Living Like a Local in Rio de Janeiro
A perfect balance between a sprawling urban spectacle and natural wonders, Rio is a geographical maze that offers an utterly thrilling city experience unlike any other. From its world-famous beaches that disappear into the horizon, its incessant parties that fill the air with an electrifying energy and its dramatic mountains covered in lush green jungle towering over the city, it’s hard not to fall in love with Rio. Rio de Janeiro is an old-time favorite destination for celebrities as well as regular tourists, but what is it like to live there?
We asked Magdalena (Americas Sales Manager), who moved from her hometown of Buenos Aires to Rio three years ago, what it’s like to live in the astounding Ciudade Maravilhosa. Here is what she had to say:
“There is one word that perfectly describes my experience of living in Rio so far: Intense! There are some amazing and not-so-amazing aspects of this bustling city but wherever you are and whatever you do, Rio forces you to live life at its fullest with every bone in your body and that is what I long for in a city. What I love about living here is the delicious fruits, music constantly playing in the streets, the jungle incorporated into the city as you can breath in the nature everyday. Sometimes I finish a day of work and ride my bike to Urca or Ipanema beach and watch the splendid sunset. Or sometimes I get up early and run to the Rodrigo Freitas Lake with my dog and do some yoga. Nature, food and culture are abundant in this splendid city – but there’s no point trying to do it all at once, you need to live one day at at time. That is why I’m so happy that I ended up living here – I have decided, this is definitely my place in the world”
Below are Magdalena’s favorite places to help you enjoy Rio like a local:
- Los Esquilos – this cozy restaurant hidden behind the dense foliage of the Tijuca Forest is an absolute gem. The lovely old house located in the middle of the jungle serves traditional dishes such as pasteles. They don’t accept credit cards, so make sure you bring cash!
- Boasting a sensational view, restaurant Flor do Ceu in Alto Leblon is the perfect place to have a delicious meal with a loved one while gazing over the beautiful Leblon beach. Make sure you reserve a table before going as dining spaces are limited!
- Pedra da Gavea is a monolithic mountain in the Tijuca Forest. Its elevation is of 2,769 ft. (844m) makes it one of the highest mountains in the world that ends directly in the ocean. If you are in good shape and enjoy exercising then go and conquer the top of this colossal rock!
- Hike up to the Pedra Bonita for an easy trek and spectacular panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. Bring some food so you can enjoy a picnic while at one of Rio’s peaks!
- The Parque das Ruinas contains the ruins – exterior brick walls and a newly built staircase – of the mansion belonging to Brazilian heiress Laurinda Santos Lobo. Her house was a meeting point for Rio’s artists and intellectuals for many years until her death in 1946. There’s a small gallery on the ground floor, but the real reason to come here is for the excellent panoramic views from the platform up top.
- There is a local flea market every Saturday from 7am to 1pm on the Praca VX right next to Guanabara Bay. Head on down for an immersive local experience and a hunt for little trinkets or souvenirs. You can find absolutely anything from antiques, old cameras, toy cars and paintings. If you want to buy something, be prepared to haggle!
- Sitting on the Guanabara Bay seafront, the charming Bar Urca restaurant provides a wide selection of fresh seafood and fish dishes. These include traditional foods such as pastel de camarao (shrimp bobo), an array of cod pastries and pies and fried sardines accompanied with beans. Bar Urca perfectly exemplifies Rio’s and Brazil’s delicious gastronomy and is an ideal place to go at 6pm after work.
- Rio hosts many markets where locals sell their own fresh produce. These are spread out all over the city and most locals buy their food from here.
- Copacabana Forte is a military base open to the public that defines the Copacabana district. Believe it or not, it’s actually a brilliant place to have breakfast while staring out to sea. There are many confiteria colombos shops to select food from.
- Aterro de Flamengo is Rio’s largest park and recreation area and is a wonderful place for a bike ride, a run or simply just a stroll through the lush greenery.
- This depends on how much time you’ve got on your hands but basically all beaches in Rio are a must! Especially those in Zona Sul (Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon). However live like a local and visit more than just the main beaches! The Barra da Tijuca, Prainha Beach and Grumari Beach are a lot further out but also excellent options for a quieter beach day.
- The Bar TETO Solar in Botafogo neighborhood is a great place to have a drink and a bite to eat. There is a natural vibe as the bar is visited by many locals. Check it out on Tuesdays, when they have a live jazz session with a truly incredibly singer!