Rio De Janeiro Itinerary- Rio de Janeiro in 3 days
Rio is such a large and diverse city with so many things to see and activities to experience, if you are short on time, below is a rough guide on how to maximize your time in Rio de Janeiro in 3 days.
Day 1 in Rio De Janeiro in 3 days
Where to stay? While Ipanema and Copacabana are within a 10-minute walking distance from one another, Ipanema is a more tourist friendly zone. There are tons of boutiques, restaurants and while nowhere in Rio feels entirely safe, it does feel a bit safer than the Copacabana area. For well- priced backpacker accomodations head to hostel row, while all the hosels in this area are relatively similar in amentieis, the Lighthouse (8 room dorm from $30 per night – there is usually a 2 night minimum) has super friendly staff and is great for getting to know other travellers. For a few step ups head to the Mar Ipanema, a boutique hotel located in the centre of Ipanema’s action, with clean rooms and just two blocks from the beach.
Start your day by orienting yourself with Ipanema beach and grab a slushed acai berry drink from a local juice bar. Spend the morning lying on the beach and getting over your jet lag and then head to Zaza Bistro for some fresh fish fare. Make sure you try the Tuna, its heavenly taste melts in your mouth.
Once you have filled your belly explore the boutiques in Ipanema. Top off your sightseeing with a visit to the world heritage site of Cristo Redentor (try and ensure you go on a clear day). It’s wise to head up there later in the afternoon (about 4 pm) when the crowds have dispersed and the sun is beginning to set. There are two ways to head up to the top of the Corcovado, either by cog train (leaves every 30 minutes and costs R$ 36.00) or car/taxi. The trip takes approximately 30 minutes and offers spectacular views of the city and the Parque National da Tijuca. Alternatively, you can take a taxi up to the base of the monument – the car will take you as far as Paineiras car park from which you will have to take an authorized van to continue the 2 km uphill (R$ 15 p/p).
Finish off your day with a classic Brazilian BBQ meal at renowned Porcao. Make sure you are hungry because the meat and buffet is top notch. While Porcao has opened up a number of branches around Brazil and even in the U.S. The most beautiful location is in Botafogo Bay. If you are craving a little taste of Brazilian nightlife, head to Baretto-Londra, inside Rio’s famously trendy Hotel Fasano and rub elbows with Rio’s fashionable crowd or stay in Botafogo and relax at the neighborhood Bar Urca.
Day 2 in Rio De Janeiro in 3 days
Wake up early and head to a local juice bar for breakfast before heading on a Favella tour. There are number of well run tours by long-time favela residents and much of the funds are funneled right back into the community. One particularly good tour is run by Marcelo Armstrong, whom Lonely Planet dubbed the pioneer of Favella tourism, who runs tours twice daily (one around 9 am and the other around 2 pm). Reservations can be made at 3322 2727 or by e-mailing [email protected]. The tour starts at a local handicraft market at the foot of Rocinha, then proceeds to a lookout and continues by walking through the local market and ends at a local school (that is funded through the tour). The guide takes considerable time and energy to explain the social and political situation in the Favella and gives a candid and critical perspective of the political and social circumstances facing Favella residents. If you want a little more adventure head on the back of a motorbike on Aurelio Rio Guide tour for an authentic perspective of Rocinha (contact him at 3592 0445 78286382).
Once you finish up your tour, head up to Santa Teresa for a tour of the revitalization of Rio’s new up and coming neighborhood and enjoy superb views and tasty local food at Aprazivel. Once you have explored the boutiques head to Pao De Acucar known in English as Sugerloaf Mountain and take an oversized cable car up to the peak to watch sunset (R$ 53 for a round trip ticket). There are two sets of cable cars, one that reveals the beautiful view Baia de Guanabara and the second level exposes magnificent views of the city, the Corcovado mountain and Cristo Redentor. Alternatively, for those looking for a bit of a work out, you can climb up Sugerloaf, either on your own or with a tour. Andrew Lentz, an American living in Rio for over 20 years runs walking tours up Sugerloaf and half day sailing tours of Copacabana beach. ([email protected] / 55 21 9328 5904). For the more adventurous spirit, you can rock climb up Sugerloaf (rock climbers have the choice of easy and difficult routes- there are over 270 routes to choose from). An excellent company that provides both hiking and rock climbing options is Rio Hiking.
For a modern twist on Brazilian fare head to Rio’s restaurant boulevard in Leblon’s Rua Dias Ferreira and try have a bite at either Sushi Leblon or Zuka Bistro (directly across the street). For a night on the town, stick around Leblon and head to the nightclub Melt which offers a downstairs lounge and a Dj spinning beats upstairs.
Day 3 in Rio De Janeiro in 3 days
Grab a quick bite a at the affordable sushi chain of called Sushi Koni before heading to a soccer game. This is an unforgettable experience with some of the best and most excited fans in the world. Make sure you know what side you are sitting on and avoid wearing the opposing team’s colours. This is pretty much an all day event. Make sure you join a tour for this event, it can be relatively dangerous and its wise to stay in a group. Belocal‘s motto is “be local- don’t be a Gringo” and they organize as non-touristy trips as possible (from $R 70 and up- includes your transport and entry ticket).
If soccer isn’t your cup of tea, there are tons of activities to keep you busy from hiking in Parque Nacional da Tijuca with Rio adventures to hand gliding off of 510 m high Pedra Bonita (apprx. $250 U.S.), probably the most reputable company is Delta Flight in Rio which has been in the business for over 20 years or you can explore some of Centro’s historic churches and museums, such as Centro de Art Helio Oiticica dedicated to the works of Helio Oiticica and Igreja De Nossa Senhora De Candelaria, an ancient church dating back to the 16th century. If you are seeking a more relaxing Rio experience retreat into the shady streets of Urca and then head for lunch at one of Lagoa’s lakeside kiosks or head to Olympe for one of Rio’s best chefs cooking up mouth watering but ultra pricey French food – try and head there at lunch as they offer an executive lunch special (available on Fridays only – R$ 92)
After a long day action-packed day head for some delicious Italian food at Gero. Once you have stuffed yourself with carbs check out the bustling nightlife area of Lapa and hit up one of the areas many samba clubs. Before heading to a club, make sure you buy an inexpensive but super strong caprihiana from one of the local vendors outside the arch. My favorite samba spot is Carico da Gema (R$25 cover) that blares fantastic live music.
Rio de Janeiro in 3 days- Tips
If you are around on Sunday night, head to the Favella for the weekly Favella Funk party where the party goes on all night! To stay safe, this party is best visited with a tour group (one well organized team is bealocal).
If you are Rio on the first Friday of any month, head to the Maze Inn, for some excellent jazz music and one of Rio’s best nightlife experiences. This event located in Tavares Vastos, one of Rio’s safest Favellas. If you want a truly unique experience, you can also stay at the Maze Inn and explore the Favella’s labyrinth like a local resident.
Rio De Janeiro in 3 days!