My fiance and I will be heading to Rio in June and I am wondering if anyone who has been there has any tips or advice in general. We are staying in Santa Teresa. We are looking for recommendations for restaurants, bike rentals, outdoor activities, nightlife...really anything. Thanks!
I am from Brazil, i lived in Rio de Janeiro for 3 years, however i lived about 2 hours from Santa Teresa, i would definately recommend you to see other cities for Rio de Janeiro if you have time as Cabo Frio (perfect beaches),Arraial do Cabo- Pontal do atalaia (the best sunrise you will ever see IN YOUR LIFE), Buzios ( safe nightlife where many famous brazilian people go to).. Three of the best cities that i ever been.
I would not recommend you to drive there, i would recommend get a taxi or hire a tourist company.
My and my 2 kids just visited Rio a few months ago and loved every bit of it. We split our time staying 5 days in Santa Theresa and 5 nights in Copacabana. We did later realized that it really didn't matter where we stayed because public transit was very manageable between all the areas.
When staying in Santa Theresa, you are very close and walking distance (but would recommend a cab by night) to Lapa. That is where you will find most of the night life stuff going on. We also made our way to Lapa for late night eats since Santa Theresa completely shuts down when it gets dark.
As far as beaches go, we found that Copacabana and Ipamena were the most populated beaches. Prior to our trip I read a lot of places that theft/crime was a problem on these beaches but we personal didn't experience a problem nor seen any take place. But if you are looking for a less populated beach then Leblon is a good option and it's local.
Then there is sugar loaf and a visit to Christ the Redeemer for either a half or full day of activities. But let's not forget another reason for which Rio is famous for, hang gliding! You could do this from São Conrado.
Food, oh the food is good just about every where! A lot of the restaurants are self serve and you pay according to weight. Unlike the churrascadias where you pay a flat rate and it's all you can eat from variety of meats they bring directly to your table.
Also, there is a hippie market in Ipanema (not to far from beach) aka Feira Hippie de Ipanema every Sunday afternoon. Great little market to find crafts made by locals.
Hope this helps!