In a city like Rio, many would be under the impression that getting around to see some of the sights would be as simple as wandering about independently, hopping on and off buses or joining a walking tour.
As far as we know, there’s no hop-on-hop-off bus currently operating in Rio, and catching local buses can come as a bit of a challenge if you’re not all that sure where you’re headed. Not that it takes much effort to work them out.
As for walking tours, they’d be the way to go if you’re concentrating on one or two areas; but if you want to cover more ground, then taking a bike tour of Rio is the only way to go.
Thanks to Rio by Bike, we got a chance to see parts of the city we probably wouldn’t have even got to; up close and personal and at a relatively leisurely pace along many of the city’s new cycle paths.
These guys are used to the whole biking concept, thanks to being Dutch natives, and their fleet of oma bikes – that’s Dutch for grandma – anyone with next to no level of fitness can jump on and join one of their English-spoken tours.
We joined in on the Panoramic Tour, but they also offer an Urban Tour that focuses on the southern part of town, Lagoa Tour for the lagoon and Ipanema, and a 7-hour Ultimate Rio Tour.
Beginning in Copacabana, the route takes you into the backstreets and leafy upper reaches of the suburb and through the tunnel into Botafogo. It’s here where you take a short break at Rio’s ‘celebrity’ cemetery, São João Baptista, and learn quite a bit about the site and who is buried there.
Anyone that likes exploring cemeteries will love this one, and the views up to Christ the Redeemer and Santa Marta favela are fantastic.
The route then heads towards the Bay of Guanabara along the meandering bike path beside the stunning foreshore, providing the most gorgeous views across to Sugarloaf Mountain.
It can be a little warm in all of that sunshine, so why not take a pitstop and enjoy an ice cold coconut water while you absorb the scenery?
The historic centre of Rio is next on the tour, where a brief stop is made as our very informative guide, Malte, fills us with tidbits about the area and its history. There’s some stunning architecture in this part of town, so returning on two feet another time should definitely be on the cards.
A little further is Praça Cardeal Câmara, an open plaza dominated by the 18th-century Carioca Aqueduct; built to bring fresh water from the Carioca River to the city.
The final stop of the Rio by Bike tour is Escadaria Selarón – or Selarón Steps – the creation and ‘tribute to the people of Brazil’ by the late artist Jorge Selarón.
It isn’t only the steps that colour up the neighbourhood, as all around the Lapa district you can see colourful murals and artworks being sold by local artists.
The final stretch of the tour takes you along part of Avenida Atlântica on Copacabana Beach, the end of your 4-hr, 28 kilometre ride around town. Aside from a couple of gradual inclines, riding on the tour is very easy thanks to the designated bike paths and smooth terrain. There really is nothing strenuous about it.
For more details about the tours Rio by Bike does, plus their favela tour, tap on the link below. They’ll even take 10% off your second visit.
Big thanks to Rio by Bike for sponsoring Dean and myself.