Day One // Morning

Visit the Iconic Christ the Redeemer

No visit to Rio de Janeiro is complete without standing at the feet of the Cristo Redentor statue, gazing 130 feet upwards in awe and then looking around in amazement at the breath-taking views over the City. Start your trip the right way by spending half a day at Brazil’s most iconic attraction, but do it properly! In advance, either book a tour or book tickets for the Corcovado Tram to take you up Corcovado Mountain (where the statue stands), otherwise you could be in for an excruciatingly long wait to get to the top

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Day One // Midday

Chill Out on the Stylish Ipanema Beach

After having lunch at the top of Corcovado Mountain, jump in a taxi and head for Rio’s fashionable, social and classy Ipanema Beach. If you skipped lunch on Corcovado Mountain, there are plenty of restaurants along Ipanema’s Avenida Vieira Souto, including one at the Arpoador end of the beach called Azul Marinho (Avenida Francisco Bering, 177) – which has incredible views of the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Spend a few hours on the beach soaking up the sun, chatting, sipping Caipirinhas and people-watching

Day One // Evening

Watch the Incredible Sunset at Arpoador

Once you feel like you’ve enjoyed your time at Ipanema Beach and your skin has had as much sun than it can take, walk over to the much cooler, rocky formation that we call Arpoador. Please check what time the sun is setting (Google is your friend) and head over there 45 minutes before sunset so you can find a nice comfortable spot on the rocks. As the minutes pass, hundreds of sun worshippers congregate around you with their cameras and smart phones at the ready, snapping away at the red, orange and yellow tones spread across the sky. At the very moment that the sun goes down, you and your fellow sun worshippers celebrate by letting off a rapturous round of applause

Day One // Evening

Dinner & Drinks in Ipanema at Bar Astor

After a busy first day of activities, Ipanema is the perfect neighbourhood for you to wind down. It is not only known for the world-famous song “The Girl from Ipanema”, this chic neighbourhood is also known for its high-quality restaurants and busy, sociable bars. Bar Astor is a trendy, bohemian-style restaurant and bar that fails to disappoint in terms of its atmosphere, cuisine, draught beer and cocktails. Prepare to wait for up to 30 minutes for a table, but feel free to enjoy a cocktail or draught beer while talking to friendly local Brazilians at the bar while you wait. Bar Astor opening hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-1am; Thu 6pm-2am; Fri-Sat 1pm-3am; Sun 12pm-10pm

Day Two // Morning

Absorb the Vibes on Copacabana Beach

Start your second day by getting into the spirit of Rio and mingle with some real Cariocas (natives of Rio) on Copacabana Beach. Quite different from its posh sibling in Ipanema, the high-energy Copacabana Beach is loud and full of life with people swimming, jogging, playing beach volleyball, football and footvolley; a sport (playing volleyball with your feet) which originated on this beach. Locals warn you to keep an eye on your belongings while you are on the beach. For breakfast, head to The Bakers at number 86, Rua Santa Clara where you can get fresh croissants, omelettes and coffee

Day Two // Midday

Take a Leisurely Bike Ride Around the Lagoon

After your 3 or 4 hours of playing footvolley with the locals on Copacabana Beach, hop in a taxi and take a 5-minute ride to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. Ask your taxi driver to take you to the “pedalinhos” (pedal boats) and you will be dropped off directly in front of the bike rental stand. Although you could opt to lazily explore the lagoon by pedal boat, there’s nothing more exciting than spending an hour whizzing around a 5-mile track while taking in scenic surroundings, and also dodging helicopters as they take off in front of you. For a light lunch, there are food stalls along the bike path with outdoor seating and extensive views of the lagoon and Christ the Redeemer

Day Two // Afternoon

Explore Downtown, the Selaron Steps & Lapa

Take a taxi to the City Centre and ask to be taken to Floriano Square (Praca Floriano) directly outside the Municipal Theatre. If you skipped lunch at the lagoon, enjoy a spot of Al Fresco dining at one of the restaurants in Floriano Square and also make a homeless person very happy as they kindly wait outside the restaurants for your leftover food. Following that, spend an hour admiring the architecture and beautifully-designed buildings such as the theatre, and then walk 12 minutes south to Rua Manuel Carneiro in Santa Teresa to see the famous Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selaron). After admiring the carefully crafted ceramic work of art by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, walk North for 5 minutes to admire two more works of art; the 60-foot tall Lapa Arches and the 250-foot tall Metropolitan Cathedral

Day Two // Evening

Dinner & Drinks in Leblon at Zuka Restaurant

Finish your second action-packed day in Rio’s most prosperous neighbourhood, which is home to the wealthiest Cariocas (natives of Rio). Leblon boasts an array of fine eateries and often-crowded bars whose guests often spill out onto the streets. With a firm place on Leblon’s “Restaurant Road” Rua Dias Ferreira, Zuka Restaurant hovers at the top of the list. Enjoy watching the chefs in the open kitchen, carefully preparing contemporary dishes such as beef chorizo with truffle and pink pepper; honey glazed duck breast with Moroccan couscous, golden raisins and roasted almonds; and rack of lamb with with corn couscous and foie gras

Day Three // Morning

Ascend to the Peak of Sugarloaf Mountain

Start your final day by making your way to the mountain that you’ve been staring at from afar for the past 2 days. Whether you’ve booked a tour or taken a taxi to Sugarloaf Mountain, you will take 2 scenic journeys into the air via cable car. The first cable car trip takes you to the shorter of the two mountains, Urca Hill (Morro da Urca). At 720 feet high, you are granted picturesque views over the City and Guanabara Bay, with close-up sightings of helicopters as well as airplanes on their descent to the local airport. The restaurants on this mountain also come in handy if you haven’t had breakfast. Your second cable car ride takes you up to the 1,300-foot high Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) where you will be impressed by jaw-dropping panoramic views; a great way to say “Tchau” to the city

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Day Three // Afternoon

Shopping & Lunch at Rio Sul Shopping Mall

After standing high above Rio, bring yourself back down to Earth and take a 5-minute taxi ride over to the Botafogo neighbourhood for a spot of lunch and shopping. Rather than being a haven for bargains, this 7-storey mall is home to several fashion outlets that can’t be found outside of Latin America; so it’s perfect for those of you in search of that exclusive item to bring back home. If the 400 restaurants and stores aren’t enough for you, you can also enjoy a movie at the 6-screen cinema

Day Three // Evening

Farewell Dinner in Copacabana & Dance in Lapa

It’s your final night in Rio! Rather than lavishing in the stylish surroundings of Ipanema or the upscale environment of Leblon, immerse yourself in true Carioca culture within the energetic neighbourhoods of Copacabana and Lapa. With several restaurants in Copacabana along Rua Siqueira Campos and along the southern end of Rua Domingos Ferreira, you are spoilt for choice. For a traditional Brazilian buffet – where you pay for your meal based on its weight – head to Siqueira Grill on Rua Siqueira Campos for a vast selection of Brazilian and Japanese dishes. If you have any energy left after dinner, get a taxi to Lapa and experience authentic Brazilian nightlife and samba at venues such as Carioca da Gema, Lapa 40 Graus, Club dos Democráticos and Leviano Bar. Also nearby is the popular Rio Scenarium