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Despite occasional panics, venues are progressing and test events are now in full swing. Work on the underground Metro railway is likely to go down to the wire, but other transport systems are on schedule.
Airbnb and other agencies have widened the range of accommodation available, with affordable options in areas away from the beach and even in the smarter, safer edges of favelas.
There are still plenty of flights available during the Games, including direct British Airways services from around £1, 100 return or via Sao Paulo with TAM for £775 return via Opodo.
Whether you are off to support family or your nation, or just want to hang around, the following guide will help you to get oriented, get partying or, if it all proves too much, get away from the Olympic hoopla with the minimum of fuss.
Construction of a massive new waterfront development called Porto Maravilha is underway Photo: GETTY
Olympic Games test events
If you’re visiting Rio before the games, keep an ear out for test events, which are used to trial the venues and infrastructure. There is boxing and tennis in December and no fewer than 23 events, including powerlifting, rugby and Paralympic athletics, between January and May 2016. See for full programme details.
Beach action in Rio
From August 6-18, Copacabana beach will be the location for beach volleyball contests (from 10am until almost 1am). The cycling road races will pass Ipanema and Copacabana on August 6 (men’s) and August 7 (women’s). The inshore waters off the Lagoa and Gloria neighbourhoods will host the rowing and canoe sprint events, and the sailing competitions, respectively. Details at rio2016.com.
Consider flying via another city, such as Brasilia Photo: AP/FOTOLIA
Public screenings of the 2016 Games
Considered the birthplace of samba, Madureira Park, in the north of Rio, is the location of the Olympic rings, transferred here from Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge. The park, Rio’s third largest, will be the site of one of three giant screens for watching events. The other two sites are the seafront in the port area and at the Sports Centre Miecimo da Silva, in Campo Grande, in the west of the city.
Public transport in Rio
Needless to say, Rio’s insane morning rush-hour will be significantly worse during the competition. On the upside, new infrastructure should make the city friendlier to non-drivers before, during and after the Games.
From April 2016, a new light-rail system known as the VLT should start operating; Rio will become only the second city after Dubai to employ the French-built tram-like vehicle powered from the tracks and requiring no overhead cables.
Airbnb currently offers around a thousand private homestay options in Rio Photo: AP/FOTOLIA
Easy escapes from Rio
The Games fall in southern Brazil’s so-called winter, when daytime temperatures can still be in the mid-20s. It rains less in August than in the peak holiday season (January-March), making it an ideal time for road trips.
Lots of visitors combine a stay in Rio with a flying visit to the Amazon, Pantanal or northern beaches, but there are plenty of overland options close to the city.
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Rio’s super-rich take choppers to the peninsula of Buzios, but the bus or car journey across the Rio-Niteroi bridge affords an opportunity to take in the dramatic sweep of Guanabara Bay as well as the UFO-shaped Contemporary Art Museum, designed by Brasilia-architect Oscar Niemeyer. It’s about 108 miles or around 2½ hours by road to Buzios, a former fishing village until the Sixties, when it was “discovered” by Brigitte Bardot. More than 15 beaches – many protected by rocky coves – are backed by resorts filled with swanky restaurants and bars, luxury villas, boutiques and romantic pousadas.
It’s 96 miles along the lush Costa Verde to Angra dos Reis. The town is no great shakes as the port has grown big and dirty, but it is the place to make the 80-minute ferry ride to Ilha Grande, a small, traffic-free subtropical island where there is easy hiking on clearly marked trails around the edge of the forest, hopping as you go from beach to beach. Accommodation is around the edges – sea views assured.
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Trying to decide what not to love about this colonial town on the Costa Verde – 150 miles south of Copacabana – is tricky. Paraty has gorgeous restaurants for all budgets and has more candlelit niches for romancing couples than it really needs. It has cobblestone streets that deter fast cars – and drivers in general. It even has a cool little literary festival.