Taking places every four years, the Summer Olympic Games are a momentous occasion, and many will never find the opportunity to attend unless the setting takes place in their home country. But with this 2016 edition taking place in one of the world’s most glamorous, beautiful and romantic cities, there very well may never be a better year to attend.
With that in mind, now is the time to finalize your plans. So, what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets, pack your bags, and follow these pieces of advice as you prepare for a trip you will never forget.
Normally, many foreign citizens must pre-apply for a tourist visa to visit Brazil. In addition to being a logistical pain, this can cost those from the United States up to $160. Fortunately, many heading to the Olympics won’t need to bother.
Due to the nation’s desire to welcome those from abroad, the Brazilian government has suspended its tourist visa requirement for citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan this year between June 1 and Sept. 18.
So, as long a you aren’t planning to arrive too early or stay too long after the Olympics, you won’t have to worry about the extra paperwork. Just show up and bring your sense of adventure.
Rio is a big, modern city, so transportation is abundant and convenient. The metro travels underground along the beach route and throughout the city, so it can take you quickly and safely to most of the tourist hot spots and trendiest neighborhoods.
Buses and taxis are also widely available for more off-the-beaten path excursions. Knowing a few words of Portuguese will help. But during the Olympics, native English speakers should be in good hands, as cab drivers do their best to acclimate to the influx of tourists visiting Rio. Still, just remember traffic can be hectic even in normal times, so you’ll want to allocate some extra time if you travel by car.
Some Must-See Sights
There is one wonder you likely are already excited to see: Christ the Redeemer. The iconic statue of Jesus is a pretty sight to see in a stunning location high atop a peak that looks down over the beaches and beauty of this picturesque green city on the sea. Try to go on a nice, cloud-free day so you can get the best photos.
Another literally high-profile spot is the Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf Mountain — the most iconic landmark in the city’s famed panorama. A cable car gets you to the top of this rounded natural wonder jutting out from the ocean. Perhaps in no other place on Earth will you feel so on top of the world as you look down below at the world.
Last but not least is where you will want to spend most of your time: the beach. Copacabana Beach is closest to the Sugarloaf, while Ipanema is most famous due to the notoriety of the song The Girl from Ipanema. But the next beach down, Leblon, is the most posh. Visit each to pick your favorite.
The Flavours of Rio
Even in a nation full of indulgences, the food of Brazil may be the finest. From an antioxidant-laden acai sorbet and coxinhas available on any street corner to the famed barbecue joints and fine-dining establishments throughout the city, there is seemingly no end to the delicious options. Be sure to try the cheaper fare the locales eat daily, but you also can’t miss out on the fine cuisine at one of Rio de Janeiro’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
The Michelin Guide lists only the world’s best restaurants. For more than a century, the guide has featured selections from anonymous reviewers whose identities are more closely guarded than most state secrets. A few, select locations earn the coveted three-star rating — under 100 got the honor in 2011 — while even those that receive one star are considered to be among style of food in the region.
One great option in Rio is Restaurante Roberta Sudbrack, a one-star winner named after its executive chef and that serves modern Brazilian cuisine with local ingredients while promising a unique sensory experience. Sudbrack formerly cooked in the presidential palace, so who better to cook the nation’s signature dishes than her? The beetroot ravioli is considered a stand-out dish, and given the city’s location, you can’t go wrong with the many seafood options.