view from Corcovado and at the base of the 124 ft. tall Christ the Redeemer Statue is simply stunning. Afterwards you will go on an interesting walking tour in the heart of the historical center of Rio, passing by old colonial buildings and charming cobblestone alleys. You’ll then head to the famous natural landmark of Sugarloaf Mountain where you will take a cable car up to the summit. From the top of Sugarloaf you’ll be able to enjoy stunning 360-degree views across the sprawling city below, Guanabara Bay, Copacabana Beach and up to Christ the Redeemer Statue.

Bike Tour Ipanema & the Lagoon Top

The Lagoon Tour is a 3 hour cycling tour concentrated on the city’s lagoon and Ipanema. Before reaching the Lagoon, you’ll cycle by Ipanema beach, which is popular for the trendy crowd and world famous thanks to the iconic bossa nova song Girl from Ipanema. Pedaling through the streets of Ipanema you’ll be able to see up close the birthplace of bossa nova. Leaving this neighborhood you’ll bike through Jardim de Alah, a park that links the beach, for cyclists, to the lagoon. Officially named Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, the lagoon is connected to the Atlantic Ocean.

Graffiti Street Art Tour Top

From colorful murals to surrealistic stencils, from posters to incoherent scribbling, you are going to see the full spectrum of art unfold before you: the beautiful, the terrible, and the plain strange. On this tour you will explore not only this precious and fleeting art, which only exists for a few moments, but also the personal life and style of the best carioca artists and the way the city was shaped through various sociopolitical forces. Itinerary: You will begin your tour in front of Copacabana Palace Hotel at 10am and from there we take the metro to Glória, where you will see your first street art work: the famous Selaron Lapa Steps, built by one man with thousands of tiles from all over the world. Then you will move on to Cinelândia and catch the tram to Praça Mauá. The square marks the beginning of Avenida Rio Branco avenue and also of the Port Region, in the Central area of Rio. Around the square there are important buildings, such as the Rio Art Museum and the Museum of Tomorrow. From there, you will walk by the Olympic Boulevard to see all the new different art works in the area, including the very large (it´s in the Guinness Book of Records!) 3,000 square meters Etnias mural. Finally, you will head go to the Pedra do Sal. Originally a slave village, Pedra do Sal is a place with special significance for Cariocas of African descent and fans of samba and choro music. It is a culturally rich area, full of art, definitely worth a visit and stopping for a cold beer!

Football Culture in Brazil Top

Brazil undoubtedly is the country of football. For football fans this tour is almost mandatory. Accompanied by an enthusiastic football guide you will discover the deep roots of this popular sport. The visit begins at the temple of football Maracana stadium that hosted two World Cup finals and has been completely renovated (external visit only at the moment). Afterwards the visit takes place at Sao Cristoval Football Club, debut club of world known star Ronaldo (World Champion twice), giving a good perspective on how a small and simple Rio club works. Then the tour ends with a visit of the traditional Fluminense Football Club, with its charming and historic headquarters and stadium where it was played the very first match of the Brazilian National team. This tour is done with a laid-back pace with many curiosities, passionate facts and funny stories about football in Rio and Brazil. Important: It’s not allowed, by the visited clubs norms, to wear a football jersey of another club in within their premises.

Santa Teresa Like a Local Top

Time to explore one of Rio’s most beloved neighborhoods – Santa Teresa. While this is mostly a Rio walking tour, you will start off with a little public transit. You will take the subway downtown so you can experience how locals get around Rio and help orientate yourself in the city. You’ll hop off at Carioca Station and wander through the Financial District and climb aboard the tram for the journey up to Santa Teresa, a 20 minute ride over the aqueducts. Hopping off at Largo dos Guimaraes, it’s time to explore the cobblestone streets of Santa Teresa, we’ll wander on foot to discover beautiful architecture, art galleries, restaurants, and local costumes that characterize Santa Teresa. The most picturesque district of Rio is with no doubt Santa Teresa. Located on a hill facing the city center with gorgeous views of the Guanabara Bay, the neighborhood is full of beautiful lovely villas with gardens and cobble stoned streets. In the early XX Century, it has faced a degradation and abandon period with the most wealthy residents moving out to beach neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema, then Santa Teresa started a revival by first housing many local artists like painters, sculptors, visual artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals in general in the search of more affordable and centrally located housing, that in the 60s, 70s and 80s have shaped the new face of the area turning it into a lovely bohemian district. During the visit, we’ll meet a local artist, visit his/her atelier and get acquainted about his/her work. The visit also covers the famous and colorful ceramic staircase, which connects Santa Teresa and Lapa and where you can inspect the works of the artist Jorge Selaron creator of the decorated steps.

Explore the Street Markets Top

Stroll through one of Rio’s gorgeous street markets to taste delicious fruits and street-food dishes. We also pick up ingredients for the second stage of the tour which takes place at a beautiful house in charming Santa Teresa. Here guests enjoy stunning views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay as they learn to make their own caipirinhas – made with fruits picked up from the market. At this stage, you get to sit back with drinks and relax on an enormous veranda, while the chef-guide demonstrates the preparation a mouth-watering main course of Moqueca, a seafood stew regarded as Brazil’s most delicious dish. Guests enjoy the finished dish with drinks and other Brazilian specialties. They leave the tour with a recipe book, Brazilian coffee beans and cahaça.

Surfing Lessons in Rio Top

Due to its abundance of beautiful beaches, surfing is a favorite pastime in Rio, and you can’t afford to miss the fun! Itinerary (timings are rough estimates): From 7:00 – 8:00 am: Hotel pick-up by car (southern zone locations ONLY including Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana). Please note that for travelers staying outside of the southern zone are requested to meet in front of Copacabana Palace Hotel for pick-up at 7:00 am. 9:00: Arrival at Surfn´Stay to meet your English speaking instructor and get your equipment (class and equipment included). 9:30 am: Arrival at Macumba Beach in Rio´s western zone. You will be taught the basics of surfing on the beach before heading out into the water to catch some waves, always accompanied by the instructor. 10:00-11:30 am: Surf practice. 12:00 pm: Break for lunch and head back to the city.

Hiking in National Park of Tijuca Top

Rio has the privilege of being settled in a magical location surrounded by nature and the jungle. With this tour, you will discover part of the largest urban forest in the world, the National Park of Tijuca. After driving to the beginning of the trail we start a short hike (45minutes) to the top of Pedra Bonita peak (693m above the sea level). This peak has one of the most impressive views of whole Rio! After the hike and driving down, you continue to the modern beach district of Barra da Tijuca, this area has a very particular nature with lots of lagoons with mangrove and swampy area, home to many fishes and animals. Iin order to discover that, we make use of our boat for a ride between many islands and narrow channels that are home of two native species in particular: the capybara and broad-snouted caiman. The chance of spotting both of them is very high and a great experience of seeing them in their natural habitat in a big city.

Attend a Carnival Rehearsal Party Top

Come get a taste of Carnival off-season and check out a professional samba school rehearsal. Itinerary: From 22:00 – 23:00 pm: Hotel pick-up by mini-bus (southern zone locations only including Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana) where our English speaking guide will accompany you to the rehearsal. Please note that for travelers staying outside of the southern zone are requested to meet in front of Copacabana Palace Hotel for pick-up at 22:00 pm. 12:00 am: Arrival at local samba school and watch the festivities as you dance along on the sidelines sipping caipirinhas. 3:00 am: Drop off at hotel.

Fast Facts on Rio de Janeiro

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Rio de Janeiro.

When to go

Carnaval is without a doubt one of the most popular times to visit Rio, but be aware that the city is incredibly busy around this time, with huge crowds, late nights and noisy days par for the course between mid-February and mid-March. If you would prefer to visit at a less busy time, but still with lots of energy, go in the summer from December to February, when the city comes alive with music, dancing and partying on the beach. Temperatures during the summer can climb to over 86˚F (30˚C), but this is tempered by occasional showers. Football fans will be pleased to know that this popular sport is in season all year round, so there’s never a bad time to visit Rio.

How to get there

Given that it is one of Brazil’s most popular destinations and one of its biggest cities, many visitors to Brazil will arrive in Rio’s Galeão Airport, located 20km (12 miles) from downtown. The major airport here receives both international and domestic flights, and direct flights to Rio are operated from most major cities in Europe and the US. From Rio, you can connect to most destinations within Brazil, and we will organise internal flights and transfers for you as part of your itinerary. Rio also has a domestic airport, Santos Dumont Airport, which receives regional and local flights from mainly Brazilian airlines.

Infrastructure

Rio is a huge city that has been popular with tourists for decades, and as such has a sophisticated tourist infrastructure. Choose from  luxury hotels in Rio de Janeiro, boutique hotels in Ipanema or more affordable lodgings, because Rio has it all. Rio is also a shopper’s paradise, with amazing markets along the beach as well as high end boutiques in the city. Getting around Rio is easy with the metro and train system. Taxis are also a good way to get around, and many taxi drivers are happy to recommend sites or act as a tour guide. If you would prefer, we can organise a private driver for you to take the hassle out of getting around, just ask our travel expert. If you are a fan of transport on two wheels, Rio is a great city to bike around, and renting bikes is cheap and easy.

Tour Packages to Rio de Janeiro

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