Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Hello! My name is Samantha (@samanthajane_d). I work full time as a social worker in a middle school in the suburbs of Chicago. I use my weekend and my school breaks to travel as much as I can. This is actually the second post I’ve written for Journey’s of Girls and I couldn’t be more excited!
Rio De Janeiro is full of life, culture, and bikinis! In March my cousin and I spent a weekend in Rio to escape the cold winter of Chicago, Illinois. We stayed at the Rio 55 Copacabana Hotel which was great because it was right across the road from Copacabana Beach!
To start our first full day in Rio we grabbed breakfast at a cute restaurant with outdoor seating. We took full advantage of the bikini culture in Rio and went to breakfast in our bikinis and sarongs. After breakfast we went to the famous Copacabana beach to soak up some sun before our adventures later in the day. Copacabana is a beautiful beach in the city but it is very popular. This means the earlier you get there the less people there are. Another thing to note is the culture in Brazil is body positive, so everybody flaunts what they got at the beach!
After a few hours in the sun, with a solid sun burn on the way, we headed to our first exploration in Rio, climbing Pão de Açúcar (aka Sugarloaf Mountain). This mountain receives its nickname Sugarloaf for a simple reason, it resembles the shape of a sugar loaf! This mountain top is known for the stunning panoramic views it provides of the city and surrounding area. We chose to hire a guide to help us hike/climb up the mountain. If you aren’t big on hiking or climbing there is also a cable car you can take to the top of the mountain (for a price).
We climbed with Companhia de Escalada. I would 110% recommend them if you would like to make this hike and are a beginner to hiking or climbing. When you book with them you may be with a small group of other hikers that your guide is leading. The company also provides you with climbing equipment as needed. It took about 4 hours from beginning to end. At least 3 of those hours were hiking and climbing up the mountain. You don’t need any experience mountain climbing to do this but you do need to be in good physical shape because it is a demanding uphill climb. Our guide was fantastic and very friendly. He made the journey up even more enjoyable! The views while you are climbing the mountain are absolutely astonishing. There is one section of the climb that you get to put on climbing gear and do some real mountain climbing! I really enjoyed this point because while it was challenging it was very doable for a beginner hiker like myself.
After you reach the top of the mountain you will be rewarded with breathtaking 360 degree views. Make sure to spend some time enjoying the scenery and of course taking numerous photos. At the mountain top there are also bars, restaurants, and other little shops to check out. We made the decision to get some ice cream after such a long and strenuous hike. As a part of the climbing package we were able to take the first cable car down to the second peak of Pão de Açúcar. The second peak provides more beautiful views and a few more shops and restaurants. Next we walked the remainder of the way down with our guide and group. This last walk took only 20 minutes or so. You also have the option of paying to take the second cable car all the way down or waiting till 7:30pm when the cable car would then be free.
After our long day in the sun we went back to the hotel before heading out and exploring Rio’s night life. We spent our night practicing out best samba moves at Rio Scenarium. This samba club is one of kind. It is a former antique shop and is decorated as such. It also has three separate floors so there is plenty of room to dance and mingle. If you are looking to experience some authentic Rio night light this is the place to go. The street this club is located on also has several others bars and clubs if you have a few more nights to go out.
Another point of interest that Rio is known for is the Christ the Redeemer statue, which was deemed one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. There are several ways to reach the statue – you can hike to the top, take a van, an uber, or take the tram. During our second and final day in Rio we used our morning to take the tram through the the largest urban amazon to the top of Mount Corcovado. Out of you options I would highly recommend the tram. It is cost effective and you get great views of the surrounding amazon and mountains as the tram chugs along to the top. We were also warned about hiking up the trail because many tourists had been mugged along that trail.
Once you reach the top you will be surrounded by gorgeous views of both Rio and the surrounding mountains. You will also be surrounded by many other tourists. At the top they have a few gift shops and a few small places to grab a small bite to eat. We did not spend a lot of time due to the number of other people at the top. Keep in mind tickets for the tram also get scooped up pretty quickly. The earlier you go in the day the better if you want to avoid the crowds and ensure you get a tram ticket.
After taking the tram back down the mountain we headed back to Copacabana beach. Along the beach there are small outdoor restaurants where you can eat, drink, and enjoy the beautiful weather. They are all covered by umbrellas so you don’t have to worry about getting too hot from the sun. After lunch we spent our remaining hours in Rio on the beach. This time we decided to rent an umbrella and beach chairs. This was a great decision! It gave us the option of soaking up some rays and relaxing in the shade (it was also very affordable to rent). As we lounged on the beach we also bought coconuts and enjoyed the refreshing coconut water(and took lots of pictures with said coconuts).
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my 2 day trip to Rio. If you have any questions or want to see some of my other travels you can find me on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/samanthajane_d/).