HEADING to Rio for Olympic Games? The Latin American Travel Association offers these insider tips for visitors:
Best places to stay for Olympic excitement
· Copacabana district, famous for its three-mile beach, offers the chance to catch some of the Olympic highlights including beach volley ball, triathlons, marathons, and ocean swimming.
· Ipanema, in southern Rio, will host the Olympic debut of rugby sevens.
· Santa Teresa is Rio’s artistic hub on Santa Teresa Hill. Known for its winding, narrow streets, it’s a great spot to enjoy the city's creative side and gastronomy.
· The Lapa district, known for its lively cultural scene and its concentration of bars and restaurants, should be on every Rio revellers list.
Where to head for a day trip
Two-and-a-half hours east of Rio, Buzios is an upscale fishing port with great restaurants, boutiques, and villas. It rose to fame after a visit in the 1960s by Brigitte Bardot. Idea for snorkelling
· Tour operator Trailfinders suggests heading to Morro de Dois Irmaos, an iconic mountain at the end of Leblon Beach for a 40 minute hike to the top offering panoramic views of Rio.
· The Brazil Tourist Board says the tropical forest of Floresta da Tijuca is a secret spot in Rio that deserves to be discovered by tourists.
· For traditional food, travel company Chimu Adventures advises visitors to head to Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa, a bar known for its local cuisine.
· For peace and tranquillity, travel company Jacada Travel recommends Parque Lage. It’s completely off the tourist radar. For a secluded beach, try the tranquil Praia Vermelha in the Urca district next to Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Where to shop
· Every first Saturday of the month the Rio Antigo Fair takes place in Rua do Lavradio, with hundreds of stalls lining the street. Handicraft market Feira de Sao Cristovao takes place in the Luiz Gonzaga Centre in the São Cristóvão neighbourhood.
· Rio Sul in Botafogo was the first shopping mall to be built in Rio de Janeiro. It’s close to the city's main tourist spots.
· Barra Shopping is located in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood in Rio with more than 600 shops.
· The Leblon shopping centre has top-name Brazilian and international brands, plus good restaurants and a cinema.
How to avoid the games
August and September are the best times to visit the Amazon Rainforest as the water level in the Amazon River is highest and the weather is mild and clear.
· For a relaxed break, Trailfinders suggests Natal, Olinda or Recife in the North-East of Brazil offering a more local feel, great beaches, and authentic cuisine. South of Rio, Florianopolis has more of a European feel with good beaches and a chilled out vibe.
· ChimuAdventures recommends travellers head to Trancoso in Bahia, or Jericoacoara in Ceara where the weather will be warm and the beaches almost empty.