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Frommer's Rio de Janeiro day by day

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Rio de Janeiro is currently the hottest of all the world's pleasure capitals. In the run-up to 2016's summer Olympics, millions of people will seize the chance to enjoy the great Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the countless nightclubs where patrons join in a frenzy of Brazilian dances and samba, the restaurants where "churrascaria" serves you 12 new types of meat (in one meal), and to do all this prior to the time when an avalanche of Olympics visitors will flood into this spectacular city. Our guidebook, "Rio de Janeiro Day by Day", is designed to maximize the enjoyment of your visit, by suggesting how to allocate your time and focus on what is truly worthwhile. The best-selling "Day by Day" guides are famous for improving a touristic visit. In compact handy form, and featuring four-color photos of the city's major sights, these remarkable guides have shown millions how to schedule their time--and they do that now for Rio de Janeiro.

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16 Favorite Moments


View of Rio.

16 Favorite Moments

Nicknamed “Cidade Maravilhosa” (the Fabulous City), Rio de Janeiro conjures up images of golden beaches, tropical sunshine, and colorful Carnaval parades, but the city has much more to offer. Blessed with impressive natural beauty, Rio is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and steep mountains clad with coastal rainforest. The city’s architecture encompasses everything from 18th-century colonial baroque to modern minimalism. A rich cultural scene showcases some of Brazil’s most talented musicians and artists. And then there are the people, the friendly, high-spirited Cariocas, who know that they live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and make sure there is always enough time to kick back and enjoy life; to do otherwise would be disrespectful of the Cidade Maravilhosa.

Spreading your wings and soaring high above the city. Ever dream you can fly? Now you can, with no experience required! Your hang glider pilot will see to it that you are securely strapped in for take-off from Pedra Bonita, and accompany you on a safe, exhilarating ride through the city’s skies. After a 10- to 15-minute flight, you’ll land gently on São Conrado Beach. See p 93.


1 The Best Full-Day, Two and Three-Day Tours


Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer).

The Best in One Day

If you only have 1 day in Rio de Janeiro, experience the spectacular beaches and beautiful vistas that have made the city deservedly famous. Stroll along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, mingle with laid-back Cariocas (residents of Rio), who always find time to enjoy life, and get your bearings from atop Arpoador and Sugarloaf. START: Metrô to Cardeal Arcoverde.

Copacabana Palace Hotel. This elegant hotel is a favorite among visiting celebrities for its old-world charm and glamour. Built between 1917 and 1923, the Copacabana Palace Hotel was one of the first commercial buildings along this once-deserted stretch of beach and dunes. Historic photos lining the wall at the rear of the building (facing Av. N.S. de Copacabana) show how much the city has changed. Start your day with a coffee in Pérgula restaurant, next to the swimming pool. On Sundays, the restaurant serves an excellent, although pricey, brunch with delicious seafood.  15 min. Av. Atlântica 1702, Copacabana.  021/ 2548-7070. Metrô: Cardeal Arcoverde.


2 The Best Special-Interest Tours: Contemporary Art & Architecture, Colonial Treasures, Rio with Kids, Carnaval, Best of Brazilian Music


Samba School parade in Sambodromo.Rio for Contemporary Art & Architecture FansFor an overview of Brazil’s contemporary art scene, start with a visit to Rio de Janeiro’s premier modern art museum and then check out a few small art galleries for a glimpse at new and upcoming artists. This tour also includes several architectural highlights that have left their mark on the city, including Oscar Niemeyer’s work. His best known designs are found in Brasília, but you can certainly get a taste of his work in his hometown. Note that the best time to visit these sights is during business hours, on weekdays. START: Metro to Cinelândia. Museu de Arte Moderna. The MAM’s permanent collection gives an overview of Brazil’s contemporary artists with works by Bruno Giorgo, Di Cavalcanti, Portinari, Helio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, and Lasar Segall. The building is an elegant, modern design by renowned Brazilian architect Affonso Reidy. Burle Marx designed the gardens. The museum also features an outstanding design store and art bookstore.  1 hr. Av. Dom Henrique 85, Centro.  021/2240-4944. Adults R$14, seniors and students R$6. Tues–Fri noon–6pm; Sat–Sun 11am–6pm. Metro: Cinelândia or Bus 154 or 438. The pedestrian walkway is at the end of Av. Calógeras.


3 The Best Neighborhood Walks: Catete, Santa Teresa, Gloria & Lapa, Jardim Botanico, Ipanema



This bustling, middle-class neighborhood, wedged between Glória and Flamengo, first developed in the 19th century, when the “nouveau riche” coffee barons spent their fortunes building opulent mansions here. The neighborhood’s turning point came in 1889, the year that Brazil became a republic and the president moved into the Palácio do Catete. For the next 60 years, Catete served as the political center of the country. When the capital was transferred to Brasília in 1960, Catete lost its raison d’être. Thanks to urban renewal projects and the recent real estate boom, however, Cariocas are now rediscovering Catete’s attractions. START: Metro to Catete. Palácio do Catete. This mansion was built in 1862 as the private residence of a coffee baron and was later acquired by the federal government; it served as the presidential office and home of 18 presidents, from 1897 until 1960, when the capital was transferred to the brand-new city of Brasília. The palace was then converted into a museum (see below). The lovely gardens, off-limits to the public until 1960, are now a popular leisure and cultural venue and feature a cafe, bookstore, outdoor exhibits, a craft museum (see below) and children’s playground.  1 hr. Rua do Catete 153.  021/3235-5124. Daily 8am–8pm. Free admission.


4 The Best Shopping


Shoes on display at Havaianas.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

H. Stern, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 490 (p 74)

Best Hip Women’s Clothing

Farm, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 365 (p 72)

Best Untouristy Beachwear

Blue Man, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 351 (p 70)

Best ’80s-Inspired Design

Mercado Moderno, Rua do Lavradio 130 (p 71)

Best Treats for Chocoholics

Kopenhagen, Rua Figueiredo Magalhães 131 (p 74)

Best Party Outfits

Casa Turuna, Rua Sr. dos Passos 122 (p 71)

Best Footwear Under R$15

Havaianas, Rua da Alfândega 176 (p 75)

Best Trendy Rio Souvenirs

Gilson Martins, Rua Figueiredo Magalhães 304 (p 73)

Best Mall for Spotting Celebrities

Shopping Leblon, Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco 290 (p 76)

Best Antiques Selection

Shopping Cassino Atlântico, Av. Atlântica 4240 (p 70)

Best Look Good & Do Good Cosmetics

O Boticário, Rua Santa Clara 70 (p 70)


5 The Great Outdoors


Soaring high above Rio de Janeiro.

Rio’s Best Beaches

A visit to Rio wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the Carioca beach lifestyle. The city’s beaches are much more than just a place to go for a swim or a tan. Day or night, they are an important part of the Rio lifestyle, where people relax, exercise, hang out with friends or family, or gather for major celebrations, such as New Year’s or concerts. Make sure you go beyond Copacabana and Ipanema; there are at least a dozen beaches within the city, each with its own vibe and crowd. START: Metro to Flamengo.

Praia do Flamengo. The most popular beach on Guanabara Bay is set in the heart of Parque do Flamengo (p 88), one of the largest green spaces in the city. The beautiful, wide beach boasts fabulous views of Sugarloaf and Niteroi, the city across the bay. Locals flock here to enjoy the excellent sports and recreational facilities, including bike paths, children’s playgrounds, beach volleyball, a skateboard park, tennis courts, basketball courts, and soccer fields. The most popular day is Sunday, when the road that parallels the park is closed to traffic. Although the city has embarked on a major clean-up effort, the water in the bay is still polluted and not recommended for swimming. Praia do Flamengo, btw. Rua Silveira Martins and Rua Cruz Lima. Metro: Catete, Largo do Machado, or Flamengo.


6 The Best Dining


Tapas at Venga.

Dining Best Bets

Best Traditional Brazilian Feijoada

Casa da Feijoada $$ Rua Prudente de Moraes 10 B (p 103)

Best Beachfront Dining

Arab $$ Av. Atlântica 1936 (p 101)

Best Deli

Talho Capixaba $ Rua Ataulfo Paiva 1022 (p 109)

Best Pizza

Capricciosa $$$ Rua Maria Angelica 37 (p 103)

Best Gourmet Dining

Olympe $$$$ Rua Custódio Serrão 62 (p 108)

Best Restaurant for Foodies

Le Pré-Catelan $$$$ Av. Atlântica 4240 (p 106)

Best Gourmet Finger Food

Pipo $$ Rua Dias Ferreira 64 (p 106)

Best Service

Térèze $$$ Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660 (p 109)

Most Romantic Dining

Aprazível $$$ Rua Aprazível 62 (p 101)

Best Healthy Lunch

Celeiro $$ Rua Dias Ferreira 199 (p 103)

Best Sushi

Sushi Leblon $$$ Rua Dias Ferreira 252 (p 109)

Best Hip Tapas Joint

El Born $$ Rua Bolivar 17 (p 104)

Best Stuff-Yourself-Silly Steak Restaurant


7 The Best Nightlife


Drinks at Trapiche Gamboa.

Nightlife Best Bets

Best Cork-Popping Bar

Champanharia Ovelha Negra, Rua Bambina 120 (p 116)

Best Patio Bar

Bar dos Descasados, Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660 (p 120)

Best Bar for Channeling Your Inner Gloria Gaynor

Buraco da Lacraia, Rua André Cavalcanti 58 (p 119)

Best Lapa Live Music Venue

Circo Voador, Rua dos Arcos 1 (p 120)

Best Best Draft Beer

Pub Escondido CA, Rua Aires Saldanha 98 (p 117)

Best Bar for Spotting Celebrities

Baretto-Londra, Av. Vieira Souto 80 (inside Hotel Fasano) (p 120)

Best Après Beach Bar

Bar da Praia, Rua João Lira 5 (inside Marina Palace Hotel) (p 120)

Most Quintessential Carioca Botequim

Bip Bip, Rua Almirante Gonçalves 50 (p 117)

Best Pop-Art Gay Bar

TV Bar, Av. N.S. de Copacabana 1417 (inside Shopping Cassino Atlântica) (p 119)

Best Cocktails

Meza Bar, Rua Capitão Salomão 69 (p 117)

Best Cachaça Drink Menu


8 The Best Arts & Entertainment


The ornate lobby of the Theatro Municipal.

Arts & Entertainment Best Bets

Performance at Teatro Rival.

Most Elegant Theatre Venue

Theatro Municipal, Praça Floriano s/n (p 127)

Best Small-Venue Shows

Miranda, Av. Borges de Medeiros 1424 (p 129)

Best Acoustics

Sala Cecilia Meireles, Largo da Lapa 47 (p 127)

Best Bossa Nova Bar

Vinicius Show Bar, Rua Vinicius de Moraes 39 (p 129)

Best Brazilian Music

Teatro Rival Petrobras, Rua Alvaro Alvim 33 (p 129)

Best Live Samba Music

Carioca da Gema, Rua Mem de Sá 79 (p 130)

Best Foreign Flicks

Espaço Itaú de Cinema, Praia de Botafogo 316 (p 127)

Best Brazilian Soccer

Maracanã Stadium, Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo s/n (p 130)

Most Comprehensive Cultural Programming

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rua Primeiro de Março 66 (p 128)

Best Expensive Concert Splurge

Vivo Rio, Av. Infante Dom Henrique 85 (p 129)


9 The Best Lodging


The Copacabana Palace Hotel.

Lodging Best Bets

Best Old-Fashioned Glamour Hotel

Copacabana Palace Hotel $$$$ Av. Atlântica 1702 (p 138)

Most Romantic Small Inn

Castelinho 38 $$$ Rua Triunfo 38 (p 137)

Best Kid-Friendly Facilities

Sheraton Rio Hotel & Towers $$$$ Av. Niemeyer 121 (p 142)

Most Exclusive Hotel

Rio 180 Graus $$$$ Rua Julio Otoni 254 (p 142)

Best Hip Design Hotel

Fasano $$$$ Av. Vieira Souto 88 (p 138)

Best Hotel Spa

Hotel Santa Teresa $$$$ Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660 (p 139)

Best Service

Sofitel $$$ Av. Atlântica 4240 (p 143)

Best Hotel for Business Travelers

Windsor Hotel Florida $$ Rua Ferreira Viana 81 (p 143)

Best Ocean View

Pestana Rio Atlântica $$$ Av. Atlântica 2964 (p 141)

Best Hidden Gem

La Maison $$$ Rua Sergio Porto 58 (p 139)

Best Hotel Bar

Marina All Suites Hotel $$$$ Av. Delfim Moreira 696 (p 140)

Best Gay-Friendly Hotel


10 The Best Day Trips & Excursions


An historic building in Paraty.


Travel back in time with a visit to Paraty, a colonial jewel wedged between lush Atlantic rainforest and turquoise ocean. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Paraty served as an important export harbor, first for the gold brought from Minas Gerais, later for coffee harvested on Rio’s coffee plantations. Today, Paraty is a booming tourist destination; its car-free historic center is packed with charming bed-and-breakfasts, excellent restaurants, and delightful shops and art galleries. The surrounding bay is a popular boating, snorkeling, and diving destination, and the rainforest-clad hills are a perfect playground for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and nature lovers.

Paraty’s Centro Histórico. Half the fun of visiting Paraty is exploring its lovely colonial architecture. Pedestrians have plenty of room to stroll in the historic center since cars aren’t allowed, but wear comfortable shoes for the uneven cobblestone streets. Start off at the Praça da Matriz, the town’s main square, dominated by the impressive Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, built between 1787 and 1873. The large square is a popular meeting place and often hosts events and festivals. Stroll south along Rua da Matriz or Rua do Comercio and you’ll encounter numerous art studios and galleries along the narrow cross streets. For more local artwork and an exhibit on the history of Paraty, visit the Casa da Cultura, the city’s cultural center, on Rua Dona Geralda 117 ( 24/3371-2325). Also take a peek inside the recently restored Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Rua do Comércio and Rua Dr. Samuel Costa), built in 1757 by slaves and for slaves, who weren’t allowed to worship in any of the town’s other churches. The narrow lanes and alleys that run perpendicular to the main shopping streets lead to the waterfront and pier. At high tide, seawater often invades the low-lying areas, so be prepared for wet feet.


The Savvy Traveler


Aerial view of Ipanema.

Before You Go

Tourist Offices

Riotur ( 021/2271-7000; operates several information booths throughout the city and provides excellent information on the city of Rio de Janeiro. Service at Tom Jobim International Airport (Terminal 1;  021/3398-4077; daily 6am–11pm) can be spotty. Your most reliable bet is the well-stocked Riotur Information Center ( 021/2541-7522) on Av. Princesa Isabel 183, Copacabana, open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm, or the beachside booth on the Av. Atlântica (in front of Rua Hilário de Gouveia; daily 8am–10pm). Make sure you pick up a free map and the must-have Guia do Rio (Rio Guide) booklet, published every 3 months. Written in both English and Portuguese, it lists all tourist attractions, events, and festivals, and has many other useful phone numbers. Riotur also operates an information line, Alô Rio ( 021/2542-8080, or 0800/285-0555), with English- speaking staff, which is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm.



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