A tour of Rio de Janiero with our staff member Mariana, a genuine carioca (native of Rio).
You'll never truly experience everything a destination has to offer unless you take the advice of someone who lives there, that's for sure.
Hostelsclub is a multicultural company with staff come from all over the world. Our team includes people from places as diverse as Scotland, Moscow and Japan. Mariana, on the other hand, comes from Brazil. In fact, she's a native of Rio de Janeiro. So we didn't miss the chance to ask her for all the tips about how to visit the city "like a local".
WHAT TO SEE IN RIO DE JANEIRO: THE CITY'S DISTRICTS
The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is a natural lagoon that is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, and the Lagoa district is right on its shoreline. Here you can find plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat, like Palaphitas, or head to a kiosk to sample a caipirinha.
If you want to eat meat, Mariana suggests heading to the Fogo de Chao churrascaria. It's a little expensive, but she assures us that you will find the best meat in town!
Perhaps Rio's most famous neigbourhood, Copacabana includes the fort of the same name that overlooks the iconic beach. Inside the fort you will find a typical Brazillian bakery with spectacular views. Mariana often has her breakfast here, and we think you should consider dropping by as well.
This neighbourhood has a small beach, which is a continuation of the beach at Ipanema and is characterised by a large rock at the end. It's a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
This district is one of the most atmospheric in the city. Why not hire a bicycle or go for a walk on the beach in the evening? Mariana has some expert advice about where to eat:
BB Lanches: here you really have to order an Açai, a very special dish made from an Amazonian fruit that is creamed and served with bananas and grains (you can choose your own variation, but this is the classically Brazilian way to serve the dish). Another thing you must try is the Pastel de Carne - a fried puff pastry stuffed with meat that pairs well with a good caldo de cana, a simple sugar cane drink.
In the evening, head to the Bar da Praia, where you can enjoy a delicious caipirinha or request something slightly different...a caipivodka.
We've already mentioned this beach, but this neighbourhood is also famous for its many shops, and can be found between the Copacabana and Leblon districts. Ipanema is also home to many very good restaurants, but for lunch we recommend that you try the Balada Mix, a stone's throw from the beach, in Rua Anibal de Mendonça
GÁVEA and THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
These neighbourhoods are right next to each other. In Gavea, you'll want to go out to eat, because it is home to many restaurants frequented by cariocas. Try the Baixo Gávea, where you simply must sample the sausages.
The Jardim Botânico (Botanical Gardens) is named for the presence of the botanical garden, which has an important historical value for the people, due to the fact that the royal family once lived here.
Here you can also find the statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor). Try to visit when the sky is clear in order to enjoy the 360 degree view.
Urco is an intimate neighbourhood, despite being very close to the centre of town. Here, everyone knows everyone, and you will find the Pao de Acucar, which offers a breathtaking view of the city. It's also home to the promontory called the "Sugar Loaf", where you can take a path that leads to the ocean. The views are very impressive and you can even see monkeys here and there along the "Pista Cláudio Coutinho."
Another neighbourhood near the centre, Lapo is a great place to go to enjoy your evenings as it is known as the "home of samba. One samba venue is particularly worthy of note, the Rio Scenarium, an old office with three floors that hosts performances by several bands. Another place that Mariana often attends is the Carioca da Gema.
This district is famous for its unique little houses which are home to many artists. Come and take a walking tour around Santa Tereza during the day and get lost among its winding streets.
Where should you eat after your tour? Mariana recommends the Restaurante do Mineiro, to devour a delicious Fejoada (bean stew).
Which district do you want to stay in? Before you choose, you can always take a look at our hostels in Rio de Janiero and find out which one is the closest to where you want to go!