Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and the third largest in Latin America. Travelers from all over look forward to swimming in the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, to hiking all the way up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, or to the Sugarloaf rock. Rio is the perfect combination of nature and city life, with long beaches and big gardens that blend in harmoniously with the city infrastructure. Safety is always a concern for travelers when visiting Rio. Below, I will offer advice that can help keep you safe, along with my favorite things to do in this sexy, tropical city.
Gay City Guide
Rio Carnaval Festival February 24– March 4, 2017
The gay scene is huge, with parties all year long, hosting some of the most attractive men I have seen on earth. It’s so fun that most guys that come here just split their days between the beach and clubs. (Reason why my top image is a museum 🙂 ) Brazilians like to dance, and most of their bars are really small clubs, always with a dance floor. You don’t need to come to Rio for any of the big events to have a good time. Their famous mega club, The Week, is like a gay parade celebration party pretty much every weekend.
Like any of the beach capitals of the world, Rio’s body culture and image influence heavily in the atmosphere and the people from the scene. Having access to outdoor gyms in almost every corner of the city, these guys muscles are no joke. Of all the Latino lovers, Brazilians are the most passionate, and that is not a myth. If looking for love for a day, or a lifetime, Rio de Janeiro is there waiting for you.
Top Bars and Clubs
Their slogan is “where the rich and beautiful meet.” It’s a posh restaurant with two bars, with a huge, lofty, open-air dance area. There were lots of cuties and really good music when I went, but compared to other places some of the guys here had an attitude and were not very welcoming. It is good to come with a group of friends. I don’t recommend it if traveling alone.
Location: Avenida Padre Leonel Franca, 240 – Gavea, Rio de Janeiro
To Nem Ai
It is one of the few bars that is opened in the daytime. Just two blocks from Ipanema beach, it’s a great spot to come for a cocktail or a drink before or after the beach. Their restaurant serves tasty food. It also gets busy on the weekends as a pregame place before hitting the clubs.
Location: Rua Farme de Amoedo 57 (Ipanema) Rio de Janeiro
This small dance club, located in the heart of Ipanema, can be a bit compact, but is a favorite for the younger boys crowd. The club features Brazilian music on Wednesdays, Trash Pop on Thursdays, and standard club fare on Fridays and Saturdays.
Location: Rua Teixeira de Melo, 31
Small, hole-in-the-wall, famous for their Drag shows. Popular with the queer/alternative scene. It is a fun alternative when looking to get a break from the circuit queens or the arrogant twinks.
Location:Rua Capitao Menezes 1140, Praca Seca
Imported from Sao Paolo, this club brings Top international DJs to their two dance floors, and patio, every weekend. It brings locals and visitors from all over the world every Saturday night to what is, without a doubt, the most fun place to dance and have a good time in the city of Rio.
Location: Rua Sacadura Cabral, 152 Rio de Jane
Top 3 Hotels
Top Hotel in Rio de Janeiro period. Their prime location on Ipanema beach has an impeccable view of the entire coast line. Enjoying a sunset in their infinity pool is the denifition of Brazilian luxury at is best. Bringing a much-needed touch of contemporary cool to Ipanema’s surprisingly stale hotel scene, the Fasano has usurped the Copacabana Palace as the A-listers’ Rio stay of choice.
My main advise is to avoid the rooms with courtyard views one of the highest selling points of the hotel is their incredible modern balconies overlooking at the iconic scenic Rio view. The standard rooms aren’t exactly the biggest in the city but relaxing in an original Sergio Rodrigues chair watching the sun set is one of the most magical experiences you will have. Sharp, contemporary bathrooms and huge beds are standard, and the impressive suites are the last-word in luxury. Best Rate $400
The classy 5-star Belmond Copacabana Palace offers luxurious rooms with marbled bathrooms and panoramic ocean views, located on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beachfront. Services include a wellness spa and 3 gastronomic restaurants. Of all the Luxury Hotels Copacabana is not only the oldest but the one that offer the biggest rooms.
The spacious rooms at the Belmond Copacabana Palace are individually decorated with English antique furniture and original artworks. All offer king-size beds, free use of internet and a free pair of Havaianas flip flops. Some include private balconies with panoramic city or ocean views. If available this are the best rooms of the hotel.
Top Italian dishes are served in Cipriani restaurant and a selection of drinks are available at the Copacabana Piano Bar. The new MEE Restaurant offers Pan Asian cuisine, with a menu created by the chefs Kazuo Harada and Rafael Hidaka.
The 5-star Caesar Park Ipanema – Managed by Sofitel welcomes you in a luxurious building situated on the seafront of Ipanema Beach, one of the most privileged areas of Rio de Janeiro. In addition to its great location, this hotel offers several leisure and relaxation options, such as sauna, spa, outdoor pool and a well-equipped gym with a panoramic view over the ocean.
Opposite the Caesar Park, you can enjoy Ipanema using the beach services offered by the hotel. These include shower, umbrellas, towels and loungers. Galani Restaurant offers international cuisine for lunch and dinner, and on Saturday a traditional feijoada, the Brazilian black bean dish, is served at Galani Restaurant.
Top 3 Restaurants
High end restaurants in Rio are really not outstanding. The restaurants I will be recommending are local treasures rather than high end luxury experiences. If you want incredible atmosphere and high end treatment I recommend you to stay in any of the restaurants of the 3 luxury hotels I recommended above. All of them have beautiful venues but here are 3 hidden treasures that you will love to discover;
With front sea views of Ipanema beach this is my favorite spot in the area. Gabbiano is a fusion between Italian and Mediterranean cuisine it is a bit hard to locate because is inside a plain shopping center with no signage indicating a restaurant is within. Try to find it, the atmosphere is delightful and is worth the little hazard you might have looking for it. With great service, reasonable prices, and superb food I promise you will have a wonderful time. I had the homemade pasta with lobster and it was remarkably good.
One of my favorite spots not only in Rio but in Brazil. This vegan restaurant is nothing short but a masterpiece. Perfect spot to lunch or have dinner when visiting the Cristo Corcovado. The restaurant is located net to the gates of the iconic attraction. Brazilian Chef Marcos Freitas gift to Cariocas is a treasure you need to discover. From appetizers to their famous sucos (natural juices) you will have a mind blowing experience. Make sure to try any of their tortas or incredible desserts.
Located in a little hill at the end of Coppacabana beach this is the true local experience. Delicious sea food platers with the most fresh ingredients in town. David has been running this local favorite spot since only 2010 and last year was voted #1 restaurants between locals. If you want to have the real authentic Carioca experience this is the best choice. I had the seafood cocktail salad prawns in garlic and purl ribs with a chilly jam. But David is a great host and he will be sure to recommend you the perfect dish. It is a relaxed environment so you don’t need to dress up. Best to visit in the afternoons sunset time after a long day at the beach.
Hostel prices Starting around $25 BRL for a night for a dorm (8-18 beds). Depending on the location and time of the year you can pay more. The cheapest a private room can be is $70 BRL, although most are closer to $150 BRL per night. Hostels are abundant but become more expensive the closer you get to the beaches. Most of the hostels have WiFi and breakfast included.
Hotel prices Good location, budget friendly hotels with free WiFi start at $1o0 BRL per night, though expect to pay closer to $150 BRL, again depending on the location and proximity to the beach. Airbnb share rooms start around $80 BRL, and private apartments start around $150 BRL.
Food Small, local restaurants here cost $12-15 BRL for a meal that includes a drink. Fancy restaurants will cost around $50-60 BRL. Casual restaurants can start at $30 BLR. In general, Brazilian food is not that great, so I would not spend a lot of money eating out and save the money for tourist attractions and other things.
Transportation A metro ride costs $2.80 BRL. Public buses cost $2.50-4.50 BRL, depending the distance. Getting around can be hard, especially if you don’t know the language. A cab or an Uber is one of the best ways to move around Rio, try to have the addresses of where you’re going always at hand.
Top things to do
Opened less than two years ago in 2015, this has been one of the most incredible museums I’ve seen and I cannot recommend it more. A total visceral experience, the main exhibition takes you through a tunnel and five main rooms: Cosmos, Earth, Anthropocene, Tomorrow, and Now. The museum mixes science with an innovative design, using different video art techniques with futuristic elements to focus on the possibilities of sustainable cities.
Ipanema and Copacabana Beach
Try to make it out of here to see other places and things. Just try, I know it will be hard when Ipanema is not only one of the most iconic beaches in the world but one of the gayest as well. Follow the rainbow and you will find the gay’s spot. After a day on the beach, guys head out to the bars or to Rio G Spa, one of the city’s most popular saunas, just across the street from the beach. If visiting Copacabana try to make it to Bar do David for one of Rio’s best local food.
One of the first images we get in our heads when we think of Rio. The iconic Christ the Redeemer is an Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, in collaboration with the French engineer Albert Caquot. Be sure to eat at Prana Vegetariano before or after your visit and avoid eating on the restaurant of the top of the Corcovado, it’s overprice and terrible quality.
Sugarloaf Mountain is 1,300 feet tall and offers a breathtaking view of the entire city. Its view is the main attraction on this iconic Rio landmark. I recommend getting here at sunset or sunrise to get the best light for pictures.
The Botanical Gardens
For a moment off of the beach and a break from the speedo men. Guided tours of the gardens are free in these facilities. Be sure to check out the carnivorous greenhouse filled with Venus flytraps and pitcher plants. Great for a relaxing afternoon, you truly feel disconnected from the city buzz.
The Selaron Stairway
Located in Santa Teresa district, this stairway has hundreds of steps of different colors and motifs. A favorite among travelers for the opportunities they give for a good picture, this is a good way of discovering one of Rio’s most colorful neighborhoods. The artist of this urban masterpiece collaborated with dozens of artist from around the country to create this city icon.
Everything Brazil has to offer in one place! The greatest party on earth brings over 2 million people to their streets per day. Vibrant, euphoric, and with the sexiest dancers you will ever witness. Come dance Samba with the locals while together you all celebrate the pure act of being alive. For six days you will witness a level of energy that you didn’t think possible. Carnival in Rio has become a myth, come and witness the wonder of this magical event. Rio’s Carnival
Celebrate New Year’s Eve
The city gets dressed all in white every year on December 31 to receive the New Year. Along the beach one of the most iconic fireworks shows in the world will unfold before your eyes.
- Don’t walk alone at night
- If traveling alone, take an Uber or Taxi to each destination
- Always have your personal info on a piece of paper and the address of where you are staying
- Don’t walk with jewelry
- Don’t walk with a lot of cash
- Leave a credit card as an emergency always back in your hostel or hotel
- Get one of those money belts you can hide under your clothes and put your ID and money there.
- If going clubbing with friends leave phones in the hotel.
- At Carnival: Leave your GoPro, Smart phones, and Cameras at home (Really, leave them)
- If the alley looks dangerous, it probably is. Try to stay in the touristy areas unless you are with a local, especially if you don’t know the language.