Rio De Janeiro is set between the mountains and the sea and is the second largest city in Brazil. It has stunning tropical landscape,is full of vibrant colours with a laid back beach vibe. It is also home to one of the biggest Carnival parties in the world! I was lucky enough to experience it on the last stop of my south american trip…..
Where to stay….
As I was staying in Rio for Carnival, Copacabana beach had been recommended. Even though I had booked months in advance, I still had to pay a little more than I preferred and it was about 90% booked for the area but the hotel was lovely. I stayed at the Mirador Rio Hotel and it was only about a block from the beach. It was really close to all the action and the staff were lovely and very well organised! They were also really helpful when arranging tickets and transport to Carnival in the Samba Dome. There was a roof top pool and we could see Christ the Redeemer outside our window.
What to do…..
As I was there during Carnival there was so much going on! Obviously there was tons of parties or blocos as they are known. There are over 400 of them going on in the streets for Carnival. You will see people dressed in costumes and dancing from early morning until late into the night. These are free parties and you can download the list of where they are on and their times before you get to there, some are for families and others are for an older age group…all are fun! We also went to the official Carnival in the Samba Dome, this can be pricey as tickets start from about €100 upwards. This is where you see the samba schools from around Brazil compete. The costumes,the dancing,the music and the atmosphere is electric though and it is worth the price! You can’t help but get carried away by it and dance to the music. If you get a chance to be in Rio for Carnival then do not miss out on an opportunity to see this for yourself! There are still lots to see and do if it’s not Carnival…I did the free walking tour which takes in Carioca Square, Colombo Bakery, Travessa do Comércio, XV Square, Imperial Palace, Tiradentes Palace, Cinelândia, Municipal Theater, National Library, City Council and Fine Arts Museum. It is roughly about 3 hours long and I find free walking tours to be a great way to get the feel of a city. Of course you can’t come to Rio and not visit Corcovado and the Christ the Redeemer statue, unfortunately the day I went it rained so hard you could barely see the city. But it kinda cleared before I left and I think the view would be pretty amazing on a clear day. The statue is, of course, impressive and it is not surprising that it has been listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world. Another stop that shouldn’t be missed is Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pão de Açúcar as is the Portuguese name for it. You can take the cable car up the mountain for a beautiful chilled out experience and the views are amazing. There is a restaurant at the top and cafe so you can spend some time there enjoying the views and taking pictures, it also isn’t as hectic as Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer which is good. As I was staying at Copacobana then I had to relax and have a Caipirinha on the beach, in true Brazilian style…I would highly recommend it!
Hints and Tips..
- Entry fee for Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer with mini bus transfer from Copacobana was BR$71.00
- You can also get the train up to Christ the Redeemer but there are mixed reports about it, I went with the mini bus as it was more straight forward.
- Entry fee for Sugar Loaf Mountain was BR$76.00
- Be careful of the taxi’s for over charging, we had one guy take the scenic route but it kinda backfired on him. We were driving really slowly and it was taking forever, it was getting ridiculous so I told him that I only had so much money for the fare and next thing I knew we were sliding around the back seat as he took the street corners and side streets at crazy speeds to get to our destination.
- Carnival at the Samba Dome is an all night affair, starting at 9PM and finishing around 5AM!
- The costumes for carnival are not just for the girls, I saw guys dressed as Snow White, Cinderella and sporting Angel and Butterfly wings. EVERYTHING GOES!
- There are also Favela tours that you can do, I just didn’t have enough time but I would say they are interesting to see.
- Safety is priority, I didn’t have any issue but don’t flash cash or expensive phones outside the tourist areas. Brazil is incredible but there is also dangers, take a taxi at night also and don’t walk.
- Taxi drivers won’t stop at red lights at night if there is no one else there as a safety pre-caution. They will not be fined for doing this between 10PM and 5AM as car jackings are a problem so try not to think badly of your taxi driver’s driving they are actually keeping you safe by doing so.
- Also I noticed that the alcoholic drinks are sooooo much stronger here than in Europe. One Caipirinha and I had slurred speech!!You have been warned!!
So if you are heading to Brazil or have any questions about Rio, then pop them in the comments section and I’ll try to answer them for you! Have a great day!!