Enjoying Rio Like a Local: tips for spending a great day in the Cidade Maravilhosa!

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Rio de Janeiro is a magical place, any time of year. Whether it's a one-day port of call or week-long vacation for you, the city will shine! If you’re lucky enough to be headed to Rio soon, read on for tips from local guide Lais on how to spend one splendid day in this ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’.

Rio is hosting some major world-class events in the next few years, which will see many people visit our city. The biggest of these events is the Soccer World Cup (2014) and the Summer Olympics (2016). As they approach, the city gets more and more beautiful, safe and organized. This is a perfect time to visit Rio!

One of the biggest recent investments in the city is public transportation, including a public bike share program called Bike Rio. In my opinion, one of the best ways to tour in Rio is by bike. Rio ranks among the top 20 cities in the world to use the bicycle as transportation, and we have great bike paths along the beaches and the Lagoon (over 140 km of bike paths in total!)

To have a truly Carioca (local of Rio) experience, I recommend riding a bike along the beaches and the Lagoon to reach the Botanical Gardens. On the way to the gardens, stop by a local fruits and veggies market and enjoy the different flavours, colors and tastes of our many tropical fruits. In the gardens, we have over 8,000 species of plants and the opportunity to spot toucans, monkeys, marmosets, butterflies and about 50 other bird species, in the wild. It is important to be accompanied by a guide who can help you identify the wildlife you will see.

For a light lunch, I recommend the new bistro inside the garden, called La Biciclette, which is amazing for delicious loaves and coffees.

After your time at the gardens, travelers who like art and history should visit the MAR (Museum of Art in Rio). It was just inaugurated by the pier and it is a nice way to induct yourself into Brazilian culture. In the area, you can also visit the most important historical sights in Rio (like XV of November Square). This area is my recommendation for a walking historical tour of our city.

For a café break later in the day, my favorite coffee place in the city is called Cafecito (which is quite new also) in Santa Teresa. They have great coffee, gourmet sandwiches and an amazing variety of Brazilian beers (from private breweries). The place is very charming.

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