Despite the title, this was not really a beach vacation. No lounging on the beach getting a glorious tan and sipping virgin pina coladas or whatever your drink of choice is. However, we saw a ton of beautiful beaches so the title remains accurate.
Before this trip when I thought of Rio de Janeiro I didn’t immediately think of beaches. Sure I knew it was a seaside city but I didn’t realize how huge of a seaside city it was. There are miles and miles of beach and tons of different beaches with different vibes. Plus, they are stunning beaches. Look at that sand!
This was right next to our hotel in Barra da Tijuca and actually my favorite beach of the whole trip because it was not crowded at all. Not that any of the beaches were too crowded since we went in the non-tourist season (for reference, the main ones we frequented and that I would highly recommend were: Barra, Leblon, Copacabana and Ipanema).
As I was combing through our photos from this trip I almost wondered “did we actually do much of anything?” It was definitely our most low-key trip to date. Mainly because it was 60s and fairly rainy, plus the sun set a little after 5 so the days just felt really short. But it was actually really nice. Not a lay on the beach all day laid-back vacation but definitely chill. The one thing to warn anyone who wants to go to Rio about is that this city is huge and a lot of things are not close together. I really think we spent a lot of time in cabs getting from place to place.
This is Rio. Pretty awesome right? Ocean, city and forest all in one. This is just one of the magnificent views we encountered at Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). And while the statue itself is pretty impressive the views are just outstanding and definitely the best part of the trip up Corcovado mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park.
It is nearly impossible to get a great photo of yourself with the statue, plus there are SO many people. I cannot imagine what it is like in December and January. Pro tip: take the shuttle up, it is by far the fastest and easiest way!
My next favorite thing we did in Rio that actually was sort of a last minute decision was Parque Lage which is just a really stunning public park.
(full disclosure here: I’m basically just including this one because it shows my hair and I successfully did a full crown braid and well, I’m proud of it.)
It just looked so cool withe the clouds coming down and you can barely see Christ up there. I also saw a monkey here but didn’t get it on camera. Somehow a trip to Brazil without seeing any sort of monkey didn’t feel right so thank you Parque Lage for helping me check that one off!
Greg, the official trip photographer. Actually this trip was definitely the least photographed trip in a long time. By least I mean we only had like 700 photos. In all seriousness, I think Greg is a very talented photographer and if you want to see more scenic photos of our travels check out his instagram account.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the acai because it is everywhere and so delicious! We definitely had it every single day.
In general, Rio just had a very interesting vibe and there was tons of incredible street art there.
A lot of our favorite street art was in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. It used to be an upper-class neighborhood and there are still some crumbling mansions left over from its heyday. Today it is a fun artistic/bohemian area.
These steps were why we went to Santa Teresa and look at the tile!
We had an entire week-long vacation and three days of it we spent in Buzios which is a little less than 3 hours from Rio. We heard that its beaches were amazing and it was cheaper than going to Sao Paulo or another country.
But, it was chilly and had sporadic rain. We could have spent one day there and been just fine so if you are thinking of making the trip one day and one night is plenty. We did a little bit of beach-hopping, but mainly we walked around and hiked.
We saw tons of small beaches. Buzios is really Armação dos Búzios and it is a small town that was made a popular tourist destination by Brigitte Bardot (they love her there – there is a statue and a street named after her!). The beaches are all small ones but there are a lot to explore including Armacao, Azeda, Joao Fernandinho and Brava beach.
I wore my swimsuit and beach clothes because I was overly optimistic our first full day there but I was pretty cold! Sometimes just walking and not worrying about getting enough sun or enough snorkeling time is nice. It made for some good snuggling inside to escape the rain and some nice walks and conversation. And really that is what vacations are for. It not for getting a cold and the long flight back we actually may have returned home refreshed!
Have any of you been to Brazil?! I really do want to go back for the 2016 Olympics since it was fun to see a ton of construction leading up to it. There was a beach volleyball Open event there while we were in town and it was fun seeing the remnants from the 2014 World Cup. Rio is a really happening place!