An Insider Look at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf and Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, BraziRio de Janeiro in Brazil is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in South America. A magical place really, with a setting of incredible mountains, beaches, and the lake Rodrigo de Freitas in the South Zone of the city. This city reflects the great diversity of Brazil, where you can find so much to do, places to visit, and incredible cuisine. Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon are the most famous beaches, my favorite one is definitely Ipanema, where you can see people playing volleyball, surfing, running, biking, playing futevolei (a mixture of soccer and volleyball), or just lounging in the sun or catching up with friends while sipping on a fresh coconut or caipirinha (the Brazilian national drink).  The warmth of the locals is palpable, they are so accommodating and will strike up conversation as if you were an old friend. Every time I visit this city where I am from, I still feel like a tourist since I have lived in the U.S. for a while, and share the beauty of the city with so many international travelers who are as mesmerized as I am by the positive energy of the place.

One of the sites that is a must of course is the Christ the Redeemer statue, which sits atop a mountain overlooking the whole city. The view is breathtaking, you can see everything from the Lake, to the Guanabara Bay, to the largest soccer (futebol) stadium in South America, the Maracana. Another site would be the Sugar Loaf, two mountains facing the Guanabara Bay in which you go up a tram twice to see a great view of Copacabana, the Business Downtown area, Flamengo, and Niteroi, another city across the bay also very populated.

I love going to Ipanema for shopping, there are so many high end fashion stores, as well as great bargains, and the Hippie fair which happens every Sunday, with so many paintings, arts & crafts that are very ingenious and pretty, as well as even typical food from the Northeast of Brazil.

One of the best times to travel to Rio de Janeiro would be during New Years, as it is a tradition in Brazil to go to the beach as it is summer time in the Southern Hemisphere, and everyone wears white clothing. It is such an amazing experience with hope for the next year to be better for everyone, and the fireworks are beautiful, lasting almost half an hour in Copacabana.

The cuisine is also another reason why I love Rio… from the seafood to the Portuguese style great bar food, to the churrascarias typical of the south where you can eat an unlimited amount of different meats, you will find any type of typical food for every taste. After a day of walking on the beach, or going to the museums downtown, or going to the Botanical Gardens, it is great to end your day with a great meal and live music!

I will definitely be going to Rio during the Olympics, as that will be a great way for Brazil to showcase the culture and warmth of the Cariocas!

– Juliana Ribeiro (Hotel Specialist at 1800HOTELS)

Click here for a list of 1800HOTELS’ exclusive Hotel Deals in Rio de Janeiro

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