Rosaly's Rio de Janeiro

NASA scientist, author and WR Volcanoes Expert, Rosaly Lopes, grew up in Rio de Janeiro, so she's perfectly placed to offer an insight into this vibrant, colourful city and help you get beyond the tourist traps into the real Rio.

We're very grateful to her for sharing her home truths with us in our Questionnaire for Experts, Bloggers and other Travel Knowledgeables.

Where's your home town, and what's the main reason people visit?

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is where I was born and raised. I live elsewhere now, but still visit my family there.

What's the main reason you think people SHOULD be visiting?

It's probably the most beautiful big city in the world in terms of natural beauty and setting. It's simply stunning. The people are very friendly and like to meet foreigners.

If you had to recommend to the friend of a friend one unmissable thing to do in your home town what would it be? 

Go up the Sugar Loaf. Yes, everyone does it, but because it's really worth doing.

If they had a whole day in town what would you recommend they do?

Take the cable car up Sugar Loaf, the train or a taxi up Corcovado (where the statue of Christ is located) and visit Ipanema Beach

What if they had three days? 

Go to the Botanical Gardens, go shopping in Ipanema, see the sunset at Arpoador Beach, and spend time on the beach soaking the sun and seeing the people. Visit the Girl from Ipanema bar, because it's where the famous song was composed. Go for a walk around Morro da Urca, very near the Sugar Loaf. There is a path by the ocean that has the mountain on one side and the ocean on the other. It's gorgeous and has lots of friendly little monkeys who expect bananas. The entrance to the path is located across the parking lot for Sugar Loaf. It's a military area, so it's really safe.

What will you never catch a local doing?

Going on a favela (shantytown) tour.

What WILL you catch a local doing?

Going to the beach and to bars by the beach, sitting outside having a beer and watching the world go by.

And what local delicacies would visitors be fools not to try while they're there?

They should go to a Churrascaria to have lots of meat, and to a restaurant that has food from Bahia, which is entirely different and based on seafood and spices. Try Vatapa or Bobo de Camarao in a Bahia restaurant. And don't miss Feijoada, the hearty black bean dish traditionally served for lunch on Saturdays.

In 140 characters, how would you sum up your home town as a great destination?

It's a beautiful city full of beautiful people. It has its share of crime and problems, but the people are always ready to party and to live life to the full. There is a beat to the city that I have not found anywhere else. It's a happy city.

Anything else you want to add!? 

If you go during Carnival, arrange a local night tour to take you to see the Samba Schools parade. Even the locals go with a tour.

Dr. Rosaly Lopes is a Principal Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. An expert on volcanism on Earth and the planets, Dr Lopes has studied volcanoes on Earth, Mars, Jupiter's moon Io and Saturn's moon Titan. She was included in the 2006 Guiness Book of World records for discovering the greatest number of active volcanoes (71 on Io). She has published four books, including "The Volcano Adventure Guide", the first travel guidebook to volcanoes. In 2005, she received the Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society, in recognition for her work communicating science to the public. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Explorers Club.

Comments, questions and reviews by other travellers

Food & sleep

Thanks, this is really useful. Any recommendations on where to eat and which area of the city to stay in? Cheers.

2 Replies

Stay in Ipanema, Leblon, or Copacabana. Be careful in Copacabana, the streets away from the beach are not very safe particularly at night. Most churrascarias are good. Porcao (Big Pig) has several branches and it's very good, though a little more expensive than others.

Thanks - Big Pig sounds about right for my family!

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Just a few of the things worth doing and seeing in Rio

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