The energy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during this time of the year is unlike anywhere else in the world. The famous Carnival festival is about to get started and beach weather is in full effect. Between the beaches, mountains and nightlife, it doesn’t take long to see why it’s known as Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City). We asked our on-the-ground (on-the-sand?) team to share their latest picks for what to do and where to go.
It’s still possible to find quiet, serene beaches in Rio. You just have to know where to look. Skip Copacabana and head to Praia do Secreto. Go down the trail between Macumba Beach and Prainha Beach. When you see the sign that says “caution”—you’ve found it. Walk past the fence until you get to the natural blue pool.
Most tourists shy away from Joatinga Beach because the only way to reach it is to climb over rocks on a narrow trail. Check the tide calendar before you go because this small paradise disappears when the water rises.
Nightlife lovers, this one’s for you. Botecos are unassuming bars so welcoming they’ll make you feel like you’ve been Brazilian your whole life. The craft beer scene in Rio is on the rise, but these pubs usually serve tried-and-true beers and tapas. One of our favorites is Jobi, which has been around since 1956.
It makes no difference whether you’re coming back from work or the beach, Bracaren is another great spot to get a cold beer and quick bite. Don’t let the line outside intimidate you, it usually moves pretty quick and the salgadinhos (bar snacks) make it worth the wait.
Open any Rio guidebook and you’ll find endless nature trails. The best ones are still well-kept secrets by locals. Our local team recommends hiking up Pedra da Gavea, one of the tallest mountains in Rio. To get to the look out, you’ll cross through the lush Tijuca Forest. Bring a bathing suit if you want to swim under the waterfalls along the way.
Rio’s rich history has been well-preserved. Founded in 1887, The Royal Cabinet of Reading is a towering library that receives more than 6,000 new titles every year. The collection is quickly approaching nearly half a million books.
At the base of Corcovado Mountain in Parque Lage is a massive mansion. After you visit this spot you can technically say you’ve been to Snoop Dogg’s mansion. He shot a music video there with Pharrell Williams. Also, if you plan to visit to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, there’s a trail behind the property that leads up to it.
Rio’s coastal location puts it in a prime spot for fresh seafood. Azumi serves traditional Japanese sushi without any pretense. Take a break from glitzy restaurants and order Sapporo beer with fresh sashimi.
Or, if you’re feeling like more traditional Brazilian food, head to Aprazível. This rooftop restaurant sits atop a mountain and has gorgeous views of Rio’s cityscape.
These are only a handful of our favorite spots. Rio is a city you’ll definitely want to visit more than once. Start planning your trip by browsing our handpicked homes.