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Your perfect virtual day in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has something for every kind of traveller, but if you aren’t able to visit anytime soon, don’t sweat it. We’ve already embarked on virtual tours of destinations like New York City and Singapore, and now, it’s time for some adventures in Rio.

Whether you’re itching to hit the beaches, wander the famous favelas, explore the city’s top museums and art exhibitions, or watch a sunset over Christ the Redeemer, this legendary Brazilian city is ready and waiting to be (virtually) discovered from wherever you may be.

Morning

Start your virtual day with a morning walk along one of Rio’s incredible beaches, courtesy of Google Arts & Culture. Dip your toes into the turquoise waters of picturesque Ipanema Beach. Or head to Copacabana and then wander toward some of Rio’s less touristy spots like Leme Beach, Red Beach, and onto the paved path at Flamengo Beach. Don’t have the luxury of living nearby? No problem. Get out your smart device and take a virtual sunny walk down the sands of Ipanema while on the treadmill or strolling through your own neighbourhood. 

Ready for your morning coffee? Curto Cafe in Rio Centro serves some of the best java in town, so be sure to order some for takeaway if you happen to be in the area. If not, you can simply recreate the experience at home. Try brewing your coffee the Brazilian way (also known as cafezinho), which requires boiling the water in a saucepan and then sweetening it with a pinch of sugar. 

If you’re looking for a heartier start to your day, dig into a plate of rabanada, otherwise known as Brazilian-style French toast. A baguette, a bit of condensed milk, a couple of eggs, and a few other choice items are all you need for this relatively simple (but addictive) recipe

Afternoon

Rio de Janeiro is bursting at the seams when it comes to arts and culture, and you can easily spend an entire day on tours of its top exhibitions. One must-see museum is the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, where you can explore world-class art straight from your digital device of choice. There’s also the Museum of Modern Art, which holds over 15,000 contemporary works. Finally, the National Museum of Fine Arts is known as Brazil’s most significant purveyor of arts and history, so be sure to check out its many virtual exhibits.

Another cultural collection not to be missed is the unique Carmen Miranda Style exhibit, where you can learn about Miranda’s story and her lasting contributions to the world of art. Carmen Miranda was one of Brazil’s most notorious artists and performers, best known for her iconic sequined fruit hat designs.

Once you’ve had your share of art for the day, top off your virtual afternoon by exploring some of Rio’s famous favelas. These independent and usually low-income neighbourhoods are often considered the soul of the city, boasting some of the best street food and art in town. So put on your headphones and dive into a 360 virtual tour for a glimpse of this unique and important piece of Rio’s culture. 

And if that clip made you hungry, check out this recipe for Brazil’s beloved coxinha  (croquettes) and make a batch at home. Or try your hand at another mouthwatering Brazilian speciality, galinhada. This simple chicken and rice dish, complete with just the right seasoning, makes for the perfect lunch during a virtual day-trip through Rio. 

Evening

It’s time to witness one of the most incredible sunsets you may ever see. Yes, we mean from none other than the Christ the Redeemer monument. Named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, the monument and its surroundings form perhaps the most widely-recognized image in all of Brazil. This famous attraction overlooks the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, which has also been named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Just before the sun dips, take a virtual walk around Christ the Redeemer and take in the views of Ipanema, Copacabana, and Sugarloaf Mountain to experience this impressive site like never before.

Dusk is also a great time to peruse some of Rio’s world-renowned street art. While you’ll surely have seen some on your tour of the favelas, be sure not to miss the scene at the Selaron Stairs. These colourfully painted steps are located in a quaint section of Rio’s hipster Santa Teresa and Lapa districts — and, since you’re seeing them from home, you get to skip the massive crowds. 

Night

It’s time for cocktails, cuisine, music, and dancing galore. When it comes to Rio’s quintessential nighttime festivities, you can bring some of its best straight into your own home. Start your night off right with (a virtual) dinner at Rio Scenarium, one of the city’s most popular dining spots. Among other menu items, the fresh sea bass in a ginger and coconut milk sauce is meant to be incredible. However, don’t worry if takeout isn’t available to you — you can make your own with a similar recipe. And don’t forget to treat yourself to a caipirinha, Brazil’s signature cocktail. 

After dinner, do as the Brazilians do and pick some traditional tunes to set your dancing vibe for the remainder of the day. YouTube has plenty of sambabossa nova, and Afro-Brazilian options so you can easily pretend you’re in downtown Rio on a balmy tropical night. 

If your dancing shoes are a bit rusty, no worries. You don’t need to go to a studio to learn a new style of dance. Many are now offering online classes, so why not sign up for a bit of samba instruction?

And finally, when all the dancing is done, top off the night with a traditional Brazilian dessert, brigadeiro. A treat native to Rio de Janeiro, these chocolate fudge truffle balls are absolutely delicious and surprisingly easy to make at home.

All photos in this article are courtesy of Pexels, a high-quality stock image provider with a mission to empower creators. We’re partnering up to help show you a little more of our beautiful world through best-in-class photography.

Photos from Pexels

Where else in Rio?

There are an endless number of ways to explore this charismatic city, and if you’re looking for just a few more, try going the natural route. While widely known for its world-class beaches, Rio de Janeiro is home to all kinds of breathtaking natural scenery. Pay a virtual visit to the beautiful Quinta da Boa Vista, one of the city’s largest public parks. Or hike up to the peak of Pedra da Gavea for excellent bird’s eye views of Rio’s cityscape and coastline. Whichever route your choose, your eyes will thank you. Happy exploring! 

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