Life happens outside in Rio, the beaches are the focal point for everyone as practically everybody lives in apartments; Copacabana is everybody’s back garden!
Where to go ? As I said, Rio is all about the beaches so let’s take a look at them.
Copacabana– Synonymous with Rio’s golden age of the 40’s and 50’s Copacabana is not as chic as it once was. The beach is still fantastic and you can watch volleyball, footvol, beach soccer and beach tennis as you sit and sip your caiprinhia. The neighbourhood however is now a bit brash and noisy but still has great bars and restaurants.
Ipanema – This is where the beautiful people hang out now and I was quite amazed how little this area caters to tourists, you would struggle to buy a souvenir of any description. There are lots of great open air bars and some very ritzy restaurants, and the whole area has a far more chilled-out vibe compared to Copacabana. Just north of Ipanema is Leblon beach and this beach and area is just like an extension of Ipanema but possibly even more chic, the beaches are probably not quite as picturesque as Copacabana but this is definitely the place to be.
Away from the beaches…
If all that sunbathing and people watching gets too much then there are plenty of other sites to see:
Corcovardo – this is the statue of Christ which looms high above Rio, head up on the miniature railway and get some fabulous views from the 700metre peak.
Botanical Gardens – truly beautiful, these gardens were laid out over 200 years ago and are a wonderful shady break from the beaches
Sugar Loaf Mountain – At 385 metres up you can again get some great views of Rio, but this time of the coastline, we went up for Sunset and this was great time to go.
Shopping and Eating – Brazil is not cheap anymore, thanks to an 8 year economic miracle, prices are the same as NZ if not dearer for things such as clothes and especially accommodation; as a result of this Rio is now more of a window shopping destination.
Eating is still good value and my favourite places are the pay by weight churasscarias, they are like the budget airlines of the food world, just pay for what you want!
When to go – The seasons are the same as here so summer is very warm and hotel prices rise accordingly, February is Carnival and most hotels insist on a five day minimum stay. May to October is the driest time and temperatures are regularly in the high 20’s so that would be my recommendation.