I often get asked the question, “so what is there to do in Rio de Janeiro after you visit all of the main tourist attractions?” The great thing about Rio aka The Marvelous City is that there are a lot of fun and interesting things to still do, even after you visit all of the main tourist attractions. Here is a list of my 10 favorite things to do in Rio de Janeiro.
1. Ipanema Beach on Sunday Afternoon – As long as the weather is nice everyday is a good day on Ipanema Beach, but I especially like hitting up Ipanema Beach on Sundays. On Sundays they shut down the main street Avenue Vieira Souto and many locals come out to do everything from surf, roller blade, bicycle, relax, and tan. The eye candy on Ipanema Beach is really great on Sundays too.
2. Samba School Rehearsal Parties – Many of Rio de Janeiro’s top Samba schools have rehearsal parties that are open to the public on weekend nights. The rehearsal parties usually start in August and go until Carnival in February/March. They are a lot of fun and a great place to get off the tourist stroll and meet some friendly locals. The most famous Samba Schools in Rio are Salgueiro, Mangueira, Grande Rio, Beija Flor, Tijuca, Unidos De Villa Isabela, and Mocidade.
3. Barra Shopping – I’m not really a big mall person, but I like hanging out at Barra Shopping, especially on rainy days when there is not much else to do. Barra Shopping is good for shopping, browsing around, and just hanging out watching all of the beautiful Brazilian eye candy. It is located in the Barra da Tijuca suburb of Rio de Janeiro and is a 20-30 min bus ride from Copacabana and Ipanema.
4. Lapa Friday Night Street Party – usually on Friday nights in Rio there is a big street party in the centro Lapa section of the city. Many locals hang out there on Friday nights and party right in the streets. There are many bars and small clubs on the Lapa strip, but I usually have more fun hanging outside. There is plenty of good music to listen to played by street musicians and you can get all of your favorite alcoholic beverages cheap from the many street vendors. They even sometimes have big free concerts right in the square under the Lapa Arches.
5. Walking the beach from Copacabana to Leblon – When the weather is nice I enjoy starting at Morro de Leme, which is at the beginning of Copacabana Beach and taking a nice long walk along Ipanema Beach all the way to the end of Leblon Beach. It’s a fun, great, relaxing walk and you will see plenty of eye candy along the way. If you also like to workout like I do, they have running and bicycle lanes as well as free workout stations along the way.
6. Rio Scenarium Nightclub – Occasionally I like hitting up Rio Scenarium Nightclub. It is is one of Rio’s most popular and nicest nightclubs. The crowd is fun & friendly and made up of a nice mix of both tourist and locals. It is located in the Lapa section of the city. The best nights to check out Rio Scenarium are Friday and Saturday.
7. Rocinha Favela – My friend Zezinho lives in Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela (slum) and I sometimes go hang out with him on his rooftop and just kick back and have a few beers. He has one of the most priceless views of Rio right from his rooftop, coincidentally in one of Rio’s poorest areas. Zezinho started a popular favela tour company (Favela Adventures) where he takes people around his favela of Rocinha and gives guest a glimpse into favela life. Part of the tour even takes you to his home where you can hang out and enjoy an amazing view of Rio on his rooftop.
8. Strolling Nossa Senhora de Copacabana – During the day I like taking a stroll down one of Copacabana’s main avenues – Nossa Senhora de Copacabana. This is where you will find many locals and it is a great avenue for people watching. There are also plenty of inexpensive shops and restaurants to check out along the way. If you are looking for a more upscale street stroll head to Ipanama’s Visconde de Piraja street.
9. Free Concerts – Rio has many free concerts that take place around the city. Most happen in Centro around Cinelandia or Lapa. I usually find out about them by asking local friends or hotel/hostel staff.
10. Live Samba – I love Samba music and enjoy going to the Lapa section of the city to check out all of the good Samba spots. Many of the places are open air so you can just walk the strip until you find a spot you like. One of my favorite Samba clubs in Lapa is Carioca da Gema.