Rio de Janeiro Info and Miniguide
Rio de Janeiro is quite simply one of the world's most beautiful and vibrant cities, and is the number one destination for visitors coming to Brazil. Its unique setting, with dramatic mountains and beaches at its very center, sets it apart from the other great cities of the world. Famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana are playground for all manner of activities and a great meeting place for laid-back and friendly cariocas and tourists. The city has several iconic sights, including the Corcovado - the enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer - and the Sugar Loaf mountain, providing unforgettable views out of the entire city. Whether you are looking to experience Carnaval, relax in a natural environment, or enjoy all the luxuries of a cosmopolitan city, Rio de Janeiro has it all!
Read More about Rio de Janeiro
Located on the Atlantic coast in southern Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the second largest metropolis in the country. Surrounded by the Tijuca hills, Corcovado Peak and Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro harbor is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The revelry of Carnival and the cosmopolitan atmosphere on its beaches and in its nightclubs makes Rio one of the most accepting and diverse cities in the world.
History of Rio de Janeiro
The Portuguese, tired of the French pirates plundering the Brazilian, founded Rio in 1565 as a means of protecting the country. It was not until gold and diamonds were discovered in Minas Gerais in 1720 that Rio began to grow. It was the nearest port for exporting these minerals and became an important colony. The Portuguese royal family moved to Rio during Napoleon’s era and became the formal government rule in 1808. Today Rio is one of the most internationally renowned cities in the world. Rio will be hosting Fifa's World Cup Soccer in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016 and preparations are already under way.
International and domestic flights land daily at the Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, only 12mi from downtown Rio. Flights from Sao Paulo conveniently fly into Santos Dumont Airport that is located right next to downtown. Rental cars, taxis or buses are available to bring the visitor into the city. Buses leave both airports on a regular basis and deposit visitors downtown as well as various locations along the beachfront including Botafogo, Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana.
One of the most popular attraction in Rio is the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado Mountain. Accessible from Rio by train or car, the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular. At the peak of Corcovado Mountain, Christ the Redeemer appears to be reaching out to embrace the glory of Rio and its surrounding beauty.
Rio de Janeiro Sugar Loaf
To the westof Rio de Janeiro is the famous mountain Sugar Loaf. It looms over Botafogo beach and divides Guanabara Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. A cable car runs to the top of the mountain where the visitor can look out over the beaches and surrounding mountains. There are lovely wooded pathways to walk on as well as places to get a quick bite to eat. The breathtaking view gives visitors that perfect postcard picture of Rio de Janeiro to take home and keep in the memory.
The Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro was formed in the 1800s and is both a laboratory for botanists as well as a beautiful arboretum. Plants have been brought in from all parts of the world for visitors to enjoy. There are over 6,000 species of trees and plants as well as colorful birds and monkeys. Jardim Botanico is considered a UNESCO biosphere reserve and is open to the public daily.
Igreja da Candelaria, located in Rio de Janeiro's downtown area, is one of the most famous churches in Brazil, construction began in 1775 and was not completed until the end of the 19th century. Several styles were incorporated into the church façade and its interior including Baroque, Neo classical and Neo-Renaissance. The church began as a fulfillment to an oath sailors made after being safely delivered from a vicious storm. Visitors can view the interior of the church every day of the week although times vary.
Climate of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro has a tropical climate. Temperatures can reach as high as 104F and as low as 59F. Average lows are 68F and average highs are 82F. The temperature is milder in the winter time, but the feeling of warm summer days can still be experienced, full beaches and a lot of activity surrounding outdoors are still possible. The hot and humid summer brings lots of afternoon rain showers.
Districts of Rio de Janeiro
Rio is divided into 4 districts. The central district contains the city’s financial center. Many historical sites are also located here. Zona Sul or the south zone contains the primary beaches; Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. The wealthier neighborhoods are located here as are some of the most popular attractions including Sugar Loaf, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and Corcovado. The north zone contains the famous Maracana stadium that is currently under renovation for the 2014 Fifa's World Soccer Cup. Zone Oeste includes some up and coming shopping districts and beaches including Barra da Tijuca and Recreio.
Staying in the City - Cheap Options
In Copacabana, visitors can find cheap accomodations in some hostels located in the area, try Che Lagarto Copacabana, Best Rio Hostel or Rio Backpackers. Ipanema offers a great variety of this type of lodging such as Adventure Hostel, Albergue Hostel Ipanema, Che Lagarto Ipanema, Crab Hostel and Ipanema Beach House.
Staying in the City - Confort and view
In Copacabana area Rio Othon Palace, Windsor Excelsior Copacabana, Leme Othon Palace, Portinari, Windsor Martinique, Mar Palace, Best Western Rio Copa and Majestic Rio Palace are a great option to lodge and enjoy the beach. Sofitel Rio de Janeiro and Copacabana Palace offer the best view of Copacabana Beach with luxury accomodations. In Ipanema, try Best Western Sol Ipanema, Praia Ipanema, Mar Ipanema or Ipanema Inn. Fasano Rio de Janeiro and Caesar Park have luxury service and accomodation.
Getting Around Rio de Janeiro
The best way to move through the streets of Rio de Janeiro is by taxicab. Buses are a very easy and cheap way to get around the city. The Metro Rio or subway runs from Downtown to Ipanema and North Zone to Downtown. The signs are in English and Portuguese so the subway is easy to navigate.
Malls can be found all over the city. The largest mall in the area is the Barra Shopping Mall about 19mi outside of downtown Rio. Ipanema is another popular shopping area with many high scale boutiques mostly located on the Rua Visconde de Piraja. The Copacabana shopping area is famous for its souvenir stores. Avenida Atlantica is also where local artists show off their creations on weekends and at night. For local souvenirs, artcraft, art and clothing go to Hippie fair located in Ipanema every Sunday.
The most popular restaurants in Rio are buffets where a diner pays by the weight of the food. Try Fellini or Frontera in Leblon. Some of the local dishes include feijoada, a stew made of black beans, beef, pork and sausage and the place to go is Casa da Feijoada. Also, try the local barbecue called churrascaria. For some of the best, churrascaria Porcao, Marius or Palace. Some of the trendier restaurants popular with the younger crowd are Zuka in Leblon and Zaza Bistro in Ipanema. Of course seafood is a specialty of Rio and Satyricon is the best in town.
Quick bite in Rio de Janeiro
For a snack or a light lunch after a lazy day on the beach, try one of the local Juice bars where a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are available to be mixed and prepared in front of the client. Also, sandwiches and amuse-bouche are served for the hungry crowd. Try Bibi Sucos in Leblon or Polis Sucos in Ipanema.
Rio de Janeiro's Botequim
A Carioca (native from Rio) way of life is to enjoy a cold beer with friends after a stressed day at work or a day on the beach, botequins or bars can be found on any corner of Rio de Janeiro. Try one of the many local beers, a caipirinha or a shot of cachaça at Bar Lagoa, Academia da Cachaça,Bracarense, Cervantes, Devassa or Chico & Alaide.
Visit Lapa considered the prime nightlife spot in Rio. A great place to enjoy Samba music is Rio Scenarium and to dance gafieira, Lapa 40o is the best option. Some of the more popular nightclubs are Melt in Leblon, Nuth in Lagoa and Clube Lounge 69 in Ipanema. The underground clubs are the best bet for local music and most are located in the South Zone. These clubs are also quite cheap and are accepting of all walks of life from gay to punk.
The Beaches of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is most famous for its beaches. There are over 16 beaches to select from. Abrico is the only nude beach in Rio. Popular sports on the beaches are surf, volleyball and soccer. Expect to see many vendors walking along the beaches selling everything from snacks to sunglasses. The most internationally famous beaches are Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Quebra-Mar, Pepe, Pontal, Grumari, Barra da Tijuca and Prainha beaches are a great spot to visit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Rio is best known for its pre-Lenten celebration of Carnival. The party lasts for about a week ending on Ash Wednesday. The main parade feature samba schools strutting their stuff in the Sambadrome. During carnival there are parades in every neighborhood. Some such as Carmelitas, Banda de Ipanema and Suvaco de Cristo are quite famous. In addition to neighborhood parades and street parties there are several formal dances or balls like the famous Scala balls and the extravagant Magic ball at Copacabana Palace. Rio de Janeiro seems to come to a screeching halt during Carnival as residents concentrate on the revelry and all night parties. Rio de Janeiro is one of the most celebrated cities in the world.
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