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 Maracanã Stadium, which hosted the Olympic opening ceremony.
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 Praça da Bandeira”, close to the Maracanã, called Aconchego Carioca. Bar Urca is 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 Irmãos, 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 Teresa is the “perfect retreat from hectic Rio”, says Caroline McGuire on MailOnline.com. 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 the Redeemer, says The Daily Telegraph’s Michelle Jana Chan. To the south of Rio is the compact state of Paraná.
“Here lie the safe, leafy city of Curitiba, a historical railway line to the colonial town of Morretes, great swathes of Atlantic rainforest, the rugged Serra do Mar mountains, and beaches that make surfers sigh.” The famous Iguaçu Falls are here too, one of the great wonders of the natural world. But it is the forest that sets Brazil apart – “a vast country where more than half the land mass is still covered in trees.”