Known for its over-the-top Carnival celebration, sultry beaches, languorous bossa nova music, and upbeat samba rhythms, this vibrant and exotic city is one you’ll never forget. To Rio's residents, the city is known as "Cidade Maravilhosa," or "Marvelous City." And when is the best time to visit Rio? Well, Brazil's summer begins in November and lasts through April; so, most people choose to visit during these months. Not surprising, most out-of-towners flock to the city in February for the famous carnival! To keep you inspired, we pulled together some of the great ideas for places to stay, where to eat, things to do and where to shop when visiting Rio de Janeiro.
Where to Stay
After a major multimillion-dollar renovation in 2014, the Sheraton Rio Hotel and Resort features a lobby bar with breathtaking views of Ipanema and Leblon beaches. The landmark hotel features remodeled guestrooms and suites, a kids’ club, and the Shine Spa where guests can receive treatments in poolside outdoor bungalows facing the sea.
For the ultimate experience in luxury, stay at the Sofitel Rio de Janeiro Copacabana on world famous Copacabana Beach. This hotel – blending the best of Brazilian culture with French savoir-faire – has 388 rooms with terraces, French gourmet cuisine and exclusive Club Millésime services, including a waiter greeting you with a glass of sparkling wine or a sweet treat from the hotel’s French patisserie.
Where to Eat
You won’t want to miss the French-inspired Brazilian cuisine made by award-winning Chef Roland Villard at Le Pre-Catalan, Copacabana. Request a window table with a view of Copacabana beach and make sure to try the quail and wild mushroom rigatoni starter. Another option is L'Etoile, the exquisite French restaurant led by renowned French chef and restaurateur Jean Paul Bondoux, which features inimitable cuisine and views of Rio’s skyline, mountains and beaches.
Head to the reasonably priced Carretao Ipanema, located on General Osorio Square in the heart of Ipanema, if you’re looking for one of the best churrascaria in town. Don’t be afraid to venture out and experience traditional Brazilian fare at popular venues like Espirito Santa in Santa Teresa or Toca do Siri in Leblon.
What to Do
If you’re there in February, Carnival! The main celebration lasts four days, when the whole city is consumed in costumed euphoric celebration, and festivities continue throughout the month. Rio is the Carnival capital of the world, and every year over 500,000 visitors converge on the city to participate, so you may as well join the revelers.
At any time of year don’t miss one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – the Statue of Christ the Redeemer – and the breathtaking panoramic view of the city, including Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay. And make sure to save some beach time for one of the world’s most famous stretches of sand, Copacabana. Feeling adventurous? Climb the iconic stairway, Escadaria Selarón, jump off Pedra Bonita for an awe-inspiring hang-gliding adventure, or go hiking on the Great Trail Circle in Tijuca National Park. You won’t have a shortage of things to do, that’s for sure.
Where to Shop
Be sure to frequent the fashionable boutiques of Ipanema, located in arcades along Rua Visconde de Pirajá. If you’re going for Carnival and need a costume, weave your way through the serpentine streets behind the Uruguaiana metro station. Rio is the place to shop for beachwear and gemstone bling. Check out Sterns in Ipanema for gorgeous gemstones!