By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In exactly one week, all eyes will be on the 10,000 athletes from around the world as they run, jump, throw, swim and cycle their way to Olympic glory in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Yet, for the million-plus visitors coming to the Cidade Maravilhosa for the Games, there are still plenty of activities to do in between admiring the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Neymar.
For the first-time visitor to Rio, a great way to make use of the time between Olympic events and to get a great introduction to the city would be to take a one day tour that includes all the top tourist sites in a single day.
“Our Full Day in Rio City Tour is a great option as it allows you to visit all the major attractions like Corcovado and Sugarloaf in a single journey,” said Nohelia Sanchez, co-founder of online travel and tourism agency RdJ4U.
“A guide will allow you to optimize time and skip the line at the ticket box,” Sanchez explained to The Rio Times. “Official tour operators will have priority over the general public since they will have credentials to enter with the vehicle close to these locations.”
In a city known for its congestion and traffic, Sanchez also recommends walking or bike tours to avoid the likely transportation delays and traffic jams that will occur during the Games. “A walking tour around downtown will allow passengers to move by Metro and enjoy more of the history, architecture, and culture beyond the beach scene.”
And, for visitors who need to take a break from all the Olympic frenzy, idyllic locations outside the city, such as Ilha Grande or Buzios, are only a several hour drive away. “These trips,” said Sanchez, “are perfect for those looking for beautiful beaches and a change of pace from the city.”
Rio’s revitalized Port Zone will be full of activities during the Games, but, for Rodrigo Braz Vieira, Director of tour company, Bravietour, visitors to Rio’s Port Zone must stop at Morro da Conceição (Concepcion Hill) “with its particular XIX century houses and beautiful views over the harbor area.” Vieira added, “Also, Morro da Conceição is home to different artists such as Paulo Dalier, Claudio Aun, and others which are open to visit their ateliers.”
For those interested in learning about Rio’s other famous mega-event, Carnival, Bravietour offers a behind the scenes Carnival tour. “We see a Carnival Atelier place where the well-known carnival floats are stored after the Carnival parade, and dissembled and rebuilt before the Carnival Parade,” said Vieira.
Finally, for the adventurous visitors looking for the off the beaten track activities, Vieira recommends, “Do the Jungle hike behind Criança Esperança project to the top of Cantagalo hill, really almost unknown by most cariocas, it has one of the most beautiful views of Zona Sul.”
Some of Vieira’s other tips include Parque da Chacrinha, “a little oasis of tranquility in the busy Copacabana,” the swan boats at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Parque Lage, and Parque da Cidade in Niterói, “truly the best sunset in Rio.”
Whatever one decides, Sanchez advises not to wait until the last minute to see the sights, “We´re expecting the last days of the Olympics to be more crowded since more people will arrive for the final competitions. So, don´t wait until the last day of your stay in Rio to see the city.”