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bgrzywa2 Dec 28th, 2015 01:05 PM

Rio de Janeiro Itinerary Help
Hello I will be in Rio de Janeiro Jan 14 - 19, Ilha Grande from 19 - 22 and then another night in Rio before leaving back to Chicago in the evening on the 23rd. I was looking for some help with information while in Rio de Janeiro. I will be staying in Leme from the 14-19. We get in around 3pm on the 14th so figure that evening we will get settled in and maybe explore the area a bit to get some food and drinks. So we will have full days on the 15, 16, 17, 18. I also figure we will go to some of the beaches but may not spend too much time lounging because we will have time to do that on Ilha Grande.

I figure one day we can spend exploring Centro on a walking tour and sites around there. Another day do some sort of excursion or adventure out of the city for a while. One day exploring parts outside of Centro so going to Copacobana, Ipanema and Leblon. Finally, a day we would like to take a trip to Petropolis.

Can we get Centro, Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain in all in 1 day? If so, I figure do Christ the Redeemer first thing in the morning, explore centro and then do sugarloaf at sunset (read that is best time to go). Would all of that work? We would look into a free walking tour most likely as well for the day.

Does anyone have any good recommendations? I was thinking about a trip to the Botanical Gardens/Tijuca Rainforest, some sort of hike to see waterfalls. Are the botanical gardens/rainforest easy to do on your own or would you recommend a guide? Will we see waterfalls and do any hiking visiting these? Are the any types of activities you would suggest while in Rio that are in the close vicinity? Any jungle tours?

- Is Niteroi worth visiting?

What are must sees in Copacobana, Leblon and Ipanema? We were thinking of doing walk tours in these areas as well.

Concerning Petropolis, bus is the only option correct? Any recommendations of must visits while there?

If you feel like I missing anything please let me know. Keep in mind we plan to do water activities on Ilha Grande after hearing how poor the water quality was around Rio. We also will have a day and a half at the end of the trip to explore more areas of Rio, just not technically full days since we return from Ihla Grande so will probably get back to Rio around 1pm or so on the 22nd and then we fly out at 7pm on the 23rd.

tripplanner001 Dec 28th, 2015 04:33 PM

Rio is one of my all-time favorite cities; I hope you fall in love with it as much as I did.

My most important suggestion to you may be to be flexible on when to visit Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. Monitor the weather and try to go on a day when the viewpoints as well as what you hope to see beneath is visible. Theoretically experiencing both sights and doing something in between is possible, depending on how rush you want to be.

In addition to walking along the beaches, check out Arpoador point and the military / history museum at Copacabana Fort. I also enjoyed exploring some of the streets of Ipanema and Copacabana but do so during the day and make sure there are people around where you are walking. Don't take too many belongings with you.

There is a free walking tour that leaves from Centro, at one of the main square near the Teatro Municipal, I believe. You could also combine your day at Centro with a visit to Niteroi, if that interests you. I enjoyed walking along the bayfront in Niteroi and think the Contemporary Art Museum is worth visiting if not only for the architecture.

The Botanical Gardens are beautifully laid out and well worth a few hours. You can visit nearby Tijuca, but we heard that hiking there may not be safe.

Regarding Petropolis, we went by bus and it was easy to do. I suppose you can also go by taxi or car, but there are no trains if that's what you're asking.

Hope this answers some of your questions. Click on my name if you want to take a look at my trip report from 2014. We were in Rio for 6 nights and experienced all the places you're asking about.

Happy planning!

SambaChula Dec 28th, 2015 08:04 PM

The weather will be the deciding factor on when you visit the two heights. In January, it doesn't always cooperate, and you do need a clear day. I wouldn't do both heights on the same day though; visual overload, two overlooks.
You can combine the Cristo with a visit to the Taunay waterfall just off the road through the forest, and the carp pond next to it.
Do not go hiking on your own though. In general, avoid being in deserted places anywhere in the city, even a side street in an upscale neighborhood.
Sugarloaf is supposed to be pretty at sunset (but we went during the day). Off the paved path, you can find little 'miko' monkeys in the trees at the top.
It's going to be very hot and humid, so I recommend leaving time to sit and have a cold beer or coconut water, or go to the beach, in the afternoon, not trying to cram three things into a short day. Most of what you've read about water pollution refers to Guanabara bay, which has a very narrow mouth, and is not where the South Zone beaches are.
I like getting out on the water, so the ferry to Niteroi is fun, and the view back toward Rio is beautiful. The beaches over there are nice too, like Itacoatiara. You could have lunch at the fish market.
Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon are neighborhoods, as is Leme. Walk, people watch, grab a beer or a meal. Check out the cafe in the fort, and try BipBip bar, an institution in Rio, for live music.
Explore Santa Teresa; the bondinho is running again.
If you're there on a weekend, go listen to samba in Lapa one night, at Carioca da Gema or Scenarium.
There will be rehearsals for Carnaval at the grounds of various samba schools at night, and some feijoada lunches on Saturdays, a good way to sample some local flavor.

bgrzywa2 Dec 29th, 2015 08:35 AM

Thank you very much for both of your replies, this was very helpful!

SambaChula Dec 29th, 2015 11:54 AM

If you have any more questions as the trip draws nearer, just post. Happy to help. Have spent considerable time in Brazil.
Also take a look at www dot ipanema dot com for a good introduction to Rio (museums, music, neighborhoods, good maps, etc).

bgrzywa2 Dec 29th, 2015 12:28 PM

Have you ever done hang gliding or paragliding? Any recommendations on companies either way?

SambaChula Dec 30th, 2015 07:36 AM

You can go from Sao Conrado in the southern part of the city or from Niteroi. All the companies are pretty much equal IMO, and are regulated.

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