12 Hours in Rio de Janeiro
It’s impossible to visit a city like Rio de Janeiro without being swept up in the excitement of… something. That something might be the city’s love of live music, its faith, its history, or even a rousing game of football. Either way, to visit Rio is to understand the undercurrent of passion that fuels the city every day.
Should you find yourself with only 12 hours to make the most of a visit to Rio de Janeiro, this guide can help you make the very most of each one.
7am: A traditional bite to eat
There’s a reason everyone in Rio looks so healthy! Most Brazilians begin their day with a light breakfast. Carioca (the people of Rio de Janeiro) love their fruit, and it’s not uncommon for them to enjoy a breakfast as simple and lean as a papaya with a glass of orange juice. Grab one for yourself and get energised – we’re heading into the mountains.
8am: Christ the Redeemer
This iconic structure, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, watches over Rio de Janeiro from its perch atop Corcovado Mountain. Standing 38 metres high from head-to-pedestal and with a wingspan of 28 metres, the statue can be spotted from almost anywhere in the city, but it must be seen up close for the full awe-inspiring effect. Regular buses ferry tourists to the top of Corcovado every day.
10am: See the city from above in the Sugarloaf Cable Car
A short drive from Corcovado lies Mount Sugarloaf and its iconic cable car. Boarding at Morro da Babilônia, reaching the top requires changing cable cars at Morro de Urca. From there, passengers are taken to Pão de Açúcar and the summit. Even before you reach the top, the trip itself is scenic – each cable car features a Swiss-made bubble design allowing passengers a full 360° view of the city and surrounds.
12 noon: Witness history at Museu Histórico Nacional
For those who would like to know more about Rio’s rich culture and varied history, a stop at the National Historical Museum in the Centro district is a must. A living monument to the history of not only Rio de Janeiro but of Brazil as a whole, this is the perfect place to discover the origins and traditions of one of South America’s most vibrant cities.
1pm: A moment of respite at Copacabana Beach
Voted the greatest city beach in the world by CNN, Copacabana Beach is the perfect place to take a break, enjoy a dip in the Atlantic to escape the Rio humidity, and finally grab some lunch at one of the many fine restaurants in the area. Lunch is the main meal of the day for most Brazilians so be prepared for an epic feast of delicious stews and bean-and-rice-based dishes that will almost certainly see you through the rest of the day.
3pm: Retail therapy in Saara Market
Why not continue escaping the heat with a little retail therapy? The Saara shopping district is one of the most popular in all of Rio de Janeiro, filled with stores and markets of every kind. Looking for a special keepsake to remind you of your stop over? This is where you’ll find it.
5pm: A light dinner
Brazilian dinner, like breakfast, is a fairly light affair. Simple, cool dishes like salads are the order of the day – the perfect way to wind down in the evening without feeling too full right before bed.
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