...to do in Rio de Janeiro. Mark Lemann Class of 2010 (2003-10) Founder of sports management company Go4It
1. SURF THE BEACHES
If you go to Rio you should go surfing or standup paddling. Tourists go to Copacabana beach and it’s nice to standup paddle there, but to surf, Ipanema and Leblon are where the locals go. For even better waves and a quieter beach, head to Prainha. Try booking a lesson through the goFlow app.
2. STROLL THROUGH PARQUE LAGE
Parque Lage is one of the best parks in Rio. It is beautiful in spring when there are flowers everywhere, but you will see small monkeys and a lot of birds, maybe even toucans, at any time. You can walk up through the park to Corcovado (to visit the statue of Christ) but go prepared for a two-hour hike. Otherwise, the Botanical Gardens are just next door, so stroll there and have a pastel (savoury pastry) at La Bicyclette cafe.
3. HIKE UP PEDRA BONITA
Take a taxi up to the paragliding ramp and then it’s an easy 30-minute walk to the top of Pedra Bonita for spectacular views across the whole of Rio. At weekends go early, as from around 10am it gets very busy. If you’re courageous enough you could even paraglide back down to Rio, landing on Sao Conrado beach, not far from Ipanema!
4. EAT AT APRAZIVEL IN SANTA TERESA
For a special lunch, I would go to the Aprazivel. The restaurant is spread over a steep hill and it feels like you’re sitting in a treehouse. The moqueca (fish stew), rice and feijao (beans) and grilled beef are delicious, and in Brazil you must always leave room for dessert: try the brigadeiro. When lunch has settled, pop into the Hotel Santa Teresa, which has a great pool.
5. DRINK IN BAIXO GAVEA
There’s nothing more carioca (from Rio) than hanging out in the bars of Baixo Gavea – well, on the streets really. Most people get a beer or a caipirinha (cachaça – sugar cane rum – with lime and sugar) and then stand around chatting on the pavement. Brazilians are very friendly, so you will talk to strangers. But go late – Brazilians eat around 10pm, then the restaurants turn into bars and things get going around midnight.
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