If life brings you to Rio you should be a carioca, at least for a few days. Don’t worry, this is not as hard as you might think and we will give you all the tips and tricks you need to fool (almost) anyone in this Local Guide to Rio.
But first things first: anyone can be Brazilian. You can be blond, Asian, black, tall, short… no matter what you look like, you can be Brazilian. And as long as you ‘act’ like a Brazilian, people will believe you.
The first and most important rule to avoid being identified as a gringo is: do not wear your Havaianas everywhere. We know they are comfortable and we know this is hard to believe, but it is actually a bit impolite to wear flip flips to restaurants and clubs and you might be denied entry in some fancier spots.
With that in mind, let’s jump into the beauty of Carioca Lifestyle:
Cariocas love the beach. You will have plenty of opportunities to take in the Rio sun in the sand and enjoy the Rio life. If you really want to fit in on the beach, you must try Globo at the beach with Mate Tea, this is as carioca as it gets.
Join some local people for a foot-volley match. This is a combination of volleyball and football (or soccer as the Americans call it): three touches to get the ball over the net, but the touches are with your head, shoulder, legs or feet. If you find two good teams playing, it is mesmerizing. You will find plenty of places to try it out along the coast. I recommend buying a canga on the beach (this is a piece of cloth that Brazians use as a towel, a dress, a shawl or a chair cover on the beach) and go to Posto 10 in Ipanema or Posto 12 in Leblon to see and be seen. If you want breathtaking views (and have a car) try Prainha, Grumari and Joatinga.
A classic carioca move is clapping during the sunset, so if you head to Arpoador to watch the sun go down, make sure you are ready to be a little cheesy.
It is impossible not to think about samba while in Brazil, it could be our national anthem. As a carioca, you should go to multiple rodas de samba and just enjoy the vibe. On Mondays, Pedra do Sal is the place to be, but if you want a traditional experience we recommend you head to Bip Bip for live music everyday. In party mode? Head to any samba school for the rehearsals, they usually happen weekly.
You might want to head to Pavão Azul in Copacabana and sit down for a very casual homemade meal. Be ready because there will probably be a line, but once you score a table, enjoy every bite.
Looking for something a notch fancier? The Michelin Star restaurants of Roberta Sudbrack and Puro will blow your mind. But if you want a day-to-day, rice and beans experience you must have lunch at a ‘per kilo’ place, which is a buffet with salads and hot meals where you pay by weight.
A little bit afraid of having a full-brazilian experience? Restô is a bistro with a Brazilian twist, and it will be a treat to most palates.
One of the best burgers in town is at the laid-back bar Comuna in Botafogo.
Everyone will be dancing and singing in Rio, that is true. We are very passionate and happy people and we want you to feel welcome and glad to be here with us. Rio has great nightlife. From bars to nightclubs and parties you will find your tribe.
Samba lovers go to Lapa and have caipirinhas by the Arches, but Reggae fans prefer the street by the Selarón Stairs.
Willing to leave Zona Sul?
We know most tips here are around Zona Sul, and that’s because everyone tends to stay in that area. But if you are willing to explore more we suggest you start by Feira de São Cristóvão where you will find everything from food to shopping stalls. Barraca da Chiquita is certainly a must-try for Northeastern food, but you can spend an evening or afternoon getting lost in karaoke, drinks and shopping bags.
Feira Rio Antigo downtown has lots of antiques and is always nice to walk around if you are in the neighborhood.
Around Barra, the kiosk Pesqueiro is open as a bar on the weekends and has Brazilian country, samba and other live shows. It’s pretty packed, but it might be a local way out if you are staying near the Olympic Park.
Uff, we are saying too much, I know. But being a carioca is easier than it looks and you will learn a lot as you go. Enjoy the city and don’t forget to smile.