I spent a week in Rio, primarily on the beach, enjoying the sun and the surf. I loved every minute of it! I went ga-ga over the soft sand and blue waters … it seemed impossible for me to move from the beach and hop on a bus to explore the city. However, towards the end of the week, I finally bid adieu to the lounge chair and visited some attractions of the city.
Here are top ten things that I would recommend to do while you are in Rio ….
1. Beach hopping: Rio has dozens of beaches to choose from… the famous Copacabana along with the more upmarket Ipanema and Leblon will let you ogle at perfect bodies; Barra de Tijuca will let you enjoy a quieter beach with cleaner waters. It’s simply your choice on where you would want to spend the day. Most beaches will let you hire a beach chair and an umbrella to ensure that you are comfortable in the hot tropical sun.
2. Pottering around Lapa and Santa Tereza: Lapa is home to the colourful steps that are the creation of Seralon. There are tiles from all corners of the world. The steps make an excellent backdrop for photographs. Santa Tereza, near Lapa, is home to many cafes and bars that are housed in colonial buildings. The area is great for those who like to tap their feet and move to the samba beats at night.
3. Visiting Christ, the Redeemer: A trip to Rio would be incomplete without pictures at the Christ. This is the second largest statue of Christ in the world and offers stellar views of the sea and rock islands.
4. Enjoying views from the Sugarloaf mountain: With plenty of view points and an easy access via cable car, the Sugar Loaf is a must do for most tourists. Views from the sugar loaf are stunning and its offers great vantage point for sunset seekers.
5. Hand gliding over the city: If you enjoy a bird’s eye view and are comfortable feeling like one, hand glide over the beautiful city of Rio. Swoop above the forest and glide past the sugarloaf … watch the tiny boats and soak it all in. Few cities in the world can match the hand gliding experience and views that Rio offers!
6. Exploring the Tijuca National Park: Rio is home to the Tijuca National Park that will let you get a feel of the Amazonas. The trees are over 30 meters tall and make you feel like a little dwarf. Do remember to carry your binoculars if birds interest you.
7. Romancing the Sun at Lago Rodrigo de Freitas: This calm lake near Ipanema is an ideal place to watch the locals exercise and get to get some exercise yourself. There are paddle boats and cycles available to let the entire family have a good time together. The lake is surrounded by many parks including the Parque Laje and the Botanical Garden that make excellent hiking and picnic spots. I witnessed the most beautiful and calm sunset, during my stay, by the lakeside.
8. Learning at the Museums: Centro area in Rio is home to many museums, including the newly constructed Museum of Tomorrow, which highlights the energy crisis that the world is facing currently. There is also the museum of modern art.
9. Knowing the locals – Favela tour: Ever wondered what goes on the little houses on the hill? Is it a peaceful area or does is have drug lords and mafia? A guided favela tour will give you an perspective into what happens in the favela right from meeting an ordinary family enjoying a football match to walking past the ‘danger zone’. Please do not wander off into favelas by yourself and peer into houses…join a tour to respect the privacy of the residents and ensure your safety.
10. Living the night life: Rio has a rocking night life… clubs swing into action post mid night and everyone enjoys a good caipirinha. And we all dance well after a few drinks, don’t we? Besides the club, parties at favelas, also called favela funk parties, are hubs of merriment as well, so long as you where to go. If funk isn’t your thing and you would rather twist and turn to the samba rhythms, join a samba school rehearsal (from August until the Carnival) or head to Lapa for a similar vibe.
Have you been to Rio? What else should we do when we visit this town next… we will soon be back in Rio!