Your Complete Guide to Hiking the Dois Irmãos

Your Complete Guide to Hiking the Dois Irmãos

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

One of my favourite hikes in Rio de Janeiro has got to be Dois Irmãos. Having been up there four times now – once even to celebrate Christmas Day at the top – I feel like I’m beginning to know the way up like the back of my hand. Despite this, the view from the top never fails to amaze me. It’s picture-perfect, capturing Ipanema’s wonderful coastline with Lagoa to the left and the ocean stretching out endlessly to the right. The hike up takes about 40 minutes through the forest with the occasional viewpoint to stop at, but before you get to the entrance of the trail, you need to go up to the top of Vidigal favela. Want to check it out? Then here is everything you need to know about hiking the Dois Irmãos.

First of all, where is the Dois Irmãos? The Dois Irmãos (which translates to the ‘two brothers’ in English) are two peaks in between São Conrado and Leblon. You will instantly recognise them whenever you go to Ipanema or Leblon beach; they are the two pointy mountains at the end of Leblon and are iconic features of the beautiful scenery there.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

Before setting off, what should you bring with you?

 

  • Water – it gets hot going up, especially if you are hiking in the summer period. Bring a couple of litres with you.
  • Food – It takes about 40 minutes to go and the same to go back down. As you may sweat a lot on the way up, it’s good to take food with you to replenish any lost minerals and salts plus to restore energy. Normally a couple of sandwiches and a banana is ok.
  • Sunglasses – when we at Now in Rio went up, Yvonne took her sunglasses and could admire the view with ease. I, on the other hand, didn’t take mine and had to admire the view through squinty eyes and a shielding hand.
  • Sunscreen – the top is totally open and exposed so it’s easy to burn. I use factor 60 on my face and factor 30 on my body.
  • Mosquito repellent – to be honest, I didn’t need this and despite being someone that attracts mosquitos within a five-kilometre radius, I didn’t get bitten once. But if you’re concerned about bites, bring it with you just in case.
  • Baseball cap – for the same reasons as the sunglasses.
  • Camera – you will want to get some awesome photos on the way up and at the top.
  • *Optional. A Brazilian flag kanga (beach towel) – we saw a couple using a Brazilian flag at the top to help them take the perfect travel selfie. It may seem cheesy to some, but it actually makes a nice photo to remember Brazil and the hike.
  • Cash – for the van or motor taxi going up Vidigal (more on that later), plus for the bus there and back, plus for extra food or drinks.
  • Plastic bag – to keep your rubbish in to throw away later. 

    What should you wear? Shorts and a strap top are totally fine. Anything loose and comfortable is recommended. Wear trainers (or sneakers for our American friends!) for the hike. It’s not a particularly difficult hike so hiking shoes or a hiking stick aren’t necessary.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

So, how do you get there? I’ll assume you are in Ipanema as that’s the easiest starting point and that was where we started. If you are going from Praça General Osório you can take the regular public 525 bus (R$3.60) that will go straight there. Alternatively, go towards the beach and from there, you can take the regular public 104 bus (R$3.60) or the 557 (R$3.60). The latter two options are a bit quicker. These buses go along Avenida Niemeyer and will drop you off in front of the Vidigal favela. It will take about 30 minutes to get there.

But wait! What if you are going early on a regular weekday morning? Why does this even matter? Well, Avenida Niemeyer is open to only one direction of traffic in the morning that is coming in the opposite direction to which you want to go. Your bus options, in this case, is to take the bus that goes all the way round towards Rocinha and goes back down Avenida Niemeyer towards Ipanema. It’s a much longer route. But I have a better alternative for you and it’s the one that we did when we did it early on a Tuesday morning.

We took a bus to the end of Leblon where we got off. From there, we walked to Vidigal which took only about 20 minutes. Not only is it quicker than going all the way around, the path follows the coastline and offers gorgeous sea views. It’s totally worth it and will get you warmed up for the hike.

The entrance to Vidigal is easy to spot – it’s a large, wide opening with traffic going in and out and a sprawling favela behind it. If you’re not sure if you will spot it, you can ask the bus driver to tell you when (simply say ‘Vidigal’ and he or she will be able to understand you want to go there). If you’re walking, you honestly won’t miss it.

 

Below is a photo of the views if you walk from Leblon along Avenida Niemeyer to Vidigal. Below that is the Vidigal entrance.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos
Hiking the Dois Irmãos

Once you’re there, you need to get to the top of Vidigal as that is where the entrance is. This means going through a favela. Is this dangerous? No. Vidigal has had a solid clean reputation for years and is one, if not THE, safest favelas in Rio. Tourists visit every day and some expats even live there (there are rumours that David Beckham has a house there which I find fascinating but I’ve never been able to confirm if this is actually true). You don’t need to worry. Use the hike as an opportunity to briefly get to know a unique and cultured community in Rio.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

So, how do you get to the top? You have three choices – walk (I don’t recommend this. It is a long, steep hill to the top and you will be exhausted before you’ve even started the hike), take a van, or take a motor taxi.

The van is a small Kombi-van and charges about R$7 to get to the top. Personally, I prefer the motor taxi (it’s R$5 for one-way. Make sure you negotiate before taking the motor taxi to avoid being overcharged). It’s quicker and way more exciting than being in a van. Safety precautions on the motor taxi are taken quite lightly though – it’s not unusual to be given a helmet twice the size of your head and you spend the whole journey clutching on to it as your head rattles around inside trying not to think about how much it will hurt if you fall off. If you do get given a poorly-sized helmet, simply ask for another one and trust the driver to take you safely to the top. They seem almost too at ease navigating up the steep hills and weaving in and out of cars, other motor taxis, and vans, but they do this several times a day and are skilled at what they do. The main concern you have to have is to get on and off the correct side to avoid touching the hot metal of the exhaust pipe. I learned this the hard way and three years later, I still have a faint scar to this day.

So you’ve got your motor taxi or van, or you have crazily walked to the top, and now you are at the entrance. What do you do now? So the motor taxi and van drivers will leave you at the correct spot – you simply need to say ‘trilha’ which means hike or ‘Dois Irmãos’. From the road, go through the gates that go onto a sporting ground with a football court and some outdoor workout equipment, walk straight on towards the trees (so don’t turn right, just walk straight ahead) and you will see a small entrance into the forest. This is the beginning of the Dois Irmãos hike.

The picture below shows where the van or motor taxi will drop you off (where the red star is). From there, walk past the sports ground until you see the entrance into the forest. This is the Dois Irmãos entrance.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

From there on up, it’s just a case of simply following the trail up. There are no routes that will lead you astray; just keep following the well-trodden path. There are three viewpoints on the way up, including one of my favourites which overlooks Rocinha. These are great places to stop, take a rest, drink some water and admire the views. If you forget water, then no problem. Halfway up, there is a vendor that sells water and other soft drinks as well as basic and simple snacks, including acai. It’s good to take cash with you (ideally small notes and change) in case you want to buy anything there. The whole hike takes about 40 minutes and you can stay as long as you like at the top. Some people go early to watch the sunrise or late to watch the sunset – both are highly recommended. The walk back down takes about the same time as some parts are a little steep and need some careful navigating down. But all in all, it’s not an overly challenging hike, but an immensely rewarding one.

 

This video is when Yvonne did the sunrise hike. Totally worth waking up at a crazy hour of the morning to do it. The photo is one of the viewpoints on the way up that overlooks Rocinha.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

Once you’re back down, from the entrance, you can either get a motor-tax back down (just be aware that they don’t hang around waiting at the top like they do at the bottom so you may wait a while for one to come) or simply walk down. I personally love walking down as it’s a great chance to see the community up close and check out the amazing ocean views on the way down. There are also a few bars and restaurants you can stop in for a well-deserved caipirinha – Alto Vidigal or Bar da Laje are two that are great to check out. From the bottom, you can either leave the favela and cross the road to get to the bus stop that is right opposite. Pick any bus that has Copacabana written on the front (there are loads) and that will take you back to Ipanema. Or you can pick up an Uber which costs about R$10 to get back to Ipanema.

Like I’ve said, I’ve been on this hike four times and I love it a little more each time. If you can only do one hike in Rio, make it this one.

Hiking the Dois Irmãos

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Hiking the Dois Irmãos

Why I Love Botafogo: Rio’s Hottest Neighbourhood

Why I Love Botafogo: Rio’s Hottest Neighbourhood

bars in Botafogo

It’s no surprise that Botafogo made it into Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World recently. It was Ipanema that was jostling for the top spot, having knocked off Copacabana decades ago. Yet the bohemian, beach-chic way of life in Ipanema seemed to slow things down a bit – after all, when it’s hot outside and there is a glorious beach waiting for you, why rush things? The hippest new bars in Ipanema were largely expat-owned, such as Canastra and Bar 48, but after their rise, not a lot else happened there. In the meantime, Botafogo has been quietly opening up new, locally-owned bars at an extraordinary rate and suddenly it has become the hottest spot in Rio.

What’s so great about Botafogo? The bars there carry a quirky, edgy vibe and each one has strived to carve out its own groove rather than following the crowd. The result is a growing selection of unique bars that sell great food and artisanal beers. It’s like a modern-day hipster hangout with none of the pretence and an appeal that stretches far and wide. Here are some of my favourite spots in Botafogo.

  • Le Depanneur

Right next to the metro, I love Le Depanneur firstly for its convenience. When you live far away from the action, easy to get to places become a firm favourite. However, even if it weren’t so accessible, I would definitely still make the effort to go there. It’s one of my favourite wine and cheese night places and, although I’ve never had a date there, the candles on the table and the open-air terrace set the scene for romance. Being in a busy part of Botafogo, the streets are constantly buzzing with people going to and fro their day to day lives, making it a great spot for people-watching. Inside there is a bakery with fresh bread, homemade cakes, and savoury snacks. It’s a chilled place to eat, drink, and catch up with friends.

Le Depanneur,  R. Voluntários da Pátria, 86 – Loja A/B – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 9:45 pm

  • Winehouse

Being a wine-lover, a place with the name Winehouse was always going to win my heart. The venue is small yet cosy and the outside seating extends the bar’s capacity. Although there are a couple of beers and cocktails on the menu, here it’s all about the wine which is a mix of international exports and locally-produced wines. Brazilian wine may not be a threat anytime soon to the global players on the wine market, yet I think there are some great ones available. Try the Brut Champenoise, a sparkling white made in the south of Brazil. They also serve a selection of snacks on the menu such as nachos, homemade guacamole, bruschettas (worth trying), and cheese boards.

WineHouseR. Paulo Barreto, 25 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 5 pm to 12 am. Thursday to Friday 5 pm to 1 am. Saturday 5 pm to 12 am.

  • Comuna

The heaving crowds that gather there from Thursday to the end of the weekend serve as a testimony to the popularity of this spot. Attracting mostly a younger crowd, Comuna is a hotspot for mingling, drinking, and eating their famous homemade burgers that began the explosion of Rio’s gourmet burger market. It’s a typical hipster spot with the low lighting creating an atmospheric scene and the occasional pop-up art galleries held there giving the venue a creative edge. Arrive there late by Comuna standards – and this is anytime after 7 pm – and you’ll be lucky to get a seat. But the majority of the crowd happily remain standing up, chatting amongst themselves and others nearby. Once it gets crowded inside, people simply take their beers and burgers and make the most of the roomy pavement and street outside.

Comuna,  R. Sorocaba, 585 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Tuesday – Wednesday 6:30 pm to 1 am. Thursday to Saturday 6:30 pm to 1:30 am. Sunday 6:30 pm to 12 am. 

um hamburgão desses

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  • Marley’s Pub

A relatively new bar on the scene, Marley’s Pub has begun on the right foot. We were invited to go there when it first opened and I immediately fell in love with the place. A month later, I went back and I was pleased to see that it was reeling in a strong crowd and had created a vibrant, fun atmosphere. The exposed brickwork and the long beams on the ceiling recreate a typical pub with charming touches such as a dartboard on the wall. The live band play anything from jazz to rock, offering a break from Rio’s samba soundtrack. Thursday nights have karaoke which was something I deliberately avoided (not just for my own dignity but for the audience’s poor eardrums) but those who met the challenge face on seemed to be having a whale of a time. I love the beers here; they are all artisanal beer and have local brands such as Hocus Pocus and Jeffrey’s on the menu, two of my all time favourite beers. The pastels were amazing too, especially the cheese and apricot ones.

Marley’s Pub, R. Fernandes Guimarães, 82 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 6 pm to 12 am

  • Bar Bukowski

Bar Bukowski is no newbie on the scene, having established itself a fair few years ago. However, it is important to mention as it set the standards for Botafogo and helped shape the alternative scene that this neighbourhood is getting so well-known for. Bar Bukowski is one of Rio’s only true rock bars, playing nothing other than indie, metal, and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd that goes there are a mixed bunch but generally young professionals and older. The venue is large with several floors and spaces for live music and an outdoor area for chatting and drinking. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a bit of Nirvana, Metallica, or Guns ‘n’ Roses, this is your place.

Bar Bukowski, R. Álvaro Ramos, 270 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Wednesday and Friday 6:30 pm to 6 am. Saturday 9 pm to 6 am.

  • Coordenadas Bar

Near to Praia de Botafogo, Coordenadas Bar isn’t too far from the metro and is easy to walk there. I discovered this bar just a couple of weeks ago and instantly fell in love with the place. In the centre of the bar is a long, wooden table with chairs surrounding it that provide a comfortable place to chat with friends while checking out the rest of the crowd at the same time. I drank a good red wine when I was there while my friend stuck to the cocktails which looked great. The menu has a great selection of Brazilian bar snacks which were served quickly and were tasty. The whole bar is trendy and modern yet maintains a friendly, casual vibe.

Coordenadas bar, Rua da Passagem, 19 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm to 1 am.

  • Rua Nelson Mandela

Rua Nelson Mandela is a street right next to the metro which is choc-a-bloc with bars. My preference of bars there depends solely on which one has space by the time I arrive, as most serve typical Brazilian snacks and food, and a wide selection of beers and cocktails. One of the most popular bars there is Cafofo bar. With large TV screens, they often show the important Brazilian football matches and the place can get packed when there is a big game on. The area is casual and focuses on happy hour which draws in a large number of people dropping by for a drink or a few post-work.

Foi lindo … ☠️🤘🏻#cafofopub #cafofo #nocafofo #heineken #parceria #heinekenrj #heinekenbr

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There’s more…

There are a few other bars in Botafogo that look cool but I haven’t been to yet. I’ll list them here and if any of you have been, let me know! Watch this space though; they are on my list of spots to check out so within a short time I will let you know what they are like.

  • Junge Garden bar
  • Hocus Pocus DNA
  • Champanharia Ovelha Negra
  • Bar Teto Solar
  • Big Ben bar (it’s actually British-themed!)

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bars in Botafogo

Hiking in Rio de Janeiro: Exploring Rio’s West Side

Hiking in Rio de Janeiro: Exploring Rio’s West Side

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Undoubtedly, one of my favourite things about Rio is that when city life becomes too much, a quick retreat into a stunning natural environment is just minutes away. Hiking in Rio de Janeiro provides that getaway. Growing up in a small village in South Wales with a childhood defined by making dens in woods, climbing hay-bales in fields, and carving out hideouts in the ferns, being around nature always makes me feel calm, relaxed, and happy. While I can’t quite imagine leaving the city life anytime soon, having mountains to explore and secret beaches to find on the weekends is one of the main reasons I love living in Rio.

The Transcarioca Hike: Trecho One

This weekend I did the first ‘trecho’ (stretch) of the Transcarioca Hike, a 180-kilometre route that begins in Barra de Guaratiba and finishes at Morro da Urca. The whole path follows Rio’s rugged coastline and spoils hikers with dense forests, untouched beaches, and breathtaking scenery. The first part is Barra de Guaratiba to Grumari and is 8.8 kilometres in total. The whole path is very well signposted – follow the yellow footsteps printed on black to walk in the direction of Grumari; and follow the black footsteps printed on yellow to return. Despite this, we did somehow take a wrong turning and ended up going up and over the mountain to arrive in Grumari. There was nothing wrong in this though; we got to explore a totally different path and return to Barra de Guaratiba following the path we ought to have followed so, in the end, none of the hike was repeated. You can see the map below where we took the path.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Starting at Barra de Guaratiba

We started at Barra de Guaratiba. To get to Barra de Guaratiba, my friend and I took an Uber from Jardim Botanico to the hike entrance in Barra de Guaratiba. It’s a long way there but the Uber cost around R$70 in total, which is not bad split between two people. To find the entrance, look for a small flight of concrete steps with a little white-framed window on the front. Once you find that, the path is signposted with the yellow footsteps on a black background. I loved the fact the hike felt a little bit hidden with clues of its whereabouts. The views are incredible – snapshots through the trees of the long coastline called Marambai beach and the network of mangroves to the west of Rio. It’s possible to do paddling boarding in these mangroves which is definitely now on my bucket list.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro
hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Pedra do Telégrafo

After walking through the little local village, we reached a signpost – right to Pedra do Telégrafo and left to the beaches. We decided to go up and see Pedra do Telégrafo first before continuing with the rest of the hike. If the name of this peak rings a bell, it’s probably because it has become one of the most famous spots among the hiking in Rio de Janeiro scene for selfies. The tip of the platform on top juts out over a lower ledge, yet if you stand with your camera at the right angle, you can get photos of your friends seemingly dangling off a sheer edge. While the selfies do have that reckless appeal, the reality is you will need to queue for about one or two hours along with all the other eager people wanting to capture this highly anticipated moment. This time, I left my selfie-taking for another day and simply admired the stunning view. And what a view. Miles upon miles of rugged coastline, row after row of rounded hills covered in forest and topped off with an endless deep blue ocean. It seems another world from the complex urban life that is Rio de Janeiro yet amazingly, a metropolis of 6 million people is just a few kilometres away. It’s breathtaking.

Hiking in Rio de Janeiro

The queue to get the much sought-after selfie. It stretches further back and has guys selling açai and drinks to the impatient queuers.

Hiking in Rio de Janeiro

From Pedra do Telégrafo to Grumari beach

After Pedra do Telegrafo, we went back down and followed the path towards the beaches before veering right up the mountain. To follow the path correctly down to the Praia Perigoso beach, we should have turned left just before the beginning of the entrance to the Pedra do Telegrafo hike. This would have kept Pedra do Telegrafo on our left and meant we were heading to Grumari along the coast. Instead, we kept Pedra do Telegrafo to our right and went up and over the mountain. This meant we could enjoy the coastline as the day was breaking but I’ll come to that in a bit.

If you do this hike and take the same turning as we did, you can still follow the yellow footsteps on black, although you’ll notice many have been scratched out. It crossed my mind that perhaps this was an old path and that they had been partially removed as the newer correct path was the one near the Pedra do Telégrafo entrance, but I never found out in the end and it didn’t really matter anyway. The walk up is steep in places but neither of us had any difficulty going up or needed to stop for a break. We eventually reached a relatively large open space with two different paths. We took the one to the right that led us down to the main road and eventually to the Grumari beach where we stopped for a spot of sunbathing and some food. If you haven’t been already, you must. Grumari made me think why had I always thought that busy, crowded and sometimes polluted Copacabana or Ipanema were Rio’s best beaches. For a tropical beach haven, they fade into comparison against the white, clean sands of Grumari and its clean, powerful waters. It seems a great spot for surfing with large waves and nice, clean breaks. The beach was really windy when we were there so it was actually a bit cold to lie in just a bikini but don’t let that deceive you – I still got burnt and got home later that day with an incredibly red nose and bum.

Grumari beach to Praia Funda (my favourite beach of the whole hike)

After the beach, we went back the way we came. The walk up is steep and may be challenging for some people. We followed the same route but this time, we turned left towards Praia Funda. Now, if I talk highly of Grumari then I will wax lyrical about Praia Funda. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful and wild beaches I’ve seen in Brazil. The only way of getting there is by hiking and the forest path leads out into a thicket before opening up to white sands and a fierce ocean. Walk down onto the sands and all around you are giant hills of untamed forest that seems totally untouched. It’s just wonderful to be that disconnected and to sit and stare out over the ocean, sharing the beach with just a very small handful of people. Hidden amongst the vegetation were several tents which I initially thought were very keen campers, but after a while it dawned on me that these people lived there. They kept themselves to themselves and seemed content. Obviously I am way out of my depth in understanding the story that brought those families to that beach, but it seemed a better life than one on the city’s streets.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Praia Funda to Praia do Meio

The final stretch back to where we started was my favourite part. We went down to the end of Praia Funda before scaling up some rocks and following the coastline line along to Praia do Meio. The sea was just metres away, crashing over the rocks next to us. As my friend said, it was like being a kid again climbing over rocks and jumping over little crevices. After reaching Praia do Meio, we went up over the rock face and along the coast towards Pedra da Tartaruga. It’s worth mentioning that the climb up the rocks at the end of Praia do Meio is challenging and may be tiring for some people. The first part involves ropes to go up but it’s not that hard – if you let go of the rope and you have really bad grip on your shoes, the worst case scenario is you’ll slip a few metres onto the sand. It’s not like you will fall or plummet to your death, it’s nothing dramatic like that! After the rope part, there is a steep climb up which is tiring and physically challenging but the views are sensational and the constant sea breeze keeps you cool.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Pedra da Tartruga back to Barra de Guaratiba

Before heading back to Barra de Guaratiba, we decided to check out Pedra da Tartaruga and go to the viewpoint at the top. Unlike the rest of the hike which was all through the forest, Pedra da Tartaruga is covered in long, dry grass and actually reminds me of the Scottish Highlands.  The walk up is steep but short. This rock is popular for training to climb with several groups there practicing climbing up and down the sheer face. We watched in alarm as one woman dangled head first over a crop of rocks below thinking she must be in serious trouble. Yet she was smiling and laughing so we assumed she must have been in training. That or she had a hysterical level of pure fear and panic. 

Our walk down was the final stretch before we re-entered the forest and back to the village of Barra de Guaratiba. It was getting dark already and we must have got the Uber back around 7 pm. The whole hike took about 10 hours and was the best hike I’d ever done in Rio.

Overview:

Pedra do Telégrafo: relatively easy hike. Not too steep and takes about 30 minutes to get to the top. The views going up are gorgeous with the immense coastline of Marambai and the west side’s mangroves. The views from the top are of untouched shorelines, vast oceans and fluffy hills of forest. Just be prepared to wait for up to two hours if you want that famous Telégrafo photo. 

Grumari beach: relatively untouched with white sand and clean seas. There are a couple of kiosks there to buy water, beers, caipirinhas, and food. The waves are big and not ideal for swimming, yet are perfect for surfing. It’s a great beach for those looking to escape the commercial hustle and bustle of Rio’s south zone beaches yet are looking for something that has car parking spots and a place to eat and drink.

Praia Funda: my favourite beach. Wild, untouched, no crowds, no signs of urban life. It’s perfect. I also love the fact it can only be accessed by hiking; it just makes it feel that bit more exclusive and unknown.

Praia do Meio: another beach only accessible by hiking. I loved it. It’s so clean – the white sand squeaks as you walk over it and the ocean seemed pristine but it was hard to tell as the waves were creating a lot of swell. Whereas Praia Funda is enclosed and secluded by the huge hills, Praia do Meio is a bit more open.

Pedra da Tartaruga: a relatively easy climb up, it took about 20 minutes to reach the top. Some parts were a bit steep but it wasn’t too hard. The views from the top stretch out over the ocean and are perfect for simply chilling and being.

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hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Donninha: Bringing Homemade Food and Delivery to Tijuca

Donninha: Bringing Homemade Food and Delivery to Tijuca

delivery service in Rio de Janeiro

It’s true that the south zone of Rio de Janeiro has it all – great restaurants, chic bars and golden beaches. Yet, that doesn’t mean the rest of the city has nothing else to offer. Far from it, in fact. Those in the know head to edgy nightclubs behind concealed doors, quirky bars with alternative clientele and charming restaurants that serve food from the heart.

This is one of the reasons I love living in the north zone of the city. Classy eateries and trendy bars are not found on every street corner; you need to seek them out. So I was really happy when Now in Rio were invited to check out Donninha in Tijuca, a restaurant that combines a little bit of everything – ample space for the remote worker, live music, an outdoor bar and a delivery service. Its multifaceted nature makes it possible to go there anytime on any day for whatever need you may have. This feature along with the fact it is just two subway stops from my house won my heart.

Donninha is based in Tijuca near to the metro Saens Pena. It truly is one of a kind, in an area that is filled with old-fashioned restaurants, simple Brazilian bakeries, and casual drinking spots. The wide, open entrance is inviting and the long counter creates the impression it’s an on-the-go service. Yet no sooner have you stepped inside, you’re ushered upstairs to the real heart of the venue.

delivery service in Rio de Janeiro
delivery service in Rio de Janeiro

The first floor (if the floor at street level can be considered ‘ground floor’) is one of my favourite spots at the moment and I spend many afternoons there making the most of their reliable and strong Wi-fi to work outside the house. I love the wide tables, the low-volume pop music and decorative hanging baskets of plants dotted around. Other quirky details include a naked mannequin hanging outside the toilets and a chessboard for those looking for a test of mental strategy over lunch. It’s always relaxed there and the staff never seem bothered by the fact that I’m working there for sometimes four or more hours straight. These are some of my most productive days.

Of course, long days of work like those need proper fuel and the pasta dishes on the menu do the job perfectly. I always think that I will eat half now and save the rest for later but I never do and I never learn. My favourite pasta dish is the pasta with pesto and parmesan cheese. It’s homemade and delicious.

delivery service in Rio de Janeiro
delivery service in Rio de Janeiro

But what about the night Now in Rio went there? We went there on a Monday evening after being invited to try the food. We started with freshly-squeezed fruit juice which was just the right tart and just the right sweet, accompanied by freshly baked baguette with slices of sausage. Next up were the burgers. As there were two of us, we tried both the meat and the chicken ones and split it between us. I rarely eat chicken burgers being quite the carnivore towards red meat but it went beyond my expectations and was really good. Just when I felt I couldn’t eat anymore, they brought us out a pizza. I have to admit, even in the name of research, I was too full to try it, settling with simply smelling it. I did inhale deeply and I can assure you it smelled amazing so I can strongly conclude it must taste equally as good. When they brought out the brownies and ice-cream, I suddenly found room (I swear my stomach is divided into sweet and savoury compartments) and simply fell in love with the warm, homemade brownie and the smooth icecream.

delivery service in Rio de Janeiro
delivery service in Rio de Janeiro
delivery service in Rio de Janeiro

There is also a second floor at Donninha which has live music every Monday evening. It’s a really friendly and animated atmosphere filled with genuine warmth and good fun. The venue closes at 11 pm but the delivery service continues until around 2 am. You can also pick up drinks and continue the high of the live music on Mondays outside in the parking lot at the back which is wonderfully old-school.

delivery service in Rio de Janeiro

The owners effortlessly breathe life and warmth into the place and it’s clear that a lot of effort and soul has gone into the venue. They also employ refugees that are seeking asylum in Brazil and so helping to support a global issue by providing fair employment to people in desperate need of normality. For a homely venue with great, honest food and a friendly atmosphere that is out of the tourist hotspots, you can’t go far wrong with Donninha.

  • Donninha, R. Santo Afonso, 445 – Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro
    +55 (21) 3199 1133
    Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 6 am to 11 pm. Delivery until 2 am.
    Don’t miss the live music on Mondays!
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Where to Drink Wine in Rio de Janeiro

Where to Drink Wine in Rio de Janeiro

wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

Nothing beats a glass of wine. It’s appropriate on so many occasions. Had a bad day? Have a glass of wine. Have something to celebrate? Have a glass of wine. It’s also suitable for all climates. If it’s hot, drink a nice, cold rosé and if it’s cold, go for deep, warming red. One thing that I used to consider sacrilege was chilling red wine, yet it’s pretty normal to do this Rio. On a baking hot day, drinking a room temperature red isn’t actually that pleasant and soon I began to realise, and appreciate, the benefits and joys of a chilled red. If you find yourself in Rio being served a beautiful red in a bucket of ice, try to disguise the look of horror on your face and simply ask for one at room temperature. Just remember, when you’re living and working in the hot summers of Rio, any kind of drink that isn’t icy cold (except coffee of course) just isn’t worth drinking as far as locals are concerned.

Here are some of my favourite spots in Rio to enjoy a nice bottle or two of wine.

Mercearia da Praça – Ipanema

I spotted this place a few weeks back and finally made it there just last week. As I entered, the charming owner escorted me to a table and made sure I was well looked after while I waited for my friends. If this sounds formal, it’s not at all – it was more like a friendly host wanting you to feel comfortable and happy in their home. The location is excellent too – just opposite Praça General Osório and seconds away from the metro.

Why do I love this place? My favourite part is the setting. It’s like a combination of a well-stocked deli and a Portuguese restaurant. There is an inside area with small wooden tables and an outside space which is the nearest equivalent to a Rio beer garden. My other favourite part was the food and drinks – one wall’s sole purpose is to hold an enormous wine rack filled to the brim while the rest of the venue has large hams hanging at the back, a huge selection of cheeses and several types of imported chocolate and jams. It’s a little breath of a charming European deli and makes for a chilled evening of wine and good cheese.

  • Mercearia da Praça
    R. Jangadeiros, 28 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 3986-1400
    Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 12 am
wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

Canastra – Ipanema

Canastra has been the king of the wine market in Rio for a while and there is absolutely no reason to think that this will change anytime soon. When I went by there a few Tuesdays ago, it wasn’t just the bar that was heaving but the entire street in front. For anyone that has spent Carnival in Rio, it reminded me of the post-parties in the street after a large bloco but this time without the glitter and fancy dress. Tuesday happens to be their busiest day as this is the day when they serve up their fresh oysters which brings people waiting outside the venue almost an hour before it opens. On regular days, it’s still best to go there early as it gets packed quickly. Canastra is French-owned and most of the staff are multilingual.

Why do I love this place? I love its wine and the Canastra cheese is perfect. Before I talk more about the wines, I have to mention the burrata cheese – it is my favourite. It’s all soft, gooey and mild and worth saving some room for. The wines are great here and 100% Brazilian which I think it’s one of the main appeals of the place. I usually go for red wine in any wine bar yet Canastra is the one major exception. Its rosé is too good not to try.

  • Canastra
    Edifício Paranoá – R. Jangadeiros, 42 – G – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 99656-1960
    Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6:30 pm to 1 am
wine bars Rio de Janeiro

Winehouse – Botafogo

Tucked away on one of the side streets in Botafogo, I came across this bar by pure chance as I was walking to metro Botafogo from Shopping Rio Sul. It was closed as I went by but as soon as I saw the word ‘wine’ and ‘house’ together, my curiosity was piqued and I just had to check it out. I don’t know why but I haven’t managed to spend a night there without drinking one glass (or a bottle) too many. I’ve always had such great fun there and never want the night to end too quickly. Cue the extra glass or bottle that I certainly don’t need but seemed like an excellent idea at the time.

Why do I love this place? I love this place for many reasons. First, the British owner Dominic is a really friendly chap that certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to wine. Secondly, the wine is just really good. The selection includes a mix of Brazilian and imported wine and if you ask for a recommended pairing, you’ll get some great advice. I know I said that I usually order red but I’m about to prove myself wrong yet again by saying that the espumante (the sparkling white) is delicious and in fact, is one of my favourites on the menu. It’s called the Brut Champenoise and actually comes from the south of Brazil. Finally, the food is great and I love the fact they have homemade guacamole on the menu.

  • Winehouse
    R. Paulo Barreto, 25 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 3264-4101
    Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 5 pm to 12 am. Thursday to Friday 5 pm to 1 am. Saturday 5 pm to 12 am.
wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

Le Depanneur – Botafogo

I remember when this place first opened although I can’t remember for the life of me what used to be in the space that Le Depanneur now occupies. In the beginning, it would always get a small yet steady trickle of customers. Now, whenever I go by there on whatever day of the week, it is totally crowded. Get there after 8 pm and good luck in getting a seat – you’re in for a wait. Le Depanneur is kind of like one of those lovely mixes of what reminds me of a French deli and a casual yet hip restaurant. It juxtaposes modern with traditional with its contemporary furniture and classic deli-style foods. It has a few indoor tables yet the real joy is sitting on the terrace and people-watching.

Why do I love this place? I love its atmosphere. I love simply watching the world go by next to the bustling streets of Botafogo. Its location is perfect – seconds away from the metro and right on the corner of Rua Nelson Mandela, the busy street of bars and eateries. It’s an exciting place to be and the food and the wine are excellent. The cheese board here is amazing and if I know I will be going to Le Depanneur, I will skip my afternoon snack and dinner to save myself space to eat my bodyweight in cheese (I know, I am such a cheese fiend). The reds here are my go-tos yet sometimes I will indulge in the sparkling rosé. Honestly, it is so moreish and delicious that if it’s a warm evening, this rosé will be my first choice.

  • Le Depanneur
    R. Voluntários da Pátria, 86 – Loja A/B – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 2537-5250
    Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 9:45 pm
wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

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Marley’s Pub: Bringing a New Nightlife Option to Botafogo

Marley’s Pub: Bringing a New Nightlife Option to Botafogo

bars in Botafogo

Marley’s Pub in Botafogo brings a rare combination to Rio de Janeiro’s nightlife scene – live music, a mouth-watering menu and on-tap homemade beers. It is literally the mix that sets the scene for my perfect night out. We were invited to check out the new venue and with the word ‘pub’ in the name, I was keen to see if it would bring a slice of nostalgia of my favourite drinking spots back in the UK.

First of all, let’s start with some background on Marley’s pub. The venue has only opened recently in July 2017 so is a true newbie on the lively Botafogo bar and restaurant scene. However, those with keen eyes may have already spotted this name and you’d be right in thinking that this brand already exists.

The idea of Marley’s Pub started from a partnership between Sergio Albrecht, the owner of a beer food truck, and Teo Nunes and Renata Pereira, the owners of a burger food truck. Having attended several of the same events throughout Rio, they decided to set up something together by pooling their expertise and resources into creating a physical establishment – and so was born Marley’s Pub.

bars in Botafogo

About The Venue

Marley’s Pub has gone all out in creating a homely menu, a selection of wonderful drinks and getting local bands to perform regularly. The venue is set over two floors with the second floor conveniently overlooking the stage so you can enjoy the live music from wherever you are. The music takes a break from traditional Brazilian music and ventures into the fine tunes of blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and indie music. What I loved about the venue though is how it really does resemble a modern-day pub with exposed brick walls, rustic features such as uncovered piping as taps and cute finishing touches such as the dart board (which I aced at. Not).

Let’s Talk About The Menu

Ah, the menu. The menu is packed with comforting foods and of course, delicious hamburgers. In the name of research, I ate my body weight in food so I could share my impressions with you (purely research purposes, of course). I started with two different kinds of snacks – the bolinho de feijão recheado which was a compact ball of black beans and dried meat. It was amazing until I tried the bolinho de feijão branca com camarão which somehow managed to trump it. Both were delicious and went really well with the Jeffrey Pilsen beer I was drinking.

Next up, I had the Mignon no Pão, which is the most homely food I’ve had in a while. It is a huge loaf of round bread with the inside taken out and then filled with a creamy cheese mixed with mignon steak. It would be ideal for a group of people as it’s a very filling snack and can easily feed four people, if not more.

Finally, I couldn’t leave without trying a hamburger. I had one of the most popular on the menu which was the Pão de Acucar, a mix of 180grams of exclusive meat blend, fresh mushrooms, caramelised onions, barbeque sauce, Emmental cheese and Australian bread. It also comes with a side order of French fries. I loved it, especially the fact that the burger was huge. I didn’t try it but I was told the special hot dog is also one of the best items on the menu, so that definitely is on my bucket list for the next time I got here.

Marley’s Pub Drinks

Marley’s Pub has plenty of locally-brewed beers on the menu including Jeffrey beer which is served on tap. I stuck to the Pilsen, a light beer that is definitely my favourite, I also tried the Hocus Pocus Magic Trap which is strong but incredibly smooth and quite sweet. For those that prefer cocktails, there are also several homemade cocktails on the menu, such as the Kinsale (whisky, strawberry, lemon and brown sugar) and the Marley’s (pineapple, mint, coconut milk, rum, malibu and orange).

bars in Botafogo
bars in Botafogo
bars in Botafogo
bars in Botafogo

Why You Should Visit Marley’s Pub

  • It has Jeffrey beer on tap
  • It also serves Hocus Pocus beer which is amazing
  • It has a fantastic menu that includes huge, delicious burgers
  • It has live music with no extra charge (that is a huge rarity in Rio!)
  • It’s a cosy venue that has a true pub-like feel
  • The staff are friendly and helpful

Where To Find It

Marley’s Pub, Rua Fernandes Guimarães, 82, Botafogo
Facebook and Instagram
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday, 5 pm to 1 am. Friday, 5 pm to 2 am. Saturday, 6 pm to 3 am.
Reservations: (21) 2137-0983 and e-mail contato@themarleys.com.br

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bars in Botafogo