Curated by: Lucas Santos & Ben Dumas
Travel Period: October 2015
Traveled With: Just Us
Typical Weather: 80 degree days and 70 degree nights, humid with passing showers in the afternoon.
Getting There: NYC – Rio de Janeiro – Vitoria | 12 hour + 2 hour layover + 1 hour connecting flight | $650 each round trip on an extreme sale, typically $1,000
Getting Around: Uber or Taxis organized by your hotel
Brazil always feels like a homecoming trip, because Lucas’ entire family still lives in Vitoria, Espirito Santo. Having family members in Brazil has its perks for sure, but it also means that whenever we visit, we have to take a good amount of time off from work to ensure we have enough time to visit a second new place. Brazil is also a massive country, so flying around from one place to the next does take time. In this specific trip, we went to Lucas’ cousin’s wedding in Pedra Azul, visited his hometown of Vitoria, the nearby beach town of Guarapari, and then went to Rio de Janeiro to cap off our two-week vacation. October is a beautiful month in Brazil since it is smack in the middle of Spring. Summers in Brazil run from Dec – March and are very hot, humid, and often rainy. Our recommendations below are for Rio only, as our other stops were more about enjoying family time.
- Sofitel Ipanema – Affordable, modern beach-front hotel right on Ipanema with a great rooftop pool and restaurant.
- Fasano – Ultra sleek, modern, high-end beach-front boutique hotel on Ipanema right by the Arpoador rocks with hans-down the best rooftop pool/bar situation.
- Hotel Santa Teresa – If you’re looking for a change of scenery from the beaches of Rio and want to immerse yourself in a more traditionally Brazilian neighborhood, stay at this design hotel. With restaurants, pools, and bars that will rival all the best spots, it’s easy to see why this place is becoming more popular every year.
- Copacabana Palace – This Belmond property is as iconic Rio de Janeiro as you’ll get. With historic relevance and modern appeal, this hotel is perfect for a variety of travelers – family, couples, friends, etc. Their rooftop bar overlooks Copacabana Beach and has live music on the weekends.
SEE & DO
Tip: Whichever beach you go to, make sure there is always at least one person watching your valuables. There are a lot of pick pocketers that walk around the beach on crowded days looking for bags and wallets left on beach towels/chairs.
- Leblon - Leblon beach is fronted by high-class hotels as well as restaurants, bars, shopping malls and boutiques. This beach sits in a wealthy district of upper class high rises and is more subdued and sophisticated than its neighbor just to the south, Ipanema.
- Ipanema – The popular beach, perfect for people-watching and having a no-frills beach day. We would always start our day with a morning run along the beach to get a read on where to situate for the day. Also, Ipanema was perfect for sunset drinks since the sun sets right behind the “Dois Irmaos” rocks.
- Prainha - Prainha Beach is a secluded half-moon-shaped beach, bordered on each side by rocks and high cliffs. It is one of the best surfing spots in Rio, and may be reached by car or by the orange "surf bus" that passes through Copacabana and Ipanema. If you have enough days in Rio, we would recommend checking this out.
- Grumari – This beach is about 10 miles south of Rio de Janeiro and is situated within a natural preserve. The beach is one of the cleanest in the area and has a southern section that is known to be the only nudist beach in the area.
- Jardim Botanico – Incredible botanical garden in the heart of the city with sprawling palm trees, lush tropical flowers, and old colonial homes in the property. Go right when it opens to avoid the crowd and the heat.
- Parque Lage – An old sugar mill situated at the base of the Corcovado mountain, featuring lush gardens, pools, and a café. Perfect quick-pit-stop kind of place.
Eat & Drink
- Casa Carandai - Charming old mansion with a large wine cellar, bakery, café, handmade cheeses & more.
- Casa da Tata - Cozy, rustic restaurant with a countryside atmosphere that serves breakfast, brunch & lunch.
- Emporio Jardim - Modern space with outdoor seating, Wi-Fi, all-day breakfast & gourmet meals using its own products.
- La Bicyclette - Traditional French bread, puff pastries & breakfast in a rustic spot with bicycle delivery service.
- Sushi Leblon (Japanese) - Creative, contemporary Japanese dishes in a cozy sushi bar with a veranda. Perfect spot to start off the night and rub elbows with celebrities. On the pricier side, but incredibly worth it.
- Aprazivel (Brazilian) - Artisan Brazilian cuisine & cachaça produced in a country-home setting with gardens & views of Rio. On hot and humid days, we would suggest going somewhere else since all the tables are outdoors. Perfect spot for a sunset drink/meal.
- Iraja (Brazilian Contemporary) - Brazilian-influenced gourmet cuisine served in an indoor garden & elegant spaces.
- Puro (Italian/Brazilian) - An upscale eatery serving gourmet Brazilian cuisine with dishes like matambre & pork belly.
- Stuzzi – Upscale gastro-bar located in Leblon that serves up traditional Italian appetizers with a large drink menu. They have live music on the weekends, which gives the small room an intimate dining and entertainment experience.
- Baixo Gavea – An authentic Brazilian bar experience, where you’ll find all kind of people gathering outside this tiny bar, sitting down on beach chairs or just hanging out for the start of their night. Make sure to try some authentic Brazilian bar bites and enjoy a local-favorite Brahma beer or Caipiroska.
- Bar dos Descasados - Super cool bar in Santa Teresa with the best Caipirinha menu. Chic, international crowd, but a bit away from beaches. We’d recommend coming here earlier in the afternoon and staying through sunset.