The Olympic swimmer shares his favorite beaches and where to find the best Brazilian live music.

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Ryan Lochte, like other repeat Olympians, knows how tough it is to actually explore the cities where competitions are held. “Being an Olympian, we are always traveling, so we’re always going to new destinations and experiencing new cultures. But we honestly only get to see the swimming pool and the hotel,” says Lochte. “We don’t really get to do much sight seeing while we’re competing.”

This year, the eleven-time Olympic medalist has decided to take matters into his own hands and extend his trip in Rio. “After Rio, I’m definitely going to take a week out there and hopefully just visit the country.” Lucky for Ryan, we’ve got plenty of tips on how he can make the most of his extra time in Brazil.

Must-visit Beaches

As an avid surfer, we know that Ryan is planning to hit up the best beaches in and around Rio. Copacabana and Ipanema are two of the most popular beaches in the city, but Arpoador Beach is actually know as the birthplace of surfing in Brazil. Also, according to fellow Olympian Tony Azevedo, the beaches in Barra de Tijuca are some of the best for catching waves.

Things to Do in Rio

While most travelers already have Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Tijuca National Park on their must-see list, it’s important to seek out other fun attractions the city has to offer. Quinta da Boa Vista, Jardim Botânico, and Parque Lage are just a few of the stunning parks and gardens sprinkled throughout town. Each offers tons of unique plants and wildlife as well as historic buildings like the São Cristóvão Palace and colonial-style School of Visual Arts. New in 2015, the Museu do Amanhã, or Museum of Tomorrow, can’t be missed. It looks like a spaceship and just out over the port of Rio. Exhibits are interactive and focus on science and the environment. In terms of nightlife, the Lapa Neighborhood is where it’s at. The Brazilian music, dancing, and a fun-loving crowd are sure to have Ryan and others out until morning.

Quick Trips from Rio

While Rio may be an exciting and bustling city, it’s also pretty overwhelmingly large. We expect that Ryan will be ready to take some time to explore other areas of Brazil after spending multiple weeks engulfed by Rio. Fortunately, there are a handful of places that make for great weekend trips from the city. The well-preserved colonial town of Diamantina is quite the opposite of Rio. It’s located in the corner of Minais Gerais and is defined by the town’s diamond mining history. Additionally, São Paulo and Brasilia offer the same type of urban experience that Rio does, though each provides its own unique attractions. São Paulo alone sprawls nearly 3000 square miles and Brasilia’s mix of architecture is enough to get any design junkie excited. However, our instincts lead us to believe Ryan would be more interested in a more adventure-focused trip. For that, he should head to Iguazu Falls. The waterfall, in the middle of Iguazu National Park, is like something out of a movie and is sure to wow any traveler.