Rio de Janeiro is so much more than just its famous and iconic landmarks of Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf, Maracana Stadium, the arches of Lapa, and famous beaches at Ipanema & Copacabana. Here are some of my favorite ‘other’ activities that are a hit with visitors & residents time and time again. Enjoy!!
PARQUE LAGE. This gorgeous mansion and estate are set in the lust forest in the heart of the city. It is now a public park, with free entry, in the Jardim Botanico neighborhood at the foot of Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer statue.
The park includes a reflecting pool, fountains, and a small cafe with excellent food. There are many lovely walking trails throughout the estate—with butterflies, monkeys, duck pond, and even a tiny aquarium, if you can find it. Behind the mansion, begins the trailhead for a difficult, steep & dangerous climb up to the top of Christ the Redeemer Statue. The mansion was notably featured in the 2003 music video for Snoop Dogg’s single “Beautiful.” Pargue Lage appears in 2nd half of this video, about minute 3:50. But the entire video showcases much of Rio: http://youtu.be/_FE194VN6c
SCHOONER TOUR: GUANABARA BAY As one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rio is truly spectacular. However she’s also quite beautiful by sea, as well. Taking a schooner tour is a unique way to see the beautiful city and topography of the area. The two-hour trip is also surprisingly inexpensive.
The schooner boat travels from the Gloria Marina, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca, Sugar Loaf, São João Fortress, Lage Fortress, Niterói , São Francisco beach, Icarai beach, Itapuca and Indian stone, Flechas beach, Boa Viagem beach, Contemporary Art Museum, Gragoata beach, Gragoata Fortress, Mocangue Island, Rio-Niteroi bridge, Enxadas Island, Cais do Porto, Cobras Island, Fiscal Island, Villegaignon Island, Modern Art Museum, Monument to the dead soldiers of the Second World War, return to the pier. Daily in the morning. Usually Embark: 09:30 am | Disembark: 11:30 am | Marina da Glória, Flamengo. Telephone: 21-2225-6064 http://www.saveiros.com.br/guanabara-bay-rj/daily-tour-around-guanabara-bay/?lang=en
FORT OF COPACABANA FORT AND COLOMBO’S CAFE In the heart of the Zona Sul, between the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana lies this oasis on a promontory point into the sea. This wonderful location has fabulous views. The Fort is an interesting historical location and still part of the military. Pay a minimal entry fee, and you can walk all around the expansive area, see the military museum, and enjoy wonderful views of Copacabana and Sugarloaf too. Best of all, get a table at the open-air Colombo’s cafe to enjoy the fine views, great food, one of their delicious sweets, or a light snack. http://www.confeitariacolombo.com.br/siteen/?p=78
FREE WALKING TOURS IN RIO DE JANEIRO Why not try a free walking tour in Rio? This organization offers two free tours (as well as several others for a small fee). The first free tour is through the heart of Rio’s historic downtown area. This three-hour free walking tour includes the Imperial Palace, Tiradentes Palace, Municipal Theater, National Library, Fine Arts Museum, and Lapa’s famous Arches and stairs.The second free tour covers Copacabana and Ipanema. In addition to covering these famous beaches, it includes Arpoador rock, Vinicius de Moraes Street and the Lagoa (Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon). http://www.freewalkertours.com
BIKING Rio’s most picturesque areas have bike paths to take advantage of the vistas. There is beautiful oceanfront biking from Leblon through Ipanema to Copacabana and Leme. This beachfront bike path connects via two tunnels, to the bayfront bike path in Botafogo. Also biking around the Lagoa is a great way to spend a day. There’s a bicycle program in the city which features orange bicycles. You pick them up at different stops in Rio, and can drop them off at other locations. See directions at the stations for specifics. Another inexpensive place to rent a bike is in Arpoador at Ciclovia at Rua Francisco Otaviano 55/A, telephone 2247-0018. OR a more expensive Ipanema locale is Caloi at Rua Visconde de Piraja 135-B (only 1/2 block from the Ipanema metro). Telephone 2521-2686.
DAYTRIP: BEACHES SOUTH OF RIO – SPOTLIGHT PRAINHA BEACH Visiting pristine beaches outside of the city is as easy as a 1 hour bus ride. The Surf Bus goes from Botafogo to Prainha Beach (along the beach thru Copa, Ipanema, Leblon, Sao Conrado, Barra, Recreio, and Macumba). About 15r each way, the bus is FAST, with few stops. It only stops where riders request to stop. Yes, surfers use it, but so can everyone else. SO if you want get out of the city, cruise south along the beachfront, and visit any beach along its route outside the city, the Surf Bus is for you. The last stop of the bus is Prianha Beach- just a simple 10 min. walk over a low hill. Highly recommended. Rent chairs and umbrellas on the beach, and there is even a snack bar, fresh water showers and clean bathrooms, too. Be sure to call to confirm operation, pickup times, and the bus host, Guillermo speaks English so you can call anytime to see where the bus is- 99799-5039 or 8515-2289. http://www.rio-de-janeiro-travel-information.com/surf-bus.html