I was lucky enough to spend the end of 2018 in Brazil, for a family trip of a lifetime. After leaving Araguaína in the north of the country, where we spent Christmas, we next made our way south to spend a week in Rio de Janeiro. We ate the most delicious food, saw the incredible sights and most definately made the most of the sun! Here is my run down of seven full days in Rio…
Sugarloaf Mountain was our first destination in Rio, and after a small queue for tickets (to be expected in peak season) we were on our way. Luckily for us it was a clear day and the sun was shining, so the glass walled cable car offered great views on route to the first stop, Morro da Urca, where everyone disembarked and the picture marathon commenced.
Once we were done walking around it was time for the main attraction, Pão de Açúcar. Another quick cable car and then the views go as far as the eye can see, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of Christ the Redeemer too if the clouds aren’t playing games.
Eventually we needed a little respite from the sun so we descended the mountain and made our way in a cab to a local restaurant, Bar Flor da Urca, recommend by our driver for a traditional Brazilian meal of meat, rice and beans. We decided to walk off lunch by strolling around the coast line and grabbing dessert at Bar Urca, taking in the views over the water.
After a leisurely walk down to Ipanema beach (via the Havaianas store naturally!) we lunched at the newly opened Etta before making our way to the beach for an afternoon of sun, sea, sand and eventually the sunset. (Tip: the sea is pretty choppy at Ipanema so watch out for the waves!)
In the evening, after a light dinner at our apartment we headed out to El Born for some alfresco cocktails which nicely topped off a pretty relaxing day.
Our plan was to visit Rio’s Botanical Gardens today but we were caught out by the early closing hours as it was New Years Eve! (Tip: NYE is serious business in Rio, but not all places are good at stating their opening hours online so give them a call or check with a local). Instead we grabbed a drink in the on-site brasserie Jarbo café e brasserie then walked over to Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, a huge sea water lagoon for a stroll.
Next up was pedicure for my sister and I, and true to local hospitality we were given fizz and treated like regulars.
We’d pre-booked dinner at Carretão do Lido, a Churrascaria restaurant (Brazilian BBQ), for an absolute feast of meat, then hotfooted it to the beach to see in 2019 with the most magnificent firework display I think I’ve ever seen.
(Tip: by looking online it might seem there isn’t much going on away from the beach in Rio on NYE but don’t be fooled, there is tons, you have to scout it out locally so don’t rely on the internet for pre bookings on this occasion.)
New Year’s Day was suddenly upon us and that meant it was time for another huge tourist attraction, Christ the Redeemer. (Tip: book tickets in advance on the website to avoid long queues at the entrance).
It was probably the hottest and sunniest day of our week in Rio but despite that we queued for the tram and made our way to the top for a million photos of the incredible 360 degree views of Rio and the humongous 38m statue of Jesus Christ. If you only do one attraction in Rio, this has to be it.
We finally got to walk inside the Botanical Gardens on this day, and the wait was worth it. Despite having visited back in 2009 I couldn’t actually recall that much detail and am so pleased I visited again.
The gardens are extensive, with thousands upon thousands of plant species to gaze at. My favourite areas were the Orchid House, the Japanese Garden and the Lily Pond.
After the gardens we jumped in a cab and made for AquaRio to see an impressive selection of sea-life, including sharks, string rays and Nemo’s.
I must say my favourite part though was seeing a mermaid in the water and the look on my nieces face when she said the words “see, I told you mermaids were real” was priceless <3
CLB and I moved to Pestana Rio Atlântica on this day and the rest of the family were off to other destinations.
This meant we spent the afternoon by the hotel pool and the evening eating mussels in Bar Astor in Ipanema.
Our final day in Rio was spent by the pool getting the last of the sunshine in before spending the evening at beach bar Juana’s where there was live music, dancing and caipirinhas a plenty!
The next morning we took one final dip in the sea, packed our bags waved goodbye to Rio. On to Foz do Iguazu, our final stop on this epic trip…