Rio de Janeiro

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Destination Guide to Rio de Janeiro.  The World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 make Rio a city on the move.  Classic Travel consistently updates the best of Rio restaurants, sightseeing and nightlife! 

Geographically, Rio has no rival. The lush mountains and spectacular beaches lie under the watchful gaze of the Christ statue, which was a gift from France and can be viewed from much of Rio. World famous for two big-time night celebrations, Carnival and New Years Eve, the city is really an amazing day place as well. Nowhere is that more evident than along the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. This is the biggest health club on the planet. There are always people jogging, biking, playing volleyball or soccer, working out and of course swimming and surfing. The people watching is top notch if athletics are not of interest.

Activities Dining Shopping Resources Nightlife  
National Museum
Quinto da Boa Vista - Sao Cristovao
Tel. 2562.6900
The museum is housed in a neo classical palace that was once the home to Brazil's Imperial family. It houses not only antiques but scientific collections focusing on botanic, etnology and zoology.

Sao Bento Monastery
R. Dom Gerardo, 68
Tel. 2291.7122
This Benedictine monastery built between 1617 and 1802 is one of the most grand religious structures in Brazil.  There is High Mass every Sunday at 10AM.

Botanical Gardens
920 Rua Jardim Botanico (pedestrians)
1008 Rua Jardim Botanico (vehicles)
Tel. +55 21 3874.1808
This natural sanctuary redefines how visitors will ever view a garden again. With nearly 400 acres and 8,200 different specimens of plants, including 600 species of orchids, beautiful birds and butterflies, this monument to plant life is one of the ten most important gardens in the world. Buildings and monuments dating back to the 16th century provide a bit of history as well.

Sugar Loaf Cable Car
Avenida Pasteur, 520 - Urca
Tel. +55 (212) 546.8400
Inaugurated in 1912, the cable car ride takes passengers 396 meters up Sugarloaf Mountain, offering the most spectacular views of Rio. From here the skyscrapers seem tiny in comparison to the enormous mountains that surround Rio. The beaches of Rio look pristine from this distance and the ride itself is quite thrilling. And safe: international cable car agencies consider it one of the safest in the world; in its long history it has carried more than 31 million visitors with zero casualties.

Tijuca Forest
Praca Afonso Viseu, Alto da Boa Vista - Tijuca
Tel. +55 (212) 492.5407

Home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many found only in the Atlantic Rainforest, this is the world's largest urban forest. Its historical attractions and enchanting nooks are well worth a leisurely visit. Its attractions include the Cascatinha Waterfall, the Mayrink Chapel, the Excelsior Lookout Point, the Paul and Virginia Grotto and Fairy Lake. The national park has been in existence since the colonial period and made an official preserve in the 60s. It is unique because its amazing flora and fauna has had centuries to mature and develop into a major rain forest that is so close to the center of Rio.

National History Museum
Address:Praça Marechal Âncora - Próximo à Praça XV
20.21-200 - Centro - Rio de Janeiro - RJ
Tel.: (5521) 25509220/ 25509221
A wide variety of collections focused on the history of Brazil, and particularly Rio de Janeiro, in an interesting group of buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th century.

Chacara do Ceu Museum
Rua Murtinho Nobre, 93 (Santa Teresa)
Tel. 2507.1932
Raymundo Castro Maya had this house built in the hills of Santa Teresa and filled it with some pretty impressive art.  The actual house is quite spectacular with its great views and  it’s architecture that is reminiscent of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.  You get a glimpse into the eccentric mind of the collector. Castro Mayo who seems to have had three chief interests -- European painters (Impressionists like Monet and Matisse, and more daring stuff like Picasso and Dalí); Brazilian art, particularly 19th-century landscapes; and Chinese pottery.

National Fine Arts Museum
Ave. Rio Branco, 199
Tel. 2240.0068
Outstanding collection of Brazilian 16th  century art as well as modern art which is spotlighted regularly by a dynamic exhibition calendar

Imperial Palace
Praca  XV de Novembro, 48 (Centro)
Tel. 2533.4407
This was once the 18th century Governors residence and has witnessed many historic moments, notibly the Proclomation of Independence and the abolition of slavery.

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum
Mirante de Boa Viagem 24210-390
Tel. +55 21 2620 2400
The short 20 minute ferry ride across Guanabarra Bay and then a taxi takes you to the famous Oscar Niemeyer designed Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum.  The museum resembles a flying saucer and has spectacular views of the bay and the city.

Rua Anibal de Mendonca 112 (Ipanema)
Tel. +55 (212) 540.8045
Forneria is the latest in modernist hip design in Rio. Designed by well-known Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, this place specializes in Italian sandwiches. Perfect lunch while shopping in Ipanema 

Rua Aristides EspÌnola, 19 (Leblon)
Tel. +55 (021) 2.294.1049

This elegant restaurant is typically Portuguese, with authentic antique furniture and an antiques dealer on the mezzanine. Some of the specialties are codfish ‡ lagareira – whole pieces baked in olive oil with onions and garlic, broccoli and black olives – and duck rice. The desserts made from eggs and sugar are Portuguese favorites.

Sushi Leblon
Rua Dias Ferreira 256 (Leblon)
Tel. +55 21 2512.7830
Sushi (Brazilian style).  Quail eggs and truffles.  Remember, the biggest contingency of Japanese outside of Japan live in Brazil (mostly Sao Paulo) but many have drifted to Rio.

Rua Dias Ferreira 233 (Leblon)
Tel. +55 21 2512.4551
Italian. Shrimp risotto with mango, mascarpone and arugula.

Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 499 (Ipanema)
Tel. +55 21 3283 1438
Great for a late lunch after the beach.  Private outdoor area also make this a favorite Ipanema trendy restaurant.

Rua Dias Ferreira 233b (Leblon)
Tel. +55 21 3205.7154
Novelle cuisine. Rack of lamb with passion fruit mashed potatoes.  White fish and pepper ceviche.

Esplanada Grill
Rua Barao da Torre 600 (Ipanema)
Tel. +55 (021) 2.512.2970

Not only a great T-bone steak done the Brazilian way, but also the chic Ipanema crowd that frequents this place make it even better. Yes, a reservation is needed.

Madame Butterfly
Rua Barao da Torre, 472 (Ipanema)
Tel. +55 (021) 2.267.4347

As the most sophisticated and expensive Japanese restaurant in Rio, the food here is superb; highlights include fish with shimeji mushrooms in ginger and sake sauce, the many different types of sushi and rolls with unusual shapes. The restaurant occupies two floors, including a dining room downstairs and reserved booths upstairs.

Mr. Lam
Rua Maria Angelica, 21 (Lagoa)
Tel. +55 (021) 2286.0060
This modern contemporary Chinese restaurant has high ceilings with very large windows facing Lagoa.  You pay dearly for the abundant space given each diner.  However, the service and food is excellent. 

Rua Custodio Serrao 62 (Lagoa)
Tel. +55 (021) 2.537.8582
The menu's all-Brazilian ingredients are a unique trait of this innovative French restaurant that blends native flavors with nouvelle techniques. Every dish – from the crab or lobster flan to chicken, fish, and duck prepared with exotic herbs and sauces – is exceptionally light. The passion-fruit mousse is a favorite dessert. Reservations are essential.

Confeitaria Colombo
Rua Gonçalves Dias 32,
Rio de Janeiro (Centro)
Tel. + 55.021.2232.2300
A taste of Paris or Vienna's sophisticated cafe culture lives in Rio. Definitely worth a trip downtown, this stunning Victorian coffeebar serves a variety of teas, espressos, sandwiches, salads, and sweets on fine china underneath stained-glass windows. The upstairs room is reserved for full lunches.

Bar d' Hotel
696 Avenida Delfim Moreira
Marina Hotel
Tel. +55 021.2540.4990
On the first floor of the Marina Hotel in Ipanema.
Artists, actors, soccer players, designers and other species of the cool crowd frequent this hip eatery that overlooks the most famous beach in the world. The posing is good, but the food is great. If you have to wait at the bar for a table (very likely if you don't make reservations), try a lemon kir royal (champagne with lemon sorbet) or a sake caipirinha.

Rua Antonio Vieira, 18B (Leme)
Tel. + 55 021 2541 4477
Since its opening in 2001, D'Amici restaurant has become a popular haunt for businessmen, politicians, and socialites. Boasting a fine wine cellar with 300 labels, D'Amici is a small Italian gourmet restaurant that will gratify refined palates. Eclectic Italian dishes such as the specialty lamb plate with arugula risotto are a must-try. The owners Antonio Salustiano and Candido Alves make it a priority to use fresh and unique ingredients, many of them which are imported. During lunch you can expect to see businessmen, while in the evening you can spot couples or friends dining in an intimate setting. The space can fit up to 70 people and reservations are a must.

66 Bistro
Rua Alexandre Ferreira, 66
Tel. +55 21.2266.0838
Authentic French bistro Brasilian style.  Favorites are the Moules Mariniere, mushroom carpaccio and the risotto with Parma ham.

Rua Aprazível, 62 (Santa Teresa)
Tel. +55 21.2508.9174
Owner and chef Ana Castilho runs her restaurant out of her home 4 days a week. Part of the charm is the house itself. The restaurant takes up several rooms and spills over into the garden. And then there is the view of downtown Rio and Guanabara Bay. The kitchen serves up an intriguing variation on Brazilian cuisine, with an emphasis on tropical flavors. Interesting starters include fresh grilled palm hearts, and pumpkin cream soup with prawns, tart apple, and cream. A popular main course is the peixe tropical, grilled fish in an orange sauce, served with coconut rice and baked bananas.

Escola do Pao
Rua General Garzon 10 (Lagoa)
Tel. +55 21 2294.0027
This former home (run by a mother/daughter team) is "the" place to do brunch on Sunday's if you can get in.  It's a French style bistro, bakery and cooking school all rolled into one.  Incredible fresh fruit drinks (your're in Brazil) followed by cheese gratins, finger sandwiches and light as air omelets with the best breads ever.

Bar Erca
Rua Candido Gaffree, 205 (Urca)
Tel. +55 (21) 2295.8744
This bar and restaurant is the real deal.  Only Brazilian food is serverd. Shrimp bobo (delicious cream of spiced manioc with shrimps), Portuguese stew, a whole line of cod and snacks like cakes, pies, soup, seafood and beans and sardines.  The setting to is great. Go for drinks and snacks and if you like stay later for dinner. 

Blue Man, Forum de Ipanema
Rua Viscomde de Piraja, 351
Tel. +55 (021) 2247.4905
Seeing  a man in a traditional trunk bathing suit  in Rio is about as common as seeing a woman in a  traditional one piece one.  Men on the beach of beautiful bodies wear "Sugas".  The bathing suits are several inches wider at the sides then the American version of Speedos and are made with double nylon.  Needless to say the choices are many.  Gym First!!! This shop has beautiful womens suits as well.

Babilonia Feira Hype
Jockey Club Brasileiro
Rua Jardim Bot‚nico
Tel. +55 (021) 2.253.9800 or +55 (021) 2.263.7667
Babilonia Feira Hype takes place every other weekend from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm. This fair combines fashion, design, art, and gastronomy. It's good not only for shopping, but also for watching the beautiful people go by. There is a small admission charge.

Garapa Doida
Rue Carlos Goes, 234
Loja F, Leblon
Tel. +55 (021) 2.274.8186

If a taste for caiparinhas develops on the visit, then bring back a bottle of cachaca to make it at home. Only a tiny portion of the two billion liters produced annually ever gets exported.  But here guests can choose from hundreds of oak-aged varieties with different vintages and prices.

Modern Sound
Rua Barata Ribeiro 502 D
Tel. +55 (021) 2.548.5005
Don’t miss taking home the music of Rio. Modern Sound was a traditional shop that turned into a self-designated mega-music store. Aside from the 50,000 CD titles – which include samba, hip-hop, electronica, classics and lots of rarities – the store carries music equipment and accessories. It also has a charming bistro, where the finest carioca musicians play live music, from jazz to bossa nova.

Dive Point
Av. Ataulfo de Paiva, 1.174 ss.4 (Leblon)
Tel. +55 (021) 3.813.0312 or +55 (9) 699.9633
Rent scuba equipment or take classes. Dive Point offers tours around the main beaches, to the Cagarras islands off Ipanema, and to premiere dive spots including Angra dos Reis, a small city located south of Rio de Janeiro state. The city has more than 365 Islands, one for each day of the year. Ilha Grande, the biggest island in the area, has waterfalls, Atlantic forest, nice beaches with crystal clear water and interesting diving features, like shipwrecks and small caves.

Helicopter Tours
Rua Conde Bernadotte 26
Loja 119, Leblon
Tel.  +55 (212) 511.2141
Take a thrilling 6-to-60 minute helicopter ride. Admire the details of the Christ the Redeemer Statue, or soar over the mountains and beaches and see the waterfalls in Tijuca park.

Passelos de jeep (Jeep Tours)
Tel. +55 2108.5800
These special convertible jeep tours are a perfect alternaive to the common bus tour.  Be sure to arrange one that includes the Tijuca Atlantic Forest which is the world's largest urban forest.  The fauna is incrdible and so are the views you'll see. Usually about 4 hours.

Biking in Rio
The concept started in Paris and Amsterdam and now, Rio de Janeiro. The new Bike Rio system gives Cariocas a new means of transport. However, with bike stations all over the city (60 now and a projected 90) and terrific bike lanes this just may be a big hit with visitors.  Biking along Impanema and Copacabana affords spectacular scenery.  Not only is the geography beautiful but the people watching ain't bad either.  Cariocas love outdoor activities and their bodies show it.  You can pick the bycycle up at one station and leave at another. (Right now there is a one hour limit)

Bunker 94
Rua Raul Pompeia, 94 (Copacabana)
Tel.  +55 (212) 521.0367
The people who attend this club are among the most eclectic – and everybody is always welcome to Bunker. The music differs each day, varying from 80s to pop-rock to drum'n'bass. There are three rooms and two dance floors, each with a different style of music. The lounge, including a big-screen TV, is a great place to take a rest. There is also an enormous bed for ultimate relaxation.

Rua Adalberto Ferreira, 32 (Leblon)
Tel. +55 (212) 274.4022

Okay, it’s touristy, but this steak house brings together a lot of glitter, mulatas and samba every night after ten. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is cheerful and very informal. The Tom Jobim Bar, named after the world-famous composer who was a regular patron, is one of the best places to find bohemian old-timers.

Avenida Armando Lombardi 999
Tel. +55 21.3153.8595
Down in the Barra area this is signature club of the area and certainly one where you'll find the beautiufl set.

Bar do Copa
Copacabana Palace Hotel
Ave Atlantica
The iconic Copacabana Palace hotel keeps reinventing itself.  The new bar, really more a club,  is not for novices!  Here is the new hang out of Rio's "soap opera" beauties.

Baretto Londra
Fasano Hotel
Av. Vieira Souuto, 80 (Ipanema)
This British themed club originated at Fasano hotel in Sao Paulo.  Now the Ipanema space is one of the places in Rio.  During the week it's cocktails and Rock (music) but on weekends all about rolling up the carpets and dancing to House music.

Rio Scenarium
Rua do Lavradio 20 (Lapa)
Tel.+55 21 3147.9005
The downtown area ia home to late night clubs and plenty of street food if you get hungry in between.  This popular samba club is, like most of the other clubs in the area,  not as expensive as the ones in Leblon or Ipanema but get a non-tourist Carioca crowd.

Zero Zero
Avenida Padre Leonel Franca, 240 (Gavea)
Dining and Dancing.  This place combines both and an outdoor pario.

Carioca da Gema
Rua mem de Sa 79 (Lapa)
Tel.+55 21 2221.0043
Another downtown bar but this one more intimate.

Jobi, Leblon
Av. Ataulfo de Paiva, 1166 (Leblon)
Tel.+55 21 2274-0547 
Jobi is the die hard late night place.  The place is always busy and the frink of choice is Chopp. Always open til 5AM.