Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (not to be biased) and definitely one of my favourites. The mind blowing landscape filled with mountains that roll down towards the beaches with favelas (shanty towns) and the city in between. It is truly stunning. Mix this with the eclectic warm culture and colourful streets in the old town, you have an amazing vibe that draws you in and makes you never want to leave. The only stress that you will ever feel is where to eat dinner or which of the many beaches to go to and which “posto” (beach section) to perch yourself.
Where to Stay?
My personal go to, the Fasano is a Brazilian chain of hotels that pride themselves in unique designs, amazing food and the perfect ambience if you’re looking for something with more of a vibe and a scene. Let’s start with its amazing location on Ipanema, one of the best beaches in Rio where the young and beautiful come to hang out, catch some sun and drink a Caipirinha. The next best thing about the Fasano is its rooftop pool that looks like its floating over the sea, I tend to perch here through the hot summer months dipping in and out of the pool sipping a coconut… all day… heaven!! And at night it becomes one of my favourite bars in the city. The hotel was designed by Phillip Stark so the rooms have that kind of off centred look that he tends to go for using different angles. They are super comfortable and if you get an ocean view room, I highly recommend this, the sunsets & views from there are some of the most beautiful that I have seen.
If you are looking for an old school elegance the Copacabana Palace is quintessentially just that. Much more of a family stay with large more classically renovated rooms, the building feels very European. The hotel itself back when I was young was the hotspot and then started to become quite dated, the renovation and the Belmond taking over management has made a huge difference and it really feels like it has come back to its former glory. Placed on one of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana, you’re in for some great beach days on this wide stretch of sand watching all the football, volley ball and fresco ball carioca players. Let’s not forget that there is a Cipriani in the hotel, so if you’re staying there you’re in for a treat and if you’re not make sure to visit, its delicious. If you are a family with children that likes a more classic vibe from your hotel this is it!
Hotel Santa Teresa
This gorgeous hotel is perched high up in the hills of Santa Teresa, a cultural hub for all the boho types, and is a wonderful change from being down at the beach. With views over the entire city you can see everything from there. If you want something a little quieter than the Fasano but not as classic as the Copacabana Palace and aren’t that bothered about being next to the beach, then this is the spot for you. I really can’t fault this place. The rooms are spacious, modern and clean with fantastic views and its location is amazing if you want to go out and try all the local restaurants, take a tour through the favela around the corner or go to some really unique galleries.
Where to Beach?
Ipanema, Copacabana, Prainha, Barra da Tijuca, Praia do Leblon and Barra. These are the beaches I go to in the city and love. Take a towel and throw it down on the sand or get a chair and shade from one of the many guys that rent them down the beaches. Many people will say don’t eat the beach food, honestly I eat everything literally and it is all delicious!! Make sure you drink the coconuts; they are absolutely delicious. You can also take a boat to the islands across from Ipanema, or a little further afield to Angra dos Reis (but that’s for another blog post).
Where to Shop?
Whilst in Rio I like to do a bit of shopping, mainly for beachwear (best bikinis EVER) and then maybe some shoes and workout gear, because they do that really well too… I would say go explore the Village Mall, and make sure you go to various different designers that I’m going to recommend, each tend to have stores in various malls (I am so obsessed with some that I go to three or four of their stores whilst I am there!!) Lenny Neiemeyer has the BEST swimwear in Brazil with great cuts and prints, also with some good beach clothing and accessories. I would say check out Schutz, Alexander Birmans high street brand, they have some great summer sandals and espadrilles. Very worth it. Adriana Degreas has some gorgeous more fashion swimwear, definitely worth checking out. Track & Field is the sportswear I swear by (also have a store in New York and in LA but is half the price in Brazil… actually) so hunt down their stores and go go go. My number one tip for all you shoppers is go into every swimwear shop you see, even if it doesn’t look great from the outside, it most likely is really good.
Where to Eat?
The best sushi in town. You can’t make a reservation, if you are staying at the above hotels they will write you a little card and give them a call to let you know you are coming, and most times you should be fine, but this can’t guarantee anything. The food is delicious and the ambience is great! Definitely my favourite in the city. Don’t forget to try the Brigadeiro dessert… just thinking about it makes me hungry.
High up in the hills of Santa Teresa is this little gem. They serve the most incredible capirinhas (signature Brazilian cocktail maid with cachaça) along with homemade Brazilian dishes. Set in a jungle clad hillside with unparalleled views, this place really is so special. A must do for Rio first timers.
My favourite steakhouse in Rio created by Rios most famous chef, set in Leblon (they’ve just opened a new location in the Jardim Botanico area which is just as good). I prefer this then going to a typical Brazilian Rodizio.
From the same owners as Sushi Leblon, Brigittes is literally across the road. By day its clean and bright and by night a little bit more atmospheric. The menu is very light and pretty healthy, a favourite among vegans! The food is delicious and you won’t be disappointed. They also have a fantastic Brigadeiro dessert, try it and compare back to Sushi Leblons… it might even be better! Let me know.
Also check out Bibi Sucos for some good fresh juices, Mr Lam if you’re a Chinese food fan, Madame Butterfly, Puro, Cipriani and Chuhascaria.
Best Sights to See?
Hike Pedra da Gavea & Barra Da Tijuca
Pao de Acucar – Sugar loaf Mountain
Corcovado – The Christ
When to Go?
October – April
Let me know if you need any more tips in the comments section or send me an email! Natalia@theeditofficial.com