With all eyes on Rio for the Summer Olympics, we spoke to the people who know the city best to get the inside scoop on where to shop, eat and beach—when you’re not watching sports. Read the story to learn how to do Rio like a local.
WHERE TO STAY
Currently the hot-spot in Rio is this Ipanema hotel overlooking the ocean (come on, what’s more picturesque than that). Almost every panelist called out the hotel as the place to be in Rio. “It’s right in front of the beach and the pool bar is incredible, you can have amazing drinks and snacks and enjoy the most amazing view in Rio,” Helena said.
The Belmond Copacabana Palace
In line with New York’s Plaza Hotel or the Ritz Paris is the Copacabana Palace. Juliana and Maya’s all-time favorite is the “most traditional” hotel in Rio and a glamorous city landmark.
The Santa Teresa Hotel
Located in the heart of the Santa Teresa neighborhood and decorated with pieces from all over Brazil, Juliana and Maya also recommend the Descasados Bar here.
Also located in Santa Teresa, Mama Ruisa was the "first boutique hotel in the neighborhood," according to the Isolda designers, with fun samba bars and cabarets located just a few minutes away.
WHAT TO WEAR
To make your entrance into Rio, channel the cities legendary arty vibe with colorful prints (paired with a fun crop top and on-trend slides).
Described by Luisa as “a bit like a tree house," complete with thatched roofs and bambo furniture, this restaurant serves artisanal takes on Brazilian cuisine.
An insider favorite on par with Hotel Fasano, Sushi Leblon is a place to see and be seen. According to Lenny it has “the best sushi and caipivodka (traditional cocktail with Caiprinha and vodka) in town.”
This ocean-side spot in Ipanema is Antonio’s top pick for a formal dinner, and offers an exceptional fresh seafood menu (one of the many perks of a seaside restaurant). The vibe is, “very classic with a mixed scene of older people and the occasional carioca hipster.”
“If I want red meat, I go to Rubaiyat ,” Lenny said of the Mediterranean restaurant which overlooks the Jockey Club racetracks. In a country known for its steakhouses, Rubaiyat stands alone for its “dinner and a show” possibilities.
WHAT TO WEAR
A sophisticated color palette is made festive with pineapple earrings and an off the shoulder dress.
Lenny’s can’t-miss spot is Prado.co, a grill at the Jockey Club known for its drinks, dancing and food. Enjoy your drinks and charcuterie in a laid-back location while taking advantage of the chance to watch the nearby racetrack.
Located at the Fasano Hotel is Londra, which offers honors the eponymous British capital, for a break from the true Carioca.
For Juliana and Maya, “the night always ends at Jobi, it’s open until 4 am.” A Rio institution located in Leblon, the late-night spot blissfully offers some of the best chope beer and food in town. According to Luisa the thing to try is the local caipirinhas
On top of Morro do Vidigal is Laje, a truly local bar, which offers unfettered views of the ocean. However, Luisa advises visitors
to be careful, “it can be dangerous as it is located inside a favela.”
WHAT TO WEAR
No black to be found in this nightlife wardrobe! We dare you to try resisting the dance floor in a festive top, flippy skirt and palm print heel.
The beautiful botanical gardens, recommended by Luisa, combine Versailles-worthy gardens with gorgeous glasshouse architecture.
The Museum of Tomorrow
“If you would like a cultural adventure then it is worth a trip to The Museum of Tomorrow,” Juliana and Maya said. The futuristic museum takes you through space and time from "The Cosmos" to "Now." The gravity-defying architecture juts upward like a space-age seesaw, making the building just as much of a destination as the museum’s content.
Niteroi Museum of Contemporary Art
Designed by famed artist Oscar Neimeyer (A Rio native coincidentally related to Lenny by marriage), the museum is “really special and the view of Rio is splendid,” Antonio said. Currently on display is a curated look into Latin American storytelling.
Instituto Moreira Salles
Art junkies take note– Helena says, “the house is beautiful, you can see the mountains from the pool area and they always have the best art exhibitions.” Check out the vast photography
collection for which its known for.
A must-see location for first timers, Antonio recommends going to this peak right at night “right before it closes.” Accessible by cable-cars, the journey is truly half the fun. “You can’t got to Rio and not visit Pão de Açúcar,” Patricia said.
WHAT TO WEAR
The cross-body and sneaker combo is essential (!!!) for a day of sight-seeing, but keep it chic with cropped trousers and prints.
Few antique fairs have the added advantage of colonial buildings for extra authenticity. This monthly event showcases vintage finds, scored by samba bands.
Located in a townhouse in Centro, this new store has made a name for itself for its impeccably curated selection of brands and in-house art performances. According to Antonio the constantly changing collection has “the most sophisticated selection of Brazilian brands.” The neighborhood is just as cool and packed with galleries and theaters.
The Isolda girls note “best shopping is at Via Flores where you can find the best curated Brazilian labels selected by owner, Joana Nolasco.” The multi-brand store combines familiar names like Paule Ka and Cushnie et Ochs with Brazil’s favorite brands.
The Hippie Fair, Ipanema
Also known as Feira Hipe, the fair has been held every weekend since the golden age of Hippies, the 1960s. With over 700 stalls, the real steals are the handcrafted jewelry. Spend a day searching for the perfect piece.
Rua Garcia d’Avila
The quintessential “shopping street” in line with 5th Ave, Rodeo Drive, and the Champs-Élysées, is the Rua Garcia d’Avila. Luisa recommends this as "The place to go if you like shopping and people watching.”
WHAT TO WEAR
Match the Carioca (Portuguese for “from Rio”) vibe with a free-spirited ensemble.