Rio De Janeiro is one of my FAVORITE cities in the WORLD!  It is vibrant and happy and colorful and relaxed. The people are incredibly friendly and the energy of the city matches the drumbeat of the native Samba music.  The plentiful sunshine and miles of beautiful beaches are steps from the city streets of 6 million people. When I checked into my hotel, they give me beach chairs!! There are few cities in the world that can provide a beach within blocks from the city streets and walking distance from your hotel.  Chicago is one! Rio is another!  The Christ Redeemer statue stands 98 feet tall atop a 2300 foot mountain high above welcoming everyone into this beautiful city.  Portugese speaking cariocas (locals) love their soccer, their caipirinhas (local cocktail) and their churrascaria (local restaurant) where an endless parade of delicious meat comes to your table.  Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema are the three neighborhoods beachside where most tourists stay….but the Santa Teresa neighborhood is becoming increasingly trendy with their view perched high above.  Fantastic shopping, delicious restaurants, great sight-seeing and a vibe that combines a city vacation with a beach vacation make this one of my favorite kinda trips.  For a sample itinerary….see below.

THREE DAY ITINERARY

DAY ONE:  Arrive Rio De Janeiro!  You’ll probably arrive early in the AM after an overnight flight from the States and take a one hour cab ride from the airport to either Ipanema, Leblon or Copacabana.  Drop your bags and head to explore famous Ipanema Beach and surrounding streets..there you can find great options for lunch, shopping, and beach access.  Museu De Moderna would make a great afternoon destination if you still have steam after a long day of travel and exploring.  If not – grab a caipirinha (national drink of Brazil: muddled lime, sugar and cachaca) and enjoy a seaside cocktail before getting ready for dinner.  Dinner suggestion:  Porcao – a classic Brazilian churrascaria where endless flow of meat, salad, rice and side dishes will wow you. Be sure to pace yourself.

DAY TWO: After a morning walk and strong coffee, it is time to explore Corcovado and see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue with breathtaking views of the entire city.  You can walk up, take a bus, or a cab but only to a certain point and then you’ll have to pay and get on one of the official motor coaches all the way up to the statue.  Grab lunch at the restaurant at the base of the statue or head back into town for an afternoon lunch and shopping in trendy and posh Leblon.  OR head to Santa Teresa neighborhood for sightseeing in an older andslightly grittier but more picturesque neighborhood and stop at Bar do Mineiro for the national dish of Brazil: feijoada. Consider heading to Centro at night for Samba dancing at Rio Scenarium where the nightly live music and kitschy elaborate decor on the walls will be extremely memorable.  Dinner suggestion:  Sushi Leblon

DAY THREE: Beach Day! You would be missing out on the Rio experience if you did not relax and enjoy the unique beach culture that makes Rio famous worldwide.  Grab a coconut and a straw or something stronger and head to Posto 9 where you can rent chairs and towels and watch the endless parade of insanely attractive people socialize, posture, play soccer and enjoy life. Also get ready for every imaginable vendor to offer you everything from a new bathing suit, to a cigar, to a ham sandwich, as you sit and soak in the sun and sensational view.  Dinner at Ipanema favorite spot…Zaza’s Bistro Tropical.

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