Five reasons to visit Rio

Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Olympic Games, but there will remain plenty of interest to see once the athletes have left, says Chris Carter.


Get out of the heat in the gardens below the iconic statue keep an eye out for toucans

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second city, is currently playing host to the Olympic Games, but there will remain plenty of interest to see once the athletes have left.

Take a stroll through Rio de Janeiro's historic district, for example, says Liz Dodd in The Independent, and take in the "impressive" Old Cathedral, then cross into the Largo do Parco and "duck left under the Arco do Teles into a labyrinth of multi-coloured streets some of the oldest in Rio".

The city's botanical gardens, overlooked by the Christ the Redeemer statue, are a "fine place to escape the heat beneath tall Brazil nut trees keep an eye out for toucans". And no tour of Rio would be complete without a visit to the Maracan Stadium, which hosted the Olympic opening ceremony.

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Eat out in a boteco

Rio leads the way in avant-garde cuisine, chef Rafael Costa e Silva tells Claire Rigby in The Guardian. "We have a culture of botecos, classic neighbourhood bars where you grab a beer and a snack There's a great one in Praa da Bandeira", close to the Maracan, called Aconchego Carioca. Bar Urcais another "Rio classic".

Go for the view over Guanabara Bay. For more formal dining, there's Rafael's own Michelin-starred Lasai, or Olympe, a pioneer of the fusion of French and Brazilian cuisines. On Copacabana beach, head to Azumi for excellent Japanese food.


Hit the beach

Grumari beach is "an isolated golden crescent nestled in a nature reserve", and is the choice for surfing, sun-worshipping and curing caipirinha hangovers, say Marla Dickerson and Reed Johnson in The Wall Street Journal. The water is clean, while the "spacious" sands are "devoid of souvenir hustlers, Copacabana fashion victims and wayward soccer balls".

After a morning's lounging around, grab a fresh seafood treat and a beer at one of the beachside snack shacks. "The Mel El Shaday kiosk opens early, serving strong, sweet Brazilian-style coffee and stiff drinks if you need an eye-opener."


Visit a favela

Vidigal offers a glimpse of Rio's violent past. Once the stomping ground of gangs, the favela, or shanty town, was off-limits, says Nick Boulos in The Daily Telegraph. Since then, the ramshackle streets, sprawled across the base of Dois Irmos, tumbling towards the Atlantic, have been made safe for both travellers and Cariocas, as Rio's residents are known. Below, Rio is spread out "like a tropical dream, a patchwork of crescent bays lapped by bejewelled water".


Admire the views from your hotel

Vila Santa Teresais the "perfect retreat from hectic Rio", says Caroline McGuire on The rooms and the pool boast "breathtaking views" of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay. For a modern twist, head to Fasano, designed by Philippe Starck. Soak up the sun at the rooftop bar, with its white marble swimming pool and views of the mountains and the long stretch of Ipanema beach.


What to see beyond Rio

There's more to Brazil than Ipanema beach, Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ theRedeemer, says The Daily Telegraph's Michelle Jana Chan. To the south of Rio is thecompact state of Paran.

"Here lie the safe, leafy city of Curitiba, a historical railwayline to the colonial town of Morretes, great swathes of Atlantic rainforest, the ruggedSerra do Mar mountains, and beaches that make surfers sigh." The famous IguauFalls are here too, one of the great wonders of the natural world. But it is the forestthat sets Brazil apart "a vast country where more than half the land mass is stillcovered in trees."

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.