Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide

Above the city's fray in the boho-chic hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa sits a tiny shop specializing in native crafts. Loosely woven cotton rugs in sorbet shades are stacked next to 1920's photos of Corcovado Mountain. Also of note: sterling-silver jewelry.

Vast palm-lined avenues lead to groves of cocoa and rubber trees. Giant Amazonian water lilies—some more than three feet across—float in ponds.

Although not quite a thousand, there are more than a hundred flavors of natural ice creams and sorbets at this shop near the Jardim Botânico. Mil Frutas makes its frozen desserts by hand, when fruits like the tropical jungle cupuaçu and berries from the açaí palm are in-season.

Opened in 1985, this institution draws fans of cachaça, the potent sugarcane liquor that's the base for Rio's most famous export, the caipirinha.

What to Expect: Majestic granite peaks jut from a jungle-covered range to create a spectacular backdrop for this mile-long, 300-foot-deep white-sand beach, which is covered in brightly colored umbrellas year-round.

Brazil's most venerable chocolatier (founded in 1894) is hidden on a narrow street in chaotic Centro. The sweets, coffees, and tropical marmalades come in hand-painted packages, and the soaring frescoed ceilings seem lifted from a Viennese fantasy.

Atop one of the city's highest peaks, the world-renowned statue of Christ the Redeemer gives way to 360-degree views. Take the 123-year-old Corcovado train to the summit, or better, hire a taxi and ride the twisting road through the Tijuca rain forest. Halfway up, stop and listen.

Dancer and choreographer Carlinhos de Jesus heads this Rio ballroom dance school, where teachers give instruction in typical Brazilian rhythms like forro, lambada, xaxado, and (of course) samba.

Designer Oskar Metsavaht's clothes, wave-riding gear, and microscopic bikinis are a sleek, no-frills marriage of Miu Miu and Quicksilver—and come at joyously wallet-friendly prices. Surfers, teenagers, and young moms all flock to his perennially packed bi-level boutique.

The Marina All Suites Hotel bar is a Technicolor pastiche of ice-blue and orange walls and Jetsons-style bar stools—all occupied by tall, tan, lean, and lovely locals. Try the bar's signature caipiroska, a caipirinha that substitutes vodka for cachaça.

Rio-born-and-bred Bernardo sells strictly contemporary jewelry designs, many in his signature matte finish. Earrings go for about $2,000, but the adorable charms—a teensy rolling pin, a Lilliputian window with real hinged shutters—start at just $90.

Oscar Niemeyer's architectural masterpiece was completed late in his life—1996—but has the same fantastic improbability and masterful precision of his work of the 60's and 70's.

This Oscar Niemeyer-designed theater holds 400 as part of an eight-building cultural complex overlooking Guanabara Bay and Rio. The complex will include a new ferry terminal, Museum of Brazilian Cinema, and - fittingly - the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation.

Skinny pants, diaphanous camis, and slinky tube dresses in eye-popping orange and fuchsia fill the racks at this younger, hipper sister to Brazilian designer line Maria Bonita.

Some of Rio's most beautiful—and well-preserved—colonial architecture can be found in these adjacent up-and-coming neighborhoods.