I'm headed to Rio and would appreciate suggestions.
Hi there. My husband & I are going to Rio in about a week, for a week. I'm looking for tips.
Has anyone taken surf lessons there?
Can the Isla Grande be done in a day?
Any safety tips?
Any great markets, non-touristy bars?
Thanks for your help!
Hi there Gwen L
I was lucky enough to spend 2 months in Rio late last year and loved it. In fact I loved it so much Im moving there next week for a year!
Im not a surfer but I have heard of a few good surf classes.
1) Escolinha de Surf Barra da Tijuca. (ph: ) That one is run by a former champion Brazilian surfer but is run in Barra da Tijuca which is a ways west of the city. However its not to hard to get there by bus from Copacabana or Ipanema.
2) Escolinha de Surf Paulo Dolabella (ph: ) You may have to ask a few locals for him but he runs his lessons are done on Ipanema for about R$15/hour
Ilha Grande is a beautiful place and while it may be physically possible to get there and back in a day, its a big day and you wont see anything. I highly recommend doing it over 2 nights because once you're there, you want to leave straight away. There are many things to do and see it would be a shame to rush it. Try and do it during the week as all the Cariocas flee the city for the weekend and especially long weekends. However if you're only in Rio for a week, you might have to give it a miss or you may be dissapointed you rushed. There is enough to do in Rio for the week.
Safety can be quite a concern while you're there. I could list a million things to watch out for but generally if you're staying in the Zona Sul (South Zone which consists of places like Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Copacabana etc...) you should be fine. However dont go walking around at night (that is especially true for the beaches) unless there are A LOT of people doing it aswell. Obvious things like not flashing around money, cameras or anything thats going to make you look too much like a gringo. (That also means not wearing Hawai'ian shirts, long socks and wide brimmed hats etc.. Just look what locals are wearing). DO NOT wander into favelas at any time!! They are usually run by drug gangs and will think of nothing of robbing or killing a gringo for their cash and valuables. Even police don't like to go into them. Its an unfortunate fact that there are a lot of killings in Rio and all around Brazil (you will probably hear gun shots some stage during your visit) but most of those happen in the Favelas, so avoid them. If you are really set on going to one, DO NOT go unless on a tour or with a local who lives in the favela or else you seriously will end up in trouble. The metro and the attached metro busses are a very safe way to get around the city. Normal busses are usually ok in the Zona Sul but in other areas, can go through unsavory areas and have been known to be targets of hold ups. Once the Metro stops of a night, taxi is the safest way to get around. They're cheap enough but many drivers may not speak much english so just make sure the metre is on. Other than that, listen to locals is the best advice I can really give. They may sound over exaggerating but they really do know best. Remember not all Brazilians are favela dwellers and want to rob you (In fact not all Favela dwellers want to rob you either). They are among the friendliest people in the world and if they know some english they will be more than happy to help you out and who knows, you might even make a new friend.
One of the best markets in the city is the Saara market (Presidente Vargas is the closest metro station) where you can buy pretty much anything. However since it is in the Centro district, dont go there at night or during the weekend. During these times the whole Centro district becomes deserted and not safe. Hence only go during the day during the week when there are a lot of people around. Even still watch your pockets and try not to flash expensive stuff around. If you're still keen for some shopping on the weekend, then the Feira Nordestina in São Cristóvão is a must! (It's safer to take a taxi from São Cristóvão metro station). Located in its own stadium of sorts, this is more than just markets, it has restaurants with excellent food from the North East of Brazil, bars and later on, after everyone's had a few Caipirinhas, everyone gets up and dances to the live music. It's not just a set of markets, its one of the best parts of the Zona Norte (North Zone).
Drinking is possible all over the city but you'll find most tourists stick to the Zona Sul. There are some fantastic places to drink there however my favourite place to go out in Rio is Lapa. You'll see a gringo or two but generally its mainly locals. Located just near Centro and under a 300 year old aquaduct, Lapa is bar and nightclub central! The best thing is, since its usually packed with people, its safe to walk around. However, keep an eye on your pockets and definitely take a taxi there and away.
Trust me when I say, you'll have a blast in Rio. It can be a little unsafe but seriously the best thing to remember is while this all may sound scary, if you take the advice and have some common sense, you'll suffer no more than a few hang overs. Rio is one of my favourite cities on earth and it has a lot to offer so enjoy it!!
sounds scary enough tbh!
im heading there in june on my own, maybe i should get onto that travel companions section!
good advice though im gonna copy your post in to an email for when i get there, thanks
Thank you oh so much for the super helpful info. I'll take it all into consideration. Seems to be a lot to try to do in a week.
And congratulations on moving there for a year!