48 Hours in Rio

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 [email protected]). 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.

Rio's icon, the Cristo Redentor
Rio’s main icon, the Cristo Redentor

Jardim Botanico

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.

Cristo Redentor from Jardim Botanico in Rio
Cristo Redentor from Jardim Botanico

 

Jardim Botanico in Rio
Jardim Botanico’s main fountain

 

Giant lilies, Jardim Botanico in Rio
Giant lilies in the main pond

 

Capuchin monkey, Jardim Botanico in Rio
Capuchin monkey in a tree

 

Jackfruit, Jardim Botanico in Rio
Jackfruit

 

Jardim Botanico's bamboos in Rio
Jardim Botanico’s gorgeous bamboos

 

Toucan, Jardim Botanico in Rio
Toucan in a tree

 

An iguana, Jardim Botanico in Rio
Iguana on the ground

 

Sugar Loaf

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…).

Overview from the Sugar Loaf in Rio
Overview from the Sugar Loaf (second platform)

 

The Sugar Loaf in Rio
The Sugar Loaf

 

Copacabana from the Sugar Loaf in Rio
Copacabana from the Sugar Loaf

 

The Beaches

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!

Sao Conrado beach in Rio
Sao Conrado beach

 

Ipanema beach in Rio
Ipanema beach

 

Copacabana beach in Rio
Copacabana beach

 

Escadaria Selaron

Another (crowded) icon of Rio. Beautiful and funky.

Escadaria Selaron in Rio
Escadaria Selaron

 

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.

The colors of Santa Marta favela in Rio
The colors of Santa Marta favela

 

Street art in Santa Marta, Rio
Street art in Santa Marta

 

The view from Santa Marta Favela in Rio
The view from Santa Marta Favela

 

Santa Teresa

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).

Carnival time in Santa Teresa, Rio
Carnival time in Santa Teresa

 

Local artist in Santa Teresa, Rio
Local artist in Santa Teresa

 

Trams of Santa Teresa in Rio
Trams of Santa Teresa

 

In the streets of Santa Teresa, Rio
In the streets of Santa Teresa

 

Viewpoint in Santa Teresa, Rio
Viewpoint in Santa Teresa

 

Casa Cool Beans in Rio
Casa Cool Beans

 

Local art in the room, Casa Cool Beans in Rio
Local art in the room, Casa Cool Beans

 

Poolside, Casa Cool Beans in Rio
Poolside, Casa Cool Beans

 

Tropical garden, Casa Cool Beans in Rio
Tropical garden, Casa Cool Beans

 

The view from Aprazivel in Rio
City view from Aprazivel restaurant

 

Dessert at Tereze in Rio
Dessert at Tereze restaurant

 

Vista Chinesa

A less-known viewpoint, in the middle of the Tijuca tropical forest.

The view from Vista Chinesa in Rio
The view from Vista Chinesa

 

Sugar Loaf from Vista Chinesa in Rio
Sugar Loaf from Vista Chinesa

 

Cristo Redentor

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.

On the way to Cristo Redentor in Rio
On the way to Cristo Redentor

 

Trem do Corcovado in Rio
Trem do Corcovado

 

Downtown from Cristo Redentor in Rio
Downtown from Cristo Redentor

 

Sugar Loaf from Cristo Redentor in Rio
Sugar Loaf and the bay from Cristo Redentor

 

Ipanema from Cristo Redentor in Rio
Ipanema from Cristo Redentor

 

Miscellaneous

Seen here and there in Rio.

A favela in Rio
A favela

 

Colonial architecture in Rio
Colonial architecture

 

Fishermen's boats and Cristo Redentor in Rio
Fishermen’s boats and Cristo Redentor

 

Fresh coconuts in Rio
Fresh coconuts

 

Fruit market in Rio
Fruit market

 

In the streets of Rio
In the streets of Rio

 

Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

 

Seen in Santa Teresa, Rio
Seen in Santa Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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