As a direct budget flight from London launches this week, our Brazil correspondent picks out favela feasts, samba sessions and seaside cycle rides to savour
When Rio introduced a bicycle hire scheme (sponsored by Banco Itaú), the bikes were constantly broken and the system frequently froze. It works much better now, with three-gear bikes available across the city with payment plans as cheap as £3 for three days. Seaside cycle paths lead from the Marina da Glória through the leafy Aterro do Flamengo park, with its joggers, families, picnics, rope walks and samba rehearsals, all the way to Urca, the Sugarloaf and Copacabana beach. From there, the beachfront lane goes on to Ipanema and Leblon. And, on Sundays, half of Rio’s waterfront highway is closed to traffic, making the distinctive orange bikes a quintessentially carioca way to reach the beach. You may need help to register on the Portuguese-only site.