Rio de Janeiro – The Most Exotic City on Earth.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s Great Cities. Rio attracts more people to Brazil than anywhere else in the country, and is definitely one of the places that every traveller needs to visit at least once in a lifetime. It would take far more than one visit to experience all that Rio has to offer though, as the city has so much to be enjoyed at any time of year.
The essential sights are all world famous – the views of Rio from the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the top of Corcovado Mountain; the cable car ride up to the peak of Sugar Loaf Mountain for more city-scapes; and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. All of these should be included in any tour of Rio de Janeiro. Visits can be even more special if combined with the two huge Rio festivals – the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval of course, and the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display at midnight on Copacabana Beach. Both bring many tourists to the city, but if you can’t manage to visit for these, there are plenty of options during the rest of the year too.
Rio is no longer the political capital but it undoubtedly remains the Capital of Culture in Brazil, with the beats of the samba drums driving the city and the country. The energy of Rio and its Carioca inhabitants that gives rise to the carnival in Rio can also be experienced in the famous Samba Shows and the live music in Samba Clubs around the city. You can also learn the history of the carnival parade at the Samba City Museum. Amongst other popular Rio museums are the National and Imperial Museums, the Carmen Miranda Museum, the Football Museum at the Maracana Stadium, and the new Museum of Tomorrow overlooking Guanabara Bay.
There are many sides to Rio, and a more Contemporary Culture can also be enjoyed at a match involving any of the Big Four teams of Rio: Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco da Gama. Matches are played almost all year round, in the Carioca State Championship, the Brasileirao National Championship, the Copa do Brasil and the continental championships – the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sul-Americana. The Maracana Stadium will only host matches again once renovation work is completed for the 2014 World Cup Finals that Brazil will host. The Olympic Stadium, the Engenhao, will play host to three of the teams in the meantime.
Some visitors might also be interested in visiting one of Rio’s infamous favelas, to see how the residents adapt to life in some of the harshest Urban Jungles on the planet. A favela tour is not for everyone, but is certainly an eye-opener for those who would like to see a different type of Carioca life, away from the beautiful people of the glamorous beaches. The favelas also gave birth to Rio and Brazil’s latest musical genre, and the funk parties that celebrate it can be enjoyed by visitors too. As with the favelas themselves, they are certainly an eye-opener!
The exotic beauty of Rio de Janeiro comes from the location of the city as much as from its inhabitants. Nestled between towering granite mountains covered in Atlantic Rainforest and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Guanabara Bay, decorated by golden sands and sparkling lagoons, these natural features play host to activities that can turn your Rio de Janeiro Tour into one of the most memorable adventures of your life. No other city can offer the range of exercise and adrenaline available in Rio.
Perhaps the most impressive are the tandem hang-gliding and parasailing flights, perhaps unique in a large city in that you can take off from the Pedra Bonita Mountain, circle the area and the ocean before landing on the sands of Sao Conrado Beach. The incredible city views from Christ the Redeemer are matched by those from the peaks of Tijuca and Gavea, both of which can be hiked or climbed, as can Sugar Loaf Mountain. There are also many trails to remote beaches and other peaks on the outskirts of the city.
The beaches along the Rio coastline including Arpoador, Barra da Tijuca, Praia do Pontal and the nature reserve around Prainha and Grumari Beaches play host to some of the best surfing and kite-surfing in Brazil. You can learn these sports and much more in Rio. Classes for capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, for Brazilian cuisine, and for the steps of samba and forro amongst other Brazilian dances can all be taken under the instruction of your expert Carioca teacher.
Rio de Janeiro has so much to offer tourists that even doing nothing can be great fun. Sitting by the main beaches with a caipirinha, watching the world go by as the sun goes down is one of the great pleasures of a truly great City.
Suitable Destination For: Absolutely anyone and everyone will find something to love about Rio de Janeiro.
Best Time to Visit: Rio is tropical with an even climate. Any time of year can be good to visit, Rio always has beach weather if the sun is shining.
Essential Sights & Activities: the statue of Christ the Redeemer; Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Cable-Car; Copacabana & Ipanema Beaches; Samba! Boat Trips around Guanabara Bay; the Tijuca Forest National Park; Prainha & Grumari Beaches on the wild side of Rio; Sunrise and Sunset from mountains and beaches; Tandem Hang-Gliding Flights; Surfing & Kite-Surfing