As soon as I arrived in the cidade maravilhosa (meaning ‘marvellous city’), it welcomed me with a warm 30°C, which was lovely after the chilly 9°C that I had left behind in London.
Saturday is the best time to see the cariocas (a term used to describe Rio’s residents) coming out to party and make the most of life. Therefore, we went to the Lapa neighbourhood, where Rio Scenarium – a very interesting bar that used to be an antiques shop – is located. Now, it is an eclectic place where visitors and locals come to dance samba. With the help of one or two refreshing Caipirinhas, it is easy to venture onto the dance floor, which is what I did.
Any visitor to Rio should see the panoramic views from Corcovado, a mountain in the centre of the city on which stands the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. Alternatively, Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak with a cable-car, is well worth an ascent. The vistas from both are amazing. After experiencing these, my private guide, Marcelo Tesseroli, took me to see several beaches.
The city is blessed with many sandy bays, which makes it very special. We went to see several of them, starting at Copacabana and then continuing to Ipanema and Leblon, finishing at a stunning beach called Prainha. Marcelo, our guide, knew that we would love this spot because of its seclusion and the typical restaurant there, where we had the tasty moqueca de camarão e peixe (fish-and-prawn stew with rice). It was wonderful, which matched with the beauty of the landscape.
We, at cazenove+loyd, would certainly recommend exploring the Old Town, the former Portuguese capital of the empire, which has handsome buildings that belong to the colonial era. Here, you can see singer, dancer and actress Carmen Miranda’s house and magnificent baroque churches.
I also went to the charming Santa Teresa district, located on one of the city’s hills, where you can wander around the shops and eat with the locals. There are also parks to enjoy and new areas that were developed or restored for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
For those particularly interested in food, we can arrange a fun culinary evening with our Brazilian friend Luiz Felipe Amaral at his cosy penthouse home near the Botanical Garden. He will teach you how to make the famous shrimp-and-fish moqueca, a delicious local dessert and the perfect Caipirinha. You will then feast on your creations together.
The nightlife in Rio is so lively that an evening or two testing out the restaurants and bars in Leblon is a must too. The mixture of local ingredients, with some of them coming from Amazonia, produce delicious meals and you will want to repeat the experience.
My 72 hours in this incredible city were so varied, and I would have loved to stay an extra day to discover more. Rio deserves a visit of at least three nights, so you can savour its Latin vibrancy. There are so many memorable experiences we can organise here and I have but touched on the tip of the iceberg.