Eduardo Paes
Beth Santos/PrefeituraEduardo Paes

Eduardo Paes: "There's no people like the Cariocas"

Mayor Eduardo Paes, a true carnival enthusiast, is known for embodying the spirit of Rio. Who better to give the lowdown on the city and tips for visitors than the Mayor himself?

Renata Magalhães
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Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1969, it’s no surprise that Eduardo Paes embodies the true spirit of a Carioca. Now in his third term as mayor, he’s a Carnival lover who’s often spotted enjoying a good samba circle. You’ll probably run into him around town, living the Rio life to the fullest. A member of the Social Democratic Party, Paes exudes charisma even when addressing critics. In a laidback chat with Time Out, he shared must-visit spots for tourists and teased some exciting new developments coming to Rio. Check out our conversation.

What's your top recommendation for tourists beyond the usual spots?

As a passionate lover of the most marvelous city, I might be biased, but I promise Rio is irresistible. It takes just one day to fall in love and feel like a true Carioca. Sure, there's the iconic tourist trail, but we've got some hidden gems too. The downtown and port areas are the new darlings. The Porto Maravilha project has given us a stunning new waterfront in the heart of the city. The warehouses and plazas are now lively venues for events and parties, day and night. Plus, the new museums are already iconic, and we've restored significant Afro-Brazilian cultural sites.

Must-visit samba spots for a true Rio experience?

The best thing about Rio is the samba circles, keeping the Carnival vibe alive year-round. It’s tough to choose: Pedra do Sal, Feira da Glória on Sundays, Samba do Trabalhador on Mondays, and Cacique de Ramos. And of course, the samba schools' rehearsals. I highly recommend the Portela school in Oswaldo Cruz – my favorite.

How do you balance work and play during Carnival, your biggest passion?

Carnival is a highly anticipated time for locals and tourists alike. It's a major celebration and a huge economic boost – the 2024 Carnival brought in over five billion reais. As a proud carnival-goer, I kick off the festivities by welcoming the King Momo at the City Palace on Carnival Friday. While he handles the fun until Ash Wednesday, my team and I are hard at work. You'll find me at the Sambódromo every night, the best place on Earth, blending work with pleasure. I barely sleep during those days!

Favorite spots to eat and drink in Rio?

In the North Zone, I love spots like Cachambeer, Momo, Madri, Adonis, and Bar da Portuguesa – great beer and delicious bar food. The Cadeg and São Cristóvão markets are also fantastic. In the West Zone, Guaratiba has amazing seafood restaurants.

Hidden gems of the West Zone?

Check out the Burle Marx Estate, home to Brazil's greatest landscaper, with a vast collection of plants. And don’t miss the stunning beaches like Prainha and Praia da Reserva.

What do you miss most when you're away from Rio?

The people, definitely. There's no one like the Cariocas. You don't have to be born here – it's a special way of life. Cariocas are joyful, irreverent, welcoming, hardworking, and love to celebrate. I’m proud to be the mayor of all Cariocas, whether by birth or by choice.

How does Rio compare to São Paulo?

Both cities are amazing and complementary. Rio's advantage is being neighbors with São Paulo, and vice versa. They have different profiles and strengths.

What's Rio's calling?

Rio has hosted major events like the Rio-92, Rio+20, the 2014 World Cup final, the 2016 Olympics, and now we're gearing up for the G20 summit. These events boost our economy and put us on the global stage. We host the biggest New Year’s Eve and Carnival celebrations. Recently, Madonna chose Rio's Copacabana Beach for her tour finale.

Beyond events, what's the future for Rio?

We aim to make Rio Latin America’s innovation hub. We've launched the Porto Maravalley tech hub and IMPA Tech, a new mathematics school. We’ve also brought the Web Summit to Rio. These initiatives are creating a welcoming ecosystem for the digital economy.

Your favorite childhood memory at the Botanical Garden?

Childhood memories are special because of the people we shared them with. Growing up near TV Globo, I loved watching the soap opera shoots in the neighborhood.

How has the city changed since then?

We’re reversing a trend of moving westward by revitalizing central and suburban areas where Rio's identity was formed. We want to bring pride and life back to these neighborhoods.

What's new on the horizon?

The North Zone will soon get two new parks: Parque Piedade and Parque Pavuna. In the West Zone, we're adding more leisure areas like Parque Radical de Deodoro and Parque Rita Lee. New parks in Realengo and Inhoaíba are also on the way.

You’re known for living and breathing Rio, through good times and bad. What keeps you going?

It’s more than just a job – it’s love for Rio. I have the best job in the world: being the mayor of the most wonderful city and its amazing people. Every day, I pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. The official mayor's residence is near Vista Chinesa, and every time I stop to take in the view – the most beautiful in the city – I fall even more in love. I’m sure every other leader in Brazil and around the world envies me.

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