Copacabana, often referred to as the world’s most famous beach, runs for 3 miles in front the densely populated residential area of Rio de Janeiro. From the beach, you can view the granite slabs that surround the entrance to the bay. A short walk will take you to one of the best shopping centers in Rio, as well as to many movie and play theatres, fashion and jewelry shops, and restaurants and nightclubs.
Nearest major international airport:
Rio has two airports, the International Airport of Rio de Janeiro and Santos Dumont. The international airport handles all international flights. Santos Dumont takes only domestic flights to a small number of cities. The Rio airport is 9 mi/15 km north of the Centro (about a 20-minute drive under normal traffic conditions). Santos Dumont, in the heart of Rio, is half a mile/1 km east of the Centro, about a 5-minute drive, depending on traffic conditions.
Yellow cabs are plentiful and economical, although the drivers rarely speak English. Radio taxis have stands at many major hotels and at both airports.
Although the climate is basically tropical, the summer season is the warmest and lasts from December to February. This is the Brazilian holiday season and temperatures range from about 77 F (25 C) to 95 F (35 C). June, July and August are the winter months and the temperatures range between 55 F (13 C) and 64 F (18 C).
Rio offers a variety of hotels for everyone’s taste and budget. Check our booking engine for an extensive listing of hotel rates in the Rio de Janeiro area.
Ipanema offers a free online reservation service, discounts through same, and a comprehensive list of accommodations that include address, phone number, rates, reviews and pictures.
Feijoada is a dish made of black beans and pork, traditionally served with rice, kale and manioc meal, and always accompanied by a “caipirinha.” Or enjoy a variety of savory, superbly seasoned hot-off-the-grill meats at the churrascarias, which are all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurants.
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese, although anyone dealing directly with tourists understands and tries (hard) to speak English, Spanish, and maybe even a little Italian or French.
Renting a car, even a compact, is quite expensive. Parking is not easy, and sometimes not even safe.
Enjoy a draft or have a pizza standing in the street or at a table outdoors. Talk to people around you and make new acquaintances. Don’t be shy! You do not need a formal introduction. Brazilians are usually very easy to talk to, and they are comfortable with having a conversation with a perfect stranger (that is a perfectly friendly one.) People will gladly talk about almost anything, give you tips, and be very warm.
While you are there
A short walk will take you to one of the best shopping centers in Rio, as well as to many movie and play theatres, fashion and jewelry shops, restaurants, nightclubs, etc.
Enjoy a performance at the fabulous Municipal Theater, which was built downtown when Rio was still the capital of Brazil. It features an excellent classical program and very impressive architecture.
The clubber’s circuit is the place to be as Rio heats up after midnight. With a choice of samba, bossa nova and other local beats, as well as international music, disco, techno, house, acid and other dancy beats, there is no reason not to dance the night away. Favorite neighborhoods for steppin out are Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Botafogo and even downtown.
To fake that you’ve been there
Talk about attending the yearly theater festivals in Rio. In particular, mention the French theatre group that performed live on the beaches, including Copacabana, and in the squares. Mention one performance in which a man – painted all white – took a bath in a tub filled with some kind of blue Styrofoam slime, and it all happened inside some sort of a giant plastic bubble.
Linking for a better vacation
The Copacabana website is an excellent resource, that offers, among other things, a comprehensive dining list that is organized by cuisine and cost, and an accommodation list that includes ratings and rates. The site also has a marvelous search engine.
All About Rio says it all. This award-winning site is available in English, Portuguese and German. Start with Rio for Beginners and then dig deeper to “enjoy a host of prime travel services including free hotel reservations with discount rates, tours and trips off-Rio!”
Portuguese for Travelers will give you some phrases to see you through.
The Copacabana in New York wants to make sure you make it to paradise even if you can’t make it to its namesake this year.
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