Rio de Janeiro – Must dos
Though we were in Rio de Janeiro during the olympics we made sure we had time to experience some of what Rio has to offer. Here are some of the must dos around Rio:
Morro Dois Irmãos or Two brothers hill.
The 30-40 minute hike up Morro Dois Irmaos hill is well worth the incredible view you are rewarded with at the top, not only do you see the Christ Redeemer but also the Sugar loaf mountain and Ipanema beach all in one.
Check out our how to guide here.
Christ The Redeemer.
Sitting 700 meters above the city, dominating the skyline, there is no wonder it has become iconic to Rio. Though flooded with tourist trying to get the perfect shot, seeing this mammoth momentum in the flesh is pretty spectacular, not to mention the incredible view it provides of the city.
Handy tip: Go early, we were on the first bus from Hotel Paineiras and managed to get a few split seconds almost alone at the momentum before the crowd started pouring in.
Located in Lapa, this staircase that is a work of art, made by hand by the Chilean artist Jorge Selarón as a tribute to the Brazilian people. Walk up the 250 steps which are crazily decorated with over 2000 tiles from more than 60 different countries.
Pão de Açùcar or Sugarloaf mountain.
A trip wouldn't be complete without the third unique lookout over the city. Sugarloaf mountain is actually split into two levels, Urga hill and Sugarloaf mountain, these are joint by cable car. The first stop is a teaser for thee grand finale waiting for you at the top, a 360 view over the city.
Handy hint: time your visit with the sunset, and watch the city lights come to life at night.
Feeling thirsty: head to Urca grill for a beer with the locals, sit outside and look up to the Christ the Redeemer and over Guanabara Bay.
Favelas are notorious for being dangerous place to visit, but their are some especially around the city that have gone through pacification making them safer to visit. Doing a tour gives you an enlightening look into other side of Rio. The whole pace is a maze of streets, pathways, stairs and alleyways, no streets listed on google maps and no addresses. But note of warning, chose a reputable company, where they employ locals and the profits are going back into the community.
Goes without saying. A Copacabana is lined with people soaking up the suns rays, and enjoying a beverage or two. There isn’t a better way to spend an afternoon or two.
What to eat
All you can eat meat - churrascaria. A must do before you leave, it's the creme de le creme of buffets but make sure you arrive hungry, very hungry. Sit down while a good dozen staff wander around slicing you off the most delicious meat; I lost count how many different types of steak there was for offer with chicken and some lamb popping up time to time. When you're feeling a bit meated out don't worry there is a salad bar to make you feel a little bit healthier.
Buffet per kilo. Surprisingly popular concept that is scattered all around the city, from high end ones that include sushi and freshly carved meat to the more basic of one's. If you're super hungry I wouldn't suggest heading here as your eyes might be bigger than your stomach.
Pao de queso. Small bread balls made of tapioca flour and cheese, best served warm. This was my go to on the run snack, sold at most train stations for small changes, it cheap and will keep the hunger at bay.
Açai. Açai is a berry that is native to Brazil and is so refreshing and delicious. Though you can find street vendors lining the streets selling cups for cheap, I found these, in true South American style, overly sweetened. My favourite place to grab one was Pinkberry, were you could choose up to 3 toppings to go with it.
Tapioca. These little trucks lined the streets of Rio, a simple concept of tapioca flour heated in a pan which magically holds together into a small wrap. You can choose to fill this with anything from sweet to savory, my personal favourite being cheese and turkey for a savoury option and coconut and condensed milk for a bit of sweetness.
Meat grill. Chorizo on a stick, beef on a stick, not much can bet that when you're on the go. You can find vendors lining the streets especially in close proximity to the beach, so grab yourself an easy light lunch for all you carnivores out there.
Caipirinha. Of course this alcoholic beverage deserves a special mention. Caipirinha is my Brazilian drink of choice, made from the national spirit Cachaça, sugar and lime. It’s easy drinking but be warned it packs a punch.
How to get around
Train. It's cheap, it's convenient and 90% of the time gets you to where you need to go. For only 10% of the time or if it's feeling a bit sketchy at night Uber is your next best option and you're less likely to be ripped off by a dodgy cab driver.