The finale of my Brazil and Peru trip.
Type : City, Beach
Best Date : Dec- Mar
Expense : Fair
Things to do : Shop, Dine, Adrenaline Sports, Attractions, Beaches, Golf, ect
Points of interests : Christ the redeemer, Copacabana, Maracanã, Sugarloaf, Ipanema and many more
The Good: Beautiful beaches and attractions, so much to see and do
The Bad: Huge reputation of being dangerous
Rio De Janeiro (or Rio) is a beach city South East of Brazil, it is the second most populous in Brazil behind Sao Paulo. It was the first entry point for the Portuguese explorers which was then fortified in order to keep other nations out. The city’s name means river after the explorer Gaspar de Lemos mistakenly thought Guanabara bay was a mouth for a huge river. Interesting facts are that Rio is home to the biggest annual carnival, 8th largest library and urban forest in the world.
Rio De Janeiro (Rio) is an interesting place for tourism as there is so much to do and places to visit. However the reputation of its crime rate always shadows what the city can actually brings.
There are so many different places to visit in Rio from its wonderful beaches to its colourful vibrant towns and districts. Rich in both history and modern culture the city has plenty of museums, stadiums, monuments and events to show the world.
First lets start off with Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, one of the popular places to go in Rio and the reason for many visitors in the city each year.
Firstly the most famous of the Beaches is Copacabana beach known everywhere around the world. Situated in the south zone (zona sul) this 4km stretch is home to many beach sports such as volleyball, beach football and many more. Throughout Copacabana there is plenty of bar stands, restaurants and cafes to unwind and relax.
Next to Copacabana is Leme beach which is the small shore in between ‘Leme Hill’ and ‘Princess Isabel Avenue’. This beach is near to the ‘Forte du Caxias’ with views of the famous ‘Sugarloaf’ mountain.
Ipanema beach which mimics that of Copacabana but is known to be more expensive. Bordering Ipanema is Arpoador beach which is well known for its surfing as the best tides are here.
Other beaches in Rio are Barra beach which is furthest away and the place where most of the Olympic sports were hosted. Sao Conrado is where I stayed, was quiet compared to the other beaches in Rio, this beach is also the landing point for hang gliders. Lastly Leblon which is as small as Leme is said to be the most expensive of all the beaches. Luxury restaurants and hotels reside here.
All beaches has lovely mosaic walkways and a bike path parallel to it. They were secure with security but all tourists were always advised not to go out to the beaches at night.
Districts and Neighbourhoods
There is so many different districts and neighbourhoods in Rio De Janeiro, all with different stature, culture and interests. In my time in Rio I can say I have visited many of the places but I definitely didn’t do all, some were too dangerous to roam without anybody, other just didn’t have anything to interest me and a few I missed simply because I didn’t have time. These are a few places I found interesting to visit.
First district to visit is Botafago which is known for its middle class colonial homes, museums, theatres and booming nightlife. Botafago has plenty of commercial districts and is safe to visit. The district is also near Urca, home to the sugarloaf mountain.
Next to Botafago is Flamengo which is more residential than its commercial neighbours. The district has one of the best views of Guanabara bay, it also has many churches and museums. Flamengo Park is one I was most impressed with which was known to be improved by its Olympic fund. The ‘Museum of Modern Art’ also resides here.
Centro is the financial heart of Rio de Janeiro and is home to some of the most notable points of interest in the city. Firstly the Carioca Aqueduct which was built to bring water to the city in the 18th century. Its structure still stands today and has been modified as a bridge for the local tram. Another place is Cinelandia which was a street full of theatres and cinemas however has been revamped to modernise with plenty bars and restaurants (only a single cinema still stands) this place is also a popular meeting point for the locals. Museums are plenty in this district with ‘Museum of tomorrow’, ‘Rio Art Museum’ and the ‘National Library of Brazil’ (biggest library in latin America) being just some of the places to go in Centro. In my opinion Centro is the place to go if you are looking for a more cultural aspect of Rio.
Lastly Rochina which is known to be home to Rio’s largest favela. It is not advisable to visit the favelas on your own but there are plenty of different tours which will have access to these districts.
Points of Interest
I did most of Rio’s attractions with a day city tour and our first stop was ‘Sugarloaf Mountain’ which in my opinion is one of the city’s main attraction. The peak of Sugarloaf is reached using 2 sets of cable carts first ascending to ‘Urca hill’ then the other reaching Sugarloaf. This attraction is incredible as it has a 360 degrees view of the whole city and beyond. There are restaurants and cafes at the top so relaxing here is popular for tourists and locals a like.
Christ the Redeemer is probably Rio’s most notable monument. Standing above the ‘Corcovado Mountain’ surrounded by the ‘Tijuca Forest National Park’, this monument is one of the new seven world wonders of the world. The statue itself stands at just under 40 meters tall, stretches 28 meters wide and underneath the statue is a small chapel. The monument is reached by 2 ways, a van transportation or tram, both ways I believe are equally priced. The Christ the redeemer monument for me was amazing, the views of the city were marvellous, however luck is required as the majority of the times clouds can cover the view. At the peak there are huge crowds so the perfect pictures may also be limited.
Next is the Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selaron) which was made famous by several music videos, most notable from Pharrell and Snoop Dog’s Beautiful. Located in Santa Teresa this was just a plain set of stairs until a Chilean resident fell in love with his district and decided to decorate it. He took tiles from several different countries and made huge mosaic artwork which we can now see made his neighbourhood famous. Again this street is booming with tourists so it is pretty difficult to get the perfect picture you might see others have.
The Maracanã Stadium is known around the world being the host stadium of the first world cup since the world wars in 1950. Although known as Maracanã Stadium, its real name is Mario Filho stadium named after a journalist who was a strong vocal supporter of building the stadium. This building has huge significance in the city historically and at present as it plays all the games of Rio’s top clubs Flamengo, Botafago, Vasco de Gama and Fluminese. In a country which is crazy for football you can imagine how special this building is.
Other notable go to places which I have missed out are the Botanical Garden which is the largest in the world, Sambodromo which is the location of the annual carnival event and plenty more.
My Rio de Janeiro visit was an enlightenment, with all its bad reputation it was good to experience the city for myself. Ive experience some good and some bad, the worst thing ive noticed was that the whole city was in one big hustle with a lot (but not all) of people played for that extra cash, from taxi drivers, airport staff, hotel staff and restaurant staff, tapping fares, asking for tip or selling extras was a usual in the city. The other negatives of the city is its petty crime, yes there are a lot of homeless about, drugs being sold, pick pockets and so much more. However this is not something that should deter a visit to the city, all you need is that extra precaution and vigilance. Don’t go out at night, listen to the locals, don’t wear valuable and hide your electronics are just some of the things to stay safe. Another negative is the chance of heavy rain, like my first day the rain flooded most parts of the city and it was like night time all day as dark cloud cover the skies, when it rains heavy in Brazil the whole day is wasted.
For me the city has much more positives than it has negatives, firstly the sheer number of things to see and do makes Rio De Janeiro beat other holiday destinations easily. The fact you can relax on the beach, party at night, visit awesome attractions and do extreme activities such as surf, hang glide, scuba all in one city is not something many cities can offer. The scenery of Rio was also beautiful there was just 360 degrees of pure beauty including the favelas. I haven’t been to all of the places possible but from my short stay i can honestly say the city is well worth the visit, a 3-7 day duration is ok. Rio is a tropical paradise and I hope this is the side people see when visiting the city.