Touring with Tell:

Holly Cowley
Holly Cowley

September 28th, 2021

Find Sagui Monkeys at any park you visit!

For this week’s installment of Touring with Tell we will be diving into Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the original stomping grounds of our very own production coordinator, Juliana. Though she has very recently left South America, being the place she was born and raised, Juliana knows all of the very best spots in Brazil for if and when you decide to plan a trip.

The best way to get to Rio is by flying. The city has two airports, the Tom Jobim International Airport and Santos Dumont Airport. Though the latter is generally for domestic flights, if you get the choice then Juliana recommends arriving there as it has one of the most beautiful views as you approach Rio. So, once you've booked your flights and packed your bags, here’s everything you need to know ready for your trip.

When to go?
According to Juliana there really is no wrong time to visit Rio. Even in the winter, rarely does the temperature drop below 18°C and in the summer it gets very, very hot. A very exciting time in Rio is around the end of February/beginning of March when you can expect Carnival to take over the streets with parties, music, parades and colourful costumes. If partying is your thing, then Brazil is the place for you. Throughout June (and sometimes even months beyond) you can expect to experience Festa Junina or Festa de São João.

One event that happens everywhere in the world, but is particularly special in Brazil, is New year's eve at the Copacabana Beach. This is the second biggest party after Carnival and, in 2020, it drew almost 3 million people to to see the 14-minute pyro-musical show. It's an experience you'll never forget.

Where to eat?
When in Rio, it's hard to beat the authentic Brazilian street food that's available. Juliana swears by it, saying there's nothing like leaving a party and having a huge tapioca with cheese or a traditional Brazilian hot dog filled with anything you can imagine!

For a taste of the best typical Brazilian food, with a more local experience, simply go to a bar, or a "boteco". A typical boteco in Brazil gives you the ultimate Brazilian experience, and the food is always delicious. If you go, you must try pastel, coxinha, feijoada and farofa!

If you'd like to taste some of the best meat in the world, you must go to a steakhouse. There are famous ones such as Fogo de Chão or even local meats to where you are staying. Like eating with a nice view? Here are some recommendations;

Aprazível restaurant, located on a jungled hilltop in Santa Teresa neighborhood,
Cais do Oriente, a restaurant so beautiful its a popular wedding venue,
Confeitaria Colombo, a traditional coffeehouse established in 1894 that is part of the city's cultural and artistic heritage,
Café 18 do Forte, located at the Fort of Copacabana, with an incredible view of Copacabana beach

Where to visit?
Rio is definitely a friend to explorers and those who love the outdoors! If hiking is your hobby, Rio is completely surrounded by jungle and mountains, so there are many options for you!

Morro Dois Irmãos,
Morro da Urca (to go to the Sugar Loaf),
Corcovado (to go to Christ the Redeemer statue),
Pedra da Gávea
Pedra Bonita (from where you can also go paragliding)

If you like to party you must go to Lapa, a very bohemian neighbourhood full of nightlife. You can find the Escadaria Selarón that you might recognise from Snoop Dogg’s ‘Beautiful’ music video. Another great party spot (with a few less tourists) is Pedra do Sal, the place where the samba was born!

When you don’t feel like going outdoors, cultural activities like the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) and the Museu de Arte do Rio (Rio Art Museum) are amazing days out. Another great option is to go watch a performance at the Municipal Theater, which in Juliana’s opinion is the most beautiful building in Rio. If you like cultural activities in beautiful buildings you’ll also like the always great art exhibitions of Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) and the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura (Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading), a small library founded in 1837 that instantly transports you to Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast.

Where to stay?
As you may have noticed from the Touring with Tell blogs so far, we love a hostel, and Brazil is no exception! Hostels are best when you’re on a budget and interested in making friends along the way. The best neighbourhood for you to stay depends on your vibe. If you want to have fast access to all the main locations with close proximity to many of Rio's hip bars, restaurants and nightlife, Botafogo it’s a great choice. Now, if you want to stay in a more bohemian neighbourhood, full of art, history and beautiful views, you must choose Santa Teresa, but be prepared to go up some hills! The more touristy areas like Copacabana and Ipanema are great options as well if you want to have the beach at your doorstep and feel like you’re in a Brazilian movie everyday.

What to bring and bring back?
The savviest souvenir to grab while you're on a trip to Brazil is to save money on the things that cost an arm and a leg anywhere else like Havaiana flip-flops and cachaça, a white rum that is unique to Brazil. Other than these you should also get yourself one of the beautiful artisanal items you'll find along the way to serve as a continued reminder of your trip.

However, it has to be said…SUNSCREEN. Please, don’t forget it. One of the easiest ways of recognizing a, what Brazilians call, 'gringo' (foreigner) is by looking at their very burned skin!

What can you expect?
Juliana also gives us the heads up to expect her fellow Brazilians to hug and kiss a lot. It’s completely normal to greet everyone with one kiss on each cheek, even someone who you've just met. Finally, and perhaps somewhat of a curveball, is that Brazilians always throw away toilet paper in the garbage, never in the toilet. Juliana warns that the plumbing system isn't the best there, so you better adapt to this one when you arrive if you don't want to end up in an uncomfortable situation.

Plumbing systems aside, it's clear that there is so much beauty to be found in this part of the world and each of us shouldn't hesitate to go, besides, the city’s nickname is Cidade Maravilhosa (Wonderful city) for a reason! As her hometown, Rio is the only place Juliana knew until she was about 15 years old. Not only does she have a strong cultural connection but Juliana argues that Rio is the only place in the world where she feels 100% at home. It’s a warm place in every sense of the word and has a unique vibe that makes you feel like you’re in a Tom Jobim song.