Day Off: Best Parks of Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

4 places

Doni Clemons

It's a perfect coincidence that a city that has one of the most pumping party scenes on the planet, also has some of the most re-energizing and stunningly beautiful natural destinations. All within the radius of public transportation, Rio has tropical rainforest, numerous beaches, and several lakes. This route is a natural adventure lover's dream that allows time for hiking, hang gliding and surfing.

Tijuca Forest

Tijuca Forest, the dense, emerald jewel of a tropical rain forest is also known as the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. Few can resist the enchantment of the waterfalls, caves, ponds, fountains, trails and lookouts. Once a part of a Brazilian nobleman's estate, it's now the third largest urban green area of the world. In addition to the exotic, monkeys, and flora and fauna of the Atlantic Rainforest, there are several sites within the park.The pink one-room, wooden Chapel Mayrink which is studded with murals by Candido Portinari, one of the most popular modern Brazilian artists is one example. And the iconic Cristo Rednentor is another. The park has popular trails for cycling, running and climbing. And also has designated areas for for barbecues and gatherings.

Os Esquilos

Located 19th century colonial style house, the allure of Os Esquilos is simplicity. The restaurant opened in the thick of the rainforest of Tijuca National Park in the 1940s. There is a very romantic seclusion to dining here. almost cabin feel. Diners are sure to view tropical birds and animals from their tables. During Rio's winter, the restaurants lights up their large fireplace. And this is the site of many weddings. Os Esquilos is especially known for their fondues and classically prepared meats. Visitors should note, only cash is accepted.

Barra da Tijuca

Going to the beach in Barra da Tijuca is to experience an entirely different Rio. Huge shopping malls (the biggest mall in South America is in Barra da Tijuca), newly constructed high rise apartment buildings, and many chain restaurants can be found here. The area is often said to be the most “americanized.” It’s perfect for those looking to make a slight departure from the Carioca grind, but maybe not for those looking to get away from the shininess of new urban landscapes. The beach itself- clean, vast, and less touristy- is a great reason to visit Barra. It’s known for good kitesurfing and surfing. It’s nice to go during the week when the beaches are nearly empty however, plan the trip before rush hour because the traffic jams of Barra are enough to ruin the relaxation gained from the beach. The area is designed for those with their own cars, and is difficult to access by walking.

São Conrado

The long sandy beach of São Conrado is located in the south side of the city, east of Ipanema Beach.
The beach is closest to São Conrado neighborhood which is home to some of the wealthiest people in Rio as well as some of the poorest. São Conrado has stately restaurants, mansions, nightclubs and also brushes up against Brazil's largest favela, Rocinha. But even Rocinha is becoming affected by the rise in Brazil's economy. And increasingly, outside money is buying property in the area. The area's newest neighbor is David Beckham. Even some of the kiosks here in São Conrado are serve top-notch food and wine. Gávea Beach Club & Fun charmingly serves items like Grilled olive, eggplant and prosciutto brochette and Salmon carpaccio. Adventurers and thrill seekers will also love the opportunities to try hang gliding and paragliding here.


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