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Romantic Rio de Janeiro

Hit the Dance Floor
Romantic Rio de Janeiro
You can’t describe Rio without using the word sexy. Soulful people, beaches crowded with barely there bikinis, steamy dance clubs, and a stunning natural landscape make the city ideal for a romantic getaway.
By Arturo Lezcano, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Sávio Martins
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    Hit the Dance Floor
    Hit the Dance Floor
    With an emphasis on gyrating hips, pulsing backsides, and skimpy clothing, samba exudes sexiness. To find it, head to the Lapa neighborhood, where much of the city’s dance scene is centered. Here, old-school dance halls, established in the 1920s, stand next to modern bars and clubs. In the harbor area, now known for its Olimpico Boulevard, the old samba ring called Pedra do Sal remains a landmark of Rio’s electric nightlife. Additionally, Samba Schools’ rehearsal spaces are open to the public year round.
    Photo by Sávio Martins
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    Rio’s Most Romantic Sunsets
    Rio’s Most Romantic Sunsets
    It’s not uncommon to hear applause from beachgoers as the sun slips behind the mountains that frame Rio de Janeiro. The rocky peninsula of Arpoador, nestled between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, is the city’s most romantic spot to watch the nightly event. Grab a beer from the nearby Zona Sul market to sip as you witness the mountains of Dois Irmãos begin to twinkle with lights. During midsummer, Arpoador also offers a chance to watch the sun set into the sea, a rarity on the city’s predominantly east-facing shores. Couples seeking a drier but equally romantic sunset can take a late-afternoon cable car ride up to Sugarloaf Mountain and watch the day disappear.
    Photo courtesy of Forte de Copacabana
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    The Best Places to Kiss in Rio
    The Best Places to Kiss in Rio
    With its awe-inspiring landscape, famous monuments, and miles of white-sand beaches, Rio provides no shortage of dramatic backdrops for a memorable kiss. For the best views without the crowds, head to the Mirante Dona Marta lookout, where Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain will frame your kiss. At the secluded cove of Prainha Beach, you can lock lips in some of the clearest and most pristine waters around. Perhaps the most authentic place to kiss, however, is at Azur, just next to the sand. Wait to make your move until the setting sun turns the cobblestone streets orange—the locals will love it.
    Photo by Diego Berruecos
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    Romantic Rio Restaurants
    Romantic Rio Restaurants
    Influenced by African, Amazonian, and European flavors and full of fresh seafood, Rio’s restaurants are top-notch. For the best of the best, head to Ipanema or Leblon, where the city’s most famous chefs work. Taste the morning’s catch at Azumi, an authentic Japanese spot in Copacabana, or order an impressive rice with codfish at Azur, located right on the beach. Irajá, housed in a restored 19th-century mansion, offers a beautiful dining room, while classic spot Adega Pérola still serves its famous octopus in vinaigrette. If food is the star of your night, however, the only place to go is Oro Restaurante, which is run by Michelin-starred chef Felipe Bronze.


    Photo by Sávio Martins
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    Open-Air Bars
    Open-Air Bars
    There are plenty of places to dance the night away in Rio, but for a more intimate experience, follow the locals to a neighborhood boteco. These open-air bars buzz with lively conversations and occasional cheers, due to the soccer games typically playing on TV. Located on a magical city corner at the start of Ipanema, Bar Astor boasts an airy terrace and one of Rio’s most extensive drink menus. In the Santa Teresa heights, Aparzível is an ideal place to enjoy tropical drinks or craft beers alongside sweeping ocean views. 


    Photo courtesy of Bar Astor
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    Jungle Garden Strolls and Romantic Rides
    Jungle Garden Strolls and Romantic Rides
    Well-maintained trails crisscross Rio’s jungle gardens and striking coastline, offering couples a romantic reprieve from the city’s bustling sidewalks. Visit the Jardim Botânico on a weekday morning, and you’ll have more than 300 acres of exotic plants all to yourselves. While there, walk hand-in-hand through a grove of towering palms commissioned by a Portuguese king, and look for toucans in the trees around you. On Sundays, the city’s beachfront roads are closed to traffic. Rent a bike to cruise around the lagoon and beaches, ending at Arpoador for the sunset. If you want something more intimate, head to the Instituto Moreira Salles cultural center and explore its stunning garden, created by famed landscape designer Burle Marx.
    Photo by Diego Berruecos