Central & South America

A luxury weekend in Rio de Janeiro – how I fell in love with the city

Not difficult to imagine yourself living in Rio de Janeiro

Not difficult to imagine yourself living in Rio de Janeiro

I first went and fell in love with Rio de Janeiro some years ago, and was so impressed, I always promised I would go back. It took me 5 years – 5 years too many.

This place is all mine - says Mrs. O on top of the Sugar Loaf

This place is all mine – says Mrs. O on top of the Sugar Loaf

To say that Rio de Janeiro is stunning, it is an understatement – it is sexy, “heartbreakingly” beautiful and elegant. Everything a girl wants to be!

Something changed during the time between my visits – I can’t point out exactly what it is, but it left an incredible impression. So much so, Mr O and I started toying with the idea that “we could really live there”. We sometimes play that game, but not everyday. And we did. Oh yes!

luxury weekend in rio de janeiro lagoa view

The stunning Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon – and Ipanema on the right

We didn’t always see the sun, but it didn’t matter – there’s something about the light in this city that makes you want to start tiptoeing and dance to the bossa nova sounds (it isn’t all about Samba!).

I am a great believer that you should start the year the way you intend to continue, so guess where we landed on the 30th of December 2011? Oh yes, I felt like the Girl from Ipanema (or Leblon, to be more precise!!)

luxury weekend in rio de janeiro ipanema beach very busy

A little too busy for me!

I have so many things to say about Rio, that I will have to write a few posts – one on the address book, so you can just print it and take with you, and others.. well, you will just have to wait! This is the teaser – to give you a feel for the place, its stunning people (I can’t forget the smiles) and the incredible food and drinks (not wine, actually).

luxury weekend in rio de janeiro caipirinhas leblon

Caipirinhas – Brazil’s national drink. Pictured here, my favourites: watermelon with pepper and pineapple with mint!

Rio is divided into various neighbourhoods and in my opinion Ipanema and especially Leblon are the best. You can tell by the lack of English heard in the streets, namely in Leblon, the most upmarket neighbourhood in the city. This is where we stayed for 9 days, which could have easily turned into 90 – there’s a lot to see and we didn’t get a chance. So we have to go back!

luxury weekend in rio de janeiro beach at sheraton rio

Our beach in Rio – need more words?

We stayed at the Sheraton Rio, around 400m from Leblon beach. Why? Because it is the only hotel in Rio that offers you a semi-private beach and is easy to get to anywhere in the city. A small detail – the beach is shared by the hotel guests and the locals from one of the Favelas (Vidigueira). I could swear that we had armed guards on our first visit, but they were no where to be seen this time.

luxury weekend in rio de janeiro ipanema calcadao beach promenade

The “calçadão” – or long sidewalk – by Ipanema and Leblon beaches

The “pacification” of the slums is a great win for the local police, and Rio feels safe – and it is safe, which is possibly why the whole place felt different. Rio will be one of the host cities of the upcoming Football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and this is certainly important.

We slept for 10 hours each day, bought way more clothes and shoes than anticipated, ate incredible delicacies – from the “salgadinhos” (savoury pastries) to incredible meat barbecues (“churrasco”), but most importantly, came back to England looking healthier and happy. For Mrs O’s Rio de Janeiro address book, click here.

luxury weekend in rio de janeiro smartfox cocktail sheraton rio hotel

Best beach cocktail ever – The SmartFox (no alcohol)


And that’s not a bad way to start 2012, is it?

Me apaixonei (I fell in love)

Mrs O.

PS. To continue and read Mrs O’s Rio de Janeiro address book, click here.

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View Comments (64)


  1. paulbroad

    November 26, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Hey, that was a great article! I’m going to Brazil soon myself and I’m gonna try to do everything alone, no tour, no car, in winter, I don’t know if it’s truly possible, but we’ll see how it goes !
    P.S. Epic photography

  2. Marie

    October 17, 2015 at 4:05 am

    Wonderful post!! Just saw a show about the beautiful beaches of Rio and then came across this post! Must be a sign that I should get out there soon. Thanks for the inspiration and info on such a great city.
    Marie recently posted..12 Best Beaches in Bali, Indonesia for an Awesome VacationMy Profile

  3. cara

    February 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Although I liked your post I don’t think you have really know/ have experienced the real Rio De Janeiro.
    To say that Leblon and Ipanema are the best areas and ‘you can tell this by the lack of english spoken’ is pretty laughable as it is one of the must up market and touristic areas in Rio and there is going to be a lot more English heard in these areas than probably any other area of Rio.

    Also to say this pacification is a good thing is pretty misinformed. Maybe for tourists yes but if you take time out to speak to the cariocas you will find its not done anything to improve anything for anyone really!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      February 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Cara hi! Thanks for taking the time to comment. My trips to Rio have been organised with friends who live there and I am sorry, but Leblon is phenomenal. Most tourists go and stick to Copacabana and in my opinion, it isn’t for me. You should also notice the date of the article which was in 2012, so take it all with a pinch of salt. I am sorry that the pacification did not work out – but if I compare it with my previous trip in 2007, the city felt way safer. Have no idea how it coped since or will, and can only say what I thought and felt. That said, Rio is an amazing city and I would love to go back. And I will.

  4. Luiz Silva

    February 11, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    O Rio de janeiro continua lindo! (Rios is beautiful) An amazing city with a variety of cultures, music, dance, tropical food/delicious drinks and the incredible happiness of the cariocas (people from Rio) You must visit Rio You will love this unforgettable experience.

  5. Antimo Cimino

    February 3, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    It is Impossible not to fall in love with Rio de Janeiro. The city vibrates with passion, sensuality, tastes and fun of all kinds. I was there just over new years ‘s eve and it wast the MOST amazing of my life to be in Copacabana among 3 million people watching the most spectacular fireworks display ever! Not to talk about the beaches of Arraial do Cabo and Buzios!

  6. Living Valencia

    June 18, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Rio is the funniest city in the world. It´s a big city with the charm of a small village. Rio is a must.

  7. Bethany ~ twoOregonians

    February 13, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Oh, I so loved Rio, too! I’d been bracing myself a little bit because of the crime warnings, but I felt so at home when we arrived… Breezy weather, lovely greens and blues, delicious food, irresistible music..it’s a great thing our visas are valid for so many years. I’d jump at the chance to go back. Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures.
    Bethany ~ twoOregonians recently posted..Frogs and Eels and Pig HeadsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      February 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

      My pleasure, would love to go back myself!

  8. Logan Cantrell

    January 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    You are so blessed to travel like you do! It has always been a dream of mine. I am fairly new to your blog, and I am in love!! Thank you for sharing with us.
    Logan Cantrell recently posted..Take Me Back to JacksonvilleMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      January 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Oh thank you, very sweet of you! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Pingback: How I Stayed Safe While Traveling in Rio de Janeiro | Solo Travel Girl

  10. Ad-lib Traveller

    December 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Great post and some amazing photos – am heading there in February and really can’t wait to see it for myself.
    Ad-lib Traveller recently posted..*Limelight* Offbeat quirks at Aynhoe Park, OxfordMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      December 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      You will love it! It is a special place indeed 🙂

  11. Pingback: Best Travel Blogs 2013 « 101 Holidays blog

  12. lola

    November 2, 2012 at 11:26 am

    i really want to see Rio for myself one of these days! those cocktails look delicious!!
    lola recently posted..go Greek next summerMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      You would love it! I can totally promise you!

  13. Christina

    October 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Rio looks amazing! We have been talking about planning on going there for the World Cup in 2014, but we will see! It’s not all that far away!
    Christina recently posted..The Parisian CatacombsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      October 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      It is an amazing place, but I’d suggest go before, if you can!

  14. the lazy travelers

    August 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    great photos and now all i want is a smart fox!
    the lazy travelers recently posted..laws to travel by – #22My Profile

  15. Pola (@jettingaround)

    August 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Fabulous photos! I hope to visit Rio sooner rather that later. Of course, going there for the 2014 World Cup would be a dream come true.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..The Green Mill – Chicago’s landmark jazz clubMy Profile

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      August 13, 2012 at 7:58 am

      It’s going to be mad! Surely the atmosphere will be amazing!

  16. Kieu ~ GQ trippin

    August 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    One of the most beautiful city we’ve been too. Best view, for sure!
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..GQ trippin’ Turns 1 Year Old!My Profile

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      August 13, 2012 at 12:12 am

      Can’t wait to go back 🙂

  17. D.J. - The World of Deej

    August 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I have a feeling I too will fall in love during the World Cup and Olympics…maybe I don’t need to wait that long to visit:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Check Out Time – The Week in TravelMy Profile

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      August 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      I wouldn’t if I were you 🙂 seriously, go before 😉

  18. Luana

    July 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Great post and stunning pictures, you need to go back to Rio and explore a little more, I am sure you fell in love even more!

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      July 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Too many places, not enough time 🙂 but I like your thinking!

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  24. Beautiful photos and yes, you need to go back and do a lot more! If you stay longer, a trip to the mountains (Itaipava, Petropolis, Araras) is pretty nice too. http://luciana.misura.org/2010/08/18/friozinho-em-araras/ And you have to go to Prainha if you haven’t yet (pretty far from Zona Sul, drive all the way across Barra and Recreio to get there, but it’s beautiful). And I always recommend a day trip to Niteroi, starting with Itacoatiara Beach, lunch in Sao Francisco and then a visit to MAC (the contemporary art museum that looks like a flying saucer). 😉 http://luciana.misura.org/2010/08/20/mac/

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      May 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Hi Luciana – so many places I need to go to! Prainha was on my list, but sadly didn’t make it 🙁 I think I need 3 months in Brazil to explore just a bit. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

  25. Online Italian lessons

    April 24, 2012 at 3:03 am

    I absolutely fell in love with Rio myself when I visited about 10 years ago. The people are warm and friendly, the food was great, the beaches were fantastic. The beach is such a huge part of that culture. I also spent some time in Leblon as well, I could have stayed a lot more. nice post, and love the pictures.

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      April 24, 2012 at 7:07 am

      Hi! Thank you for your kind words 😉 Rio is indeed special. Can’t wait to make up a credible excuse to go back!

  26. Pingback: Getting stoned in Rio – Guest Blogger – @L_e_a_h « Mrs. O Around the World_____ not just another travel blog

  27. Marivic Brook

    March 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Rio is on my list of places to visit. I’ve missed it a few times but definitely will make it for Olympics 2016 if not before…Great photos, btw.

  28. fashion style

    February 29, 2012 at 11:30 am

    you look amazing 🙂

  29. Pingback: Rio de Janeiro for foreigners

  30. mrsoaroundtheworld

    February 10, 2012 at 10:26 am

    oh that is the best way to go 🙂 and you will love the city! has some amazing energy and it is truly stunning 🙂

  31. Dave Speed

    February 3, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Remarkable photos! Thank you for sharing them with us! I would so love to visit Rio. Maybe someday I’ll make it there!

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      February 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

      my pleasure! certainly should be on everyone’s bucket list 🙂 thank you for your kind words 🙂

  32. Claire

    February 3, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Wow I’ve never been but it looks incredible and now I want to go! Beautiful pictures!

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      February 3, 2012 at 2:29 am

      thank you! it is an amazing place indeed 🙂 do subscribe if you can so you don’t miss the upcoming posts!

  33. AbsolutelyFaaabulous

    February 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks so much for your bday message honey!!


    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      February 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      pleasure! loved how you did that – mine is in April hahaha watch out!

  34. Raf Kiss

    February 2, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Great post and great pictures of one of the most stunning cities in the world. Looks like you haven’t been hiking around the Tijuca forest 🙂

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      February 2, 2012 at 9:36 am

      I havent, and to be honest I feel I havent seen half the city yet.. need to go back!

      • Raf Kiss

        February 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm

        Yes you do!!! let me know if you need a hiking guide. /i know the place pretty good 😉

  35. Nick_Brasil_Researcher

    February 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Lovely pictures. Personally I’m happy that Rio de Janeiro the city is changing for good. It’s about time because RJ deserves it. RJ will never be perfect, but because it’s beautiful nature and people it’s close to perfect 😀



    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      February 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      thank you for your comments, Nick! I saw a great improvement 🙂

  36. Toni

    January 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    With photo opportunities like that I’m not surprised you fell in your love. I was thinking ‘wow’ just when I saw your first photo never mind the rest 🙂

  37. Angharad

    January 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Amazing…I’m going in March and I can’t WAIT!

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      January 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Oh you will love it! There is another post with some of our recommendations – bars, shops, restaurants, hope it helps!!

  38. Adam Gonnerman

    January 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Very nice pictures. I’ve been there a few times. It’s not someplace I’d want to live, but certainly great to visit.

    • mrsoaroundtheworld

      January 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks Adam! I never considered it myself… until this last visit! But may be a 10-15 year project!! 🙂

  39. Pingback: Mrs. O’s Rio de Janeiro address book « Mrs. O Around the World_____ not just another travel blog

  40. herdailydigest

    January 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    amazing! 🙂 i wanna go there now!

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