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If you read my last post on Rio, you know that the obsession is real. I ended up staying in this magnetic city for 3 weeks and found myself reminiscing on my top five experiences that absolutely perfected my trip.
And while it’s unrealistic to think that your travel experiences will be identical to mine, I can at least give you some pointers on ways to maximize your time when you come here.Rio de Janeiro has so much to offer, but only some get to experience it to its fullest. Click To Tweet
Whether you’re visiting for two days or two weeks, if you can fit in these five experiences, you’ll be in for a treat!
#1 – Go Paragliding
Rio from the streets is cute, but Rio from above beats all! I had a blast soaring over São Conrado Beach with Rio Tandem.
They also have hang gliding available, but if you’re slightly afraid of heights like me, paragliding is definitely the less sh*t-inducing option 😉
My pilot was hilarious, professional, and made sure to squeeze in one scary turn before we landed, haha. Rio Tandem also has really cool 360 cams that the pilot takes some really cool photos on while airborne.
You’ll jump off Pedra Bonita, in the middle of Tijuca National Park, from 517 meters high, and the views are simply incredible.
Your flight also comes with photos and HD film of the trip, and you’re welcome to bring your own GoPro type cameras as well.
If there’s one thing you do in Rio, make sure it’s this! Affordable, and not to mention, the São Conrado Beach is much more quiet and relaxed than Copacabana if you’re looking to have a chilled afternoon on the beach!
Huge thanks to Daniel for having me!
#2 – Hike Morro Dois Irmãos (not in a dress, LOL)
Translated to “Two Brothers Hill”, this is one of the most scenic hikes I’ve ever done. If you’re a hiker who doesn’t like to stop for photos on the way up, you can do it in 45 minutes.
But if you’re someone like me who needs frequent breaks
due to being laughably out of shape for photos, then factor in about an hour and a half for each way.
I recommend doing this hike as early as possible to try and get some alone time at the top. Some parts of the path are slippery and maybe muddy depending on the weather, and there are parts where you’ll need to let people pass on their way down because it’s narrow.
I went with two friends, Samantha and Sebastian, and we admired the views along the way, as you get to see the whole carioca south area.
Not to mention, halfway up, you’ll see a sobering reminder of the socioeconomic divide between those living below and above the poverty line, separated by a mere line of trees.
Bring ALL the water possible, and if you feel like getting that Instagrammable shot, then do as I did and pack a quick change of clothes that you can throw on top of your sweaty ones, and the photos will be so worth it.
To get to the trail, you need to get to Favela Vidigal (walk up the Avenida Niemeyer) and then you can either catch a mototaxi to the trail for 10 reais or a communal bus. We took a bus, as we were three people, but the mototaxis definitely looked like they’d be quite an adventure!
The streets are very windy to get to the trail, so keep that in mind when choosing your mode of transportation.
Overall, I think your best photos of Rio might come from this hike!
#3 – Go Sailing
And of course, if you’re going to see Rio by sky, then you need to see it by sea too. Rio Sailing offers a few areas to sail around, but I think you’ll get the best views and shots if you choose the Sugar Loaf and Copacabana Beach Tour.
Starting at the world-renowned Copacabana Beach, you’ll pass by three important historial forts: Fortaleza de Santa Cruz, Forte da Lage and Forte de Sao Joao.
Then after an hour or so, you’ll get to the beautiful Red Beach where you can stop to swim, snorkel, and chill. #NoNetflix
Returning, you’ll pass by MAC, the flying saucer-shaped Contemporary Art Museum designed by Oscar Niemeyer at Niteroi City, and from there you’ll watch the sunset and see a glistening Christ the Redeemer in the distance.
The tour is about 4 hours and soft drinks and snacks are included. This is a perfect way to spend a lazy day lounging around, taking in some sun, and getting some beautiful shots around the bay.
#4 – Stay at an AirBnb
While I enjoyed hopping around several neighborhoods to experience different local vibes, I tried out a few hotels, hostels, and AirBnbs, and I have to say that my AirBnb was my favorite option.
I not only felt like I was getting hotel amenities, but I had the hospitality and surprise cooking by my hosts!
Rod’s AirBnb (listed HERE) is right in the heart of all the action in Copacabana and close to some of the best restaurants and cafes in town. Not to mention, HOLY WOW is his place gorgeous!
Rod is an expat from New York who’s been living in Rio for a handful of years and has fallen in love with the city (literally, he married a Carioca!) so he’s such a great person to chat with about the best things to do, see, and experience while in town.
His passion for his new home and all the things it’s taught him will both inspire and humble you. I’m so glad to have met and stayed with Rod and his husband Anderson and I know I’ll be back!
#5 – Visit the Maze Guesthouse for Jazz Night
One of the more hidden things to do in Rio, is to visit a guesthouse called The Maze, located in the heart of the Tavares Bastos community [or favela], run by the British artist Bob Nadkarni, who is loved and respected by the locals.
They hold regular live jazz shows which are free for locals, and a small fee for visitors, which has turned it into a cultural center with music shows, art exhibitions, and unique architecture that mirrors the work of Barcelona’s favorite Antoni Gaudí.
Best part? This view of a soccer field where you might be lucky enough to catch a couple kids playing the world’s favorite sport.
While Rio is a city where there is never a shortage of activities, I hope these tips will help maximize your time in the city like it did for me, and if there’s anything you’d like to add to the list, drop them in the comments below!
Have you been to Rio? What was your favorite part?