With its magnificent views, pulsing nightlife, beautiful locals and steamy tropical heat, Rio is a city that will have your pulse racing and your senses tingling. As a destination for a romantic getaway it’s hard to beat, and aside from the city’s own myriad attractions there are scores of unspoiled spots nearby that can offer lovers in Rio an escape from the crowds.
Single? Well, there a few better places to cure a broken heart than Rio de Janeiro. Get practicing your Portuguese, sink a few caipirinhas to get into the samba spirit, and you could soon find yourself arranging a romantic rendevous with a local.
No matter whether you’re here to find new romance or to celebrate an ongoing one, our pick of the top five romantic things to do in Rio will ensure you’re never stuck for ideas (and you won’t need megabucks either)
1. Sugar Loaf at sunset. Yes, it’s touristy, but don’t let that put you off taking the two-stage cable car ride up to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain. Head here just before sunset, pack a cool bag with Champagne, chocolate and other tasty nibbles, and enjoy stunning views as the pumpkin sun descends over one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
2. Drinks at Copacabana Palace hotel. This is one of the world’s most celebrated hotels, and has a long history of attracting celebrities on their visits to Rio de Janeiro (recent names have included Madonna, Will Smith and the Obamas, to name just a few). If your budget doesn’t extend to a night here, or even a meal in the celebrated Cipriani restaurant, you can still join in the fun by enjoying a cocktail by the hotel’s pool. Open to non-guests, Pergula is the hotel’s less formal poolside bar/restaurant, and while prices are steeper than elsewhere in the city, it’s worth it for the opportunity to soak up the opulence. Throw on your gladrags, linger over your drink and enjoy the super-romantic setting.
3. Santa Teresa. A world removed from the crush of Centro and the tourist-crammed beaches of the Zona Sul, Santa Teresa is a wonderfully kooky neighborhood high in the hills. Ride the famous bonde (streetcar) up here before strolling around the cobbled streets, peeking in at the many arts, crafts and clothes stores, before stopping for drinks and dinner at the neighborhood’s many good bars and restaurants. For al-fresco dining and wonderful views over the city, try the fine French-Brazilian food at Aprazivel, set a little back from the main eating, drinking and shopping strip (ask a taxi driver to take you).
4. Recreio beach. The beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon are all romantic spots in their own right, but if you want to escape the crowds, head out west to Recreio das Bandeirantes. Although it gets packed at weekends, during the week this beach is wonderfully quiet. Regular buses run here from central Rio and the Zona Sul, and there are lots of relaxed spots to enjoy a post-beach drink or bite to eat
5. Boat trip down the coast. If the sticky city heat gets too much, jump on board a fishing boat and head down the beautiful Costa Verde (Green Coast) to discover Paradise islands, crystal clear lagoons and excellent swimming and sunbathing opportunities. There are hundreds of companies offering day trips (many of which include lunch and drinks), so shop around for the best deals.
Photo: Lucy Bryson