10 Must-Dos in Rio de Janeiro that Will Make You Feel Like a Carioca
When in Manila, head down South. With the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics coming along, Brazil is getting quite a buzz. Rio de Janeiro, a popular tourist destination for its famed beaches and the largest art deco statue in the world, Christ the Redeemer, has been prepping up for these exciting times ahead.
If you’re planning to head down to Brazil for the games or to simply experience Cidade Maravilhosa, try to steer away from the Gringo trail and experience it the Carioca way.
Here are 10 must-dos in Rio de Janeiro that will make you feel like a Carioca.
1.) Ride a pedalinho or jog around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas – Right smack in the city of Rio, you can find an oasis lagoon called Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The area of the lagoon shows a different view of the hill Ipanema’s famous for, the Dois Irmaos. You can jog or walk around, dine in the surrounding restaurants or even take a pedalinho and explore the lagoon, just don’t jump in the water. Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is not known for its cleanliness.
2.) Feast your eyes at Santa Teresa’s vibrant street art – At the top of the famous Escadaria Seleron lies the bohemian neighbourhood called Santa Teresa. Many artists who have set up shop here have added colour and pizazz to this hilly neighbourhood with murals and graffiti reflecting the bohemian lifestyle. Besides admiring the free outdoor art museum, you can also soak in the beautiful views of the Guanabara Bay and even the interesting sights of Rio’s favelas.
3.) Watch a game of Brazilian futebol – If you’re missing the World Cup, a game of Brazilian futebol should be on your list. As my father-in-law once said “Futebol is the bread of the masses in Brazil” and true enough, watching a local game will immerse you to their culture and give you a better understanding of what the people are all about.
4.) Beach Bum – A trip to Rio is never complete without a visit to the beach. The beach lifestyle is so clearly imbedded in the city’s culture that experiencing it first hand is a definite must. Rent some chairs, soak up some sunshine and drink some ice cold mate from a vendor. Beach bumming is one of the best things to do to waste your day away in Rio. Just a heads up, though: don’t leave your belongings unattended, thieves are everywhere!
5.) Explore other beaches – Yes, we are all familiar with Copacabana and Ipanema but there are other lesser known beaches in the city that will most likely blow your mind away, as well. Praia Vermelha, an underrated and in my opinion one of the most beautiful beaches in Rio is always postcard ready.
This secluded beach offers the most stunning view of Pao de Acucar as it lies at the foot the mountain. Also named after its reddish shores, this cove of sandy perfection is a good go-to place for those much-needed solitary moment because we all know that a crowded beach can be annoying sometimes.
6.) Sunset watch in Arpoador – The rock that borders Copacabana and Ipanema, otherwise known as Arpoador, is popular amongst the locals for sunset-watching since it provides great views of both beaches. Also, sitting on Arpoador, you can look right at Dois Irmaos, that gorgeous hill seen on Ipanema Beach. This unique Ipanema landmark is already a sight to behold, add a glowing setting sun and splashes of twilight colours, prepare to be awed.
7.) Eat salgados at a boteco – Brazil’s fast food staple called the salgado can be found in every street corner in the city. Coxinha, pastel, joelho, all of these interesting Brazilian snacks can easily tempt you with all their savoury goodness but if you want to taste good quality salgados, take a seat at one of the botecos and sink your teeth into these tasty treats. For that ultimate boteco experience, order some chopp to wash your salgados down.
8.) Party in the streets of Lapa at night – Known for its white aquaducts, Lapa, Rio’s entertainment district becomes a partygoer’s playground at night and we’re not just talking about crowded bars. Lapa’s streets become pedestrian only and random musicians will start playing tunes, beer and cachaca/caipirinha/caipifruta vendors will start selling their happy juice on the streets, people will start dancing and the atmosphere immediately becomes more festive. It’s a spontaneous outdoor fiesta done well and it will provide crazy fun that will not make your wallet weep.
9.) Marvel at the architecture in Centro – Rio de Janeiro doesn’t just offer natural beauty with its bounty of beaches, forests and mountains. Once the capital of the Imperial Brazil, Rio’s brightly coloured colonial buildings that populate the downtown core tell the story of the city’s extravagant past. Step inside Rio’s remarkable national library or the elegant Municipal Theatre and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
10.) Immerse yourself in Brazilian beats – Music in Brazil is just as important as futebol. Go and listen to live bossa nova or move your hips to the fast drum beats of samba. Losing yourself in their music is quite fun and catching live shows are as easy as buying salgados in every corner of the city.
When in Manila, go way south to explore the Marvelous City and get ready for an epic experience.