With countless tourist attractions, a bustling nightlife, countless pristine beaches and more local cuisine options than you can throw a Feijoada at, Rio is essentially a tourist's paradise given it has so many things to offer.
But just because you're a tourist visiting Rio doesn't necessarily mean you need to travel like one. As a matter of fact, there are many ways you can travel around Rio just as the locals do, even if you don't have any locals to give you insider tips and advice.
If you aren't lucky enough to have any Brazilian friends but you still want to experience Rio in all its glory, here are some tips to keep in mind:
A local's guide to Rio: Where to visit (and what to avoid)
If you really want to travel like a local in Rio, then you should try and avoid the touristy spots altogether; (although no visit to Rio would be complete without a trip up to Sugarloaf Mountain or an afternoon of suntanning on Copacabana beach, which is the most famous beach in Brazil)
So when taking a trip up to Sugarloaf (because you know you're going to), instead of following the other tourists on the bus to head back down the mountain, walk down the path around the base of Urca Hill and see if you can spot a few marmosets - or tiny monkeys - while you're there as well.
Also try and head to Santa Teresa, which is a popular spot for locals perched on top of a hill above Lapa. It may be tricky to get to (unless you get up there via taxi, of course), but from there you can sip on a few cocktails at Bar dos Descados (a recently-restored Colonial building) while enjoying panoramic views of northern Rio.
If you're hoping to hit up a Brazilian beach (as you should), you may want to stick to the neighbourhood of Barra da Tijuca (which the locals refer to as simply "Barra"). You could also take a pleasant stroll or bike ride down the coastal path between Barra and Ipanema (which is known to have the most "sporty vibe" of all the beaches in Rio) and hit two birds with one stone.
Zona Sul is another great beach in Rio (although it's usually loaded with tourists), but if you want to hang around near the locals head to the area between Post 9 and 10, which is where you'll find a more youthful, local crowd. While you're there, you can take the trek to the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood (which has a massive 18-kilometre beach also popular amongst the locals).
And, most importantly, if you plan on suntanning at any of Rio's dozens of beaches, opt for leaving your towel at home and purchase a kanga (a thin towel popular among the local beach bums) instead.
Get down with the local cuisine
If you really, truly want to explore Rio like a local, then you're going to need to eat like one. This means avoiding fast food restaurants like McDonald's (the horror, I know), and hitting up all the spots locals are known to dine at.
The Santa Teresa neighbourhood is a great option for finding authentic Brazilian food, and it's loaded with all sorts of hidden restaurants and bars. The Urca neighbourhood is another great option if you're hoping to dine outside, and here can you find a ton of places offering pastels, which is a sort of empanada packed full of various fillings like cheese, shrimp, tomato and beef.
Another must-try Brazilian cuisine would be none other than the famous Brazilian stew known as feijoada, which consists of beans, massive chunks of meat, and side dishes like cassava (roasted manioc), fried pork-rinds, deep-fried bananas, orange slices, and much, much more.
And to wash down the scrumptious Brazilian food, don't forget to try some classic Rio fruit juices (which is also surprisingly popular among locals), like acerola, graviola, acai or fruta de conde.
Where to party it up like a local in Rio
With Rio's party scene being one of the most famous in the world, you can always count on there being a flurry of activity throughout the city until the wee hours of the morning. But of course some areas of Rio are more popular than others to party in, especially where locals are concerned.
The young locals are known to hang around Lapa, which is located just south of the city centre in an old bohemian area; and here you can dance along with samba musicians and "malandros" (or "hoodlums") who often parade around in iconic Panama hats and linen suits.
Leblon is another popular neighbourhood amongst locals as it's loaded with various nightclubs and bars, and you can always count on a whole lot of Samba happening around the Cadeg market, which is located just north of the city.
And perhaps it may go without saying, but ordering a caipirinha (a cocktail mixed with lime juice, sugar and cachaca - known as Brazil's national spirit), is a must; however the locals are known to knock down a few batidas (another popular Brazilian cocktail made with cachaça, sugar and fruit juice or coconut milk) as well.