I have been returning to Rio since 2008. It was instant attraction, love at first sight on that very rainy day I arrived. My friend and I decided to enjoy our first caipirinhas at Copacabana Palace where we met an American couple who told us they had been coming to Brazil and Rio for the last 10 years. I thought this was something rather extravagant. Seven years later I know exactly what they meant. It is hard not to fall for the charms of this city, the music, the rhythm, its people and the landscapes which are unique and instantly recognisable even from those that have never visited. Rio has evolved a lot throughout the last years and its ‘rough around the edge’ type of exotic beauty is getting more and more polished – something that opens the door to more mainstream tourism. Still, looking away from the areas of Copacabana and Ipanema there are a lot of gems ‘off the beaten track’ waiting to be discovered and neighbourhoods that have been untouched and still retain their original charms. If you are lucky enough to find yourselves in this amazing city, soak the local colour and culture, do the tourist highlights but explore, discover and experience ‘off the tourist trails’, blend with the locals and live a day like a real Carioca. This is how.