Words by Carlie Tucker
The world is gearing up for the 2016 Olympic games, which has plenty of travellers (corporate and leisure) planning their Rio de Janeiro itineraries. If you're part of the latter group, with a limited stint in this Brazilian capital, you can still indulge in the 'lust for life' that makes this South American city one of the world's most popular travel hotspots. At the end of the day, when business is finished, maximise your time in the city by delving into the rich culture and incredible landscapes with the help of this stopover guide.
Where To Eat
When it comes to a fresh start to the day in Rio, you can't go wrong with choosing your breakfast spot based on coffee. It is counted among the world's best after all. Cafe 18 do Forte serves up a strong cup along with superb views over Copacabana Beach. The breakfast menu is small to ensure quality, mixing different breads, meats, cheeses and spreads.
If you're in a rush at lunch, beach bars (barshinhos de praia) are a great option. Serving up the likes of fresh coconut water straight from the fruit and cobs of sweet corn, you can't go wrong. Though, if you have more time, it's worth sitting down to take your tastebuds on a more traditional adventure. Feijoada ( a stew of beans and beef or pork) is one of the country's most famous dishes and Casa Da Feijoada in Ipanema is said to do it best.
As dinner rolls around, you choice should definitely be dictated by mood. If you'd like to savour the flavour and elegance of a finer establishment, Rio serves up more than a few. Award-winning chef Roland Villard oversees the kitchen at Le Pre Catalan in Copacabana, providing diners with a sensory French-inspired food experience. If you'd rather keep things casual, but still appreciate a good bite to eat, Pergula can't be beat. Set poolside at the iconic Copacabana Palace, this restaurant offers up renditions of classics such as the club sandwich, shrimp tempura and oysters.
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Where To Stay
If your preferences call for a more modern approach to style, the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro has you covered. It's one of the newest hotels to hold up a spot in Copacabana along the waterfront and treats guests to the elegance of timeless design with just a touch of contemporary flair. Perhaps more importantly, though, there are six different guest room options available to suit all budgets.
Each room features the standards of a quality business hotel: comfortable bed and a private marble ensuite with a shower and tub. There is also a spacious desk, Internet access and dual voltage outlets. Beyond the rooms, meeting spaces are available as are business services such as copying, faxing and printing. There is also dining available onsite, a fitness club, swimming pool and spa.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of this modern hotel is it's tremendous position close to everything. It offers easy access to the northern downtown financial centre if you're in town on business. It also happens to be within minutes of some of the city's most famous sights with tour advisors onsite to help you plan a day of sightseeing. The hotel also happens to offer a shuttle to the airport, further assuring your convenience on a quick trip.
Where To Play
The city is known for its fabulous beaches, and a sunrise stroll down Copacabana Beach is a fitting start to a day of getting to know Rio. This four kilometre strip of white sand is among the most well-known in the world. Hit the famous black and white promenade to take in the ocean views and a spot of people watching. Should you find yourself still longing for sand between your toes, equally famous Ipanema Beach is a mere five minute drive from the tip of Copacabana.
An early rise will pay off when you can beat the crowds to popular spots such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain and its famous cable car. Both reward with fantastic views of the city and surrounding oceans, and both are well worth checking out. Incredible hikes and outdoor pursuits can also be found in the surrounding Tijuca Forest. Think along the lines of tropical trails through rainforest foliage and secluded waterfalls.
If you're more of a connoisseur of culture, Santa Teresa is a popular spot for visitors to the city. It's famous winding streets lend a more bohemian vibe to Rio with galleries, authentic eateries and handicraft shops. This area is also home to the Parque das Ruinas for yet another stunning outlook and the Museu Chacara do Ceu featuring works by some of the world's most famous artists.
As the sun begins to set, the city comes alive and you'd be remiss not to at least dip your toes in Rio's famous nightlife. Cocktail bars, nightclubs and beach cafes abound throughout the city, with Lapa, Copacabana and Ipanema being particularly active come nightfall.