This Scouter’s sibling and honorary member of the bpb crew continent-hopped all the way to Brazil recently, coming back with stories of silvery beaches, heaving crowds, salsa moves and a chance encounter involving copious amounts of alcohol and a Giselle look-alike. He might have made that last one up, but the rest of his recommendations are rock solid. PS: Big shout out to Akshat Poddar and Aditya Parekh for inputs.
It may not be on the beach, but one of the prettiest hotels in Rio is Hotel Santa Teresa, located in the historic and hilly Santa Teresa neighborhood that’s experiencing a huge revival with the city’s hipsters. With under 50 rooms, each of which display indigenous (yet non-cheesy) art and crafts, the hotel also boasts a super pool and full service spa. Rio has a ton of hostels too, but backpackers, be prepared to deal with dodgy roommates, spotty internet connections and sometimes even roaches. Still game? Try Mellow Yellow hostel, which has its own bar and is located only ten minutes away from Copacabana, Rio’s most commercial beach.
Hotel Santa Teresa, Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 660 Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro-RJ 20241-260, call +55 (21) 33800200 or visit the website here.
Mello Yellow Hostel, Rua General Barbosa Lima, 51 - Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro-RJ 22011-060, call +55 (21) 22333815 or visit the website here.
Like most of South America, Brazilian cuisine is all about seafood and meat, so if you’re a vegetarian, you’d better enjoy beans with rice, a staple. Zuka is a fun restaurant, located in the uber-trendy Leblon area and serving similarly trendy food. We loved everything we ate here, including creamy chicken and sweet, succulent lamb, but that might have something to do with the huge wine list that we felt obliged to raid. Also try Aprazivel in Santa Teresa, located in a pretty garden with fragrant flowers and astounding views of the city. Here you’ll find “modern” Brazilian cuisine, including the best free-range chicken we’ve ever eaten, baked bananas and – hallelujah! – some vegetarian options.
Zuka, Rua Dias Ferreira, 233 - Leblon, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22431-050, call +55 (21) 32057154.
Aprazivel, Rua Aprazível, 62 - Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20241-270, call +55 (21) 25089174 or visit the website here.
You can’t walk two steps in Rio without bumping into a drink – and unlike our bartenders back home, these guys are generous with their alcohol. Don’t leave without visiting Rio Scenarium, a four storey antique store that has been converted into one of the city’s hottest night spots. Unlike most clubs, though, it isn’t dark and dingy – there’s plenty of light, every table is unique, a local band belts out awesome tunes and tourists mingle with (hot!) locals at the bar. Make a reservation in advance if you can – tables are often booked out for over a week.
Also try Casa Roja, a former brothel, for Brazilian hip-hop; branch of the Belgian beer chain Delirium Café for the best beer ever; and the beach shacks on Copacabana and Ipanema for some sip-and-surf. Finally, if you’re feeling really adventurous, venture to The Maze, a local music-and-food bar with awesome views, located in a “favela” – slums best known for drugs and violence, which are slowly cleaning up because of a huge push by local authorities. Wild nights, indeed!
Rio Scenarium, Rua do Lavrádio, 36 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20230-070, call +55 (21) 31479007.
Delirium Café, Rua Barão da Torre 183, Ipanema, call +55 (21) 2502 2209 or visit the website here.
The Maze, Rua Tavares Bastos, 414 – Catete, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22221-030, call +55 (21) 25585541 or visit the website here.
There are tons of little local stores around Copacabana and Ipanema, but walk in knowing that you’ll probably get ripped off. A more fun way to indulge in tourist-trap spending is the Saturday flea market in the old neighborhood of Centro, known to yield up everything from finely carved sickles to pin-up posters from the 1960s.
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