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

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

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. www.copacabanapalace.com. Metrô: Cardeal Arcoverde.

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10 The Best Day Trips & Excursions

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

An historic building in Paraty.

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.

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6 The Best Dining

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

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

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4 The Best Shopping

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

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)

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5 The Great Outdoors

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

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.

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