Rio De Janeiro: Whitney A’s Dos and Donts
This past February I broke my South America seal and traveled down to Rio and Buzios for 8 days with my boyfriend and two of our friends. The tiny taste we got of Brazil was fantastic. Below are my do’s and don’ts for traveling to and around the city of Rio De Janeiro.
Travel outside the city
Rio is a great city full of life, culture, and a plethora of activities, but just like any city, once you have seen the major sites and walked the streets all you have left to do is eat and drink. FUN? yes, but if you are going to make the trip all the way to Brazil why limit it to just Rio? Per a recommendation of a friend, our group traveled to Buzios – a small resort town about 3 hours away from Rio where we stayed in a Boutique hotel called “Casas Brancas.” If you are going to splurge on something during your travels this is the place to do it. The hotel is like a scene out of a film. It offered amazing food, drinks, views, and a ton of privacy. It is a short walk fromtown where you can eat yummy local food and do some great shopping. There is opportunity to hike to the various beaches or rent private fishing boats to snorkel with sea turtles and paddle board. Whether you decide to check out Buzios or go somewhere else, make sure to venture outside of Rio for a different, more authentic, Brazilian vibe.
Hike to Pedra De Gavea
See the picture at the top of this post? Need I say more? Pedra De Gavea is an absolute MUST DO when traveling to Rio. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and hire a guide, because there is a section of climbing during this 9 hour round-trip hike. We went through Viator to hire our guide, and we couldn’t have been happier.
Eat at Giuseppe Grill
If you are looking for an upscale Brazilian dining experience, this place is a great option. Located in Leblon, this restaurant offers great seafood, steak, and wine. If you arrive early enjoy a cocktail and appetizer at the bar.
Hire a private car to see the sights
Between Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, and the beaches I would highly recommend hiring a driver to see the major sights in Rio.We picked one day to hit all the major tourist attractions, and I was really thankful to have a driver to get us to each place. Rather than figuring out transportation between each location, your driver takes care of everything for you, and they are typically tour guides as well. Our driver shared a lot of history and information about Brazil during our drives, and he joined us when we went to the top of Sugarloaf.
Venture to the beach
Rio is world famous for it’s beaches so this one is pretty obvious. What makes the beaches so special in Rio isn’t the sand or the water but the energy and vibe of the people on the beaches. Don’t miss a chance to watch locals play beach soccer or to get your own game of beach volleyball started. We were lucky enough to see the beach volleyball World Tour games while we were there for free.
Stay in Leblon
If there is one thing you will realize as soon as you arrive in Rio, it is that traffic is GOD AWFUL. I am talking Chicago or New York times 10 billion. Do yourself a favor, and stay somewhere central to the beaches, nightlife, and major attractions. If I could do one thing differently it would be to have stayed in Ipanema. If you have the opportunity, walk everywhere you go. It will make your trip a much more enjoyable one.
Pick a hotel over an Air B & B or Hostel
We had the opportunity to stay at the Sheraton Hotel in Leblon, and while it was a beautiful hotel, it was not cost effective, at all. The idea of cheap eating and drinking did not exist at this hotel. Our drinks cost as much as they would at a resort in Hawaii, and the location was really far from everything. There are a ton of beautiful apartments on Air B & B and hostels throughout the city that offer a much more cost effective option.
Skip walking around the city
Due to time and poor planning we never had the opportunity to simply walk around Rio. I think we missed out on an opportunity to find some of the hidden gems in Rio because of this. Make sure to dedicate a little time to exploring without an agenda/plan.
Dedicate a lot of time to Christ the Redeemer
Though arguably the most iconic piece of Rio, I would not plan more than an hour to see Christ the Redeemer. Prepare yourself for a massive amount of tourists, bad photo angles, and sweat. The monument is mounted on a black platform, and you will be surrounded by hundreds of sweaty tourists with selfie sticks. Get the picture and get out.