By Scarlet Bringuenti Bennett, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With summer here and an increase in seasonal tourism, the Zona Oeste (West Zone) neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca is guaranteed to have something for everyone, including; amazing restaurants, art, shopping centers, great surf and much more.
Hiking Pedra da Gávea
Pedra da Gávea sits just on the outside of Barra, and with an elevation of 844 meters, it is one of the world’s highest mountains that ends directly in the ocean. There are tour companies that offer pickups in Barra and a full-day excursion to the top. At the top there is sensational views of the Tijuca Forest and Rio’s various other famous landmarks.
Now, while this may seem a strange choice on the list it definitely earns its spot. Barra has some of the best burger restaurants, from the famous Yámã Burger Vibration, T.T. Burger, which has five restaurants over Rio and the newest addition, which opened up just last week – Meat B Burger, which has already been given great reviews.
Due to Barra’s constant good weather and regular wind, this beach is the hotspot for kite surfing. There are a few schools dotted on the beach to hire equipment for the advanced kitesurfers or try a few lessons for beginners. Carioca’s also enjoy gathering around the beach to watch the spectacle closer towards the evening.
Visit Ilha da Gigoia (Gigoia Island)
This secluded island is in the of a lake in Barra and is unknown by most tourists, hidden behind Barra’s large apartment blocks and shopping malls. The island can only be reached by boat or stand up paddle. With palms and lush vegetation, visitors can visit Laguna, which is a popular seafood restaurant or Bar do Galego, a simple bar favored by locals.
Surfing in Barra is a must when its beach stretches 17km long. With so much area, it is very easy to find multiple good spots to surf, without the fear of the area being too crowded. The beach even used to host the Oi Rio Pro as a part of the World Surf League tour.
For novice surfers there are multiple surf schools available along the beach, most of which are considered the best in Rio. Surf schools such as Yoga Surf and Escola de Surf Rico (Surf Rico School), which is owned by Rico de Souza, one of the pioneers of surfing in Brazil have a great reputation in Rio.
The Cidade das Artes (City of Arts)
Culture in Rio is not hard to come by and the City of Arts is no exception. It is the largest concert hall in South America and was opened in 2013 by its first major act, Rock in Rio. French architect Christian Portzamparc designed the building to ensure that the multiplicity of functions come together in harmony.