Avoiding the tourist hype in Rio de Janeiro, Anthony Bourdain’s favorite spots are in the essence of the city – in the bustling indoor markets, dive bars, and on the locals’ favorite beach. While Bourdain left his mark on Rio, it seems the city also affected him, as he said in an episode of No Reservations, “What sick freak wouldn’t come to Rio, given the opportunity? Let’s call it what it is: perfection.”
Although his time in Rio was short, it didn’t take Anthony Bourdain long to uncover some of the most traditional and authentic spots in the city. There, he experienced Brazil’s food and traditions, from the deep-fried pastéis to the iconic caipirinha, a cachaça-based drink he described as, “shaken, not stirred, and you’ve got yourself one of the world’s greatest cocktails”. He was quick to see that Rio’s social culture is centered around botecos, casual Brazilian bars that range from hole-in-the-wall joints serving canned beer to spacious saloon-like rooms with flawless cocktails. He noted, “the heart and soul of Rio are places like these.”
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Through his TV shows, he was able to tell the world stories of the unknown with enthusiasm and respect, pulling viewers away from standardized restaurants and instilling a curiosity for exploring food in the lesser-known places – just as he did in Rio.
Bar Urca is a favorite hangout spot for cariocas (a term for the locals of Rio de Janeiro) and it was a firm favorite with Bourdain as well. The famous chef described it as the place to go to “catch an early evening buzz, grab something fried, and watch the sunset like a big red ball dropping into the sea”. It was at Bar Urca where Bourdain understood how a night out in Rio is centered around food, especially snacks such as prawn pastéis and deep-fried sardines. He ate the seafood soup accompanied by beer, declaring as he filled up his glass, “one cannot possibly overemphasize the importance of a cold beer.”
Barraca do Uruguai is one of the many tents that line the beaches of Ipanema selling food and drink, and renting out chairs and tables. What was it about this particular stand that caught Bourdain’s eye and won his loyalty? Their freshly made pork sandwiches. Bourdain urged his viewers to “run, don’t walk, to the only place for sandwiches on this beach”. Bourdain put this family-owned beach stall on the map where it’s become known as one of the best beach tents in Rio and a firm favorite among tourists and locals alike.
You don’t just stumble across Adega Cesari, as Bourdain discovered during his trip to Rio. To get there, you need to first head to Benfica, an off-the-tourist-radar neighborhood in the North Zone of the city, go to the CADEG indoor market, walk past the stalls of fresh flowers and stands of knick-knacks, through the winding maze-like halls, until you come across the humble façade of Adega Cesari. Bourdain took his wife at the time, Ottavia Busia, to sample the traditional Brazilian barbecue.
Galeto SAT’s in Copacabana is famous for its grilled chicken, notably the spring chickens covered in seasoning and spit-roasted until tender and flavorsome. The décor is there for practical purposes rather than aesthetics as it’s clear the focus is all about the food. It’s Bourdain who made this place popular and now tourists regularly head there forspring chicken with broccoli rice and chips. Its late opening hours attract a diverse range of people, something that Bourdain noted: “Drunks, hookers, johns; I guess everybody loves chicken.”
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.