*Omicron is spreading in Brazil but the state has not made changes to its travel policies since December 11, 2021. Travelers are encouraged to respect local and national advisories and consider this a guide for future travel planning.
With Omicron racing around the globe, the idea of international travel seems unlikely for the time being. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan adventures — like traveling to one of the greatest cities on earth. For Below Deck’s Eddie Lucas case, that means the beachy, cultured megalopolis of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In addition to serving in his new role as First Officer in the latest season of Below Deck– set in the beautiful tropical waters of St. Kitts — Lucas has a background in paddling, skiing, and scuba diving, and has worked as the first mate on a four-man tugboat crew, so he’s no stranger to life’s most beautiful and breathtaking locales. When we hit him up for a travel guide of his favorite city on earth, he wanted to go with one he appreciates deeply, and knows intimately. Rio was his immediate pick.
Check out Eddie Lucas’ guide to all the best food, drinks, sights, and things to do in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil below and catch Below Deck on Bravo and Peacock every Monday night to help satiate your wanderlust.
Best time of the year for a trip to Rio?
Best time to visit is the end of February early March, right around when Carnival is. It’s not just in Rio but all over the country people are partying and celebrating for weeks, it’s an amazing time to be in Brazil.
Where is your favorite beach that gives you that Brazilian experience, and why?
For the Brazilian experience, I would definitely go with Ipanema. It is a wild and bustling beach where vendors are selling fresh caipirinhas and other street food. Just keep an eye on your valuables. The most beautiful beach would be Joatinga beach — which is a little hidden gem in Rio — but you have to know how to get there.
From a good breakfast spot to the perfect morning activity, what is the best way to start off your day in Rio?
The best way would be to go to my favorite breakfast spot, BB Lanches in Leblon. Get some fresh juice, they have every juice you can imagine, mine is maracujá com mamão, and then grab a fresh pastel and head to the beach.
Where is the best bar or club in Rio?
I don’t really go to clubs anymore, but my favorite bar would be Academia da Cachaça. They have an extensive list of cachaça, and the best garotinho which is a small perfectly poured tap beer. If you are looking for a fun night try out Lapa, it’s a great neighborhood to go to with tons of bars and lots of places to dance forro.
The first time I went to Brazil I actually took forro lessons — it’s one of my favorite things to do while I’m down there.
What district or part of the city is a must-visit in Rio and why?
Santa Teresa/ Bar Do Mineiro
Obviously, Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf. But aside from the obvious must-see tourist attractions, visiting the diverse neighborhoods the city has to offer is a must. Going to Santa Teresa, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods, you are able to experience the well-kept architectural beauty of the city’s heritage. Don’t miss out on this restaurant called Bar do Mineiro while you’re up there and order the feijoada croquetes (I am a foodie!).
Additionally, to experience some samba, go to the downtown city center. You can sit at any bar on the strip and listen to some samba or even dance it yourself if you are courageous enough because Brazilians know how to move their legs! Pedra do Sal and Largo de Sao Francisco da Prainha are my favorite spots to do that.
What’s your favorite dinner or after-hours snack spot in Rio?
My favorite restaurant has to be Sushi Leblon. The ambiance is intimate and upbeat at the same time. Absolutely anything you order is so fresh and what differs itself is the quality and creativity in which the dishes are made. Must-try items are the quail eggs nigiri, salmon topped with crispy quinoa flakes, and tuna tartar with caipira yolk.
For a late-night snack, my go-to is the 24hr bakery called Rio Lisboa also located in Leblon (since it’s where my GF lives). You can buy cookies, bread or sit at the counter and order anything you want! But if you want to be a local, you have to order the “pão francês com ovo mexido e polenguinho” which is a French roll with scrambled eggs and a Brazilian cream cheese. They smash it like a panini and it hits the spot at a late night out!
Best place to grab a coffee?
My favorite coffee spot would be Talho Capixaba. It’s a great spot to get a Brazilian espresso and a little sweet treat.
Where is the best hiking spot or place to enjoy the nature and surroundings of Rio De Janeiro?
I haven’t done too much hiking around Rio, but I have hiked just south of Rio in Ilha Grande. It is a beautiful small island with no cars and almost completely covered by rain forest. It’s my favorite place to get away from the wildness of the city.
What is your favorite thing to do in Rio?
Go to the beach! Eat food, drink beer!
The people in Rio are very enchanting, their warm and happy demeanor makes any tourist feel loved and want to drop their lives and open a coconut stand at the beach, which I have thought about myself since going to the beach is by far my favorite thing to do in Rio.
Waking up and walking through the Portuguese mosaic pavements, known as “calçadas portuguesas,” passing by massive intricate trees with their roots bulging off and lifting the ground, it feels like you are in this mix of tropical rainforest intertwined with urban life. Any beach in Rio is so special because it is accessible for everyone. You can play volleyball at the beach or lay your beach towel on the sand and relax as vendors walk by to sell food and booze (that is where you will find me!)
Don’t miss out on the caipirinhas, Globo biscuits, and the coalho cheese while you are there!