As I Brit I do often chuckle to myself when my carioca friends complain about the rain, as the rainy season here is the equivalent to our summer at home!
However, as Rio is known for its sunny beaches and spectacular scenery, its tropical storms, particularly during March, can get in the way of doing some of the usual tourist activities. During the last month I’ve had the chance to explore alternative activities that rainy Rio has to offer. Below you can find out all about how to escape (or embrace) the wet weather in Rio, whilst still taking advantage of what this Marvellous city has to offer.
Museums and Art Exhibitions.
Rio is bursting at the seams with a huge range of exhibitions. From the famous Museum of Tomorrow to smaller museums, such as the Museo de Indio, which for me was particularly interesting.
Depending on how lucky you are, and if it rains on the right day, some Museums let you in for free! The Museum of Tomorrow offers free entry on a Tuesday and MAM (the Museum of Modern Art) on a Wednesday, as well as many others which allow visitors in on a Sunday for free.
However, my personal favourite rainyday exhibition was to the Fabrica Bhering. This enormous building, formerly a chocolate factory, is now home to multiple different artists’ studios, as well as independent clothes stores and cafes. Sat in the heart of Santo Cristo, the Bhering factory, which from the outside looks borderline derelict, boasts fantastic art exhibitions where you can see both the finished products and the work in progress whilst actually watching the artists at work. There are also vast rooms with interior design displays and alternative well-priced cafes. You can explore the entire building, and its free entry! Due the size of the building, once a month, Fabrica Bhering becomes the perfect venue for a variety of events, often live music performances that take place on the stage in their workshop area outside.
A rainy day in Rio is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of its fantastic shopping opportunities. Rio has everything from dirt cheap essentials, to artisanal markets and famous designer shops. Rio Sul is one of Latin America’s largest shopping malls, and for any Europeans visiting Rio you can be sure to see some familiar brands which can be hard to find in South America. The mall is home to numerous international brands, as well as a huge food court and cinema. You may just find that you have no choice but to enjoy some retail therapy here if it’s pouring outside.
However, Rio is certainly not just about big brand names there is always some sort of market being held offering a range of uniquely carioca products and handmade wares. As well as Ipanema’s hippie market on a Friday, and general pop up markets that appear just about anywhere through the city, there is also the Babliona Feira Hype, a huge monthly pop up market near Lagoa. This hipster market offers everything from craft beer and burgers to independent swimwear shops. It is well worth keeping the whole evening free for this event as it features live music, an under cover and outdoor picnic area filled to the brim with pop up food stalls, not to mention the main attraction, hundreds of independent clothes shops!
Although some of Rio’s sites simply aren’t the same in the Rain due to their breath-taking views, if you don’t mind getting a bit wet (but still being warm!) there are plenty of outdoor activities to experience in Rio. I recently had a friend to stay with me in Rio and we decided to tackle the Botanical gardens in the rain. So, armed with an umbrella, we spent a few really enjoyable hours frolicking in the rain through the beautiful gardens. The botanical gardens are ideal in the rain because you are able to have the whole place to yourself. There are also multiple wooden shacks in the gardens where you can take a break, and listen to the rain hit the roof whilst looking out on the many spectacular views there are to see in these gardens.
Our ride on the Santa Teresa tram was also made more atmospheric by the rain. As we travelled over Lapa’s aqueduct, listening to the pitta-patta of the rain on the tram’s rooftop, we all bunched together in the cosy tram in order to soak up the bird’s-eye view of the city. Santa Teresa itself is still well worth the trip in the rain because of its boutique shops and restaurants. My friend and I took a break from the rain and popped into the neighbourhoods’s Cultiva Brasil, a little cafe known for having the best pão do queijo and açaí in the whole of Rio!
March is Rio’s rainiest month and as we enter April the storms are becoming less frequent and the temperature is settling providing us with a welcome spell of cooler weather. Just about perfect for this Brit who has spent the majority of the last four months sun burnt!
By: Lucy Gavan, student of Spanish and Portuguese culture at the University of Bristol in England, currently living in Rio as part of an exchange programme with Rdj4u