With Rio de Janeiro hosting the Olympics this August, Brazil and South America are the hottest destinations on the planet in 2016. Whether you're planning a visit before, during or after the games, a full day of exploring will help you to embrace the ebulliance of the Brazilian capital. Here is our take on the best places to be for each hour of your day in the Olympic city. Discover for yourself why Rio is the place to be this year!
Awake to an amazing breakfast spread at the beautiful Hotel Santa Teresa in the upmarket district of the same name. An old Spanish colonial residence, the Santa Teresa is Rio’s only Relaix and Chateau property. On Rua Cosme Velho, it overlooks the frenetic downtown and Lapa districts and feels a bit like staying in the Hollywood Hills.
Take a walk through the trendy bohemian hillside enclave of Santa Teresa admiring the colourful street art, winding cobbled streets and the early Portugese colonial architecture.
Take the cog train 700 metres up the mountain to Corcovado for amazing photo opportunities over the city and an up-close and personal view of the Christ the Redeemer statue, whose open arms welcome visitors to Rio.
Head downtown for a buffet lunch at Confeitara Colombo. A living portrait of the Belle Époque in Rio and one of the city's gourmet landmarks, this restaurant still retains much of its Art Nouveau charm dating back to the beginning of the century.
After lunch explore the streets of downtown including Rua Gonçalves Dias, a shoppers' delight. Beautiful, brightly colored paintings brighten up the crumbling walls of the city’s neo-classical buildings.
Head to Rio’s modern new waterfront area, Porto Maravilha, which has been entirely rebuilt for the Olympics and includes the futuristic Museum of Tomorrow.
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Take a drive to see the Sambadrome, one of the main Olympic venues and ground zero for Carnivale. If there’s time, take a spin out to Barre to check out other Olympic sites.
Head to Copacabana, one of the most iconic beaches in the world. This gentle, four-kilometre arc is alive with cariocans (locals) playing beach volleyball and soccer and lots of scantily clad women. The beachfront esplanade is lined with cafes and beach bars selling caipirinhas and local beers at all hours of the day.
Return to your hotel and take a refreshing dip in the pool, then have a drink at the fabulous bar that overlooks the city. Relax in the refined atmosphere of The Santa Teresa and enjoy the glorious sunset views.
Head down to enjoy Brazilian tapas in the streets of Lapa. This popular nightlife district right below Santa Teresa is full of cafes and bars that spill out onto the street. Order drinks and dinner and mix with the locals in a lively atmosphere.
Take in a dinner and show at Lapa’s Rio Scenarium, a music restaurant with three floors of drinking, dining, antiques and live music. Dance the night away to your choice of samba, choro or pagode.
11:00pm till late
Party on the streets of Lapa, the nightlife center of Rio, till 3:00am. In between caipirinhas, make ambitious plans to conquer Corcovado and Sugar Loaf the next day.