rio → parati; sao paulo (ubatuba, ilha bela)
01.04.2015 - 28.07.2015
Usually an inevitable stop if you are going to brazil... for very good reason!!! Rio is undeniable - it has everything: beach, city, forest, lake... TONS of opportunities to be active, go out, and enjoy brazilian culture - no matter what level/intensity you desire.
STAY: There are a handful of neighborhoods tourists tend to stay in. Copacabana and Ipanema are the most well known because of their world famous beaches, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend staying there. Because they are the go-to neighborhoods, they are a little bit more expensive (but if you do choose Copacabana, stay at eHostel!). Botofoga's beach is probably the shittiest one (it's not very attractive and you can't go in the water), but I really enjoyed the staying in that area - it felt safe and had easy access to the rest of Rio (Limetime and Beach Backpackers Hostel are both within short walking distance of the metro). But my top recommendation would be to stay in Lapa - super cool neighborhood. It's considered "sketchier" but be smart and you'll be fine.
DO: Must visit Cristo Retendor (go by train or avoid the crowds and hike up) and Pao de Azucar (sunset is incredible). Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are world famous for a reason, but if you're looking for a more relaxed vibe, check out Flamengo beach. Lapa is a must-go for a number of reasons: Lapa Stairs, Lapa Arches - I would recommend taking the Free Walking Tour, it will take you here and a number of other interesting places like the National Library, Cathedral, and Municipal Theatre. Go out in Lapa at night! The street is full of cheap food and caipirinha stands, you can hang out at the Stairs for a totally different vibe than during the day!! If you are looking to shop, check out the outdoor markets - particularly the nightly market along Copacabana beach (on the end closer to Ipanema) and "hippie" market near Ipanema (only open twice a week - check online for details). If you're interested in soccer, try and go to a game at Maracana Stadium - or at least go to the soccer museum there!
VIEWS: Check out Pedra Bonita (also the kick off spot for paragliding and hangliding) and Vista Chinesa (the two are close, located on the road connecting Parque Nacional da Tijuca and the Jardim Botanico - difficult to access without car); enjoy easy access views at Forte Duque de Caixas (near Leme), Parque das Ruinas (in Santa Teresa, near Lapa Stairs), and Pedra do Arpoador (between Copa and Ipanema, crowds come specifically for sunset); go on hikes a bit more challenging and (increasingly) further afield to Dois Irmaos, Pedra da Gavea, and Pedra do Telegrafo.
Similar to Itacare given the fact that it is a relaxed, chilled out place to be with a bunch of beaches to choose from. Different given the fact that it is a colonial town, which gives it unique character. Definitely worth a stop - I wish I had had more time there and am keen to go back to keep exploring!
I wouldn't necessarily recommend SP as a stop for someone passing through for a few days/nights. Don't get me wrong - I spent 4 months in SP and love it like my own home. But I think that's exactly it, you need time to truly get to know and appreciate this amazing city. If you are there for a couple days, there is tons to do, but it's just going to feel like another big city.
DO: Velosa in Vila Mariana for the best coxinhas and caipirinhas. Check out the graffiti displayed in Vila Madalena's Beco do Batman and Beco do Aprendiz. Nearby is the Bancas de Flores on Avenida Dr Arnaldo and an outdoor market at Praca Bendito Calixto on Saturdays. Museu do Futebol. Enjoy the concrete jungle's bubble of nature at Parque Ibapuera, which is also home to the Museu Afro Brasil. Definitely make time to visit the Se Cathedral. SP has no natural viewpoints, but you can get a good city skape on top of Edificio Martinelli and Banespao (check online for hours!). Several rooftop bars also provide views, like Skye Bar. There are tons of museums, I particularly enjoyed the Portuguese Language Museum, which is right outside the Luz metro station, and within walking distance of a number of other attractions: Luz Station, Municipal Theatre, Sala Sao Paulo, Latin American Memorial, Museum of Immigration, Copan Building, Edificio Italia, and Galera do Rock.
STAY: I would recommend staying in either Bela Vista (close to Avenida Paulista for centrality and Rua Augusta for nightlife) or Vila Madalena (this neighborhood is a bit more upscale, another hotspot for going out).
GO: Santos is the go to beach day trip for Paulistanos. Other destinations to escape to include Ubatuba and Ilha Bela, both super chilled out with tons of beautiful beaches and scenery to enjoy!
ARRIVING AT GRU AIRPORT: GRU is substantially outside of the city center, unless you arrive in the middle of the night or don´t mind spending way too much money on a direct option, I would absolutely recommend getting into SP via public transportation ~ it´s cheap and will get you very close to wherever you need to be, it just requires having your wits about you because it involves moving around a bit. Here´s how to do it:
From GRU´s terminal 2 follow the signs for onibus outside
Cross the crosswalk to the median strip, turn and walk left along this strip until you reach the city buses.
Look for the ones marked TATUAPE (blue, marked either 257 or 299 - if in doubt just ask, "metro tatuape").
The ride will cost 5.50 reais and take about 40-50 minutes, dropping you off right at Tatuape metro station.
Go upstairs, buy a metro ticket and hop on the metro!
- There are metro maps all over the station to help guide you where to get off\where to change lines etc.
- Before you arrive, find out which metro station is closest to where you are going
- Once you arrive at your metro stop, take a look at the exit map. There are usually four different exits that will all give you a head start in a certain direction, check out the map and see which exit prepares you for the direction you are going.
I was a little nervous about doing this route the first time I arrived on my own, so I opted for a middle ground option which was a $40 bus ride (comfortable and with wifi) to Paulista, and then a taxi to my hostel from there (which was about $40 as well). The high end, most convenient option would be just to take a taxi straight to your destination, but considering that GRU is outside of the city this is EXPENSIVE. Like at least $100.
-Campo Grande (--> Bonito
-Cuiba (Chapada dos Guimaraes and Nobles/Bom Jardin)
-Alto Paraiso de gois (chapada dos veadeiros)