Copacabana Palace (Avenida Atlantica 1702, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2548-7070)
This iconic whitewashed hotel is the most famous in Rio de Janeiro and has housed royals and celebs since opening in 1923. The service is impeccable and the expansive rooms offer incredible ocean views. Rates start at USD $498 for a standard room.
Intercontinental Hotel (Av Prefeito Mendes De Morais 222 Sao Conrado, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-3323-2200)
Tucked amid the lush green covered hills that surround the city, this comfortable hotel sits across an excellent beach with less crowds than nearby Ipanema. All rooms offer soaring views of the ocean or the towering Gavea and Dois Irmaos pinnacles. Some lucky guests can peak at Corcovado through the buildings on a clear day. Rates start at USD $190 for a standard room.
Hotel Santa Teresa (R. Almirante Alexandrino, 660, Santa Teresa; Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2222-2755)
Located in the artistic, hillside community of Santa Teresa, this beautifully restored hotel uses natural materials like tropical wood combined with art from native tribes to create a warm, modern vibe. The intimate property is surrounded by over 150 types of trees and plants and the inventive restaurant uses all recycled materials while the spa features organic products by Natura.
Rates start at USD $450 for a standard room.
Fasano (Av. Vieira Souto 80, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-3202-4000) This sophisticated boutique hotel is located in a coveted section of Ipanema Beach and attracts beautiful young trend setters. The minimalist yet rustic lobby is awash in hardwoods, glass, and marble. Designed by Philippe Starck, the posh infinity pool on the rooftop has one of the best vantage points in all of Rio.
Rates start at USD $498 for a standard room.
Eat & Drink
Fasano Al Mare (Av. Vieira Souto 80, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-3202-4000)
This inventive restaurant serves Italian cuisine with a seafood twist. Rio’s trend setters can choose from mouth watering dishes like ravioli stuffed with fresh fish in a white wine sauce and an endless wine list.
Porcão (Aterro do Flamengo near Av. Rui Barbosa, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-3389-8989)
One of Rio’s most popular churrascarias (Brazilian BBQ) offers a feast of Brazilian culinary delights. Grilled meats of all varieties are delivered to your table, and the buffet features everything from tropical fruits and fresh seafood and salads to sushi. Don’t miss the passion fruit mouse while taking in the sweeping ocean views.
Colombo Coffee House (Rua Concalves Dias, 32; Rio de Janeiro; +55 21 2232-2300)
Located in a side street off the busy Avenida Rio Branco, this gorgeous Victorian tearoom opened its doors in 1894, and little has changed since. Lunch is an expansive buffet whose items are hit or miss. Instead grab a coffee and dessert downstairs and soak in the charms of this historic coffee house.
Rio Scenarium (Rua do Lavradio, 20 Centro, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-3852-5516)
This antique shop by day, club by night, gives you three stories of excellent live Brazilian music styles that last all night. On Fridays and Saturdays, call early to reserve a table since the line to get in can be quite long. Order a Caipirinha made with Brazilian Rum or Cachaca with lime and sugar.
Academia da Cachaça (Rua Conde Bernadotte, 26, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2529-2680)
There is no mistaking you’re in Brazil while grabbing drinks under Academia’s green and yellow ceiling. A visit here is an education in the 130 years of sugar can spirits, with over 2,000 bottles of cachaca displayed on glass shelves. The kitchen serves delicious Brazilian dishes like black bean soup and roasted heart of palm.
See & Do
Corcovado Christ Statue (Rua Cosme Velho 512, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2558-1329)
Grab a seat on the right-hand side of the tram for the best view of the steep ride to the top. The view of the city below is breathtaking while an up close look at the 98 ft. Christ statue is unforgettable. The Corcovado was recently chosen as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Admission R$36 (US$18/£10) adults, R$18 (US$9/£5) children 6-12, free for children 5 and under.
Pão de Açúcar – Sugar Loaf Mountains (Av. Pasteur 520, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2546-8400)
Brazil’s top landmark, with an aerial tramway to the top, is spectacular and not to be missed. From its peak, the entire city is sprawled out below.
Price Admission R$35 (US$18/£9.50) adults, R$18 (US$9/£5) children 6-12, free for children under 6.
Maracanã Stadium (Rua Profesor Eurico Rabelo s/n, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2299-2941)
Once the largest soccer stadium in the world, this stadium is considered a temple for most of the locals. An English-speaking guide takes visitors through all floors of the stadium, including the dressing rooms.
Jardim Botânico (Rua Jardim Botânico 1008, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-3874-1808)
Covering 348 acres with over 6,000 species of tropical plants and trees, Rio’s Botanical Garden is a tropical paradise. Bromeliad and orchid greenhouses feature spectacularly bright colored flowers and there is even a greenhouse full of tropical carnivores, including Venus flytraps. Admission R$4 (US$2/£1.10) adults, free for children 7 and under.
Hop on a specially designed Surf Bus that can take up to 30 passengers with their boards. The buses run everyday except Mondays and have English speaking staff on board. The itinerary is: Largo do Machado(Flamengo)-Botafogo-Copacabana-Ipanema-Leblon-São Conrado-Barra de Tijuca-Recreio-Macumba-Prainha.
São Conrado Fashion Mall (Estrada da Gávea 899, Rio de Janeiro; +55 21-2322-2733)
A favorite haunt for Rio’s well-heeled and fashion-conscious shoppers. Over 150 stores carry national and international designers like Lenny and Osklen. Check out the food court for a multitude of options, ranging from buffet style to high end restaurants.
Copacabana Night Market
At night after 7PM there’s a crafts market along Copacabana. Browse the unique hand made necklaces, leather sandals, t-shirts, and other great finds. Don’t forget to bargain! The first price is never the final one.
Ipanema Hippie Fair
Rio’s Hippie Fair is a lively street market that takes place each Sunday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. The market has everything from high quality leather handbags, clothes, handcrafted jewelry, and local artwork. This is the perfect spot to pick up souvenirs and you can even sample some traditional Northeastern food from the Bahian stalls.
Brazil is a melting pot of races, colors and creeds. No one race, color or religion dominates in Brazil. Cariocas are particularly warm and fun loving, but be aware that Rio has crime like any other major city. Tourists need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Leave all of your flashy jewelry at home and only take marked taxi cabs.
Leblon and Leme are also worth experiencing. If you are up for a short trip outside of the city, check out Buzios where Brazil’s rich and famous frolic on the seven-mile string of beaches.