The postcard-pretty Marvellous City dazzles with yearround sun, sand, samba and sex appeal, but don’t judge this Betty solely by her teeny bikini – not content with some 80km of beaches, Rio de Janeiro also boasts awesome architecture, an up n’ coming culinary scene and hot homegrown design, not to mention the Olympics on her radar...
Ipanema Beach and neighbouring Leblon kiss the Atlantic Ocean on the city’s southern shores, with Jardim Botânico and Lagoa lying to the north, and Copacabana to the east. Further north still find hip Botafogo and Flamengo, with the hilly inclines of boho Santa Teresa, nightlife hub Lapa, and historical financial district Centro perched above.
Cariocas don their itsy-bitsies and wetsuits whenever the sun’s out, even in winter (Jul-Sep). Hot n’ humid tropical summers (Dec-Feb) mark high season – whip ‘em off and prepare to people-OGLE, not people-watch Galeão Int’l Airport (GIG) to Ipanema: 45min / R$100 by cab; and domestic airport Santos Dumont (SDU) approx 20min / R$40; allow extra time for traffic to/from both Events. Carnaval: Feb/Mar, heaving month-long street party like spring break but with nip tassels, attend at your own peril; New Year’s Eve: Reveillon, fireworks on Copacabana beach and tiddly revellers wearing white Taxis are abundant, but don’t expect a lick of English – bring addresses in Portuguese, make sure your car has GPS, and keep your concierge on speed-dial There is a poorly-signed metro and bus network that services farther nabes, but without a native speaker you may end up lost near the Amazon – take a taxi Safety. Rio gets a bad rap for crime, and not for nothing. Be savvy – don’t wave your DSLR about, leave the Rolex at home, no beaches after dark, and avoid Centro on w/ends. If the worst happens, stay calm and cooperate Beach. Absolutely do NOT bring a towel – it would be better to plaster a giant ‘tourist’ sign to your head Locals wear cangas (sarongs) and rent beach chairs Caipirinhas. National cocktail with a liberally poured cachaça (rocket fuel) base – sip it slowly or ask for a caipiroska (subbed with vodka), or ready your ambulance Most shops open around 10am-7pm Mon-Fri, until 4pm Sat, and close Sun; all museums are closed Mon Currency is the real, ATMs are everywhere but close after 10pm; cash up at Banco24Horas in petrol stations Smoking is banned indoors and in covered outdoor areas Int’l dialling code is +55, landlines start with 21, neither need be dialled locally. Mobiles start with 9 In emergencies dial 193 for ambulance, 190 for police, and 2332 2924 for tourist police
The following phrases will charm the pants off Cariocas...
Oi / Tchau tchau : Hiya / Laters E aí, gatinha? : What’s going on, kitty cat? Isso deve ser silicone : Check out the faux baps on that!
...vamos à praia