Rio is rich with small and big museums, where you can find different type of expositions, starting from old Roman History sculptures, art galleries till modern art photography, handcraft and many other things. You can always find what is more interesting for you as there is a big choice of where to go, but for me the best one was “National Museum of Fine Arts” (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) which has a great collection of Brasilian artefacts, sculptures and paintings.
The Rio Zoo is also located in the same Quinta da Boa Vista Park. Here you can see animals from all over the world, as well as giraffe, elephant, tigers and lions, gorillas and other type of monkeys, alligators and snakes, toucans and eagles, parrots and many other animals. This is a great place for people, who wants to feel closer to the nature. The proof of this are small marmosets, who are freely jumping from one tree to another or even coming closer to people to satisfy their curiosity.
As I already mentioned, the way to the Corcovado goes through the Tijuca National Park. This is a huge tropical forest in the middle of the city, with waterfalls, trails, animals and colorful butterflies. This is also a must go places where you can have a small adventurous hiking trip to the 30 meters high waterfall, which also has a small lake near it and an old bridge. There are also some other remarkable places to be inside the forest such as Vista Chinesa (Chinese view), which is a wonderful place to stop and enjoy the breathtaking view. There is also another part of the heaven a little bit far from Vista Chinesa, where one of the Emperors used to have lunch on the big stone “table”.
One of the most visited places in Rio is also Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar) and Urca mount. Highly recommended to avoid cloudy weather when going to Corcovado and Urca mounts, as once you get there you will have a wonderful views of the city. There is a cable car near the beach that will take you to the top of the hill and has 2 stops. When this dangerous engineering operation of construction was finished, people used to went up using a wooden car with less capacity of passengers than they have now for the current cars. This old wooden car is now shown on the first stage of the way to Sugar Loaf. There are also small places like museums near the entrances to the cars, where people can see which kind of equipment was used and how it used to work before. Once you are on top, you will feel like you have all the world is in front of you, the city, the ocean and the infinity…
The most popular place in Rio is the South zone, where all the famous beaches are located (Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon). From the Ipanema beach there is a nice view opened to the mountains called “Dois irmãos“ (Two brothers). Another cozy place is also the Botafogo. Here is one of the best places to admire with the sunset over the Sugar Loaf.
What about downtown, this is the financial heart of Rio and also most of the museums, cultural and historical centers of the city are located here.
There is also a place called Peninsula, which is a private district and totally separated from the city with its own security. There are also shopping mall, quiet parks and lagoon available inside this district.
One of the most visited and touristic places in Rio de Janeiro State is also Petrópolis City which also was the capital city of RJ state in the past. It is only 1h away from Rio and located on a hill full of woods. It has more soft climate and is the best place to spend summer days when it get too hot in Rio. Back to the history, it’s worth to mention that the second Brazilian emperor had a summer palace here, which is now an Imperial Museum. Part of the furniture here is brought from the National Museum of Natural History that was the main residence of Emperors.
Petrópolis is famous also with its cozy squares and bridges, bars and restaurants. One of the best places here for the sweets lovers is the small bar when you can taste delicious Hungarian sweets and cakes. You can also ride by horse-carriage through the squares and parks of the city and feel the medieval spirit of this place.
If you want to visit more museums, not related to the history, it’s worth to check the Wax museum of Petrópolis. It is not very big, but all the showpieces were made by the same professionals that made them for all famous museums in the world. Sometimes it was hard to identify if you see a real man or an exhibit in front of you.
The last topic that I’d like to share with you are the amazingly beautiful beaches of Brazil, that adorn the RJ state. They are 3h far away from Rio de Janeiro, in the small town called Arraial do Cabo, but if you are in Rio you must go to this places! Once you get there, you will feel like in a real paradise. This is a small quiet town with a lot of comfortable hotels and guest houses, lots of small markets and restaurants. But if you are here, you must spend your time with exploring the beauty of the nature creation, big sand dunes near the beaches and the water.. There is a special boat trip, that will take you to one of the best beaches in the world, with crystal clear water and white shiny sand beaches. You may also see some turtles in a water on the way to the beaches. These boats will pick you from the small harbor on a Praia dos Anjos (Beach of Angels) and will take you to another world called Gruta Azul (Blue Cave) and beaches near it. One of them is the Praia da Forno, where you can also reach by hiking trails. Another beach that you must see while you’re in an Arraial do Cabo is the Praia Grande (Big Beach), where I had seen the most amazing sunset in my life, with red burning sun going down on a horizon and light reflections on a water that were giving red color to it as well. This was unforgettable.
Another wonderful beach with a clean and warm water is in Buzios, but on the way to there there is one more place to be. It is a small island in Cabo Frio called Ilha do Japonês (Island of Japonese). This is a small island which is separated from the ground with a not very deep water, that you can easily pass by walk. The average depth may be a bit more than a 1 meter. The water here is also very light blue color and the beaches are full of shells.
But this is not the only place full of shells. There is one more beach not that far from Ilha do Japonês, called Praia das Conchas (Beach of Shells). This one is famous with the shiny golden sand and lots of shells there. The other side of this beach is full of big rocks and small island in the horizon.
Drive a bit more, and here you are, Armação dos Búzios! This is a nice city full of cozy villas and high priced restaurants. The best beach here is João Fernandes, where you will see a lot of people on the beaches as well as divers, as here the fauna is just adorable. You can even stay on not very deep place and see some fishes coming close. Sometimes you may also see dolphins on these beaches.
But, we need to go back to Rio. To hot, crazy city. What we can do here to feel less heat? Yes, ice-creams and juices, natural juices! Here you will find the best flavors of ice-cream, refreshing popsicles made from the most exotic fruits. Not less exotic are also natural juices here. You can have just a coconut juice or ask to prepare another fresh one for you. You won’t find such a natural one in any other place. Here the juices are not very different from creams. Nothing except the fruit! You may ask which one is the best? I will tell you. If you are a big fan of strange and not usual flavors, you must try juices made from Cupuaçu, Sugar cane and Graviola and ice-cream from Pitanga. These are the best! At least for me 🙂
And here it’s time to finish my story for now.
I’ve tried to share with you some moments from my first trip to Brazil. But this is not all that I saw. Not everything is possible to describe with words. There are a lot of places you must be in your life, a lot of things to try, to feel and to live. Don’t miss your chance and travel to Brazil, to Rio de Janeiro, the most marvelous city in the world…