rio de janeiro sunset

I LOVE RIO! Who wouldn’t? It surely is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. Hemmed in between a huge bay, the Atlantic Ocean and a mountainous interior, Rio de Janeiro boasts some of the most famous attractions anywhere, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado mountain, the Sugar Loaf mountain and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. I visited Rio for the first time in 2000 and fell in love with the city in an instant. I promised myself that I would one day return, and last week, I did just that!

Me and Melvin at the viewing deck of the Christ Statue, Corcovado.
Me and Melvin at the viewing deck of the Christ Statue, Corcovado.

Me and Melvin were booked to speak at the WTM Latin America trade fair in São Paulo so I suggested stopping in Rio for a few days before heading to the trade fair. Melvin said, “sure, why not?” and before we knew it, we were basking in the glorious Rio sun!

Chilling in Rio!

We stayed at Casa Cool Beans, a lovely guesthouse in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, high up in the hills above downtown Rio. Most visitors tend to stay in or near the beach communities of Copacabana or Ipanema – I did that myself on a previous visit – so I decided to stay at a different neighbourhood this time and I didn’t regret it for a second! To start, Santa Teresa is an absolutely charming neighbourhood. Known as the Bohemian Quarter of Rio, Santa Teresa is full of art galleries, atmospheric restaurants and cafés, and magnificent historic mansions. Steep cobblestone roads wind through the neighbourhood, and through gaps between houses or the lush forest, stunning panoramas of Rio await. Casa Cool Beans was absolutely perfect for our chill time in Rio. Set amidst leafy gardens, the guesthouse has ten spacious rooms, a small pool and terrace. Colourful works by local artists adorn the walls, creating a cheery ambiance. Lance and his team took great care of us by telling us all about the neighbourhood, giving us lots of sightseeing tips and suggesting/arranging tours and restaurants.

Casa Cool Beans
Spacious room at Casa Cool Beans.

A stroll around Santa Teresa

We spent a day strolling around Santa Teresa to soak up the wonderful atmosphere and admire the beautiful mansions, some of which have been turned into hotels or restaurants and some are still in ruins. Our highlight was seeing the amazing tiled Escadaria Selarón or Selarón staircase. One could spend hours going through the thousands of colourful tiles from all over the world!

Colourful street art in Santa Teresa
Colourful street art in Santa Teresa
Another colourful street in Santa Teresa – this restaurant, Bar do Mineiro, is a must!
Gorgeous graffiti in Santa Teresa.
Gorgeous graffiti in Santa Teresa.
Loved these two houses in Santa Teresa!
Some of the many mansions in Santa Teresa.
The stunning Selarón staircase.
Close-up of some of the many tiles along the staircase.

Check out my photos of Rio de Janeiro


The following day, we visited the Christ Statue atop the Corcovado mountain. It was a bit of a wait to get up there – it’s a very popular attraction – but it was absolutely worth the wait. The views from the top were simply mind-blowing! No words can quite describe how awesome that view is.

The Christ Statue against the bright blue sky.
The panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from Corcovado.

Melvin decided to spend the afternoon on a favela tour while I headed for the beach, first Copacabana, then Ipanema. The sun was shining bright and the temperature, at 24-26 degrees Celsius, was perfect! I laid on the beach and watched the beautiful people of Rio pass by. Oh what a sight!

The gorgeous white sands of Copacabana beach.
I chose to lie on the sands of Ipanema instead. 🙂
And the sunset at Ipanema was absolutely magical!

We didn’t leave Rio without having a few caiprinhas of course!

A trio of caipirinhas – passion fruit, lime (regular) and strawberry – at Barzin in Ipanema.

Our stay was way too short and we were sad to leave, but hey, I’m sure we’ll be back again one day soon! Rio had one more treat in store for me before I left: the views of Rio de Janeiro as we took from Santos Dumont Airport were simply phenomenal!

The aerial views of Rio as the plane took off from Santos Dumont airport were phenomenal!

Rio, I’ll miss you! But I’ll be back soon… and that’s a promise!

Read about exploring Rio with locals.

28 Responses

  • […] Read the accompanying post: ‘Chilling in Rio‘. […]

  • […] The best place for the most spectacular views of Rio de Janeiro is from atop the Corcovado Mountain at the foot of the Christ the Redeemer Statue, the city’s iconic landmark. It can be a long wait for those who want to get up there (by train) – I suggest taking a taxi from the base station instead – but the incredible panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro are absolutely worth the wait! Read more about my trip to Rio de Janeiro. […]

  • Thank you Leyla for your comment. I can definitely recommend Santa Teresa. Fab authentic atmosphere and centrally-located. Great thing is, if you’re heading to the beaches, the drive through the national park is stunning!


  • I love Rio as well but somehow never made it to Santa Teresa – thank you for unveiling it to me! Next time I’ll head that way…

  • That makes two of us! 🙂 I’d return anytime. Santa Teresa was very cool neighborhood. And I can definitely recommend staying at Casa Cool Beans as well.


  • Ah, I LOVE Rio and I’m dying to get back. You’ve inspired me to spend more time exploring Santa Teresa.

  • I sure did – the weather was perfect! As for the preparations for the World Cup/Olympics,… what preparations?!?! LOL! The main airports in SP & Rio are bursting at their seams. Not sure about the venues. Talking to the locals, they seem pretty chill about it. One of them said, “we’ll get there somehow. It’s going to be a big party. This is Brasillll!”. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Haha!

  • Looks like you hit it right with the weather. Beautiful photos!

    How’s it looking for the World Cup and Olympics—were people talking about that much? It seems from the news reports they don’t have a prayer of having facilities ready in time unless they work 24/7 shifts for a couple years. And build at least 40 new hotels…

  • what beautiful colors, just stunning. I love the stairs and the guesthouse!

  • Lovely pics! I’ve never been to Rio but do want to go…would do it for Sugarloaf alone 🙂

  • Looks so fun. I loved Rio but it rained almost the entire time I was there (and therefore we had no beach time). I need to go back again soon. The views from the plane are stunning–you captured a great one!

  • Hi Jeanette,
    Gosh, that’s horrible! Where did it happen? Many parts of Rio are really not safe and tourists have to be extra vigilant at all times (we took taxis everywhere, especially in the evenings) but compared to my first visit in 2000, it felt safer this time but that was just a feeling I guess.


  • Hi Arianwen,
    You’re right. Lapa does have a bad reputation – in that sense, Santa Teresa is much safer – but both have such an incredibly authentic atmosphere.


  • Hi Sofie,
    I took so many photos of the street art! Loved it! Hmmm…. I see a photo post coming about street art in Rio. 😉


  • Haven’t been yet, but definitely want to go some day!
    Love the street art pictures and the guesthouse looks great!

  • Great overview. I’m reminiscing so much. I’ve stayed in Copacabana and Lapa and have to say I preferred being located in Lapa. It might have a bad reputation, but it has more of an authentic feel and you’re closer to the nightlife too. I’m glad you got the chance to go back – be it briefly.

  • The Ipanema sunset photo is fantastic, Keith! I love Rio too, so beautiful, colourful and fascination but have mixed feelings now after being robbed at knife-point once.

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