15 Epic Reasons Why You Should Add Rio de Janeiro to Your Bucket List in 2018

Picture of Sarah Brown
Updated: 12 November 2017
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Rio de Janeiro, with its golden beaches, tropical weather, and friendly residents, is definitely bucket list material. Known for its breathtaking scenery and natural landscapes, Rio also has a thriving nightlife and a growing cosmopolitan gastronomic culture. For those torn between a paradisaical retreat and a fast-paced city culture, Rio provides both. Still not convinced? Here are 15 reasons why Rio should be on your bucket list for 2018.

Beautiful beaches

We are not just talking about Copacabana or Ipanema. 2018 is the year to get out of the tourist spots and head to the barely explored western beaches. Enjoy silver-sand beaches, sublime surfing spots, and isolated beaches only accessible by a jungle trek. Add Praia Funda, Praia Joatinga, and Praia do Meio to your must-see beach list.

Praia Funda
(c) Sarah Brown/Culture Trip

Discover new hiking trails

The TransCarioca hike is a 180-km hike that was just opened in 2017 and is still relatively unknown. It provides lengthy jungle treks and epic viewpoints across a rarely seen Rio, all without a soul in sight.

The art scene in Santa Teresa

Known as the creative hub of Rio, Santa Teresa is a neighbourhood with cobbled roads and historic mansions which have been repurposed into casual art galleries and studios. Don’t miss the Arte de Portas Abertas event in July where artists open their doors and welcome visitors into their houses to check out local art, fashion, and food.

Explore the world’s largest urban jungle

Tijuca forest in Rio de Janeiro is often considered the world’s largest urban forest. Yet what is most remarkable about it is that until the late 19th century, it was just a stretch of barren land, destroyed by earlier settlers. That changed when hundreds of thousands of seedlings were planted by hand, allowing a huge forest to grow and a complex ecosystem thrive.

The famous Rio Carnival

In February, Rio’s streets come to life as Carnival mayhem takes over. Carnival offers two different experiences. There are the parades with the dazzling samba dancers and extravagant floats and there are the outdoor parties where millions flock to Rio’s streets to drink, sing, dance, and flirt. Make sure to experience them both.

The next best thing to Carnival

Carnival never truly stops. The samba schools spend all year preparing for the next year’s event, including open rehearsals where the public can visit the samba schools to watch mesmerising dancers, listen to non-stop samba, and drink freshly made caipirinhas. The atmosphere has the same upbeat spirit as the Carnival parades, offering a great alternative to the real deal.

Visit Botafogo’s nightlife scene

One of the hottest neighbourhoods in 2017, Botafogo shows no signs of slowing down and looks set for another exciting year ahead. The region has become fertile ground for a succession of hip, trendy new bars and restaurants that shun traditions in favour of quirky venues and international cuisine. It’s a great place for bar-hopping, socialising, or having a casual meal out.

Watch some Brazilian football

It may be Russia where the football is at in 2018 but even without a huge global sporting event, football in Brazil is in a league of its own. Head to Maracana to see what it’s all about and try going on a Fla-Flu day (Flamengo vs Fluminense) to really experience the true Brazilian passion for the game.

Football game at Maracana

The food and wine

The number of organic markets in Rio has slowly been increasing with a huge range of locally-produced fruits, meats, and cheeses on offer. Don’t forget to try Brazilian wine which is beginning to gain popularity thanks to bars like Canastra and Winehouse that serve local wines. This increasing accessibility to sustainable, local food and drink adds another compelling reason to visit Rio in 2018.

The weekend getaways

Near to Rio de Janeiro are popular weekend spots such as Petropolis, Buzios, Paraty, and Ilha Grande. Although well-known, they still don’t receive waves of tourists which helps preserve the local culture and untouched natural beauty of the areas.

Epic Sunsets

If you love sunsets, then the ones in Rio de Janeiro will take your breath away. The best places to see them are from the Sugarloaf Mountain or from Arpoador in Ipanema. If stunning scenery with jaw-dropping sunsets is on your criteria for travel destinations in 2018, then Rio could be for you.

Sunset from Arpoador

Friendly locals

We all know that it’s people that can make or break a place and one of Rio’s most charming features is its wonderfully friendly residents. Whether you speak Portuguese or not, making friends with Brazilians is effortless as they happily welcome friends and strangers into their groups without a second thought.

Amazing marathons

Many people are travelling abroad to challenge themselves to a half or full marathon, drawn to the appeal of running in new scenery. Arguably, Rio offers some of the most stunning backdrops to run to with long coastlines, endless ocean views, and pleasant weather. If you’re planning to do a half or full marathon in 2018, why not make it in Rio?

You could run along this coastline

Yoga retreats

Yoga retreats are growing in popularity in Rio, coupling the city’s serene natural surroundings with calming yoga and meditation. There are several yoga retreats in and around Rio that last anywhere from a weekend to a month. If this is something you have been considering, then Rio could be the ideal spot.

The currency

The dollar, euro, and the pound are currently strong against the real, the local currency. As a result, it is cheaper than usual to travel to Rio. Considered one of the most expensive cities in South America, the next few months could be an ideal time to visit for the budget-conscious traveller.

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