Far from the city center, the Urca neighborhood represents an attractive alternative to the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro. Here, at the feet of the Urca Hills and Pão de Açúcar, you can create the kind of diverse itinerary that blends walking tours, a little adventure, great food, beer, and caipirinhas (Brazilian cocktails), all in the most picturesque spots and served with typical Carioca warmth. So forget your worries and get ready to enjoy every minute of your visit.
Weather permitting, you can climb the hills on foot, following a moderately difficult path that will prove suitable for even those visitors who are not in the best shape. However, if you’d rather stick to flat land, you might opt for a walk along Pista Cláudio Coutinho, a path skirting the perimeter of the hills that offers spectacular views of the ocean, rocks, and vegetation. Stop for a moment, and take in a view so picturesque you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a postcard. For the more adventurous, there are teams on hand that will help you rappel down the Urca Hills.
Naturally, after your trek you’ll be looking for something to quench your thirst. While the neighborhood is small, it’s brimming with dining options, whether you’re looking for a complete meal or just a drink and appetizers. At Garota da Urca, one of the livelier bars of the bunch, you’ll find big portions of grilled meat served on iron platters—the ideal plate to share with a friend. At Bar Urca, the main attractions are the caipirinhas and snacks, such as codfish cakes, soft shell crab cakes, and delicious savory pies. Choose your favorite finger food, sip your favorite drink, and relax as you recline against the wall and look out onto the ocean. No matter which you choose, you can always expect ice-cold beer and warm hospitality.
If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path and want to sample some premium contemporary cooking, the hot ticket right now is bistro Julius Brasserie, located in one of Urca’s most nobly appointed spots along Avenida Portugal. Julius mixes different culinary traditions and nationalities including Dutch fritters, French wild boar rack, Moroccan couscous, Angolan chicken in Dijon mustard sauce, Uruguayan rib eye steak, and an array of French and Italian classics. Keep an eye out for the house cocktails, breaded cheese bites, and a unique dessert like the Dutch apple cake.
These walks along Avenida Portugal are sufficiently enchanting and will make you fall in love not just with the neighborhood, but with all of Rio. And even if you’re leaving, you might just have to stop for one more Saideira beer while resting on Rio’s most famous wall.