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Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, more commonly known just as Lagoa, is a slice of tranquility in a large urban setting. A gently rippling body of fresh water fringed with a cycle-path, tall trees and fluffy bushes with a backdrop of the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) mountains, it’s breathtakingly beautiful and will leave you feeling refreshed and vibrant. We explore some of the best things to do while you’re there.
During the day Lagoa is stunning, yet at dusk is when it vamps up to sensational. The horizon of the lake is outlined by the Dois Irmãos mountains that create a dramatic skyline for the sun to set. Once the sun reaches the mountains peaks, it throws its colourful rays across the water and fills up the sky with hues of orange, red and yellow, making it look like a giant peach. Bring a camera to get some shots of one of the best sunsets you will ever see.
Perhaps one of the most idyllic activities to do, taking a picnic and setting up base for the day next to the lake is a perfect way to enjoy the picturesque scene and absorb the serene settings. There are plenty of green patches all around the lake to lay the picnic blanket out with some veteran picnic-goers even bringing decorations to personalize their spot. Bring your favourite food and laze the day away surrounded by beautiful views and peace.
Whilst the water is not suitable for swimming, visitors can enjoy the lake by paddling across in a giant swan boat. Each swan is big enough for the whole family and can be an alternative way of seeing the lake from a different perspective. Rental is usually for one hour but can be negotiated if you want longer. Paddle out to the center of the lake and sit back and relax in the gorgeous surroundings.
See Rio’s most iconic sites with the most spectacular panoramic view from high up in the air. The helicopter landing pad is located right next to the lake, and the tour includes aerial shots of Lagoa, Ipanema and the legendary Christ the Redeemer. Prices depend on the duration of the ride and the helicopter is flown by a reputable and well-established Rio-based business.
With its location near to the Atlantic forest, Lagoa attracts various types of freshwater birds, herons and storks that make the lake their feeding and nesting grounds. For those interested in flora and fauna, it’s a great spot to do a bit of bird watching. One of the most popular animals there are the capybara that can sometimes be seen with their adorable babies.
There’s a huge selection of great restaurants, bars and parties around Lagoa to choose from. Why not get there early and have dinner at Caipiranha e File to feast up on typical Brazilian food whilst watching the sunset? Then head over to Bar Lagoa to enjoy some cold beers or caipirinhas before partying until the sun comes up at Palaphita Gavea, a nightclub just minutes away from the lake.
The cycle path around the lake gives a great opportunity for you to explore the entire perimeter with plenty of bike hire venues. Bike hire can be from as little as 30 minutes up to daily hire and prices vary accordingly, but start from around R$15 (about $4.50 US). Taking a casual bike cruise around the lake is one of the most pleasurable ways of enjoying this natural beauty.
Being a large lake with consistently smooth waters, Lagoa is one of the most accessible areas for water skiing and wakeboarding in the country. There are a couple of reputable schools in Rio with experienced teachers, such as the Rio Wake Center that offers classes for wakeboard with a seasoned instructor that has several competitions tucked under his belt, plus all the equipment for hire.
Lagoa is near to the Jardim Botanico and a visit there is within easy walking distance. Take a gentle stroll around the lake before veering off one of the side streets to get to the garden which is just a couple of blocks away. It’s easy to enjoy the whole afternoon there in the gardens with its exotic animals and plants, before heading back to Lagoa to grab a bite to eat.
If water skiing and wakeboarding is a bit too demanding, try canoeing for a more relaxed alternative to get up close and personal with the lake. There are a few places around the lake that offer canoe hire and the prices and durations vary depending on the rental company. Just canoe out a few meters from the water’s edge to be embraced in its tranquility, making it hard to imagine that you’re in the middle of a large city.