Rio (as much as Brazil in general) is an incredible mixture - of cultures, of people, of colours. This same mixture however, can make it a not so safe place to travel. But, for the four days we've spent in Rio I don't remember one moment I felt in danger (not even when we witnessed an assault!). There are many police officers everywhere. Still, a recommended practice is to leave all your personal belongings in the hotel room and walk around in just shorts and flip flops. Nothing that calls attention. This is exactly what we did!
We started getting to know the city with a helicopter tour. Quite expensive, but the views were breathtaking. And saved us a lot of time getting all the way up to Cristo Redentor statue.
As the weather was quite unstable and cloudy, we got pretty lucky, being able to catch these views in the 5-minutes window the sun was shining.
Another place with gorgeous views is Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car to the top of the hill. Relatively close is the Botafogo stadium and the Botafogo Shopping with its rooftop terrace, allegedly Rio's best selfie spot.
Walking distance from Botafogo Shopping to the cable car and the so called Red Beach next to it, is around 15 minutes and its worth it. Between them we passed by some really beautiful old building like museums and a university.
The cable car goes to both hills but in separate routs. And rewards you with amazing views over the city, and if you get clean weather - over the statue of Cristo Redentor as well. We were not that lucky, but we mede a new friend though.
After a quick Uber drive we got to Copacabana - Rio's most famous bay with the black and white wavy cobblestone sidewalk and super luxurious Copacabana Palace. So far so good for an old fisherman village that was here before building the first tunnel through the hills in 1892.
The Arpoador Rock stands between Copacabana and Ipanema and has amazing views to both bays. Ipanema (and a bit further Leblon) just like Copacabana is a fancy neighbourhood with a variety of restaurants and bars (a great place to have dinner in Ipanema is Zaza Bistro).
Rio has so much to offer. I spent only four days here, but couldn't fit all the experiences in just one publication. Check the second part of it.