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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


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.

Copacabana Palace

This elegant establishment is almost as famous as its beachfront location. Since it was built in 1923, famous guests have included Robert De Niro, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles and Princess Diana. The Copacabana Palace is one of the grandest classical buildings in Rio de Janeiro; its creamy pillared façade dominates Avenida Atlântica, and is protected by a preservation order. The plush interior is even more impressive with marble floors, chandeliers, grand ballroom and elegantly decorated rooms. Facilities include a rooftop tennis court, a majestic swimming pool, a well-equipped fitness suite and a business centre. The two restaurants, Cipriani and Pergula, offer fine dining.

Hotel Mama Ruisa

This tasteful boutique hotel lies in the heart of Santa Teresa in a converted late 19th-century mansion. Laidback French proprietor Jean Michel Ruiz has had each of the seven rooms individually decorated in tribute to icons of stage and screen, including Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda and Maria Callas. The spacious lounge is filled with modern designer furniture and its walls are hung with original works of art and ethnic artefacts. The private walled garden has a small pool, with a terrace and veranda where meals and cocktails are served.

Rio Design Hotel

Rio de Janeiro's first design hotel is a modern establishment one block from Copacabana Beach. Its 66 rooms, suites and apartments have been individually styled by top Brazilian artists, giving the hotel an exclusive and contemporary feel. This Rio hotel is a popular choice with visitors who are looking for something a bit chic but not prohibitively expensive. All rooms are comfortable, with flat-screen TVs and broadband internet access. Other hotel facilities include a business centre, fitness studio with spa and sauna, and a rooftop restaurant, but no pool.

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.