This was my first time ever in Rio de Janeiro -- let alone Brazil -- and after much research, this tour seemed to offer many great highlights within the span of a day. Since I was only in Rio for a short period of time (before leaving on a cruise), I'd hoped to get as much "bang for my buck and time" while visiting there.
All of that to say, this tour certainly didn't disappoint! In fact, I don't think that I have EVER been on an excursion that offered so much, and lasted almost 12 hours in duration!
The day started with Flavio meeting us in the lobby of our hotel at around 7:15 am. To follow, we visited other pick-up sites and collected other sight-seers along the way. Once everyone was gathered, our local tour guide helped us to dodge the worst of the crowds and enjoy our day to the fullest!
We began with a morning visit to Sugarloaf and eventually made our way to the Selaron steps. Take note! ... Pictures don't do this area justice! I was quite surprised by how many steps there were --- not to mention how beautiful and interesting the tiles in the area were. However, you'll definitely want to be wearing sneakers, and expect that it can be difficult to get pictures here. (The area can be super crowded!)
After a brief visit to a cathedral, lunch was nearby at a Portugese Steak House. This was quite a unique experience in and of itself! While the meal was covered as part of the tour, you can expect to pay a small fee for beverages (with both alcoholic or non-alcoholic options offered). While I didn't have any desert, I believe that there may have been an extra cost for that, too ---- but the buffet along with the many & plentiful varieties of meats offered would surely appease the heartiest of appetites!
If I were to make a suggestion, it would have been helpful to know from a local how some of the foods were eaten. In particular, there were a few dishes (and even garnishes) that were a bit puzzling to some of us at the table. The waiters seemed to only speak Portugese, so communication was a bit challenging, if not impossible.
After lunch, we visited the stadium (about which the locals are quite proud.) In fact, our tour guide, Flavio and our bus driver were eagerly anticipating an upcoming soccer match there, the very next day. Vendors were seen out front, selling items for a cheering crowd and soccer jerseys for fans of each team.
Our tour eventually wrapped up at the Christ the Redeemer statue via the Tijucca National Park. This was an AMAZING way to wrap up our day .... Just majestic!!
As we started to make our way back to the hotels, we were treated to an additional scenic stop where we enjoyed some amazing views.
All in all, I have to say - Flavio and our tour bus driver worked incredibly hard and ALL DAY to make sure that we had an incredible and memorable experience! Flavio was very knowledgeable, super friendly, and definitely willing to go out of his way to explain the ways of life in Brazil. I honestly felt like we drove and went EVERYWHERE in one day ... And did I ever get "the most bang for my buck & time"? You bet!
So pack some water, put on your sneakers and just do it!