How time flies! One year ago today I just got back from a wonderful family trip to Brazil. Vibrant, sunny, colorful Brazil…. Someone whisk me away and take me back, please! Since I hadn’t shared the colorful pics and memories at the time (life happens..) I thought a throwback on its one year anniversary was an excellent way to make up for this dreadful negligence.
As we were visiting our Brazilian family (<3!), our stay was all about quality time, relaxing and getting a taste of this beautiful country. No adventurous jungle experiences (I’ll be back for those ;) ), but fun discoveries and activities around São Paulo and Rio.
Places to discover:
- Embu das Artes: Our Brazilian home base! An hour outside of São Paulo, this artsy little town would probably not be on your standard Brazilian itinerary. But if you have the time, do swing by! You’ll discover a lively town square surrounded by artisan shops, a delicate gazebo hidden amidst a patch of green and numerous craft markets and art galleries.
- Vila Madalena: When visiting the Sao Paulo center, this was really my favorite neighborhood to stroll through! It has a lovely creative atmosphere and lots of cute shops and artsy hotspots. Highlight: you will discover some amazing street art (especially in the famous “Batman alley”).
- Bella Vista: The Italian neighborhood, with picturesque houses mixing Brazilian vibes with Italian heritage. Plus good food! Not very Brazilian of course, but yummy nevertheless.
- Mercado municipal: This eclectic building in the historic center of São Paulo with its remarkable stained glass houses a large food market with a myriad of local and international yumminess on display. It can get a bit hectic but any foodie will be loving the vibe.
RIO DE JANEIRO
Places to discover
- Santa Teresa: we stayed in this lively area up in the hills. Colourful houses, eclectic street art, cute cafés and of course the tourist classic: the beautiful tiled stairs of the Escadaria Selarón, connecting it to the Lapa area. Should your feet be tired of climbing those hills: the little yellow tram is a delightful alternative :)
- Lapa: definitely a must for a full Rio experience, as this neighborhood houses some major landmarks (including the impressive Arcos da Lapa)
- Jardim Botanique: Rio’s botanical garden was definitely one of my favorite day trips! A jungle feel within the city, palm trees in every size, a beautiful archway (such a sucker for archways) and an IMPRESSIVE cacti garden. What more could any plantlady ask for?
- Ipanema beach: for a real summer-tourist-modus day: head to Ipanema for some shopping (Hello new pair of Havaianas!) and some shameless lounging at the beach. Also: the sunset view is one to stick around for!
Places to eat
- Zaza Bistro Tropical: We stumbled on this boho looking spot after an afternoon ay at Ipanema beach and felt we hit the foodie jackpot! Yummy organic fusion cuisine in a colorful bohemian setting.
- Emporio Jardim: This eco hipster-style bistro was recommended to me by a good friend, so naturally we had to check it out. We headed over there for lunch after our visit to the Jardim Botanique and were not disappointed! Original burgers and salads plus breakfast all day!
Guilty tourist pleasures
- A picture in front of the Cristo statue
- Sipping from a coconut on Copacabana beach
- Celebrating Caipirinha o‘clock! (which can take place pretty much any time you want it to)
- Munching on an Acaï breakfast bowl (to balance the Caipirinha with some antioxidants ;) )
Place to stay
I would really recommend the Airbnb we stayed at in the Santa Teresa area! It was quite basic but clean and convenient with a homey vibe. The owner Beatriz was super friendly and served THE BEST breakfast, completely home made with love.
- We did not bring a tourist guidebook and used city walk apps to map out our excursions. Super practical and a solid guidebook-alternative! This one is for Rio and this one for Sao Paulo.
- Uber is a great and inexpensive way to get around the city of Rio, especially if you have limited time and want to cover a lot of different neighborhoods. Bonus: driving from highlight A to B with a local prevents you from wandering on foot into areas you should not visit as a tourist.
Things I am definitely traveling back for: After this first taste of Brazil, I am hungry for more! I’m especially curious to discover some of its lush nature, so on my wish list for next time: the Iguazu Falls, the Amazon, Bahia, Ilha Grande and Ilha Bella. So much more to see and experience!
Hope you like these tips and happy travels!