What if I told you, that the best view over Rio, is not FROM Rio? Niteroi is called City of Smiles and is home to a handful of gorgeous beaches, friendly people, beauty and art. Escape the crowds, get acquainted with the City across the bridge that smiles back at Rio from a distance.
Itacoatiara Niterói: Surfing & Sunset Views
Ask anyone from Niteroi about the most beautiful beach and you’ll most likely hear about a place called Itacoatiara. It’s green-blue water front and golden sand is what attracts most people and the multiple point surf breaks a little further up north, make this place the perfect spot for surfing. Hike up the Costão Mountain close to sundown and you’ll witness one of the most stunning views in Brazil.
Parque da Cidade Niterói (City Park): the best view over Rio
Like I said, the best view over Rio, is not from Rio. Parque da Cidade offers a gorgeeeeeous view from 1.000 feet over Niteroi’s beaches, the Rio-Niteroi bridge and of course Rio itself! Adventure seekers have the possibility to go para-gliding! But it’s also the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful sunset with friends and a few beers.
Cantareira Nightlife: Lapa in Niteroi
A mix of bars and restaurants forms a bustling lapa-like night-market in the centre of Niteroi. Students flock this place on tuesdays and thursdays for cheap beers or some Brazilian Junk Food. Try a typical Brazilian Pastel, an oven baked folded pie filled with various flavors. The burgers aren’t too bad here either (Don’t try to be on a diet in Brazil, you will fail miserably). One tip: watch your wallet. Robberies are not uncommon here.
Icarai to Niteroi, is what Copacabana is to Rio’s Cariocas, great for shopping, restaurants and biking with a view over Rio’s main landmarks across the Guanabara Bay. Plenty of exotic juice bars and little restaurants to try. Don’t leave town without tasting some typical Brazilian Acai (fruit from the Amazone), served cold and soooo soo tasty!
Where to eat: Seu Antonio
Not easy to find, but so worth it. Make a quick stop here to indulge in some delicious Portuguese food, before heading out to Itacoatiara. The shrimps in coconut are to die for, as well as the Bolinho de Bacalhau (salted cod cakes). Don’t expect to be the only one, lines may form during weekends.
How to get there
Catch a ferry from Rio and cross the bay in about 20 minutes, or take a bus over the Rio-Niteroi bridge. For anyone who’s already been to Hong Kong, remember crossing the bridge from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon? Same thing.
Where to Stay in Niteroi: Itaqua House Bed & Breakfast
Three blocks from Itacoatiara, lies a beautiful beach house. A place off the beaten track with gorgeous nature, where tourism hasn’t arrived yet. Rodrigo Paes and Laura Nedel started hosting couch surfers and turned their Itacoatiara House into a Bed & Breakfast. Borrow bikes to adventure around, meet locals, surf, do whatever you like. This place is so much more than just a Bed & Breakfast. It’s a home away from home.
Escaping the crowds in Rio seems impossible. But cross the bridge to Niteroi and you’ll forget all about those long lines at Sugar Loaf Mountain or Cristo Redentor. And if I may be honest, when it comes to beaches in Niteroi, Copacabana even seems a bit overrated. Go see for yourself!