My Favorite Surprises about Rio De Janeiro

My Favorite Surprises About Rio De Janeiro
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I headed to Rio de Janeiro to chase sunshine and warm weather during winter in South America. After doing little research, I had very few expectations before entering the city. I choose to live this lifestyle by flowing with travel and not actively planning the itinerary. This allows me to stay open to possibilities, let the city surprise me, and create my own perspective of a destination.

After spending three months in Rio, I learned about some unique qualities of this beautiful and cultured city.

I’m a huge fan of Latin culture, and each country has been open and welcoming. Yet, Brazilian culture may be one of the warmest and most welcoming cultures I’ve experienced. From my helpful Airbnb hosts to strangers at the metro stations giving directions, to service owners helping me through my broken Portuguese with orders, I felt looked out for and supported by locals. The city has a happy, friendly, and positive energy.


I was nervous about traveling to Rio as a solo female traveler after hearing so much in the media about the city’s safety. Yet, I was surprised that this was not how I felt in reality. Hyperawareness at all times was important, but I felt comfortable taking the metro daily and walking alone in various parts of the city. See my recent post for more on safety here.


After traveling throughout Latin America, Brazil has topped the list with its technology. It was beyond my experience in all other Latin countries. You can pay with a credit card almost everywhere and self-checkout is available in both grocery stores and some cafes. There is also the PIX payment system where you can handle transactions using a designated QR code (as of now, you need a CPF to use this).

Variety of Natural Beauty

I knew Rio was known for its beautiful beaches but I had no idea about the variety of natural beauty in the city. Almost every drive through the city provided scenic views. From beaches to forests to mountains, Rio may be one of the most beautiful Latin cities for the variety of nature you can experience.⁣⁣

Coworking vs. Cafe Culture

While I’ve found some cities are great for cafe culture, Brazil was better for coworking spaces. The city does have cafes to work from remotely, but it’s not as cafe culture-focused.

If choosing to work from cafes, here are a few recommendations.

  • Aussie Coffee (@AussiecoffeeBrazil) was my favorite option. It has extremely friendly staff and is remote worker-friendly. It’s a great place to meet like-minded travelers.
  • LF Cafe– This is a beautiful and relaxed cafe in Copacabana that is nice to bring a laptop while having a coffee. They also have great food options.

Coworking proved to be the most reliable option and a great backup wifi resource. The spaces are spread throughout the city, which supports to have different location options. Some are also paired with beautiful views that add to the working experience.

If you are choosing coworking, here are a few recommendations

  • WeWork– has three different location options in the city.
  • Spaces– has two location options in the city.
  • Selina– has a coworking area that comes as part of their coliving program.

Local Markets

Take any day of the week, and you’ll find a local market in Rio. They have these throughout the city, and it’s been my favorite way to buy local produce, flowers and to shop locally. I made friends with a favorite local flower vendor and loved the weekly visits. Shopping and visiting local markets is a great way to connect to the culture, give back to local businesses, and feel a sense of community.

Two favorite weekly markets included the Gloria Street Market and the Sunday Hippie Market.

  • The Feira Livre da Glória is a Sunday local farmers market in the neighborhood of Glória full of fresh local produce stands, street food, music, and dancing. It’s an all-around cultural experience full of great energy.
  • The Feira Hippie de Ipanema is a Sunday market that takes place in General Osório plaza in Ipanema. The market is full of artwork, clothing, and local goods. It is a great Sunday activity to browse for local hand-crafted goods and souvenirs.

Check out this article for more on local markets in Brazil.

Grocery Stores & Products

After living in Latin America for over four years, I’ve adjusted to local food products and options. However, entering a Zona Sul Supermarket in Brazil brought back the comforts of a local grocery chain in the United States. The feel of the markets, variety of products, healthier options, and fresh food selection made the grocery stores in Brazil top my experience of Latin American grocery chains.

Outdoor Workout & Exercise Options

Rio is a beautiful city to go for runs by the beach or enjoy an outdoor workout. There are great outdoor group fitness options, including training groups, yoga on the beach, and outdoor workout equipment for use. I loved joining morning circuit training classes with Um2tais, featuring some of the best workout views I’ve had to date from the Arpoador. The MudeFit application also offers free workout options throughout the city. The city is also surrounded by beautiful hikes you can enjoy. If working out at a gym is preferred, there are plenty of gym options, including Smart Fit as a common chain.


If you also seek out new dance forms on the travels to connect with local culture and find community, Brazil is a great place. Zouk, samba, forró, and bolero, Rio has a variety of dances to choose from and local schools. My personal favorite during my time in Brazil was Jimmy’s Dance School (@CasadoJimmy), which offers classes for all of the dance forms mentioned.

Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant city full of culture, kind people, and natural beauty. I hope this list supports you with what to expect and enjoy on your travels to the city.

Check out more shares on Brazil:

Seven Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling in Rio de Janeiro

The Top Places To Watch Sunrise and Sunset in Rio de Janeiro

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Hola, I'm Kristin
Your Transformation + Life Coach.

I'm here to tell you that the leap is always worth it! My story really began the moment I took the leap. I left my 9-5, put all of my things in storage and headed on a 1-month (turned 3-month) solo backpacking adventure. The journey ever since has been more beautiful and magical than I could have ever imagined. 

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