Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
As the 2016 Olympics are coming up soon, it’s the perfect time to be jetting to Rio de Janeiro to watch them and to explore the Brazilian city. Rio is always buzzing with beautiful people, beaches and some of the most iconic masterpieces in the world, but during the Olympics the atmosphere will be even better.
Here’s a list of things you must do and see during your visit to this lively city.
Visit the trendy Santa Teresa neighbourhood
This neighbourhood is located right on top of the Santa Teresa hill and was built at the end of the 19th century. It has now been deemed one of the trendiest places and is a hot spot for local artists as the prices of living are significantly cheaper here. These days, it’s a very popular place to visit. It’s located right in the heart of Rio and is very famous for its narrow and winding streets. Make sure to hop on the Santa Teresa Tram—you’ll spot their charming yellow 19th-century trolleys easily.
Photograph the Escadaria Selarón
One of the most beautiful spots in Rio is the Selarón Steps on the edge of Santa Teresa. It’s a must that you have to get a photo of yourself with the gorgeous coloured tiles. Designed by artist Jorge Selarón in 1990, he thought he would decorate the steps that ran in front of his house with coloured tiles in tribute to his beloved Brazil. Construction took 23 years as Selarón had to sell paintings to fund the work; now the 215 steps feature many tiles donated from visitors to Rio.
Marvel at Christ the Redeemer
It is often cited as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and it’s clear to see why. This enormous statue, completed in 1931, looks out over the city and draws admirers of all denominations. You can marvel at this work of art by simply looking up or you can go ahead and get up-close-and-personal by travelling to the peak of 700m Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca National Park, which is also worth exploring in-depth.
Relax at Copacabana Beach
Here you’ll find three miles of stunning beach filled with sunbathers, volleyball enthusiasts and locals enjoying the sun, sand and sea. It has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world so that’s a great reason in itself to take a visit there. There’s plenty to do along the beach, from partaking in some water sports or challenging the locals to a game of football. Don’t forget to try drinking fresh coconut water right from the coconut. In the distance, you’ll be able to see the stunning views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Fort Duque de Caxias which was constructed in 1779.
Hang glide over the city to get the best views
One of the best ways to see the full beauty of Rio is from the sky. Opt to do a hand glide over the city, a great choice for adrenaline junkies and a unique experience. It’s a great alternative to skydiving if you want to actually enjoy the drop! Rio has stunning dramatic scenery to offer so to get the best view you should definitely do this. The city has a beautiful beach, towering mountains combined with a bustling metropolis life and a unique sense of style that is usually not seen in a typical city.
Be dazzled in Rio’s biggest market
Feira de São Cristóvão is Rio’s biggest market – but many of the locals come here not to shop but to listen and dance to live forró bands. You can pick up art, clothes and souvenirs as well as check out tasty cafés. Fridays and Saturdays it’s open from 10 til late, and 10am to 10pm on Sundays. There’s also a Sunday hippie market in Ipanema and a night market in Copacabana. Happy shopping!
There is plenty to do in Rio during this exciting time. We haven’t even delved into the samba, Sugarloaf Mountain or the vibrant favelas; Rio is really a city that demands your attention.
Where to stay?
Samba Palace offers a free breakfast buffet, free Wi-Fi, lockers, a bar and that all-important air conditioning. They also run free walking tours so you can get to know the city better. They’re located near Olympic venues in Maracanã and Copacabana.