BRAZIL HAS REMAINED ONE OF THE TOP DESTINATIONS FOR TRAVEL OVER THE YEARS AND IT’S NO SECRET AS TO WHY. THE COUNTRY IS HOME TO BEAUTIFUL, LUSH RAINFORESTS; RELAXING, GORGEOUS BEACHES; AND AN ECLECTIC, BUSTLING NIGHTLIFE. ON THIS TRIP, DIVE INTO ICONIC RIO DE JANEIRO FOR SPECTACULAR SIGHTS AND SOUNDS!
By AALIYAH PASOLS
Fasano Hotel Rio de Janeiro is where your trip will begin as you quickly skip inside to drop off your bags. The Fasano is famed for their rooftop infinity pool, which offers ample views of many of Rio’s breathtaking sights. The bar menu will please your taste buds with cocktails and fresh-squeezed fruit juices to sip on by the pool. If you’re more of a beach person, there’s good news, as Fasano Hotel is right on Ipanema Beach! After slipping into your swimsuit, head out onto the sand for a relaxing start to your vacation. fasano.com.br
Ipanema Beach became recognized worldwide after the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” became a hit back in the mid-1960’s. Lay out a towel and get a tan as you stare out at the mountains in the distance. You can spot locals here playing typical Brazilian games like futevolei, which is like volleyball, but without hands. When you’re tan enough and have gotten enough waves, walk up the boardwalk to Bar e Restaurante Garota de Ipanema. This is where the aforementioned song “The Girl from Ipanema” by Antônio Carlos Jobim was actually written! Become inspired at this restaurant as you order a drink and some lunch. Many Brazilian beers are offered here, so opt for an ice-cold Brahma or Skol! For lunch, definitely try their fried shrimps with garlic as they’re said to be simply delicious! bargarotadeipanema.com.br
Get off of the ground and into the air! For some of the best views in Rio, hitch a cable car ride to Sugarloaf Mountain. This mountain was named after a sugarloaf due to its shape, and it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. From the very top you’ll be able to take in full, breathtaking panoramic views. When you’re done soaking up the beauty, you can check out the park’s history exhibit which includes an outdoor amphitheater, restaurants, shops, and more.
Now it’s time to leap right into the real action of your trip. Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to dance the Samba! Head to Pedra do Sal, a historic and religious site, known as a center of Samba music. This type of music is a popular Brazilian genre that intertwines African influences. All over Rio, but especially here, you will see locals, or cariocas, shaking their hips to the beat. The party takes place around a huge salt rock (the “pedro do sal”), which gives this area its name. This rock becomes the center dance floor when the music begins! Get your groove on!
All of this sightseeing will work up an appetite, so now it’s time to eat up! Head to one of Brazil’s finest restaurants, Oro, which incorporates traditional Brazilian ingredients into high-end cuisine. The eatery has earned multiple awards, including one Michelin star back in 2015. Inside the extravagant restaurant, take a seat and look over their plentiful menus. There are two: “Creativity” and “Affectivity.” The “Creativity” menu includes seasonal market ingredients and promises to provide a long “walk” through their kitchen, while the “Affectivity” menu consists of house specialties; the latter is for guests who only desire a single course. ororestaurante.com.br
When you’ve satisfied your appetite and taken a break, jump right back into the mix of things by heading to Lapa, a neighborhood that is full of life! Rows of bars, live music venues, and clubs are prevalent here, making bar hopping an appealing choice. One nightlife option that stands out here is the Rio Scenarium, a three story nightclub that serves up an extensive list of craft cocktails. After partying it up until the wee hours of the night, head back to your hotel to refuel for a busier second day! rioscenarium.art.br
Rio de Janeiro has so much to do that it’s impossible to cover it in one day, so prepare to set out into the marvelous city once more! Today, visit its most iconic peak as you climb to the top of Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca National Park. The park covers 8,300 acres and is considered the largest urban rainforest on the whole planet. Trek through the dense rainforest as you gaze at the gorgeous vegetation and wildlife. There’s certainly no shortage of sights to see here with more than 1,600 plant species, and more than 350 different species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles that call the park their home. The park is separated into three sections with one of them being the Forest. After you’re done making your way through that part, don’t hesitate to hike to Pedra Bonita and Gávea, a section of the park reserved for exhilarating activities like hang gliding and rock climbing. If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, continue on to the third area of the park, Carioca Hill. This is where you’ll be able to get spectacular views as you either take a train or a hike up the 2,330-foot Corcovado Mountain. Once you reach the top, you’ll be standing under one of the Seven Wonders of the World! The Christ the Redeemer Statue is Rio’s most iconic image and landmark, where it stands 125 feet tall. The famous statue has become a symbol of the city and its people, known for their warm and welcoming nature. tremdocorcovado.rio
Now it’s time to take a trip through some of Rio’s indoor wonders! While Brazil’s natural sights and scenery definitely make up the majority of tourists’ bucket lists, its museums and churches offer a separate look into the culture of the people. First stop: The Museum of Tomorrow. Located on the waterfront of downtown Rio, this museum’s building will blow away even the hardest architecture critic! Once you finish marveling at the incredible design, head inside to check out the exhibits. This science museum is dedicated to raising awareness about climate change and other environmental causes. museudoamanha.org.br
Your next stop will be on the other side of the museum spectrum: Museu da Chácara do Céu. This mansion once belonged to Rio industrialist, Raymundo Ottoni de Castro Maya, who started his own personal art collection. Now it’s open to the public and functions as a small art gallery of the modern art Maya collected during his time. Works from big names such as Matisse and Portinari are on display here, as well as temporary exhibitions, old Brazilian maps, and unique furniture. museuscastromaya.com.br Continue the intriguing theme of the day by stopping by a church dripping in gold: Sao Francisco da Penitencia Church. It was built in 1726 and features a baroque style that will leave you awestruck. The walls of the church are all intricately carved gold pieces, and the ceiling reveals a delicate array of paintings that depict religious scenes. The statue of Santo Antônio in the church is an object of great devotion for locals who are seeking a partner in marriage. Another interesting fact? There’s a garden that leads to the catacombs underneath the church, which were used up until 1850!
After all of the exploring you’ve done in one day, you deserve to treat yourself to a grand feast! Set out to Irajá Gastrô to wine and dine! This restaurant has a romantic indoor garden setting and Brazilian-influenced gourmet cuisine. Using ingredients from the Amazon like jambu (Brazilian guava), celebrity Chef Pedro de Artagão makes his dishes both interesting and innovative. Any entrée on the menu will be a great choice, and the cocktails follow suit as well with lovely creations! Flavored ice is added to the cocktails to enhance the flavor; order a Tropicalista (mini-cucumber, wasabi, basil coconut water and gin) for a cool and refreshing libation! irajagastro.com.br Get your dance on during your last night in Rio! You’ll want to hit the club in a big way, and to do exactly that, ride over to Fosfobox Bar Club, a nightclub that spins a wide variety of music like EDM, Rock, and Hip-Hop! Neon lights will dart around the venue as the center disco ball hanging from the ceiling spins around. Hit the dancefloor and bust out your moves to every genre that comes on the speakers. Fosfobox is definitely where to spend your last night in Rio for a night full of dancing. Keep the drinks flowing until it’s time to head back to your hotel! fosfobox.com.br
Rio has been quite the wild ride, from beaches to mountains to old mansions and churches! This huge city certainly has lots to see, full of wonders and marvels at every corner. Exploring Rio has been a pleasure, and next time you come back, you’ll be able to explore even more cities in this vast land! As Frank Sinatra sings in his popular 1958 song, “Brazil”: “Return, I will, to old Brazil.”