Rio for Honeymooners

A honeymoon in Brazil offers both exciting urban experiences and the laid-back vacation of a romantic oceanside getaway. Along the Rio de Janeiro coast run two famous beaches: Copacabana and Ipanema. Their sparkling white sand and cobalt sea are lined with charming hotels and outdoor cafés.

Just a few miles away is Rio’s sophisticated downtown, with national landmarks, cathedrals, more restaurants, and several sights and activities spectacular enough to warrant a honeymoon couple changing out of their bathing suits. Discover some of the wonders of Brazil below.

* Visit Corcovado Mountain

No symbol says “Rio” like the 125-foot-high Christ the Redeemer statue at the top of Corcovado Mountain, rising 2,330 feet above the city. Couples on a Brazil honeymoon will enjoy the relaxing 25-minute ride uphill on a tram through the dense tropical growth of Tijuca National Park. At the top, they can get a close look at the serene Art Deco sculpture, built to commemorate Brazil’s independence from Portugal and declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Visitors can also enjoy magnificent views of the city and its beaches. It’s best to go early in morning while the sky is still clear.

* Take in the Views from Sugar Loaf

At 1,300 feet, Sugar Loaf isn’t as high as Corcovado, but the views are just as spectacular. Couples on a Brazil honeymoon will also find that getting there by riding two separate cable cars is half the fun. The first level, the Morro, has a café, shop, and frisky monkeys dashing about. And when it comes to watching the sun set, there’s no better place. Fans of the James Bond flicks will recognize the cable car as the setting for the famous scene from Moonraker in which evil Jaws bites through the steel cable with his teeth.

* Stroll Along Copacabana Beach

By day, the warm seas of Copacabana beckon, inviting couples on a Brazil honeymoon to frolic in the frothy waves. But when the stars come out, there’s nothing more romantic than taking a stroll along the sand and cooling off with ocean breezes. In addition to the many outdoor cafés in the immediate area, kiosks selling drinks and snacks dot the beach, making the ingredients for an impromptu picnic readily available.

Shop in Ipanema

Streets lining Ipanema Beach are crammed with enticing shops, and couples on a Brazil honeymoon will want to set aside time to explore. This upscale part of town features some familiar brands such as Louis Vuitton plus plenty of inviting clothing boutiques, shops selling furniture and unusual items for the home, and restaurants, including a branch of the popular and very Brazilian chain Gula Gula.
And no couple on a Brazil honeymoon will be able to resist buying at least one pair of havaianas (“Hawaiians”), Brazilian-made rubber flip-flops which vie with soccer for the role of national passion.

*Go for the Gold (and Gems) at H. Stern

One of the highlights –- and a very Brazilian experience –- is a stop at jewelry mecca H. Stern, where visitors can take a tour that shows how gems are made into jewelry. Although H. Stern has branches all over the world, this is the chain’s headquarters, with 50,000 pieces of jewelry to show off. Many are made with gemstones mined in Brazil, such as blue topaz and amethyst.

*Explore Downtown Rio

Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful, sophisticated city that rivals any European capital. Parts of its downtown area resembles Paris – no coincidence, since the National Museum of Fine Arts is modeled after Versailles and the Municipal Theater is a replica of the Paris Opera. Other cultural landmarks include the National Library, with treasures brought over by the royal Portuguese family; the Lapa district, with European-style cafés; and futuristic San Sebastian Cathedral. And couples who are fans of either contemporary art or architecture will enjoy going to the neighboring city of Niteroi and visiting the spaceship-like contemporary art museum (Museu de Arte Contemporanea), designed by world-famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

*Savor a Romantic Dinner for Two

Brazilians take food seriously – and couples on a Brazil honeymoon should be prepared to do the same. At the many churrascarias, diners help themselves to a buffet, then sit at their table while waiters bring huge slabs of beef, delicately seasoned chicken, and every other form of meat imaginable. Guests are given a disk that’s green on one side (as in “go”) and red on the other to indicate to waiters whether or not they’re up for more.
The all-you-can-eat theme is elevated to high art at adjacent restaurants on Copacabana Beach. The first specializes in seafood; meat lovers head next door.

Other Brazilian foods worth sampling are moqueca seafood stew and Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, made with black beans and meat.

* Relax in the Seaside Village of Paraty

Paraty, a charming town built in the 1600s and today a UNESCO international monument, is a four-hour drive from Rio. Its cobblestone streets are lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, and churches. But the village is also a center for expeditions on the sea and into the rainforest.
A Jeep ride can lead couples on a Brazil honeymoon to breathtaking activities and natural wonders such as pristine waterfalls perfect for taking a dip. Seafarers can have lunch on a small island that’s occupied solely by Eh-Laho bar and restaurant, an open-air eatery with thatched roofs and an Indiana Jones-type bridge.