"2011-2016 Guide to the best in Rio" Rio de Janeiro by marcusmansur
Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide: 3,628 reviews and 6,543 photos
First of all I must say I was born here. Although Ive been living in Florida for 20 years I frequently fly to Rio to visit my family and my hometown. If you want to rely on a good opinion look no further... I will do my best to let you know everything you must do while visiting the "Wonderful City". Keep in mind that Rio is undergoing a major renovation for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, so whenever possible I will tell you what is under construction for the coming years.
Arrival -> Airports - Rio has 2 airports: the international Jobim (Galeão) and the domestic Santos Dumont. The international airport is further and located in a island withing Guanabara Bay. It should be renovated and enlarged by 2014, but as of now it is a major disappointment. New highways and modern bridges are being constructed and should be able to help on your transportation to the touristic areas of the city in the future. If you are arriving via Sâo Paulo ask your travel agent to land at Santos Dumont in Rio, a smaller but way nicier airport, not to mention its excellent location close to downtown. You will need to change airports in SP (free bus for the transfer if you are flying TAM, the major Brazilian airline). / If you land at the International Airport... while riding to the city you will probably think you made a mistake coming to Rio, it is awfully ugly. Now... from the domestic airport you will have a bird's eye view of an increadible city, save on a helicopter tour and land next to the Sugar Loaf. Probably one of the most beautiful airport locations in the world. Transfer to your hotel will be easy throughtout landscaped parks in a beautiful setting. That's what I call an arrival ! Prices to arrive here are the same as the International airport, plus you can spend sometime in SP or at least get a free bus transfer ride and see a little of Brazil's largest city. The choice is yours.
Following is my full day reviews on Rio's neighborhoods (it all depends on your time of arrival, so plan accordingly)
DAY 1 - COPACABANA & IPANEMA
What: The 2 most famous districts and beaches. Probably the location of your hotel.
Understand: The beginning of Copacabana is called LEME and the end of Ipanema is called LEBLON. Between Copa and Ipanema is the ARPOADOR area.
Must do: Walk from Leme to Leblon sidewalk and soak up on the view, stop in any beach cabana for coconut water/bathrooms/refreshments. Swim and enjoy carioca's authentic beach lifestyle.
Attractions you must go to: Fort Duque de Caxias in Leme (view of Copa close to the Sugarloaf), Fishermen walkaway around the rocky coast in Leme, Copacabana Hotel (expensive, but have at least a drink by the pool), Copacabana Fort (360 degree view of the area and good cafes for breakfat), sunset at the rocks of Arpoador (best in Rio), Belvedere and park at the end of Leblon close to the 2 Brother's hill.
Eat (for addresses research the internet): Porcão or Marius (Brazilian unique Steakhouses), Barril 1800 (cold draft beer) in Ipanema, Garota de Ipanema (bar where the song was written), Azul Marinho (sidewalk restaurant in Arpoador with great bossa nova/sax music played by sunset).
Gay: Farme de Amoedo street in Ipanema and beach in front of it.
Shopping: Ipanema Hippie fair on Sunday (arts & crafts) & fancy Shopping Leblon (amazing view of the Lagoon and Christ Statue from the food court on top).
Future: MIS (Image and Sound Museum under construction), locatedf where the HELP dance club used to be in Copacabana. It will narrate the history of Brazilian music and movies. Award winning international architectural design will have a roof-top outdoor cinema. Opening in 2013.
DAY 2 - DOWNTOWN, SANTA TERESA & LAPA.
What: Tour of the past, historic buildings & churches, nice vistas & bohemian life.
Understand: These 3 areas are adjacents. The Port is located nearby and will deserve a day on its own by the time the Olympics land in Rio.
Understand: Downtown is the financial centre, but also the place where Rio's major colonial era buildings are located; Santa Teresa is an artist enclave on top of the hills & Lapa has an alternative and interesting nighlife.
Must do: Walking around Sta.Teresa artsy streets in the morning, afternoon church & museum hoping in downtown, enjoying the night away in musical Lapa.
Attractions: Metropolitan Cathedral (cone shaped and amazing modern interior with tall and long stainglass windows - nightly illumination change colors), Mosteiro de São Bento (a benedictine monastery with a mesmerizing barroque and gold interior, sunday morning choir); National Historic Museum (Brazilian history in a curious fortress style buiding), Municipal Theatre (completely renovated Opera House based on Paris's Garnier), Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (always a great art circuit place to visit), Sta. Teresa Tram (old San Francisco style transportation), this ride is increadible - from downtown to hilly Sta Teresa crossing over the Lapa Arches, Parque das Ruínas & Museu da Chácara do Céu (art museum in a modern house & an old mansion belvedere - next to each other in a charming hill location with splendid views).
Eat: anywhere in Sta Teresa village, particularly the Amazon style Restaurante Aprazível (expensive) hanging over a forested mountain side. At night Rio Scenaium in Lapa is the place to be (food & dance), this place has been considered one of the 10 best bars/pubs in the world by the London Telegraph. Last but not least the Historic Confeitaria Colombo in downtown for snacks & tea in a French atmosphere from the XVIII century.
Gay: The Week nightclub (Rio version of São Paulo's greatest)
Future: Sta Teresa Tram is currently closed due to a deadly accident. It should reopen by the end of 2012 better & safer than ever. In the meantime use the intriguing colorful Selaron Stairway access to Sta. Teresa. This stair is a work of art built by a one man artist from Chile using tiles from all over the world).
The Lapa area/streets are undergoing major renovations and should be finished by mid-2012 with a nostalgic and magical aura. In the meantime this should not stop you from visiting its lively nightclubs and restaurants.
The Porto Maravilha or "Wonderful Port" should be partially ready for the World Cup and completed by the Olympic Games in 2016. It is a huge abandoned port area of the city under renovation that will include attractions like:The Art Museum of Rio (2012), Tomorrow's Museum by Santiago Calatrava (2013), the largest Aquarium in Latin America (2014) and much more. All the streets, parks & wharehouses in the area will be completely transformed to become the new commercial/residential/cultural region of Rio. You could easily spend a full day here when all is ready. Check the internet for updates on the construction of sites/museums.
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