Welcome to Rio De Janeiro !
We won’t bore you with more of how good looking Rio is, this is an article that has some very good links and basic info so that you can get up to speed quickly (bookmark it come back if you need to).
Things to Do
What to Wear and Climate
Rio is Tropical and though very humid is cooled by some winds. The best time to visit is when you are there ;) Obviously Carnival is a busy time. Shorts and T Shirts or short sleeve shirts and flip flops work well. During the rainy season it might be good to have an umbrella, but who packs those !
You will need to take some busses as the underground Metro is not extensive enough but of course useful. Treat public transport with caution at night and take taxis if you are new in town and perhaps do that anyway. The reason you will need public transport is that Beauty comes at a price and the various parts of Rio are linked up with tunnels but it is the fact that Rio is made up of the aforementioned Regions.
Don’t visit the Favelas unless you know what you are doing or are with a recommended known tour. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or make yourself look too rich, use your charisma to make yourself look sexy instead. Carry just enough money to be safe getting around and leave your cards behind or at least one for emergencies locked away. If the unlikely event that you are asked at gunpoint for money just do as the man says, if your Portuguese is a bit rusty just give him the money and go find the tourist police here :tel 33997170, Av Afraid de Melo Franco 159, Leblon - in front of the Casa Grande Theatre.
Also be careful of having something put in your drink. Generally use the same caution you would at home if you live in a big city and chances are you will be fine.
Breaking the city down the old town sits between the South and North regions of Rio. This is the historical and Business centre. Of most tourist interest the south Zona Sul has the regions of Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Bara deTijuca.
Copacabana and Ipanema
Copacabana a curving bay, wide beach with a stunning skyline and a massive boulevard doesn’t really make this feel like you are on the beach. The nightlife is no longer good here and tawdry. It has good transport links with metro and buses. Copacabana is a nice place to start your Rio experience as it has convenience and relative safety going for it but ANY RIO BEACH at night is to be avoided. It is a bit cheaper than its neighboring Ipanema but Ipanema has a cleaner beach, consider Ipanema as a first place to stay if you can afford it. It is a bit posher, and the beach is seemingly closer to the centre of Ipanema. There are stylish shops in Ipanema and all the convienience of Copacabana too.
I was not prepared for how good these are, the best example of Botanical Gardens I can remember. I will name a pathway the alley of the giants on account of the tall palm trees that line each side! Iguanas naturally can be seen; if you are lucky Snakes. The lake is beautiful with turtles and massive fish inside basking around. All this with a stunning backdrop as Cristo Redento is high up on the mountain. Is not worth trying to say more, just see some of the photos and take 3 hours to enjoy this oasis of tranquility get creative with your camera and you will get some great shots much better than the cheesy Christo de Redentor shots !
Of interest because of its aqueduct and for the centre of Rio’s nightlife. This is busier on a Friday but Saturday is also very good. Not a region to wander round at any time but you can still feel safe here!
Corcovado Cristo do Redentor
Try to predict the weather for this in fact make the first clear day a day for this. It is not the same if the statue is covered in cloud. Usually getting there is from cosme velho by train or there are mini vans taking you up which stop for views the train does not. A fantastic hike up to the very top of the Corcovado mountain can be had from the paths behind the grand stately mansions in the parc de large 15 minutes walk from the botanical gardens. Don’t attempt in flip flops though I did and made in in 1 hr 15, I felt going down the inclines and terrain would have been at risk. Best not to do it alone but I did and it was fine. At the top you emerge at st something at railway tracks with a small statue of the saint and I followed them to the top, you can’t buy tickets here and then have to take a mini van down 5 mins so that you can buy tickets 14.20 R.
Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain)
Really two small mountains amidst some of the best scenery in the world by anyone’s books. I found more of interest to view here than the Grand Canyon. Great views of this great city a beach at the base and a very manageable walking path through nature round the base makes this available for almost anyone. The climb to the first mountain will require a reasonable level of fitness but I managed the climb in flip-flops in about 40 minutes. You can opt to take cable cars up to both to get these views. You need a clear day or this would not be worth doing.
Ronnie Biggs the train robber chose to live up here in bohemian Santa Teresa, it has old colonial style houses and a tram ride that you just have to do. You can get here also via bus from a few locations but the tram leaves from the centre of Rio, winding its way through lapa and over the aqueduct. There are some good eateries up here and it is very tranquil, sometimes if you are lucky there are exhibitions in converted mansions with excellent views , keep an eye out. You camera will be kept wizzing away, any time you get on the tram it costs just 60 centavos. The Tram confusingly branches off and is very ill signposted and the driver will speak only in Portuguese so just treat it as an adventure.
More on Santa Teresa >
There are some great buildings here and around the centre of Rio. The new cathedral is impressive as its pyramidal shape is unique. But the nature that the high-rises stand next to lower lying character buildings and the greenery around makes it a beautiful centre. Do this in the week when the workers are there or it becomes a more dangerous area easy for any opportunistic thieves.
If you have any Rio Tips please comment at the end of this article so that our readers can benefit.