Ola! My name is Lucas Sancho and I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m a civil engineer and photographer. My love for photography and travel comes from the desire to show people the real beauty of nature.
I love experiencing different cultures around the globe and sharing these adventures with my followers. I’ve always been passionate about landscape photography and have travelled to several countries searching for the best landscapes. Although, some of the world’s best are in my own backyard.
Why Rio de Janeiro is the Ultimate Destination
Rio is a complete destination and not only because of its natural setting. It’s a city that fulfils many desires for travellers. In Rio you will find beautiful beaches to relax at, historical monuments to visit, great restaurants and the most important thing – the amazing locals of Cidade Maravilhosa.
The ambience of Rio is just amazing. I love how people take their lives so easy. It’s the most relaxed and not-in-a-hurry place I know. Every Friday the working environment turns into a vacation and the city comes alive.
Ipanema and Copacabana beaches get crowded, the sun is shining, people are smiling everywhere, samba music is playing, football and volleyball is played on the beach and Christ the Redeemer looks down at you with open arms. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this seductive city.
I try to capture these immense feelings of joy with my photography. My framed wall art prints are frozen moments of this environment. You can check out some of my work on my website – www.lucassancho.com.br.
Favourite Place in Rio: Mirante Dona Marta
My favourite place to photograph in Rio is a place called Mirante Dona Marta. It’s a viewpoint close to a peaceful favela called Dona Marta. You should pay attention, though, because not every favela in Rio is peaceful.
From this lookout you can see the bay area of Botafogo and the most stunning view of the city’s geography – the sea, mountains and forests. Mirante Dona Marta is a special place because it offers the best sunrise views in Rio. What a feeling to wake up and see this breathtaking place!
10 Best Things To Do in Rio de Janeiro
Rio offers an endless array of experiences that all depend on the tastes and preferences of each individual traveller. The deeper you look, the more you will find in Cidade Maravilhosa. Below are my top 10 recommendations.
1. Take the Cable Car up Sugarloaf Mountain
The cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain is, indeed, a touristy activity but the whole experience is wonderful. The views at the top are stunning and the journey to the top makes for a little adventure. Alternatively, you can hike up Sugarloaf which takes 30 minutes and can get steep in places.
2. Watch the Sunset at Arpoador Rock
There is probably no better place in Rio to watch the sunset than at Arpoador Rock. This rock is where Ipanema and Copacabana beaches meet. It’s also a popular surfing spot. Come here at dusk to watch the sun drop behind Ipanema’s peaks. People clap after sundown which is so cool!
3. Stroll Down Leblon Beach Walkway in Ipanema
Leblon Beach is famous for its mosaic walkway which has become a Rio de Janeiro icon over the years. Stroll down the walkway and stop off at the kiosks for a couple of drinks and something to eat. I can recommend both Azur and Riba but just head down and see what you can find.
4. Visit the Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanha)
The Museum of Tomorrow is an applied sciences museum which explores the opportunities and challenges that humanity will face in the future. It’s an interesting place and adds a different dimension to your trip to Rio de Janeiro. This museum combines art and technology in an immersive way.
5. Enjoy a Happy Hour Beer at Mureta da Urca
Mureta da Urca is a small wall that stands beside Guanabara Bay and offers postcard views of Sugarloaf. This traditional neighbourhood is a great place to explore. Visit Bar Urca and order a couple of drinks and snacks to take back to the wall. Then sit back, relax and wait until the sun sets!
6. Marvel at the Architecture of Theatro Municipal
Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Theater is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It was built in 1905 in the style of the Paris Opera. The interior is bursting with intricate details that make it a photographer’s dream. Visitors can watch opera here as well as ballet shows.
7. Bike Ride around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
Rent a bike at Parque dos Patins and ride around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. It’s a fun way to explore a unique area of the city. This lake is referred to as the “heart of Rio” by locals and is a place of natural beauty and tranquility. There’s a cycle path here which makes it easy to ride around.
8. Explore the 1920’s Parque Lage of Rio de Janeiro
Parque Lage transports you back to the 1920’s with its remodeled mansion designed by Italian architect Mario Vodrel. This public park is tucked away under the foot of Corcovado in the Jardim Botanico neighbourhood. Visitors can walk around the trails and see art galleries inside the mansion.
9. Party in the Bohemian Lapa Neighborhood
We’ve all seen photos of the colourful tiled stairs of Lapa that make Rio de Janeiro famous but there is so much more to Lapa than just this one iconic spot. The bohemian Lapa neighborhood offers a variety of nightlife options including street parties, samba venues, nightclubs and live music bars!
10. Have a Night Out in Rua Dias Ferreira
Rua Dias Ferreira is the heart of Leblon – a street for good food, pumping nightlife and some of the most “beautiful people” of Rio. There are tons of options for food and cocktails. During the day it’s a family place but at night it comes alive. Grab some friends and have an unforgettable night out.
Where to Eat & Sleep in Rio de Janeiro
Rio is a massive city and has restaurants everywhere. My favourite is Casa Camolese. It blends Mediterranean cuisine with local ingredients and offers a sophisticated environment in the restaurant, bar, its own brewery and also in its own underground concert hall. Casa Camolese is a must-visit!
When it comes to accommodation there are fantastic places all over the city for every type of traveller – from luxury hotels to hostels. The place I recommend is El Misti Hostel. They are a cool hostel with great staff. Book with my code @lucassancho to receive an upgrade or special gifts 🙂
Best Day Trips/Short Trips from Rio de Janeiro
If you have extra time in Rio then you should check out Niteroi which is just 40 minutes across the bridge. Visit Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum and its bistro underneath. Then explore Parque da Cidade for its amazing views and next visit the beautiful beach of Praia de Itacoatiara.
With more time you can get to Petropolis in around 1 hour 20 minutes. The mountains here are phenomenal and you’ll learn about the history of the Portuguese Empire in Brazil. It’s worth checking out if you have time.
For those who are searching for the best beaches in Brazil you can’t miss Arraial do Cabo. Although, it’s a little far – around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there. But the reward will blow you away. A stunning beach with crystal clear blue waters. This beach is probably the best in South America.
There are other cities in the State of Rio that are worth visiting too but you should give yourself another 3-5 days in addition to your Rio visit. One of the best places is Paraty. It’s a colonial beach city four hours away and offers the perfect combination of history, beaches and gastronomy.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
The most important travel tips for Rio de Janeiro are the following. Firstly, study the city map. You don’t want to get lost and enter a bad or unsafe neighbourhood. That being said, feel free to wander around without too much of a plan. Just keep a general idea of where you are at all times.
Next, always use Uber and public transport to move around in the city. You can enjoy the drives and won’t have to search for parking lots which can be a nightmare and expensive! If you are a walker then Rio offers plenty of free walking tours which give you a good introduction to the city.
Remember, even if you can speak just a few Portuguse words it will help you meet locals. Not everyone here speaks English and so brushing up on your Portuguese will make your experience that much more immersive.
And finally if you really want to splash out on one experience I would recommend a helicopter ride with Rio On Air. I loved my experience with this company. Having the opportunity to see the beauty of Rio from the air was just magical! Still my best photos of the city. Enjoy your trip!