Rio de Janeiro recently had our attention after inviting athletes and their fans from all over the world to celebrate the largest sporting event this country has ever seen. However, let’s not forget that there is a gazillion other reasons why we should visit Rio at any time of the year. As the second largest city in Brazil, it deserves praise for its paradisiacal beaches, breath-taking landscapes, music that makes your hips swing, sinful caipirinhas, and one of the greatest parties on the planet – Rio Carnival.
Like most cities, Rio has a nickname, ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ – otherwise known as the Marvelous City, and rightly so! There are a countless number of marvels, such as its Christ the Redeemer statue, Tijuca Forest, Leblon and Sugarloaf Mountain. But in order to explore the truest side of Rio, it’s really worth having a local by your side. This week our Featured Local is Samirah, an architecture student, surfer and environment lover, born and raised in Rio.
According to her, it’s a real mission impossible to see all the amazing sights in just one day – but Samirah still has quite a few exciting ideas for how to spend your tour, involving delicious food, a majestic sunset, waterfalls, hikes, museums and exhibitions, and last but not least, going to a bar or club for some top-notch cocktails where you can dance your socks off.
Another reason for exploring the city with a local is to help travellers navigate the diverse districts – even though Rio has seen incredible progress in reducing crime within the last decade, it’s still wise to exercise a little caution whilst wandering about. Since Rio is well-known for its head-scratching contradictions, visitors can not only roam in the popular and upscale areas like Zona Sul, but they can also visit the colourful ‘favelas’, which are the slum-like parts of Rio occupied by communities with the lowest income.
Nevertheless, Rio de Janeiro is pulsating with energy 24/7, and not just because of its year-long festive mood, but also because of its big crowds. If you don’t like to be surrounded by people, perhaps you should reconsider a trip to Rio; there’s always so many people in the shops, the parks and on the beaches – they’re literally everywhere!
On the flipside, the locals of Rio, who are affectionately called ‘Cariocas’, will also be the ultimate reason why you will end up falling in love with the Marvelous City. The Cariocas are so laid back, warm-hearted and always up for a night out, so much so that it’s infectious.
So to sum up, your visit to Rio doesn’t really count if you’ve only visited the best-known tourist attractions, stayed in the hotel or just lazed on the beach at Ipanema – for the best experience, dedicate more time to getting to know the culture and spend some quality time with the locals. Open your heart and mind to Rio and the Cariocas, get out of your comfort zone and make your trip to Rio really count!