Rio de Janerio is one of my absolute favourite places in the world, and thanks to a university project I was able to spend 3 months there a few years ago. As I’m no longer an expert on what to do in Rio I asked Valerie Wigart, a total blonde yogi who writes a column about healthy food in the Swedish magazine Plaza Kvinna, for a Rio guide instead. Valerie spent a few years in Miami before moving to Rio 3 years ago. She is currently working on her own cook book so connect with her on Instagram or check out her blog for updates.
What is your favourite…
I have to say Fasano because it has a great location and the best rooftop in Rio with view over Ipanema and Leblon. It’s designed by Philippe Starck and also has a great restaurant and bar.
Santa Teresa Hotel is another wonderful boutique hotel in the bohemian neighborhood Santa Teresa. You can sit by the pool look out over almost the whole city. The hotel also got a great restaurant and nice spa. The neighborhood of Santa Teresa is very interesting and up and coming. You should also try the restaurant Aprazível in Santa Teresa, where you can enjoy dinner up in a tree house.
Breakfast or brunch place?
Empório Jardim in Jardim Botanico is the best breakfast spot in Rio! They bake their own bread and always have fresh ingrediensens. You get a big menu of breakfast stuff and you make a cross on the things you like to order for your breakfast table. I can recommend their eggs!
You have to try acaí in Rio! It’s a purple super berry from the amazon that they make a sort of sorbet on and serve it in a bowl. It’s filled of healthy antioxidants, vitamins and fats. The best acaí bowl you’ll find at Universo Organico in Leblon. Their acaí is organic and not filled with sweet guarana syrup as in most other places. They serve it together with raw granola and papaya. Amazing!
Vale das Palmeras have the best cold-pressed green juice in town. It’s made infront of you of 100% organic fruits and greens. You can choose if you want to have with or without wheatgrass.
Balada Mix is a restaurant and juicebar that is perfect for light lunch or a quick juice or acaí. They have several restaurants all over Rio, almost one in every neighborhood. Try their Detox Juice made of coconutwater, pineapple, lime, ginger and kale. They also have great acaí bowls but remember to ask for less guarana syrup so it’s less sweet.
Org. Bistro is a cozy and really yummy lunch place in Barra de Tijuca. Everything is gluten free, lactose free and 100 % organic. There are always two daily dishes to chose from.
Gula Gula is a restaurant with several locations in Rio. They have everything from salads to steaks and you can chose two salads on your plate. I love the chicken/quinoa salad together with the palm heart salad. They also have great juices and desserts!
Gavea Beach Club on the beach in Sao Conrado has the best quiosque in Rio. It’s a Italian lady who owns it so of course their pasta is amazing, but they also have healthy choices like grilled fish and fresh juices. It’s hard to find a good place to eat by the beach in Rio, but here you have a great option!
Celeiro in Leblon is a trendy organic lunch place where you take food from a buffet and pay by weight. The food is really tasty and healthy but it’s quite expensive. It’s amazing for long lunch with friends!
I have to say Sushi Leblon, in Leblon of course, because you can people watch and it’s always crowded. Try their butter fish (peixe manteiga) with truffle. I also love Irajá Gastro in Botafogo!
It might sound crazy to do yoga in 42 degrees when it’s already pretty sweaty outside but I’m a big fan of a Bikram Yoga in Ipanema. It’s a beautiful and light studio with amazing people. I always feel amazing after a class here!
Nirvana by the Jockey Club is another great studio with all kinds of classes at almost every hour of the day. Here you can find all the types of yoga that you want!
The beach! You can do everything on the beach in Rio. I do boxing and intervals with a personal trainer but I also go running, walking and and paddle boarding by myself. Also all the amazing hikes you can do in Rio. There are so many mountains to climb and the revord when you get to the top is always priceless. There are some hikes that are more difficult than others but I always recommend you to go with a local. My favorite hikes are Dois Irmaos and Pedra da Gavea.
Music scene/night life?
I don’t go out much in Rio but if you’re looking for a nightclub I could recommend the Cave. It’s kind of an alternative club with really good music. The club closes when the last people leave, usually around 9 am in the morning. During Carnaval in February there are always a lot of fun things going on and a lot of samba everywhere!
When you come to Rio you have to see the sunset at Azul Marinho in Arpoador. You can enjoy a caipirinha and see one of the most famous sunsets in the world. When the sun goes away behind the Dois Irmaos mountain everybody clap their hands.
Arraial do Cabo is located next to Buzios, about 2 hours drive from Rio. It’s a natural reserve and the water is crystal clear and the sand white and fine. You can only reach the beaches by boat so the best way is to talk to one of the fishermen in the little village and pay them to take you on a tour. You can see giant turtles and even whales. It’s a real paradise!
Paraty is a cute authentic colonial town about 2,5 hour drive from Rio. It’s close to Angra which is an archipelago of 365 paradise islands. In Paraty you can also rent a little boat to go around all the different islands. The town is very cute and there is a lot to see and do. Stay at Casa Turquesa!
I always check out Farm Rio for boho-chic beach wear. It’s definitely not stuff you could ever wear in London, but perfect for Ibiza or Tulum. Also don’t forget to buy Brazilian bikinis! There are many amazing brands to choose from, for ex. Adriana Degreas, Vix, Rosa Cha or Salinas. I also like to pass by Track and Field for sports wear.
Another place I like to visit in Rio is Parque Lage which is right under the Cristo Redentor in Gavea/Jardim Botanicos close to Lagoa. I think there is (or used to be) an art school but I’m not sure anymore. There is not much to do there, but they have a small cafe so it’s nice to just have a coffee and enjoy the scenery. You feel very far away from London traffic and stress! As a general advice to tourists I also recommend staying away from Copacabana and spend more time in Leblon and Ipanema.