GABRIELA & DANIEL
WELCOME TO RIO!
We are so happy that you are coming! Here are a few tips so you can enjoy the most of your time here with no issues.
Pay attention – Please be alert when walking around, especially after dark. Walk into a shop if you need to check your mobile, and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings at all times.
Valuables – Don’t walk around with flashy watches and accessories. It is not worth the upset if they get stolen, and you will be less of a target if you aren’t flashy!
Mosquitoes – June isn’t mosquito season in Rio, as it is wintertime. But tropical mosquitoes carry dangerous diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Yellow Fever, and we would recommend using repellent, especially when you go to places with a lot of vegetation, such as the Sugar Loaf mountains, or out of town.
Currency - The GBP (Pound) is currently worth roughly R$4 (Brazilian Real). Santander is now the only international bank here, but there is a bureau de change at Galeao airport just before the exit to landside. It is better to purchase at the local UK bank rather than at LHR or LGW. If you want to change money here, you are better off bringing USD or EUR. Some shopping malls and convenience shops will have Maestro cash machines too.
If you want more information or detail, we recommend looking at the FCO’s official Travel Advice for Rio/Brazil.
FLYING TO AND GETTING AROUND IN RIO
You will be arriving at Rio International airport, Galeão. The easiest way to get into town is to book a radio-taxi ride in the glass booth just by the Arrivals exit. These taxis are black, navy blue or dark green and are completely safe and secure. (The ordinary city taxis are yellow and green.) You can pay on credit card, and it should cost you around R$80 (20 pounds) to get to Ipanema or Lagoa – the Zona Sul ‘south zone’ region where you will be based. Full prices here. We recommend you buy a return fare; that way you make a small saving and have your return organised.
Getting around town – your easiest way around will be walking (in daytime) and street taxis (in the evening). Buses aren’t easy in Rio, they are unpredictable, always packed and very prone to pickpocketing. The tube also works well, but has a limited reach around town. If you want to go to the city centre, take the metro to Cinelandia and walk down Avenida Rio Branco (you can see the metro map here). The stations in Ipanema are Nossa Senhora da Paz and General Osório. Uber works well, but there is a local app called 99 Taxis that we recommend more. If you can, go for taxis with black/white writing in the sides, this means that car is a part of a cooperative, so not an independent taxi driver. Taxis, in general, are safe, but cooperative taxis are even more so.
WHERE TO GO
Ipanema and Leblon – These two beachfront neighbourhoods have most of what you’ll need! In Ipanema, Arpoador is the place to go early in the morning for a walk and dip, Postos 9 and 10 (these are the numbered life-saving stations located at km intervals all along the beaches) are the best places to setup camp and spend the day. In Leblon, Posto 12 has a great crowd. Wherever you go, try Globo biscuits, grilled Coalho cheese, and the popular ice tea drink Matte with limejuice.
Jardim Botanico (Botanical Gardens) – home to the happy couple (!!!) and to a beautiful UNESCO biosphere reserve that includes flora and fauna, with monkeys, toucans and giant Amazonian waterlillies (and quite a few mosquitoes). There are two nice cafés inside, and lots of nice restaurants and shops in the neighbourhood itself.
Lagoa (the Lake/Lagoon) – home to a rowing stadium, a paved biking path of 7.5kms (more than 4.5 miles), diverse leisure equipment, aquatic sports like water skiing and food kiosks. Lagoa is surrounded by the neighbourhoods of Ipanema, Leblon, Gavea, Jardim Botanico, Copacabana and Humaita.
Santa Teresa – A traditional hillside neighbourhood where ageing 19th-century mansions and a bohemian spirit offer a very different taste of Rio. It was the famous hide-away of train robber Ronnie Biggs. Nowadays, it is surrounded by a couple of favelas (shanty town) which make it a place to be wary of going to. We recommend going up and down by taxi, and only in daytime.
Urca – where our wedding will be! Urca is a wealthy residential neighbourhood secluded from Rio’s main hustle and bustle. What is now called the Sao Joao Fort, a military base at the foot of the Sugarloaf Mountain, is where the first Portuguese settlement in Rio was founded. Walk around it, go up Sugarloaf, and then go for a beer in one of Urca’s lovely bars.
WHAT TO DO
Located on the border between Ipanema and Copacabana, the Arpoador rock is one of the best spots in Rio to enjoy the sunset and the amazing 360 degrees of golden sand and sparkling sea. Just beware of pickpockets and don’t take valuables.
Christ the Redeemer (aka Corcovado)
It is definitely worth going up the funicular and seeing the statue up close. But the best part is the amazing 360 degree view of Rio!
Instituto Moreira Salles
Also known as the IMS, Moreira Salles is a lovely house in the hillside of Gavea, a cultural centre with exhibitions in five areas: photography, literature, libraries, visual arts and Brazilian music. There is a lovely café there for lunch/dinner too.
Museum of Art – Rio (MAR)
Rio’s newest art museum, half built into a clean-lined modern building by Affonso Eduardo Reidy, half built into an original traditional building from 1916. A concrete wave-like canopy connects the two. There are good temporary and fixed exhibitions.
Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã) (city centre)
Recently opened (for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016), neofuturist architect Santiago Calatrava’s design has given Rio its first science museum. Worth a visit for the architecture, views, and good exhibition for children and curious types.
Outdoor fruit and veg markets
These large neighbourhood markets sell every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable, plus several that are native to Brazil. Vendors will offer slices of fresh mango, juicy watermelons, and whatever else is in season for you to try under no obligation.
An island in Guanabara Bay, around 20 mins by boat from Rio. The quaint island is an auto-free zone, so travel is limited to bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.
Originating from an old sugar mill, this park is part of Rio’s historical and cultural heritage. Projected in 1840 by the English landscaper John Tyndale, the wonderful garden is home to picnics, people going on strolls, and a lovely café in the main old house. The main house is also home to one of Rio’s most important visual art schools.
Sugar Loaf Mountain (Urca)
Take the cable cars up the famous coastal mountain to see the panoramic views of Rio and the stunning coastline. Be prepared for some queues!
Outside Rio, Ilha Grande
So close to Rio, yet so different, Ilha Grande is a relaxing, undeveloped paradise. Stepping off the ferry to the island is to disconnect from the outside world. No cars, barely any banks (take cash!), no loud mobile phones. It’s all about relaxing in the sun, sailing, swimming, and reemerging for fresh seafood at one of the 30 small restaurants. We recommend staying at the beautiful Casa do Canto, on Abraao beach.
WHERE TO EAT....
Rio has lovely bars and restaurants, of all types and prices. Here are some of our favourites!
A Marisqueira (Copacabana)
This traditional family-style restaurant serves up Portuguese-style seafood specialties.
Bar Jobi (Leblon)
A very traditional local laid-back bar with nibbles, beer and cheap wine in Leblon. Fills up!
Bar Urca (Urca)
You will be eating snacks and drinking chilled beer, sitting on the wall to enjoy one of Rio’s best sunsets. There is a formal restaurant upstairs with great food and air con, but bigger queues!
Botequim Itahy (Ipanema)
This bar and restaurant is a good choice after a beach day or for a full traditional Brazilian dinner. From snacks to big meals, good value, caipirinhas and lots of cold beer.
Braseiro da Gavea (Gavea)
A very popular meat restaurant (churrascaria) where you will find crowds of people drinking on the street outside. Picanha slices, broccoli rice and farofa are the must-haves.
Bruschetteria Prima (Leblon)
A casual Italian bar with bruschettas, risottos and great wine.
Confeitaria Colombo (Copacabana)
Have an afternoon tea overlooking Copacabana beach in this seaside branch of the city centre classic restaurant.
Buffet-style restaurant with a ‘weigh your plate’ service. There is an extensive selection of food – everything from sushi and pizza to barbecue and rice and beans!
Polis Sucos (Ipanema) and BB Lanches (Leblon)
You haven’t been to Rio if you haven’t stopped at these juice bars for an Açaí, fruit juice or a sandwich. Great food, good value, nowhere to sit but you won’t mind standing!
Sobe Bar (Jardim Botanico)
Trendy and upscale bar/restaurant overlooking the Botanical Gardens, great food and creative drinks in a more secluded part of Rio.
A lovely Tapas bar, with branches in Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana and Jardim Botanico. Cosy and Spanish with lovely sangrias, classic specialities and a casual setting.
Contemporary, sophisticated cuisine with seafood, meat and chicken dishes.