Top 5: Rio

Reflecting back on our Rio trip, we experienced a lot of truly amazing things, but there's more to it than just that. Here's a few thing we recommend, plus a few bonus tips on the bottom.

1. Cristo Redentor - After seeing the structure so many times, it took our breath away to see this in real life.

2. Sugarloaf Mountain - We didn't realize there is a stop on the way up. The views from Sugarloaf at any point are unbelievable.

3. Selaron's Stairs - Colorful and unique, just like the creator, Selaron's Stairs are distinctly Rio.

4. Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches - They're two of the most famous beaches in the world, and with reason. Ipanema was crawling with people when we visited, but we were able to find a little more real estate on Copacabana.

5. Santa Teresa - Even driving through this neighborhood is delightful, but walk around and enjoy the neighborhood. Hotel Santa Teresa Rio MGallery By Sofitel is an incredible spot to grab a drink even if you aren't staying in the hotel.

Rio like a pro tips:

1. Tour Guide - We hired a private tour guide, which was the best decision we made. He tailored our visit to us, and we felt safe when venturing away from the touristy areas. It was much more fun than one of the typical group tours - we felt as though we came home knowing the real side of Rio.

2. Money Exchange - Just don't exchange your money at the airport - it's a rip off. They'll yell at you as you exit, and you might think it's convenient, but just don't.

3. Safety - BE SAFE. Rio is consistently ranked in the most dangerous cities in the world. Be smart. Don't take more money than you need each day, and leave the rest in the hotel safe. And stay at a secure hotel - people have even been robbed in Rio by criminals dressing up like hotel staff.

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