“Life is for those who know how to celebrate” – Osho
A Carnival Tour For Couples
Every year, we look at the flights and hotels in Rio around Carnival and groan at how expensive it becomes at this popular time. Next year, we say. But if you always say ‘next year’ it will never happen. So, despite not really being able to afford this one, last summer we booked flights and a tour package to Rio de Janeiro for February 2017! Sometimes, the things we look forward to the most and for the longest, can never live up to our incredibly high expectations. ‘Carnaval’ was everything we’d dreamt of … and more. We feel so blessed to be able to share with you this month a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Some people may not think of Rio Carnival as a couple’s destination. However, we feel it’s a fantastic travel bucket list item for couples who enjoy music, colour and fun. Here you can learn all about Rio Carnival itself, why we booked a tour with Tucan Travel and the ‘best bits’ for couples to enjoy together.
About Rio Carnival
Rio Carnival is HUGE. Over 2 million people take to the streets to celebrate in ‘blocos’ (street parties) and hundreds of Samba Schools compete to be crowned the best. The city doesn’t sleep for days and the atmosphere is electric. Carnaval takes place every year in February/March, the exact dates depending on lent. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s crowded. And yes, it’s noisy. But it promises to make you feel so alive! Leave your statement clothes and jewellery at home, pack your carefree spirit and dancing feet, and join Brazil for the biggest carnival in the world.
Carnival and Beaches Package with Tucan Travel
Tucan Travel offers two different packages for Carnival season. The best one for couples is ‘Carnival and Beaches.’ With a hotel on Copacabana beach, you can enjoy the fun of the city not too far away and also the quieter coastal areas too. Tucan’s Portuguese speaking reps will help you jump straight into the action to maximize the time you have. There are cheaper options than booking a tour group but even hostels are around £50 per night for shared dorms during carnival season so this package is extremely good value for money. It includes 4 nights at your beachfront hotel with breakfast, dinner on the first night, a short walking tour of the city to get your bearings and tickets to the Sambodrome on Sunday night. Prices change every season so contact Tucan Travel using the link at the bottom of this page to get your quote.
We booked direct flights with British Airways but if you’re on a tight budget, consider flying indirect with TAP Portugal and always book early to get the lowest priced seats.
Find and lock in the cheapest flights with skyscanner.com.
Staying on Copacabana Beach
Copacabana beach is renowned for football and skimpy bikinis. It’s a lively but well-kept part of Rio with everything else around the city easily accessible by metro or taxi. Take a walk along the surf where you can marvel at Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance, sunbathe on the beach or play in the waves. The many shops and restaurants surrounding the area are authentic and easy to find. Try fresh açai juice from a corner stall and Brazilian street food from one of the many vendors. For dinner, we highly recommend Churrascaria Carretão Lido for traditional local food.
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Enjoying Rio as a Couple
There are many things around the city and its beaches to enjoy as a couple. If you love the ocean, Ipanema beach is around a 45-minute walk along the seafront from your hotel and the rock point where it meets Copacabana is ideal for your first Brazilian sunset. Get to Big Rock about half an hour before the sun starts going down to get a great spot and watch the sky change romantic shades whilst you feel the city behind you come alive.
If you enjoy art and want to enjoy the heart of the city, Lapa is 6 stops away on the metro. The system is easy to navigate and tickets are straight forward to purchase. Bear in mind that during carnival, blocos are happening all over the city. If you are travelling in the same direction of a large bloco, you will experience your own mini bloco on the train! We found ourselves surrounded by fancy dress costumes in a crowded carriage where everyone began to sing, dance and chant. It was hot and claustrophobic, but an energy that you couldn’t help but smile for. The spirit of carnival is so infectious, you’ll just join in. Once off the train, take a walk around Lapa for photographs of vibrant street art and famous sites. You must see Escadaria Selarón with its colourful tiles and the artist’s declaration of love for Brazilian people. Lapa is also well-known for lively bars and great nightlife, or you enjoy it by day like us and then head back for a beach sunset before dark.
We save money on drinking water by travelling with a Water-to-Go bottle.
Carnival Blocos For Couples
Before, during and after Carnival, you can attend a multitude of blocos. Tourist leaflets list the hundreds of parties that take place and their locations so you can choose which ones suit you best, or if you prefer, simply move around the city and stumble across those that are meant for you. The Beatles Bloco comes highly recommended and Ipanema Beach Bloco is one of the most highly attended. The thing we loved most about the beach blocos is having the option to be in the thrilling crowds of the street one minute, or on the peaceful sand with room to breathe the next. There are many street sellers and pop up beach ‘bars’ selling drinks so grab a caipirinha or coconut water and make Carnaval your own down by the water’s edge.
Whilst visiting Rio, you must find at least one day to explore the city. This Full Day Sightseeing Tour is the best way to squeeze all the best bits in.
The highlight of Carnival for us was attending a night at the Sambódromo and admiring the incredible floats, costumes and dancers that fill the arena floor. You will never experience anything quite like it. The scale and passion are unique and cannot fail to capture the heart. Choose to dress up or down, take in your own alcohol and food or buy from sellers in the stalls, sit and observe the whole show or dance all night long. Literally, anything goes! Why not get into the spirit and buy yourself a headdress or a crown? Maybe a tutu, a whistle and a bag full of GLITTER.
Each samba school parade lasts around 1 hour and is a spectacular show of design and movement. The sounds from the drummers fill the arena and locals sing along loudly. I challenge you to stay sitting or keep your feet still. The fun is contagious and lasts all night. Tucan Travel arranges a bus home for all members of the tour group at 3.30am or you can opt to stay until the very end, somewhere around 7am in the morning sunlight.
Do you love music? Do you love bikinis? Do you love life? Yes, then Rio Carnival is for you. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and that’s OK, but please don’t allow either the cost or the idea of doing it as a couple put you off. If it calls to you, make it happen. Life really is for celebrating, letting go of the things that hold us back and the things that keep us from being fully alive. You will never feel more alive on a trip than this! If you’re young at heart and not too prudish about half-naked bodies, add Rio Carnival to your bucket list and look forward to a holiday of a lifetime with someone you love to celebrate with.
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Continue reading about our time in Brazil with the much calmer paced second half of our trip A Brazilian Beach Holiday For Two.
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