What to Expect
Samba shows, obvious, flagrant cultural hype, are directed at visitors yet they achieve a highly watchable status simply for the spectacle, bursting with colour and the Spanish equivalent of dynamic 'joie de vivre'. Or smoky, sultry old-fashioned dance halls, known locally as 'forros' from the flowing rhythmic music style developed in north-eastern Brazil during World War II. Choose music, music, music from the enormous selection emanating from tiny doorways or reverberating through the thick glass windows of dozens of night-clubs: big band sound, rock, jazz, salsa, classic Spanish guitar, Brazilian beat drum bands and more.
To experience Rio nightlife the way indigenous Brazilians do, take a trip to Ipanema and book a table in one of its feijoada restaurants. Bar Garota de Ipanema is 'The Girl from Ipanema Bar', where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Morais sat and yearned for the heart of their composition's heroine, as she headed for the beach. Here they serve feijoada, a spicy concoction of beef, pork and black beans and Brazil's national dish. Slow cooked to perfection it is the ideal start to a long night on the tiles.
The best tiles are in Copacabana. 1940's dance halls are numerous with full-sized big bands blasting the best toe tapping tunes on the continent. Clubs are large, flamboyant and scandalously stylish. Dress up, the higher the better, for an evening of non-stop exuberance. For non-stop mellow, as a pleasant alternative to all that jazz, the artist's quarter of St Teresa has an abundance of acoustic coffee houses where musicians play until the first lights of dawn peep through the cracks in the curtains.
If you fancy a spot of climbing, the aptly titled Escalada Café is an indoor climbing café with sheer walls punctured with 1200 handholds. You can climb up and down as many walls as you wish in between nibbling tortillas and supping margaritas. Don't worry too much about getting drunk and falling off as hard hats are provided!
If that all sounds a bit energetic, the smooth sophistication of Mistura Fina or Rhapsody in the Laoga district offer an intimate café atmosphere with soothing live piano music. Entrance charges ensure a more discerning clientele.
Hippopotamus is currently the most exclusive all-night, all-singing, all-dancing hot spot in Rio. Temporary membership is available through the better hotels in the city and dress code is extremely extreme. Jazzmania is the jazz club equivalent and has the added bonus of an incredibly romantic view of Ipanema Beach at sunset.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of first-class, attractive accommodation in Rio. From the latest hi-tech towers to small, old, European-style hotels. Between Christ's statue and the sea, down dimly lit, winding alleys to open beachside resorts, there is a location and style to suit everyone. One of the most modern creations is the Caesar Park Hotel in Ipanema. Opposite the beach with direct access and surrounded by Rio's most elegant shopping area, this beautifully designed tower hotel is the favourite haunt of celebrities and heads of state. Famous for impeccable service and superb dining, Caesar Park remains in the forefront of fashionable Rio society.
If you prefer a more traditional stay, there is one hotel that offers neo-classical architecture, sumptuous furnishings, faultless, quiet service and exquisite dining. From the moment you set eyes on the magnificent Copacabana Palace you will experience the epitome of glamour from a bygone age. It has long been the most adored hotel in Rio and is worth a visit, even if it is only for a delicious lunch.
The massive, 37-floor Le Meridien is a stone's throw from Rio's cultural centre in Copacabana, The Centro. Leaving the beach behind and heading into the west of the city, The Centro is the place to find small, intimate jazz cafés, bookshops, galleries and specialist stores. Le Meridian is home to one of the finest jazz bars in town, renowned for booking all the best acts around.
Galeo International Airport, served by most major airlines, is 45 minutes from Rio beach. Air-conditioned buses collect hotel residents from outside the customs office, leaving the airport every half an hour. Taxi booths are also situated at the airport where fares are posted pre-journey. Avoid yellow cabs as they have a reputation for overcharging visitors. Public transport is good in Rio. Roads can be busy during high season summer and self-drive is not really necessary or recommended.
Pre-Travel Check List
American, New Zealand, Canadian and Australian visitors to Brazil require visas. Visitors from the UK and Europe do not. However, these rules change fairly frequently and all visitors must check current requirements with their own embassies.
Visitors will be asked to fill in a tourist card, one half of which is kept by immigration officials and the other will be attached to your passport and removed when you leave. Don't lose it as it might delay your departure.
Caesar Park Hotel Ipanema
Avenida Viera Souto 460 Ipanema
Rio de Janeiro 22420-000
Tel: +55 21 525 2515
Fax: +55 21 521 6000
Avenida Atlantica 1702
Rio de Janeiro CEP 22021-001
Tel: +55 21 548 7070
Fax: +55 21 235 7330
Avenida Atlantica 1020
Rio De Janeiro 22010-000
Tel: +55 21 546 0866
Fax: +55 21 541 6447 and +55 21 542 6739
Rua Capitao Salomao
Tel: +55 21 537 9131
Bar Garota de Ipanema
Rue Vinicius de Morais 39
Tel: +55 21 267 5757
Borges de Medeiros
Tel: +55 3207 537 2844
Tel: +55 1104 247 2104
Rua Barao da Torre 354
Tel: +55 21 247 0351
Av. Rainha Elizabeth 769
Tel: +55 21 227 2447
Visit the following web sites for more information: