Rio: an (almost) local's guide
During my third year of university, I spent six months studying in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many are apprehensive about travelling to Rio but I can assure you it is worth a visit. In this post I want to share my five top recommendations for experiencing Rio less as a tourist and more like a native carioca (carioca is the name given to Brazilians from Rio).
1. Pedra Bonita
Rio de Janeiro is full of hiking routes, and gym-obsessed cariocas love to spend an afternoon hiking. My favourite route of all has to be Pedra Bonita. Pedra Bonita involves a steep climb of about an hour through tall trees, and I admit it is difficult in Rio's heat, but you are rewarded at the top with a spectacular view of the city, standing high above the lush green landscape and turquoise sea below.
2. Mureta da Urca
One thing you are sure to find in Rio is a stunning sunset, but a lot of the best spots tend to be full of tourists. In my opinion, Mureta da Urca is the most relaxing place to watch the sun set over the silver sea, with the figure of Christ the Redeemer standing tall in the background.
3. Pedra do Sal
Pedra do Sal is a historical area in the city centre and on Monday nights it is brought to life by the sound of samba. Hundreds of people gather in the street, food and drink stalls are set up and it becomes a giant street party with everyone enjoying the happy sound of live samba!
If there was one Brazilian food I could bring back to the UK, it would be picanha. It is the tastiest and juiciest cut of steak I have ever tasted, served alongside rice, beans and farofa, a delicious toasted cassava flour.
5. Parque Lage
Unfortunately, Rio has little to offer in terms of museums, but Parque Lage is a fascinating colonial mansion which is now a public park. It is built in the impressive colonial style and set against the lush green landscape of Rio. I would recommend getting a strong Brazilian coffee and sitting by the former swimming pool, relaxing to the sound of the chattering monkeys and birdsong!