Live like a Local in…Rio de Janeiro


Brazilians are hardly known for their penchant for spice and variety; however, dedicated foodies have staked out their claims around the city. An unmissable tribute to the foods of Brazil’s north and Amazon regions is the terrace restaurant Espírito Santa in Santa Teresa (Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 264). The extensive menu has piranha stews, açaí berry sauces and vegetarian polenta dishes, not to mention the most creative caipirinhas of the city. For a twist on the typical Brazilian pastel (crispy fried pasty with fillings), the Bar do Adão (Rua Dona Mariana, 81; there are several other branches as well) in Botafogo offers dozens of fillings, such as brie with apricot or gorgonzola with hearts of pine. Carnivores willing to shell out for the city’s tip-top churrascaria are obliged to head to Porcão (Rua Barão da Torre, 218 or Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, Aterro do Flamengo). The managers have been known to give half-price access to the salad bar for vegetarians with suave negotiating skills. 
Santa Filomena (Rua Santa Filomena, 10) is a delightful new place for handcrafted foods with Brazilian bases. But nothing can be more traditionally Brazilian than a fresh juice, be it pineapple with mint or passion fruit with tangerine, at a lanchonete. Tacacá do Norte (Rua Barão do Flamengo, 35), which sells pure açaí from the north of the country along with shrimp and crab dishes, attracts devotees from far across the city and is the only snack bar of its kind in Rio.

Nothing can be more traditionally Brazilian than a fresh juice, be it pineapple with mint or passion fruit with tangerine, at a lanchonete.

Culture and Adventure

Rio offers world-class museums free to the public. The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (Rua Primeiro de Março, 66) hosts splendid expositions both Brazilian and international, leaving the CCBB also conveniently spits you out onto the Rua do Ouvidor for a snack and drink afterwards. The Museu da Arte Moderna (Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 85) is another beautiful space along the yacht-strewn bay of Guanabara. The Museo da Maré (Avenida Guilherme Maxwell, 26) is a great find, a lovely small museum which tells the story of the once-marshland massive favela called the Complexo da Maré. 
The Teatro Municipal (Av. 13 de Maio, 33), recently renovated, hosts top-quality travelling dance troupes and orchestras, as does the Teatro João Caetano (Praça Tiradentes, 9). The most carioca (from Rio) shows to be had are at the city’s far-flung samba schools, such as Imperio Serrano and Mangueira, which host opens dances often on weekends.

For adventure and scenery, a trip either up the cable car of the Sugarloaf mount or the Cristo statue is obligatory for the insane view. Kayaking on the bay of Guanabara gets similar views with a bit more effort and thrill. Surfers say Ipanema and Leblon are the best for their sport in the Zona Sul of the city; however, a trek to the prainha far south of the city will put either to shame. Hanggliding from the Pedra Bonita is a great way to get side-by-side views of the Rocinha favela and the posh São Conrado neighborhood. A hike up its sister mount, the Pedra da Gávea, is a sweat-inducing exercise that will remind you that before Rio was the Olympic city, it was a jungle.

Rough Spend

Hostel/backpackers: from £12/15 euros
Basic Hotel: drom £60/75 euros
Airbnb: from £16/20 Euros
Burger and fries: from £1.60/2 Euros
Three course meal: from £14/18 Euros
Beer/Cooler/Wine: from £1/1.20 Euro
Shooters: £1.60/2 Euros
Cocktails: £2.40/3 Euros

Transport and Danger

Rio’s metro is fast and safe but it closes around midnight on most nights. Buses and the Supervia train system serve a larger part of the city and are quite safe if you find the bus that can take you closest to where you’re going. Cabs are not pricey and a fine way to keep safe on the way back home after the metro closes. 

Some safety tips:

- Take only the belongings you need out with you
- Never wear too much bling or flash too much cash
- Ask locals before going into a favela that doesn’t have a permanent police unit to make sure no police operation will be happening
- Be cautious with ATMs, especially ones in areas frequently used by foreigners, since card-cloning scams are common
- Be wary of those who offer rides or lodgings to strangers


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