Cash: Helicopter Tour
No trip to Rio de Janeiro is complete without a visit to Christ the Redeemer, the 125-foot-tall statue perched on top of Corcovado Mountain. But what better way to see the big man than up-close-and-personal from the window of a chopper? Our favourite operator is Ultra Pilot, which offers 60-minute rides (approx. $300) over sights including Tijuca National Park, Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay.
Crunch: Beaches and Pedra do Sal
Home to some of the world’s most spectacular beaches, Rio offers a masterclass in people-watching. Gawk as volleyballers go full Top Gun on Copacabana Beach or enjoy sunsets from Praia do Arpoador on Ipanema Beach. If you feel like dancing, Pedra do Sal, a neighbourhood credited as the birthplace of samba, throws a street party every Monday night – caipirinhas are mandatory.
A meal at this Michelin-starred spot, helmed by a celeb chef and sommelier duo (Felipe Bronze and Cecilia Aldaz), is a steal at around $225 for a tasting menu with wine pairings. While traditional Brazilian fare is given a modern and playful twist, the real star is the fire that touches almost everything on the menu.
If you’re looking for a chef-driven meal on a budget, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck (or Brazilian real) at Lilia. The lunch spot, which was awarded a Michelin bib gourmand for good value, is tucked away on the upper floor of a 19th-century building in the artsy Lapa neighbourhood. The small, plant-forward set menu is priced at about R$52 (about $18 CAD).
Cash: Hotel Emiliano
Ipanema is often considered Rio’s most stylish neighbourhood, but Hotel Emiliano (rooms from $500) gives us cause to believe that Copacabana is the hottest spot (south of Havana). Highlights include an infinity pool with stunning views of the Atlantic and breakfast at the chic Emilie restaurant, with its striking living wall – but guests come back for those beachfront views of Copacabana Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain.
Crunch: Hotel Selina Rio
Hotel Selina Rio is what would happen if a backpacker hostel went away to college and came back looking really hot. This boutique-hotel-meets-coworking-space refuses to trade quality digs for communal areas, instead offering a variety of beautiful rooms (from $32) that make you feel like you’ve walked into an IKEA catalogue, with the addition of a bar, movie room and yoga deck. What more could you want? Oh, earplugs.