Socialising with fellow travelers is all well and good, but if you really want to experience the heart and soul of a city you need to get to know the locals. This is especially true of Rio de Janeiro, where the locals’ welcoming attitude, party spirit and zest for life all help to make the city the uniquely vibrant place that it is.
It may be hard to get to know people in the exclusive, formal restaurants of Ipanema and Leblon, but look further afield and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to make new friends – and don’t be shy about trying out your Portuguese!
1. Santa Teresa this hillside neighborhood is full of friendly locals hanging out at the informal bars, with Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons being particularly lively.
2. Bar do Gomes the most traditional of Santa Teresa’s bars, ‘Gomez’ as it is known is the focal point of socialising for many locals
3. Lapa Street Party Friday and Saturday nights see the roads closed to traffic and open to hordes of partiers in Lapa, the hub of Rio nightlife activity
4. Ipanema beach. Throw your sarong down at Posto Nove (Lifeguard Post 9), make eye contact and try and start up a conversation. Be warned though, you can bet that the eye-poppingly beautiful beach bunnies have heard all the lines before
5. Football match. The legendary Maracana is closed for refurbs until the start of the FIFA World Cup 2014, but catch local teams Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense or Vasco at their grounds and join in the energetic fun
6. Projeto Morrinho some way off the beaten tourist track, this unique ‘favela within a favela’ is a unique attraction
7. Ilha da Paqueta a popular day out for Carioca families, this is a great place to meet locals at play
8. Manifesta Lapa one of the liveliest of Lapa’s many clubs, with DJs spanning the musical spectrum
9. Carnival should you be lucky enough to be in Rio for this most famous of festas, the many street parties, or blocos are perfect for meeting locals
10 New Year’s at Copacabana beach. Fireworks, good vibes and plenty of booze plus an excuse to kiss anyone close to you at midnight. Perfect!
Photo: Lucy Bryson