Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is one of the world’s largest cities and definitely one of the most beautiful. With a long list of great neighborhoods to visit, traveler-friendly walkways on the coast, many famous landmarks, and a culture rich tradition, Rio de Janeiro is a city that should be near the top of everyone’s travel list.
If you would rather listen to our detailed podcast episode on this subject, check out
Podcast 31: Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, and Buenos Aires (Brazil & Argentina).
Private Tour Guide– Prior to planning our trip to South America, my husband decided that we should get a private tour guide for a couple of days in each new country/ city we visited. All I could think of was having to follow around a perfect stranger rambling off boring facts about things I necessarily was not interested in. However, the time spent with our private tour guides in Rio, Iguazu Falls, and Buenos Aires turned out to be anything but the aforementioned.
Surprisingly, the time spent with our tour guides always felt like it was on our own time schedule. We had events and places we had wanted to see that were planned trips but the unplanned stops to the local taverns and restaurants, street soccer games, cemeteries, and cathedrals were what made the trip memorable.
There was something magical about walking the streets of Rio intermixed with all of the street art then all of a sudden, unplanned, stopping in at our tour guide’s favorite local tavern to eat olive oil marinated olives and to sip on a vodka cocktail midday while watching the locals walk by on the cobblestone roads and the children running through the streets kicking a soccer ball and talk about our day.
Private tour guides have the ability to give their customers their undivided attention and expertise, they are also able to negotiate for their customer when the customer is unable to due to a language barrier, they know the safe areas of the city and the areas to avoid, they are able to purchase tickets prior to your arrival for certain events, and they also provide transportation to and from your destinations/ events thus providing a safe avenue to get from point a to point b while saving you money at the same time.
Here is a video of a street soccer game:
Christ the Redeemer– The massive statue is on top of Corvocado mountain with incredible views of Ipanema, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacabana, and then the city of Rio. The statue can be reached three different ways, by tram, car or by hiking up the side of the mountain on foot. We took the tram that goes through the Tijuca forest up to the summit. At various points on the tram ride, there were men selling water bottles and there were a plethora of monkeys and birds interspersed throughout the forest. The tram ride itself took approximately 20 minutes.
Make sure to check the weather prior to visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue. The statue itself is high above the rainforest and it is not uncommon to have zero visibility on a very cloudy day.
Video of the people at the Statue:
Bar Do Mineiro- “How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way.” -Mark Twain
Our tour guide in Rio suggested we stop for lunch at Bar Do Mineiro and try the vegetarian plates they had to offer. We ordered a rice dish with kale, beans, and pumpkin along with 2 cold beers and a glass of red wine. As we sat and spoke about our favorite parts of our day, we had just visited Christ the Redeemer, and what we were about to do next, visit the Lapa Steps, a woman sitting next to us leaned over and said, “I notice you are speaking English, where are you from?”. I told her we were from Indianapolis.
She introduced herself as Jessica and told us that she and her boyfriend were from New York City. Over the next hour or so we talked about our jobs, life back at home, our past travels, current travel plans and exchanged contact information. During our stay in Rio we connect with Jessica and her boyfriend twice more, we met up for cocktails and Samba dancing later that evening at the Rio Scenarium and later during our stay we met up for dinner at Sushi Leblon. Jessica and I still remain friends to this day.
Lapa Steps– Dilapidated steps that Chilean artist, Jorge Selaron, initially started to restore and decorate with various construction and waste piles from around Rio now consist of over 2,000 colorful, donated tiles by visitors from all over the world in over 60 different countries. There are also hundreds of hand-painted tiles from the artist himself. The stairs straddle both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods in Rio.
Sugar Loaf Mountain– The mountain is a peak that sticks out of the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of Guanabara Bay. The mountain rises above Rio’s harbor and can be accessed via a cable car or via hiking up the mountain on foot. The views are spectacular; one can see Christ the Redeemer, downtown Rio and the white sandy beaches of Rio.
Maracana Stadium– Home of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Maracana Stadium has an electrifying atmosphere. The fans were cheering, singing, chanting, and dancing both inside and outside of the stadium. Flamengo ticket prices usually start at BR $60 ($19 USD).
Traveled August 2015