Begin your day with an introduction to Rio by bicycle. You can start by riding around the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon, the Botanical Gardens, which boasts 6,000 plant species, and the Lage Park, a lush subtropical forest that is native to the area. Stop for a coffee or light lunch in a local restaurant or sandwich bar (a preferred local spot is Astor, a retro-style brasserie). Continue riding along the coastline (Copacabana, Ipanema and Leme beaches) or leave your bikes and head to Sugarloaf Mountain, the tallest of the granite and quartz monoliths surrounding the city of Rio.
The easiest way to access Sugarloaf is by cable car, but the adventurous may choose to hike the Costão trail (two to three hours). The climb ranges from moderate to strenuous intensity and there is a small stretch where ropes are used to guarantee safety. Children must be above 14 years to hike the Costão trail. The Urca hill trail offers a less intense option for children and average hikers. At the top, pause to enjoy stunning vistas of Rio and the Guanabara Bay before returning to the bottom by cable car.
For dinner, a first-time must is visiting a churrascaria (vegetarians will not be happy here). Fogo de Chão, a top choice originally from São Paulo, is the place to try, though you will not be the only tourist there. For something more local, head to the trendy neighborhood of Leblon and dine at modern Japanese restaurant Sushi Leblon.
Next day, head up the Corcovado Mountain to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the fifth largest statue in the world, and the symbol of Rio and Brazilian Christianity. You will then take a small electric train to the historic and bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood, characterized by 19th-century Portuguese architecture and filled with quaint shops, restaurants and crafts stores. Stop for an al fresco lunch at Aprazivel and enjoy panoramic views of the city and Atlantic coast.
Celebrate the conclusion of your trip with a big night out at Italian eatery Al Mare, housed in a sleek dining room at the Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro, or reserve the private, in-kitchen table at Cipriani, at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, where you can watch the chefs prepare your meal.