Rio De Janiero, Brazil
Verdict: This was one of our most favorite trips and if it weren’t for dang zika we would be going back asap! The food was great, the atmosphere was lively, and we felt safe the whole time. Truthfully we never ventured far off the beaten path and unless you’re well traveled in cities like Rio I would suggest that you can still catch the local flavor and stay safe by keeping to the main parts of town as they aren’t that touristy.
Where we stayed: Miramar Hotel by Windsor (Copacabana Beach) Breakfast was included at their restaurant Sa. Would highly recommend including breakfast it’s as delicious including fresh green juice and eggs made to order. We booked on Expedia.
When & how long: Memorial Day Weekend 2014 – 4 days, 4 nights
Getting there (Visas): We flew into Rio from Chicago via Charlotte and didn’t find out until very close to the trip that we did need a visa:
- Go to http://chicago.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/visas.xml and follow the steps on gathering everything you need to apply in person
- Get to your closest consulate ASAP it took a few hours to apply (long lines) and about a week after that to get our passports back
- Bring EXACTLY what they ask for if it says a money order, bring a MONEY ORDER
We got lucky with great overnight flights. With only a 2 hour time difference we barely had jet lag. We left at night and arrived 9 hours later in the morning. Same with coming home.
One big tip is to have cash on you at the airport in Brazil. We needed cash for a cab (they arranged one for you in the airport before walking outside) but we had issues with every single cash machine which led to minor panic attacks on arrival
Food & Activity (Short & Sweet):
- Sushi Leblon for sushi. This was a super cool hip spot in 2014 and I bet it still is. Leblon has tons of cool restaurants, try to make your reservation ahead of time!
- Delirio Tropical for lunch time salads. There are multiple locations around the city but one in Leblon as well
- Brigites for trendy Italian. Also in Leblon, may have turned into a new restaurant called Nola I think by the same group
- Espirito Santo for Amazonian. A little bit of a drive and at moments on dark windy roads but delicious food in a very cool rustic setting.
- Sugarloaf Mountain for sunset views. Take the tram up and hang around for the spectacular views
- Christ the Redeemer Also great views and incredible to see how ginormous the statue is in person
- Escadaria selaron for the most gorgeous tiled steps ever. Plan to go during the day and sit around to enjoy the hangout vibe and maybe some live music.
- Half day Favela Tour We took a private jeep tour up through some favelas for a great history lesson, fascinating!
- Copacabana Hotel for pre dinner drinks. Just because you have to see the famed hotel – quite ritzy!
- Hippie Market Ipanema AKA Feira Hippie for a Sunday morning/midday stroll around a park full of art, trinkets, and food
Basically, every day had the same perfect balance – wake up, eat a delicious breakfast at the hotel, venture down to the beach for a few hours to catch the rays and waves. Stroll to a lunch spot then back to the hotel to clean up and hit up one of the sights in the afternoon then out to a great dinner.