Stylish and hedonistic Rio is as chic as Paris and as cutting-edge as Johannesburg. Many ships stay overnight, giving passengers time to explore a cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city), a rich stew of European, African, and Latin American cultures and site of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Here’s what to do when you get off the ship.
Sugar Loaf Ascent
Skip the Tram
The iconic Sugar Loaf, the cone-shaped mountain that rises above Rio, offers panoramic views that most people see after taking a two-stage tram ride to the 1,299-foot summit. But if you’re fit, skip the ride and hike up with a guide from Rio Hiking ($101, www.riohiking.com.br).
Art in the Favela
Legos and Bricks
The favelas, or slums, of Rio are best known for poverty and crime. In the midst of Favela do Pereirão is the Morrinho Project, begun in 1998 by a then-14-year-old who built a miniature favela using shattered bricks and Lego pieces. Visit this outsider art safely with a guide from Matuete ($220, including a contribution www.matuete.com). Marcelo Armstrong’s Favela Tours offers a three-hour group excursion in Vila Canoas and Rocinha ($35, www.favelatour.com.br).
Modernist Art, Belle
The Chacara do Céu (Rua Murtinho 93) displays the Brazilian, European, and Asian art collection of a noted industrialist. For lunch, head to Confeitaria Colombo (Rua Gonçalves Dias 32), a riot of art nouveau mirrors and stained glass from 1894.
Bossa Nova Nights
“The Girl from Ipanema”
The infectious bossa nova anthem is best celebrated with a cold chopp
(draft beer) at Garota de Ipanema (Rua Vinicius de Moraes 49), the restaurant where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes penned the song in 1962. Across the street is Vinicius Piano Bar, where live acts keep the flame alive. A block away is Toca do Vinicius, with impromptu free evening performances by singers such as Claudia Telles.
Rio by Bike
Rio has miles of bike lanes and Banani Eco Tours ($92, www.banani.com.br)
offers a four-hour trip on 18-speed bikes with a bilingual guide through neighborhoods such as Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon.
–Everett Potter, from the April 2010 issue of Traveler
Photo: My Shot user durelli sebastien