1. Be cheeky like the locals
Rio locals, known as Cariocas, have a way of life that is all their own. The beach is one of the cornerstones and relaxing under an umbrella on the sand at Ipanema will help you get into the swing of things. If you don’t want to be flagged as a gringo make sure your swimsuit doesn’t cover too much real estate. A quick trip to the shopping mecca of nearby Leblon should sort you out if you’re in need of an upgrade - meaning plenty of cheek for the ladies and snug-fitting shorts for the men.
2. Play footvolley on the beach
While you’re down at the beach, try your hand at a game of footvolley with one of Brazil’s pro-footballers. Footvolley is a highly skillful combination of football and beach volleyball that began on Copacabana in the 1960s when football was banned there. Today many of Brazil’s top footballers use it to stay in shape. Be warned - it’s much harder than it looks!
3. Sway to the rhthym of samba
Lapa is the spiritual home of samba in Brazil. Visit on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and you’ll find throngs of people bar-hopping under the glowing arches of the Carioca Aquaduct. Head here for live music, dancing and partying, Brazilian-style.
4. Get a taste of Carnival, even if you miss the big event
Rio is famous for its carnival parade, but if it’s not on when you’re in town you can still get a taste of the action by visiting a rehearsal of one of the local samba schools. Although it looks like one big party, the official Carnival parade in Rio is actually a very serious competition and as soon as one year’s parade is complete, the schools immediately begin preparations for the following year.
5. Feel on top of the world
It’s a cliche, but you really can’t visit Rio without checking out the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain or the statue of Christ the Redeemer. If you were in any doubt that Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the views from either of these landmarks will reassure you.
6. Where to eat
Laje da Tia Léa – Halfway up Vidigal Hill in the favelas you'll find one of Rio’s best feijoada dishes, served by charismatic owner ‘Aunty’ Léa (Rua Moema Noronha 1B, Vidigal, +55 21 8089 9961).
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