By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The cityscape of Rio de Janeiro is truly like no other, with its mixture of concrete high-rises, colonial mansions and favela communities woven between the mountains, rainforest and beach. Luckily there are plenty of vantage points that don’t involve a hike and do involve an ice-cold beer or well-mixed cocktail. Here are some of the best bars with a view in the Cidade Maravilhosa.
“There are no better panoramic views than at Bar da Laje at the very top of Vidigal.” comments Anna Whyte, Australian-American NGO volunteer and ten-year Rio resident. “The adventure starts at the bottom of Vidigal as almost the only way up (short of a long walk) is to catch a mototaxi (moped taxi) for about R$3 for a fun roller-coaster ride up the winding narrow streets of Vidigal.”
Bar da Laje also offer their own kombi (mini-van) service that is available via WhatsApp and costs around R$10-R$20. Once up, the bar offers the feeling of being on top of the world while also regularly hosting live music.
“You can see all the beaches from Barra to Botafogo and the sprawling North Zone, not to mention the amazing sunsets! Plus, the live music gets everyone dancing, the drinks are generous, and it’s always packed!” Whyte continues.
For a taste of the high life, Amit Ramnani of Ipanema Wealth recommends the Deck Bar at the Pestana Hotel in Copacabana. “The complete view of Copacabana beach never fails to impress. The 007 classic, Moonraker, missed a trick by not having a scene here.” He recommends sipping on a Vesper Martini while enjoying the famous Carioca sunset for the true James Bond experience.
Another stunning view situated within one of Rio’s favela communities comes from the famed jazz bar The Maze. Not only do they offer some of the best live jazz nights in the city (or the world, for that matter), as well as delicious and authentic Indian lunches most Sundays, but the Gaudi-esque structure and gorgeous views are almost worth the visit alone.
They also offer transport up and down the hill of Tavares Bastos in Catete when they’re holding events. For an even more relaxed option, the view can be enjoyed as part of a bed and breakfast deal, or with a visit to the art gallery of the owner, British expatriate Bob Nadkarni, which is open from Monday to Thursday, 11AM-6PM, with an entrance fee of R$10.
For those looking for something more on the chic and elegant side, Xian lounge and restaurant offers sweeping views of Guanabara bay and is conveniently located next to Santos Dumont Airport, which is a short taxi ride from Rio’s historic city center.
“Xian has a cool, hip vibe with a modern indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant.” Whyte adds. “There are often stunning sunsets over the water; and even though it’s right beside busy Santos Dumont Airport, it’s surprisingly not noisy from the airplanes, just from the hum of conversation and music playing in the background.”
For something to drink, Whyte recommends their extensive cocktail menu or interesting gin offerings. “Plus, don’t forget to order some of their delicious Asian fusion food to snack on!” She adds.
This list wouldn’t be complete with at least one bar from Rio’s laid-back hillside retreat of Santa Teresa. “Possibly the coolest, hippest choice of all is the Bar dos Descasados at the Santa Teresa Hotel, which boasts panoramic views of the lagoa, bay, beaches, and racecourse.” Whyte comments.
With décor like something from Aladdin’s cave, replete with rustic stone walls and plenty of candlelight, the experience is made all the more comfortable by the huge array of seating on offer, including large queen-size beds and sofas. “They also have fantastic cocktails,” Whyte explains, “with some spiced with red hot peppers and exotic fruits from Brazil.”