A Rio Local Shares Her City Secrets

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Jul 04, 2016

Heading to Rio de Janeiro for the Games and looking to avoid the madding crowd? Hotel Fasano’s Julia Miranda gives you the inside track on where to eat, drink, party and shop in the Olympic city.

Order a Caipirinha in a British-style bar

When my friends are in town, I take them for a drink at Baretto-Londra, Fasano’s London-themed bar. Barman André Paixão makes fantastic drinks, especially vodka cocktails with fresh local fruits.

Sample some of Rio’s finest local produce

The restaurant that best shows off Rio is Lasai in Botafogo. It’s a great place to go for a contemporary take on classic dishes. Chef Rafa Costa e Silva grows his own produce so everything is fresh and seasonal and the dégustation menu changes every day.

Visit one of Lapa’s famous nightclubs

If you want a nightclub experience there’s a neighbourhood called Lapa, which has lots of live music such as samba and forró. Carioca da Gema is an authentic bar in an old mansion, where every night there’s a different band playing. The bohemian Rio Scenarium sells antiques during the day and later becomes a nightclub with live music.

Talk shop over hearty Italian fare

For a business meeting, I book a table at Gero Ipanema restaurant, which serves outstanding classic Italian cuisine. It’s quite private and a popular meeting spot.

Eat a typical Brazilian breakfast

My favourite breakfast place is Da Casa da Táta, a small, cosy, casual café in the neighbourhood of Gávea. They prepare fresh juices, use local produce and bake cakes, breads and tartlets. Every morning there’s a set breakfast with fresh treats, which are all delicious.

SEE ALSO: Rio de Janeiro's Red-hot Restaurants

Enjoy an Australian-style coffee

And for the best coffee, I go to Kraft Café & Bistrô in Ipanema. It’s owned by an Australian, Duncan Hay, who roasts the coffee in his own home in Rio. Duncan is great with customers and makes the best coffee in Rio.

Visit the farmer’s market

If you want a market experience, visit the Botanical Garden on Saturday, when there’s a farmers’ market selling everything fresh. I recommend the tapioca with beetroot flavour. You can have it with coconut water – it’s delicious.

Shop ‘til you drop

If you’re after designer labels, go to Village Mall, in Barra da Tijuca, where you will find brands such as Burberry, Cartier, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, Prada and Tiffany & Co. Also visit Dona Coisa, close to the Botanical Garden, for Brazilian designers – the clothes, shoes and prints are of a high quality.

Stock up on thongs

The best place to buy a gift or memento is one of the Havaianas stores. You can often find limited editions of the essential Brazilian footwear, as well as ones created and signed by local designers.

For romance, head for the hills

For a romantic experience, couples should go to Aprazível, which is on top of the hill in Santa Teresa. It’s a contemporary Brazilian restaurant that serves dishes from the north and north-east and uses local produce. But the highlight is the amazing view of the city – you can almost see the whole of Rio. Aprazível is like a treehouse and has outdoor tables. It’s very romantic and perfect to celebrate a special occasion.

On your bike

The best thing to do outdoors is ride a bike. You can cycle to the oldest neighbourhood in town, Urca, at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain. There’s a place called Bar Urca – it’s popular but small and relaxing, with a great food and drinks menu.

Take in some culture

If it’s raining, visit the Museum of Modern Art. The building was designed in the ’50s so it has contemporary architecture and hosts great exhibitions.

Get out of Rio

The best daytrip is Paraty, a colonial town with small streets and cobblestones. It’s quaint and authentically old Brazilian. 

Rio’s best-kept secret

The Jardim Botânico neighbourhood, where the Botanical Garden is located, is a special place with lots of authentic shops, modern restaurants and houses built at the beginning of the century. You can have drinks at one of the many bars and restaurants and just relax.

SEE ALSO: The Best Day Trip out of Rio de Janeiro