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Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Become a beach volleyball star

It is not unusual to see professional athletes playing vôlei (beach volleyball) on several beaches in Rio. After football, it's Brazil's favourite sport, and the canny Cariocas have managed to combine the two, with futevolei. Great to watch, better to play: turn up for a lesson at Posto 10, Ipanema.

Master a martial art

Capoeira is a martial art thought to have been brought to Brazil by African slaves. Blending athleticism and grace, participants should get close but not quite touch each other. Learn how at Capoeira Senzala (tel: +55 21 9431 5914;

Ride Rio's Rollers on a surfboard

Take an early morning stroll down Ipanema Beach and there will already be dozens of surfers in action; surfing is as big in Rio as the waves that pound the Zona Sul coastline. Prainha and Recreio are top spots, while Arpoador is closer to the city. Invicta (tel: +55 21 3439 0721) offer board hire.

Scale God's Finger

Rio is an ideal destination for climbers, and Sugarloaf and Corcovado's granite peaks are a challenge for even the most experienced climber. A couple of hours' drive from Rio, the Dedo de Deus or 'God's Finger' is a fantastic alternative. Climb In Rio (tel: +55 21 2245 1108; offer guided climbs.

Soar high above the city

Hang gliding or paragliding off Rio's sheer peaks is a spectacular thrill and allows participants to see the city from a dramatically different angle. Flights take off from Pedra Bonita peak, overlooking São Conrado, and soar for 15 breathtaking minutes before landing on the sandy Praia Pepino. Take a tandem flight with Just Fly (tel: +55 21 2268 0565;

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Featured Hotels


Windsor Barra Hotel

Windsor Barr Hotel is a good choice for exploring Rio's western suburbs and beaches, particularly for surfers and for those planning to attend the 2016 Olympics. This modern, high-rise hotel facing Barra da Tijuca beach has 338 comfortable if not luxurious rooms with all mod-cons. It also has a restaurant, bar, two swimming pools, fitness centre, sauna, and airport shuttle bus.

Fasano Rio

Still the coolest luxury hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Fasano Rio is a place where both Brazilian and global celebrities come to see and to be seen. Overlooking Ipanema Beach, this stylish designer hotel brings a modern concept of hospitality, elegance and sophistication. The interiors are a joint venture of renowned architect Philippe Stark and the restaurateur and hotelier Rogério Fasano. The décor combines dark tropical woods with light and airy drapes and furnishings. All 79 rooms and 10 suites have a balcony and most with a sea view. Its rooftop terrace and pool gives a superb view over the beach to the Dois Irmãos mountains, stunning at sunset. The restaurant, Fasano Al Mare, is under the capable hands of three-Michelin-star chef Luca Gozzani.

San Marco Hotel

Located right in the heart of Ipanema, San Marco Hotel is the perfect choice for holidaymakers on a budget who want to take full advantage of the nearby beach – two blocks away - without missing out on Rio’s exciting nightlife. The small modern hotel has 56 tidy and functional rooms, all en-suite with TVs and air conditioning, and is in the thick of Ipanema’s trendy bars, shops, restaurants and clubs (ask for a room on an upper floor if on the street side). Its friendly bilingual staff, wireless internet connection, and competitive rates make this one of the few good-value budget hotels in Ipanema.

Ritz Plaza Hotel Leblon

Located in the heart of Leblon, Rio's most expensive square metre, Ritz Plaza Hotel Leblon offers quality services at affordable prices. Its rooms are well furnished if not huge, with modern décor. A generous buffet breakfast is included and the hotel has up-to-date facilities, including spa and a small pool. It's a couple of blocks in from the beach and close to cinemas, theatres, shops, restaurants and the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.


This no-frills but clean and well-run hotel is highly rated among regular visitors to Rio. It's in a handy location between downtown and the Zona Sul, in an historic, up-and-coming district. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the buffet breakfast is excellent, and facilities include a spa, gym and small roof terrace. In all, the Regina is one of the best budget hotels in the city.

Rio Hostel

This hostel in an old colonial building in Santa Teresa has basic dorms as well as three- and four-bed rooms, which are ideal for families. With its hillside location, Rio Hostel offers great city views and it also has a tiny swimming pool. Facilities include laundry service, tour information, Wi-Fi connectivity and air conditioning in some rooms. The staff are friendly, some are multilingual, and they serve a decent buffet breakfast.