Rio Weekend

By Ben Cherrington 

Whether you're after pure hedonism, breathtaking views or simply world class football, Rio has it all. Resident Ben Cherrington shares his local recommendations on how to spend the perfect Rio weekend...

On Friday morning have breakfast at Confeitaria Colombo. This restaurant is a Rio institution, offering al fresco dining with views of Copacabana beach and Leme beach set beneath a mountain backdrop. Then get straight to the beach and take advantage of the morning sun before the relentless early afternoon heat sets in. Try your hand at the fastest growing beach sport in the city, Stand Up Paddle (SUP). It's a lot easier than trying to play football with the locals! 

After working up a thirst, go to Bibi Sucos juice bar and pick up an Açai, the Amazonian berry juice. Another Rio staple is the Coxinha de frango, a delicious chicken pastry favoured by Nigella Lawson on a recent trip to Rio.  Have a late lunch at the Parque Lage, a beautiful 1920s built mansion set within the gardens of Jardim Botanico.

  

It’s the natural beauty of Rio that sets it apart from other cities, and the more adventurous should experience this by hand gliding from Pedra Bonita mountain.

Sip caipirinhas at Bar Astor on Ipanema Beach. Those in the mood for wine and steak should go to Cavist and enjoy the chorizo beef or file mignon.  For superb seafood I love Zaza Bistro - the braised tuna steak and oysters are delicious. 

At night Rio comes alive! The free, open-air samba party Pedra do Sal, at Praça Mauá in Centro, is a good place to start the night and get to know the locals. On the first Friday of the month, enjoy jazz at the Maze - live bands playing in a castle on the hill in Tavares Bastos, Catete. The Lapa street party is the most popular venue on a Friday, but those who prefer something a little less gritty should check out Carioca da Gema or Lapa 40 Graus in the same neighbourhood. 

On Saturday morning have breakfast at the newly opened French patisserie La Biciclet, inside the magnificent Jardim Botanico. After a stroll round the gardens take a taxi up to Santa Teresa, a charming hillside neighbourhood, home to the aristocracy in the 1930s. For a true taste of Brazil head to Bar do Mineiro and try the national dish, Feijoada - a black bean stew with pork and beef. If money is no object then Apresivel is a must, for lunch or dinner. The view is stunning and so is the food.

You can't leave Rio without experiencing sunset on the beach, so beautiful the locals break out in applause. The rock of Arpoador on Ipanema beach has the best view.  

Unsurprisingly there are endless options for hedonists looking for a good time on a Saturday night. Hang out with the beautiful crowd at the rooftop pool bar at the Pestana Hotel, Copacabana.

Or go to Salgueiro, in Tijuca, a samba school rehearsal, where you can watch the band and dancers show off their talents and then join in with dancing until the early hours.  Alto Vidigal offers the best view of any night haunt in Rio. Make sure you get there early (before 11pm) to avoid the queues.

If you've made the most of Rio's nightlife, you won't be up for Sunday breakfast.  Instead grab a coxhinha and stroll to your nearest churrascaria. (the famous Brazilian all-you-can-eat meat restaurants). A delicious onslaught of the finest cuts are carved onto your plate until you can take no more. I  recommend Porcão in Flamengo and Fogo de Chão in Botafogo

If you've tired of the beach, hang out in the beautiful seaside neighbourhood of Urca. Do as the cariocas do by sitting on the wall and drinking beer at Bar Urca, a wonderful place to end your weekend.  

 

  1. LOCAL TIP  Avoid a Rio hangover by taking an Engov tablet (available at any pharmacy in Rio) before going out, and once you wake up the next day. You're very welcome!

 If you’re planning a trip and looking for affordable accommodation Ben can help! Please check out his Facebook page.

 

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A local recommendations guide to how to what to see, do and eat in Rio de Janeiro as well as how to book decent affordable accommodation.