Samba Carnivals in Brazil

Carnival is celebrated widely around Latin America, but there is no other so wellknown Carnival as world famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro. The date of Carnival changes depending on the year. It starts officially on Saturday, 40 days before Easter and goes on until Tuesday. However a large number of celebration is hold both before and after the official days.

Samba Parade

Samba Parade

Carnival is celebrated widely around Brazil and the style varies depending on the geopgraphical location. The fame of Rio de Janeiros’s Carnival is one in kind, even though the world’s biggest street party is celebrated in Salvador (Bahia). One of the most traditional Carnival takes place in Olinda, which a small colonial city next to Recife. The Carnaval of Rio de Janeiro is celebrated in Sambadrome designed by famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemayer. If you pretend to assist the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, make sure you get your ticket early enough and be prepaid to pay a good price of it, as this world famous parade is not an economic happening at all.

Outside of the official parades and samba school competions the Carnival industry offers many other activities as well. A tourist who visits Brazil outside of the Carnival period can get a piece of the feeling by assisting the samba school rehearsals, which tend to start in September and go on until the Carnival. Before Carnival there are also bigger rehearsals taking place almost weekly in Sambadrome.  These rehearsals are basically very similar to the samba Carnival parade, but without floats and costumes. Another interesting place is the Samba City, located close to the port of Rio de Janeiro. It is an another place holding samba rehearsals and events both before and after the Carnival. The Samba City is also open all year around (except Tuesdays) for those who want to see how the costumes, wagons and instruments are made.

Bloco das Carmelitas

Bloco das Carmelitas

Beside of all the official events, a large number of street parties (blocos) are hold all around the city, staring few weeks before the Carnival. These colorful parades are an option for you to feel the spirit of Carnival without participating the official celebrations at Sambadrome. One of the most charming ones is Bloco das Carmelitas organized in the pictoresque neighborhood of Santa Teresa.

Please check out the Rio Carnival website for detailed information and schedules. In the mean while, let’s see if the 2009 champion, Salgueiro, will repeat the victory this year. The top 5 samba schools will show us the best of them in the champions parade, which takes place in Sambadrome on Saturday after the Carnival.

Enjoy the spirit of Samba!


Rio de Janeiro in 5 days

Are you planning to visit Rio de Janeiro, but don’t know how many days you should stay in the city and what should you experience during your stay? We have retailed you an itineray including some of the most interesting attractions of Rio de Janeiro. Of course all of them may not interest you, but our aim is to give you a complete example of all the possibilities.

View over Copacabana

View over Copacabana

DAY 1:

  • Head early in morning to the Corcovado train station (opens at 08.30 am) and get to the top where the world famous Christ statue is located. After having visited Corcovado head to the downtown of Rio de Janeiro and catch one of those old fashioned trams up to the artistic neighborhood of Santa Teresa. This picturesque uphill neighborhood is an ideal place to enjoy a delicious and traditional Brazilian meal. After your lunch enjoy the views from Parque das Ruinas and visit the museum of Characa do Ceu with images of Rio de Janeiro before it became a city of millions and millions of inhabitants. After having explored Santa Teresa, the next stop is one of the most traditional landmarks of Rio de Janeiro, the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Visiting Sugar Loaf Mountain in the late afternoon has the advantage of both daylight and sunset, which is a spectacle itself!

DAY 2:

  • Botanical Garden

    Botanical Garden

    Start you day by having a walk in the Botanical Garden, which is a real oasis in the middle of such a huge city as Rio de Janeiro. After having enjoyed your lunch participate in one of the guided Favela tours. These tours are an excellent way to see the other face of Rio de Janeiro and especially to understand a little bit better the causes of social problems in the city. In the evening participate in a rehearsal of a samba school (available from August to February) and bring a piece of carnival feeling with you.

DAY 3:

  • Star your day with emotions and try hang gliding admiring the views from the top of Pedra da Gavea and landing to the beach of Praia do Pepino. If you are not into adventures, have a walk in the downtown of Rio de Janeiro visiting the museums, churches and monasteries, or just have a relax at one of the world famous beaches. After having enjoyed your lunch have a refreshing swim in the sea and get prepared to more emotions in soccer game at the world’s biggest stadium Maracanã. If you are not into soccer, enjoy shopping in the fashionable stores of Ipanema and have a walk in the shores of the lake Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The restaurants of Parque dos Patins located in the edges the lake are also excellent places to enjoy your dinner with live music.

Pele, the legend

Pele, the legend

DAY 4:

  • Start a day with a visit to the National Park of Tijuca located within the city of Rio de Janeiro. You can choose either a sightseeing tour that takes you to the most interesting points by car or take a light hike up to the highest peak of Rio de Janeiro, the Tijuca Peak. After the tour enjoy your lunch at one of the many sea front restaurants in Copacabana and have leisure stroll inside of the Fort of Copacabana (situated at the end of it), which is also an excellent place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a delicious desert at the famous coffee house Confeitaria Colombo.

DAY 5:

  • Take a day trip outside of Rio de Janeiro and get an idea of the beauty of this state. Tours (private or scheduled) to Búzios or to tropical island of Angra dos Reis are ideal options and a schooner cruise in the destination allows you to enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters of these regions. Enjoy your last night in Rio de Janeiro at one of the samba clubs of Lapa, the most popular neighborhood of nightlife. Easygoing atmospheare, traditional live samba and delicious snacks/dinner are guaranteed, no matter which of the many bars you choose.
Angra dos Reis

Angra dos Reis

Obs. Activities such as Samba school rehearsals and Soccer games are not available everyday, so check the schedules and modify the plan according to them.

Brazil has it All: World Cup 2014, Olympic Games 2016 and Carnival every single year!

During the decade 2010 Brazil will have a chance to show its’ beauty, talent and joy of life for the entire world. First world class event will happen during the year 2014, when Brazil will host the football World Cup. There will definitely be no lack of emotions as football is the national sport of Brazil and the biggest passion of this nation. Thousands of fans will fill the streets, and when Brazil is playing cheering on the team will be the number one priority in the daily life of the Brazilians. But the final of the World Cup to be played in Rio de Janeiro, at the world’s biggest station Maracanã, is just a glorious beginning for the huge events of this city. Two years later, in 2016, the Olympic Games are going to be organized in the marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro.

Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro

Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro

Both the World Cup and the Olympic Games are going to be big challenges for Brazil, just like they would be for any other country organizing two events of this scale within two years. However the brazilian joy of life and the willingness of Brazil to show the world that they can be the first South American nation to host the Olympics will light the way. A lot of work has to be done, and the upcoming improvements of the infraestructure are going to be benefits both for Brazilians and for the tourists as well. The events will bring a lot of publicity for Brazil, enforce the knowledge of the diverse destinations of this country and hopefully leave a positive image in the mind of each and every spectator.

World Cup 2014, Olympic Games 2016…and the Carnival every single year

The celebrations are ready to be started!

Brazil Diversity wishes you happy travelling in Brazil!

World’s Happiest City!

Beach Life

Late afternoon beach football

Rio de Janeiro was just ranked as world’s happiest city according  to Forbes.

There might be a number of social problems and a lot to be improved in the city, but there are two facts that nothing is going to take away from Rio de Janeiro.

First of all the breathtaking landscapes of this marvellous city and secondly the joy of life present in each and every day in the life of Cariocas!

Happy living in Rio de Janeiro!

The African Roots of Salvador, Bahia

Streets of Pelourinho

Streets of Pelourinho

Salvador, the state capital of Bahia, was also the first capital of Brazilian Republic and even today is the city with most african influence. Salvador is also the third biggest city of the country, right after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and naturally its’ airport is among the busiest of northeastern part of Brazil. In Salvador you can easily feel the african roots of Brazilian culture, hear the rhythms, taste the flavours and feel the power of myths and such african religions as candomble.

If you are looking for culture together with city life, Salvador is probably one of the most interesting brazilian cities to stop by. The main attraction of Salvador is the old town called Pelourinho, located in the upper part of the city, which belongs in the Unesco list of World Heritage sites. It’s dominated by colorful colonial style buildings, beautiful churches and lively streets. Here you will find plenty of charming restaurants, shops of local handcrafts, artists of all kind and “baianas“, the local ladies wearing traditional white dressing and often selling some delicacies. It’s not rare to find people practising capoeira or playing Afro-Brazilian rhythms on the street. It’s here, where samba-reggae was born and became famous thanks to well known Afro-Brazilian band Olodum. Up from the edge of Perlourinho you will also have beautiful view over the Baía de Todos os Santos bay and if you take an elevator down you will find yourself being in front of the Mercado Modelo market, an another excellent place to buy local handcrafts and souvenirs of Bahia.

Mercado Modelo

Mercado Modelo

Salvador has another important historical spots as well, one of the most popular being the church of Bonfim. This church is a pilgrimage destination for the Brazilians, but is worth visiting for anybody who enjoys old architecture and history. To reach Bonfim, you can either take a regular bus leaving in front of Mercado Modelo or alternatively try the touristic Salvador Bahia Bus, which works on “hop on, hop off” basis and in addition to Bonfim takes you to many other interesting parts of the city with fixed daily price. If you choose regular bus, you better be prepared to longer travelling time, due to the number of stops and depending on the type of the bus, air conditioning may not be available either. Just like in Rio de Janeiro, in Salvador organized tours to favela (=slum) can also be found. Part of the tour fee usually goes in the education or in the improvement of the living conditions of the favela inhabitants, so therefore the tours are not only a safe way to visit favela, but also a great way to make this world a better place for everybody.

Church of Bonfim

Church of Bonfim

When choosing your neighborhood in Salvador we would recommend you to stay either in Pelourinho, Barra or Rio Vermelho. In Pelourinho you will find some charming old building that were refurbished to serve as hotels and has turned out to be an excellent place to spend overnight.  Another good options to stay are the neighborhoods of Barra and Rio Vermelho, both just a short drive away from Pelourinho with large variety of accommodation options for all budget and several restaurants and bars for dining as well. The carnival of Rio de Janeiro may be world widely more famous than the carnival of Bahia, but in fact the carnival of Salvador is the world’s biggest street party and attract a countless number of participants to celebrate in the streets of Salvador. Definetely something you should consider about, if you are into carnivals!

Baianas

Baianas

Many tourists travel to Bahia planning to stay at one of the stunning beaches of the state, but once you are in Salvador make sure you stop there at least for two or three nights. Salvador is worth stopping and after having explored Pelourinho, we are sure that you are not regretting at all. We recommed you to combine Salvador with some of the many beach or eco-tourism destination located close by.

In our other blog posts we have already covered destinations that combine perfectly with Salvador, check out our related blog posts:

Our suggested itineraries including Salvador:

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Casa do Amarelinho – A small hotel located in refurbished building in the heart of Pelourinho. Excellent level of service with special charm and all the amenities you might be expecting.
  • Catharina Paraguacu – A good tourist class hotel located at Rio Vermelho. Catharina Paraguacu offers you an intimate stay in an old style building surrounded by gardens.
  • Restaurante O Nilo – An excellent restaurant serving arab food in a peaceful corner of Pelourinho. O Nilo has tables both inside and outside, but does not accept credit cards.
Pelourinho

Pelourinho

Rio de Janeiro, Part II: One of the 7 wonders and other things to see and do.

Restaurants and bars:

Churrascaria Majórica –
Restaurant Arab –
Restaurante à Mineira –
Restaurante Espirito Santa –
Rio Scenariuam
Carioca da Gema

What to do and see in Rio de Janeiro? Anyone of us can probably name the three most popular sights of Rio, the world famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf mountain. These three must be visited by any tourist who comes to Rio.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

There are two ways to reach the statue of Christ the Redeemer which was recently chosen among the 7 new wonders of the world. You can either take a taxi up to the hill or pick a small train from the Corcovado station that takes you up through the Atlantic rainforest area. If you are not in a hurry, we do recommend you to try this out, it’s a nice experience and worth it even if you may have to take a queue before boarding the train. Once you are up on the top you still have to ascend 220 steps (or take an elevator) to reach the feet of the statue. Together with the beauty of the statue you can enjoy stunning views over the city. For the best views, try to reach the top of the Corcovado hill during the morning, before the clouds come up. There is also a small chapel up on the feet of the Christ for those who want to get married and immortalize their love in this spectacular place.

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

Together with the Corcovado, the top of the Sugar Loaf mountain is one of the best places to enjoy breathtaking views over Rio de Janeiro. To reach the top you have to take two steps cable car from the neighborhood of Urca. In addition to the views you can also enjoy the trails surrounded by the tropical vegetation. Sugar Loaf Mountain and the smaller Urca mountain are also popular among mountain climber and together they create one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world.

Copacabana and Ipanema are the most well known and popular  beaches of Rio de Janeiro. These world famous beaches have been numbered according to life guard posts and serve as meeting points both for locals and for tourists. One of the most trendiest points, is the always crowded post number 9 located at Ipanema.  In addition to these two pearls, Rio de Janeiro has many other smaller or less famous beaches. Arpoador, which is especially in favour of surfers, is located in between of Copacabana and Ipanema. Less crowded Leblon on the other hand is the continuation of Ipanema. The beach of Flamengo is not suitable for swimming but offers one of the most beautiful beach views facing the Sugar Loaf Mountain and Niteroi.

Tram to Santa Teresa

Tram to Santa Teresa

Rio de Janeiro is a lot more than just world famous beaches and landmarks. We highly recommend you to visit the boheamian neighborhood Santa Teresa, located up hill close to the center of the city. There are two ways to get up, either by taxi or by one of the charming old style trams leaving from the feet of Arcos da Lapa, an old aquaduct and entrance to the neighborhood of Lapa. You may have to face a queue to take this pictoresque tram, but it will certainly be at least worth of one way trip. Get off at the square of Largo de Guimarães and wander around in the streets of Santa Teresa. You will find a lot small shops selling handmade items of local artist and small restaurants with delicious dishes. Walking in these streets, while the monkeys are jumping up and down in the trees and tucans hiding themselves behind the leaves, you will start  feeling like if you were in a smaller town and forget of being in a city of more than 6 million inhabitants.

When it comes to historical sights, don’t forget to visit the monastery of São Bento, church of Candelaria and the national museum of Fine Arts. Enjoy a cup of delicious brazilian coffee at the fort located in between Ipanema and Copacabana or walk through the tropical vegetation on the top of the Leme mountain to enjoy another spectacular view over the beaches. The botanic gardens of Rio de Janeiro are worth visiting as well. Jardim Botanico, as it’s called in portuguese is a huge park, where you will find parts decicated for oriental vegetation, others for the Amazon rainforest flora. Don’t miss out the orchid house either! If you enjoy football, pay a visit to the world’s largest stadium, Maracana. Assisting a local match is so much more than just a game, the stadium is full of passion when the Cariocas enjoy their favourite sports and there is no lack of emotion while the fans encourage their teams by singing.

Barra da Tijuca

Barra da Tijuca

A seeker of an active holiday will also find plenty of things to do in Rio de Janeiro. If you are into surfing try out the beaches of Barra da Tijuca and Recreo, they are just one hour away from the heart of the city and offer great waves for the lovers of surf. These beaches are also less crowded and for example a small beach of Prainha, surrounded by the mountains is an excellent place for a swim in beautiful settings. Big emotions and bird’s view over the city are guaranteed if you decide to try hang gliding at São Conrado neighborhood. You may not know, but the world’s biggest urban rainforest area is also located in Rio de Janeiro. Visiting the National Park of Tijuca, is an excellent way to escape from urban life and feel the touch of the nature. For the first time visitors, it’s recommendable to take a tour with a local guide in order to avoid getting lost. The light hikes through the tropical vegetation will take you to waterfalls and viewpoints with breathtaking views over the city.

Once the night falls, we recommend you to head to Lapa. The most trendy, slightly bohemian neighborhood full of bars and restaurants. This is were the Carioca’s go to enjoy a drink and live music. The easiest and the safest way to reach Lapa is by taxi. Don’t consider taking metro, even tough the nearest station is not that far away, at the night time walking through the empty streets of Centro may not be very wise idea. The buildings of Lapa has been refurbished respecting the old architecture, which turns it to be a culturally interesting place to visit as well. Once you reach Lapa you will see a lot of people on the streets, especially during the weekend. Just join them and start bar hopping until you find your favourite place. There are plenty of options for all tastes and budgets. Also check out our recommendations for night in Lapa (see below).

Check out our other blog post about Rio de Janeiro:

Our suggested itineraries in the state of Rio de Janeiro:

Carnaval of Rio

Carnival of Rio

Brazil Diversity recommends:

Restaurants, Bars & Shopping

  • Churrascaria PorcãoA famous Brazilian steakhouse with excellent choice of meats served right at your table. Serves also delicious side dishes and deserts. Try out Porcão located in Flamengo and enjoy stunning views of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
  • Churrascaria Majórica – A typical Brazilian steakhouse, where the quality of meat is highly appreciated. Located at the neighborhood of Flamengo and very growded especially in the weekends.
  • Restaurante Arab – Restaurante Arab serves tasty arab food and can be found both from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and from Copacabana. We recommend you to have a dinner at Arab of Lagoa Rodgrigo de Freitas where in the evenings you can enjoy live music and stunning views over the Lagoa.
  • Restaurante à Mineira – Located at Humaitá neighborhood. A buffet restaurant specialized at delicious dishes from Minas Gerais state.
  • Restaurante Espirito Santa – This small, but charming restaurant is located uphill at Santa Teresa and is very popular especially during weekends. Espirito Santa serves Brazilian flavours and has a small terrance with few tables for those who prefer their meal at fresh air.
  • Rio Sul – If you are into shopping check out the shopping center of Rio Sul, just a short step away from Copacabana. Here you will find a large number of both national and international brands.
  • Rio Scenariuam – One of the most interesting places to explore the nightlife of Rio. Rio Scenarium, located in Lapa,  is an like an antiquarian with a large number of old items being part of the decoration. It’s a show house, where you will enjoy traditional Brazilian music, samba and forró. Like in many Brazilian bars you will also have a possibility for dining in Rio Scenarium. During the weekends, try to arrive before 11pm. just to avoid long queues.
  • Carioca da Gema – One of the most tradional music houses of Lapa. Carioca da Gema is quite small, but the quality of the music, mainly traditional samba, and the atmospheare takes it to the top of the list when it comes to nightlife in Rio de Janeiro.
%d bloggers like this: