Who ever thought that cycling in Rio de Janeiro can be a great experience? We decided to check it out did a tour to see how it feels to bike in Rio. It’s Wednesday morning and we’re gathering in Copacabana on the sidewalk of busy Nossa Senhora de Copacabana street. Six comfortable retro bikes are lined up and our Brazilian guide Juju is preparing our small group for a guided bicycle tour that will take us all the way to Lapa and the staircase of Selarón and back to Copacabana.
Off we go!
Logically some people might have second thoughts about cycling in this rather chaotic city, with its hectic traffic. However, our guide makes sure we are well informed before we hit the road. Surprisingly 85 percent of the ride will be on bike lanes, she explains. Also, there are helmets available for the participants. Juju briefs us about the safety rules, shows us the map of the route and off we go. Her English is excellent.
If you are here on your first day, it will be pleasant culture shock cycling through the back streets of Copacabana, the first stretch of the bike tour. It turns out to be a big neighborhood, that has more to offer than just a beach and a promenade. The place is bustling and we cross several tunnels before we reach our first stop in Botafogo.
Botafogo nowadays is Rio’s hipster quarter, with tons of craft beer pubs and quirky restaurants. But our tour is not about that; the first stop is at the local cemetery, São João Batista, resting place of famous Brazilians and several presidents. In the midst of this city of millions, the cemetery is almost an oasis of peacefulness. Richly structured with impressive tombs, a lot of culture and history is stored here.
Bike in Rio: on the way to downtown
After that, the ride takes us along the shores of the Bay of Guanabara, in the direction of Flamengo park. Before entering the park, another stop for a refreshing coconut water or coke, is on the agenda. The location has a great view of Sugarloaf mountain. Our guide gives us great insight into the historical importance of the place, and points out geographical highlights.
The next stretch is along Flamengo beach, through the park and takes us under the museum of Modern Art (MAM). We are on our way to downtown Rio. Here we stop at the historical Cinelandia square, the monumental Arches of Lapa and the colorful steps of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron. It’s just amazing how much you can see in a short time and how easy it is to bike in Rio.
Palace and parks
Leaving the staircase of Selaron we head in the direction of Gloria. We even pass by the garden of the former presidential palace in the neighborhood of Catete, nowadays a beautiful park where the palace can be visited as a museum.
It’s almost overwhelming all the images you get to digest during this ride. After Gloria and Catete we enter the neighborhood of Flamengo shortly, to cross the street and then enter another part of Flamengo park. An incredible place with an astonishing range – for us – of exotic plants and trees, designed by the famous landscape architect Burle Marx.
Riding back with panoramic views along the beach
Exiting the park we’ll pass by Botafogo beach for a quick foto stop, with an excellent view of Sugarloaf mountain again and the harbor of Urca. From there on we pedal to Copacabana, where a last stop is made in front of the historic Copacabana Palace hotel. Our guide shows us some wonderful images of the location through the years, starting at the end of 19th century.
At the end our guide Juju revealed to us that we had cycled more than 25 kilometers (almost 16 miles). It was a great ride and we felt safe all the way, thanks to the good work of Juju, who was always making sure we were fine and was looking backwards regularly to see if everybody was safe.
Experience the tour yourself!
Do you want to make this tour yourself? Here you can read more details about the tour and how to book it. You won’t regret it!