Travelling to Florianopolis and Rio - Any suggestions?
June 21, 2011 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I'm heading from Toronto to Brasil for a wedding in August and then will have about two weeks of solo travelling to do. Where should I stay and what should I do? Details inside.

The wedding is just outside San Paulo.

Asking around so far has led me to believe that I should visit Florianopolis and then Rio de Janeiro (where my return flight is booked out of).

Does anyone have suggestions for things to do or places to stay while I'm there?

I've googled,

I'm interested in surfing, relaxing, eating, drinking, dancing, photography and unique and exciting adventures.

My budget for the trip after paying for my return airfare is about $3K.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
posted by stealabove to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think that a visit to Iguazu Falls is a must. You can get a quick flight there from Sao Paulo and spend a night there. The Argentinian side (which should be easily accessible) is the most interesting side IMO as you get much closer to the falls, which are *amazing*. You can also take a quick visit to Ciudad del Este if you're feeling brave. There are also some just gorgeous beaches with lots of little islands between Rio + Sao Paulo -- I stayed in Parati and took a lovely cruise around the little islands, and it was a highlight of my trip. Highly recommended.
posted by seventyfour at 10:43 AM on June 21, 2011

And drink lots of Caipirinhas and chopp (the word for very cold draft beer, which is, for whatever reason, just amazing tasting).
posted by seventyfour at 10:45 AM on June 21, 2011

Yes, chopp! It tastes great because it's unpasteurized. Caipirinhas, also a must.

Also seconding Iguaçu falls, a must see! Only thing is that, apart from the falls and the nature preserve around them, there's not much else.

Totally seconding Parati and the beaches between Rio-São Paulo. It's on the BR-101, the coastal highway. If driving or taking a bus between Rio-SP, take it! Avoid the Dutra, the new modern boring interstate.

Florianópolis is good for beach and surfing, but it's kinda spread out — consider renting a car.

Go to Rio! But avoid Copacabana, it's a tourist trap. Locals hang out at Ipanema/Leblon. The far left (when you're facing the sea) of Ipanema is called Arpoador, there might be some surfing going on there. Also, watching the sunset from the Arpoador rocks is a Rio classic.

Great chopp + snacks in Leblon (walking distance from the beach): Bracarense.

When walking around Rio, the best way to not worry about crime is minimalism. Wear simple clothes: Tshirt, shorts, flip-flops. Leave your stuff (passport, credit cards) at the hotel and carry the minimum in a simple plastic bag from a grocery store: cash for the day, passport photocopy, and a cheap camera.

Like meat? Go to a rodízio. A famous one in Rio is Porcão. Also, try the feijoada, it's the national dish of Brazil.

When going to Corcovado, take the train, it's a lovely ride. Also, right by Corcovado there's the Paineiras road, closed to traffic on weekends, great hike. Awesome views. Swimsuit optional, but recommended! On the way back you can stop by the Naïf Art Museum, it's right by the terminal station.

Best ice cream in Rio: Mil Frutas

São Paulo: if you got only 3 weeks, avoid. Huge, sprawling, cosmopolitan. Traffic jams, traffic jams, traffic jams. OK, if you're into it you can check out the hipster scene at Rua Augusta on friday and saturday evenings. Ibirapuera park is an example of 50s Brazilian modernism, by architect Niemeyer (he also designed Brasília). Go see the view and have a caipirinha at the bar on top of Edifício Itália, highest building in town. Try to catch the sunset there, it's amazing. No shorts allowed though. Liberdade, the Asian district, is worth a visit too. (SP is home to the largest Japanese colony outside Japan).
posted by Tom-B at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also: totally try the açaí!
posted by Tom-B at 1:29 PM on June 21, 2011

We didn't go to the Edifício Itália, but, on my two visits to Sao Paulo I went twice to the Hotel Unique, which had the most amazing city view I've ever seen from its rooftop bar and, at least at the time, had a very happening scene. Neat hotel too, if you can afford it.
posted by seventyfour at 3:00 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, also known as the Watermelon Hotel... it's within walking distance to Ibirapuera Park, too.
posted by Tom-B at 8:22 PM on June 21, 2011

Oh, Tom-B, I see that you live in Sao Paulo, so you know your stuff. I spent 3 or 4 weeks in SP with a good friend of mine who was working for Reuters, and who lived in Villa Madelena, so hung out with him and his expat and Brazilian friends. I adored Sao Paulo. However, if I hadn't know anyone there, I wouldn't have been as fond of the city. OP, if you can find a Paulista to show you around, I would much recommend Sao Paulo, otherwise nix it, it's just too much (and the traffic is awful, though public transport was pretty good, to my recollection). The view of Sao Paulo, when you're flying in, is just incredible. The city starts and it just doesn't end, it seems to go on forever.

(I'm probably the only person who wasn't crazy about Rio, and I only spent a couple of days there, but that's probably because I didn't know anyone in Rio).
posted by seventyfour at 7:33 AM on June 22, 2011

Yeah, memail me, we could have a Sampa mefi meetup!
posted by Tom-B at 9:14 AM on June 22, 2011

Also, regarding the rest of Brazil: there's always the Amazon, Manaus and Belém are the two main places, the sheer mass of water of the river near the delta is awesome. You can be on a boat in the middle of the river, look around 360º and and not see land.

Salvador, the African-Brazilian spiritual capital of Brazil, and pretty much any spot you pick on the Northeast is guaranteed to have amazing beaches.

Come to think of it, if you're coming in August you might want to check weather/temperatures in Florianópolis. It might get a bit cold, so the Northeast would be better for enjoying the beach. Sorry I don't have more specific info, not my neighborhood :-)
posted by Tom-B at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2011

I live in Florianópolis. It can be pretty cold in August, although the coldest month is usually July. Expect no insulation and no heating inside, so it is cold everywhere. However, surfers keep on surfing, they just put on a wetsuit and face it. :) Memail me if you want more info on Florianópolis (or try me Natal and Brasilia as well). Sorry I can't commit to a mefi meetup -- I am moving out of the country!
posted by natalinha at 10:21 AM on June 24, 2011

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