Last July, we took the plane to Rio de Janeiro, we stayed there for 5 days before flying off to a new destination. Despite many trips to South America, it was with a little apprehension that I arrived in Rio – You know, by dint of hearing “but isn’t it too dangerous?” ». In the end, we had fun! Rio is a city full of wealth and whose festive and welcoming atmosphere is absolutely inexplicable. Discover my tips for visiting Rio de Janeiro in 4 days.
Discover all the practical information – Safety, getting around, food, budget, etc – in This article.
Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
Hotel Windsor California
We were lucky enough to stay there one night before our return and had an awesome time. So, if you have a slightly larger budget, this hotel is ideal: Nicely decorated and well soundproofed rooms, rooftop with swimming pool and view, top service and breakfast worthy of the name! In addition, the Windsor California is ideally located along the beach of copacabana.
Enjoy the beaches of Ipanema & Copacabana
We arrived very early in the morning in Rio after spending the night on the plane, so the program for our first day was simple: Idleness and relaxation ! So we went to Ipanema beach where we discovered one of the Brazilian specialties, Açai – We were at OakBerry the length of the beach. Bellies full, we were ready to enjoy an incredible view between sea and mountains – Coconut water and caipirinha by hand of course!
For lunchwe refuse nothing: Head to the Copacabana Palace which we had heard of. The hotel is located in front of Copacabana beach, and has three restaurants: Le Mee – Starred restaurantThe Cipriani – an Italian restaurant and the Pergula – Local and Mediterranean cuisine, where we had lunch. So here we are, sitting by the pool to enjoy a delicious fish tartare. – And a passion of course spritz!
Then comes the time of digestion! Fatigue is starting to be felt, it is starting to be late in Europe. We then spend the afternoon at Copacabana beach – Which we liked less than that of Ipanema because it is more crowded and less safe according to local residents.
Sunset at the Pedra do Arpoador
For the sunsetwe go to the Pedra do Arpoador, the rock that lies between the fort of Copacabana and the beach of Arpoador. We enjoy this magic moment – And romantic! That evening, the jet lag got the better of us! At 8:30 p.m., there was no one there. Discover my tips for fighting jet lag.
Every morning, we started the day with a running session – and yoga for me – at Copacabana beach. And in addition, on Sundays, half of the road that runs along the beach is closed and becomes pedestrian! Running along the beach is even more fun!
Pao de Acucar
Body and mind wide awake, we are ready to discover the wonders of Rio de Janeiro. We start with the Sugarloaf, one of the mountain peaks symbol of the city. It is reached by a cable car – The sugar loaf is 396 meters high! Once arrived at the first stage, we discover a real small town: Here, it is possible to make a helicopter rideWhere climbing. You will also find cafes, restaurants and even a Havaianas shop! After taking a ride, we realize – finally… my darling realizes – that there is a second cable car to go even higher. And once you get to the climax, the view is breathtaking! We admire all of Rio from the sky, it’s magical.
More info on Pao de Açucar websitebut tickets can only be purchased on site unless you have a Brazilian credit card.
We then had a reservation for lunch at the restaurant Aprazivel that we were advised. So we order an Uber towards Santa Teresa, in the heights of the city. Once arrived – and it was a mission because the Uber left us lower down, in a deserted neighborhood, I was not reassured – we take an elevator that takes us down to the restaurant located in the heart of nature, a secret garden with a breathtaking view of Rio! On the menu, local and worked dishes, we enjoyed ourselves.
After eating, we visit the district of Santa Teresa with its bright colors, its cobbled streets and its old tram. In this district, we discover a bohemian and artistic atmosphere. You can also find many artists’ studios there and street art is omnipresent. In addition, Santa Teresa is surrounded by 17 favelas, so it is synonymous with a great social mix, which is quite rare in Rio – Be careful though, we avoid jewelry and big cameras!
Ipanema is one of the most safe in Rio de Janeiro – with Leblon. Moreover, this is where we stayed and we felt good there so we often spent time there at the end of the day. Indeed, there are many shops, cafes and restaurantswe also went to an artists’ market present on Sunday afternoon and took the opportunity to buy some souvenirs.
For dinner, we had the opportunity to test several restaurants: D’adord, a restaurant by the kilo, whose concept we didn’t understand at first, and in the end, it wasn’t really my thing because I don’t eat much . Then we ate at the Mercearia da Praça, a grocery store, but also a restaurant that offers many fresh products and good wines. And finally, our favorite was the restaurant and bar The Pule whose place is super pleasant and very flowery.
This morning, we visit the ultimate symbol of Rio: The Christ the Redeemer. It overlooks the city at 710 meters above sea level, and offers a breathtaking view of the entire southern part of Rio. It is the most touristic place, so it is very quickly crowded. To make the most of it, we had booked at 8am, for the opening. So at 7:30 am, we go to the funicular which will take us to the top of the Corcovado mountain. Once arrived on the spot, we climb four by four, the steps which lead us to this high statue of 38 meters. We arrive first on the spot and take advantage of this incredible spectacle, before the site is invaded by the many tourists almost lying on the ground trying to take photos and selfies.
Book your tickets HERE.
Rio Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro covers 137 hectares. There, you can discover nearly 8000 species of plants different. We even met turtles, some monkeys and multicolored birds. Thus, it is the ideal place for a surprising stroll accompanied by the gentle sounds of nature.
This public park is located at the foot of Corcovado and houses a magnificent 20th century house. Inside the house, and around a pond/pool is the beach cafe from where you can enjoy an incredible view of the mountain – And all this in an absolutely magnificent setting. So we go there to lunch/brunch !
Lake Rodrigo de Freitas
We then decide to return on foot along the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, a huge salt water lake 4km2 bordered by three granitic mountains and a secure cycle path, which makes the lake particularly pleasant for a walk.
Visit downtown Rio
This is where most of the city’s historical monuments are located. We therefore discovered many colonial residences, the municipal theater and the very particular Metropolitan Cathedral – Or San Sebastian Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro.
For lunchwe found ourselves by chance at Gula Gula, a typical restaurant that I had seen pass in my list of recommendations!
After eating, we do not relax because it is time to go shopping: Here, some brands are much cheaper than in France. Obviously, Havaianas – Flip-flops cost around 8€ compared to around 20 in Europe. So, we made a razia for our families and friends. For cosmetic fans, you can also indulge yourself at Granada. Finally, while strolling in the streets, I discovered the clothing brand farmboth bohemian and sophisticated.
We were not super reassured because the lapa district is very close to a favela. But we couldn’t miss these famous colorful steps created by Selaron : Another symbolic place in Rio! – But no problem, the place is well guarded. We took an Uber over there, took some pics – Hardly because it’s crowded! then, we walked up to theCarioca aqueduct : These large white arches located in the center of the Lapa district. Finally, we go to the hostel Selina – which is a few meters away – to grab a snack and order an Uber again. We also took the opportunity to explore the hostel whose decor is super nice. This place is, I think, a great alternative to Airbnb with its movie theater and lots of organized activities.
Santa Teresa – Again
The Santa Teresa district is also known for its gastronomy and its many restaurants with a view. So we go back there for dinner at Térèze, the restaurant of thehotel RJ-MGALLERYand enjoy a breathtaking view of Rio, but at night this time!
Party in the streets of Lapa
Every weekend, the streets of Lapa welcome crowds at samba rhythms. You can also take refuge in one of the many bars or clubs in the neighborhood such as the Rio Scenarium for example!
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