Rio is one of those cities of the world with a real wow factor, thanks to its spectacular natural setting (in the same league as Hong Kong and Cape Town) and cultural diversity. In 48 hours you can cover the main highlights but you will have to hire a personal driver/guide. I recommend Marco Tedesco for his in-depth knowledge about Rio, kindness and flexibility (you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s funny how the landscape changes on your way through the city, from beaches to tropical forest, always guided by the Cristo Rendentor that can be seen from almost anywhere. Let’s find out what are the places to put on your bucket-list and how to spend 48 hours in this truly amazing city.
The botanical garden is one of my favorite places in Rio, as impressive as Kirstenbosch in Cape Town but with a more tropical vibe. Don’t miss the bamboos and cactus garden. Try also to stay focused on your surroundings, as you may spot different kind of animals here and there, like Capuchin monkeys or iguanas and of course beautiful birds too.
In my opinion, the best overview of Rio is from the Sugar Loaf. Board the cable-car and enjoy the city from two different platforms with all services (shops, restaurants, juice bars…).
No visit of Rio would be complete without experiencing its iconic beaches. Start from Sao Conrado (the least crowded one), then proceed to Leblon, Ipanema and finish with the most famous one: Copacabana of course!
Another (crowded) icon of Rio. Beautiful and funky.
Santa Marta favela
You should definitely try to visit one of Rio’s many favelas, which are not always as dangerous as you could imagine (hiring a local guide is highly recommended though). Santa Marta is very nice with its colorful houses.
A nice hilltop neighborhood with trendy restaurants and artsy shops. I stayed there (Casa Cool Beans) and had my best Brazilian meals there as well (Aprazivel and Tereze). Casa Cool Beans has a cool laid-back atmosphere and all you can expect from a high-quality B&B. For dining I recommend both Aprazivel (casual chic) and Tereze (intimate chic).
A less-known viewpoint, in the middle of the Tijuca tropical forest.
With all the fabulous viewpoints around the city, Cristo Redentor seems somehow over-rated. Riding the old Trem do Corcovado is nice, but prepare to deal with the crowds (book your ticket online to avoid queues!)… Seeing the massive statue up-close remains something quite impressive.
Seen here and there in Rio.