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Brazil

Top 10 Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro

Clemmie by
Categories: Destinations Tags: Brazil, Rio de Janiero
So you’ve booked your flights to Rio, and have chosen your hotel in Copacabana. Now what should you do? Well here’s our top picks of the best things to see and do in Rio - from devouring a meat feast in one of Rio’s traditional churrascarias to jumping off a cliff and hang gliding over Rio’s rainforest. Corcovado, Statue of Christ the Redeemer Corcovado is one of the most iconic symbols of Rio and not to be missed. The views from up here are nothing short of breathtaking: tropical island mountains rising out of the bay, long stretches of Copacabana and Ipanema beach and the lagoon. The statue of Christ certainly has a nice view every day! Take the old red cog train, built in 1884, which climbs an absurdly steep journey through the Tijuca National Park (the biggest urban forest in the world). The money for the train is used to maintain the forest and, as an electric train, it’s also more eco-friendly as there’s no pollution. Along the 20-minute climb to the top, you get to see the thick vegetation; jackfruits hanging from trees (they look like spiked watermelons tied to ropes!), pretty butterflies as well as stunning glimpses of Rio over the tree tops. The train runs from 8.30am to 7.00pm, Monday to Sunday and leaves every 30 minutes.  It cost R$ 43,00 for adults (approx. £14) and R$ 21,50 (approx. £7) for children. Sugar Loaf Mountain Another of Rio's famous landmarks, take the cable car ride up for yet more fantastic, panoramic views of the city, sea and mountain ranges. From here, you also get a great view of Corcovado. Watch a football match The Cariocas are crazy about football and no trip to Rio would be complete without seeing a match. It’s a fantastic experience complete with the drums, flares, chanting, singing and, of course, sport. The Maracana,which will host the final of the 2014 World Cup as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics, is currently undergoing a $470 million revamp. You can now apply to take an hour-long guided tour to see first-hand the improvements at the famous ground, but no games will be played here for a while. So you’ll have to visit one of the other stadiums to see one of the big four teams in Rio: Flamengo, Botofago, Vasco or Fluminense. It’s best to go with a guide in an organised tour. Sip cocktails and caipirinhas in Copacabana One of the most famous beaches in the world, take a pew in one of the bars or restaurants along the front to enjoy a cocktail or caipirinha while people watching. If you’re feeling flash, head to Bar do Copa which has its own decadent gilded entrance at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. This is one of the coolest places to see and be seen. The lounge bar and club is dripping with chandeliers, gold-mosaic décor, white drapery, illuminated walkways and state-of-the-art LCD ceiling displays. Oh and the cocktails are good too! Enjoy a meat feast in a churrascaria Meat is serious business in Rio and this can be seen (and enjoyed!) in one of the city’s many traditional Churrascarias. Waiters circle the restaurant with long skewers of perfectly grilled cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb. They move from table to table using sharp knives to cut off wafer thin slices of succulent meat that have been flame grilled and infused with delicious herbs and sometimes cheeses. It’s an all-you-can-eat meat feast! Pending on your purse strings and your appetite, a good time to go is for lunch. This is because it’s often slightly cheaper than dinner, plus if you over-eat, then you have all afternoon to digest the food! And Sunday afternoons are particularly good if you want the restaurant buzzing with locals, but it’s best to book in advance. Try Porcão Rio’s, set in the Parque do Flamengo with stunning views of Pão de Açúcar. Or try Espaço Brasa Leblon which also serves a good choice of sushi, seafood and salads. Santa Teresa The bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa is one of the city’s most picturesque districts and a far cry from the buzzing beach scene in Copacabana and Ipanema. Filled with crumbling colonial mansions and Art Deco architecture it’s a great place to wander the cobblestone streets. Enjoy the cafes, restaurants, art galleries and studios – all backed by a forest full of monkeys. Well worth a visit! Climb Pedra da Gávea Pedra da Gávea is a huge granite rock that rises 842 meters above sea level. Located in the Tijuca National Park on Rio’s shoreline, this bulky square-shaped crest is an easily recognizable landmark on the western skyline. For those with a real sense of adventure, and stamina, you can climb this beast to marvel at the unparalleled 360 degree views from the summit. You feel on top of the world up here! Set aside the whole day to do it as it’s not an easy amble. There are several vertical sections of the trail that involve a bit of scrambling through the rain forest, and a rocky stretch where you may need to use ropes. Plus you’ll want to spend some time exploring the summit and relax before you start your decent. There are lots of companies that do guided walks and group hikes, so shop around. Tandem hang glide It’s fun, exhilarating and you get a fantastic bird’s eye view of Rio; the high-rise luxury apartment blocks with their roof-top pools, the rain forest with possible glimpses of toucans and monkeys, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Corcovado, Copacabana and Ipanema beach as well as view of the favelas. Tandem flights leave from Pedra Bonita, close to Pedra da Gávea in the Tijuca National Park. They can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the wind conditions. There are lots of certified companies which offer tandem flights with English speaking pilots. Samba! This dance and music style is famed by the raucous Rio Carnival and all the local samba schools which participate. But you don’t have to go during Carnival to enjoy it. Just head to the clubs in Lapa to join the local Cariocas - it’s fun, energetic and prepare to get sweaty! Buy some Havaianas You can’t leave Rio without buying a pair of their world-famous exports – Havaianas! These much-loved flip-flops are everywhere: corner shops, supermarkets, chemists and newsstands. They are cheap, colourful, stylish and ever so comfy. Plus when people ask “where did you get those flip-flops from?”, you know you’re going to love replying “oh I bought them in Rio!”
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