Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and an iconic city that is famous for its beaches, music, outstanding scenery and its annual carnival which lasts for 2 weeks with one of the most flamboyant parades you’re ever likely to see. The harbour of Rio de Janeiro offers a fantastic sight against the backdrop of the city’s spectacular geographic features that include Sugar Loaf Mountain, Tijuca hills and Corcovado peak. Many consider the harbour and surrounding mountains to be one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN RIO DE JANEIRO
- The Sugar Loaf Mountains (Pão de Açúcar) is Brazil’s top landmark and to get there involves a two-stage aerial tramway to the top of the mountain which offers truly amazing views over the whole city. Corcovado is a granite peak rising to 710 metres in the Tijuca Forest which in Portuguese means ‘hunchback’. The reason most people take the funicular to the top is to see the amazing 125ft statue of Jesus - Cristo Redentor, or ‘Christ the Redeemer’. Again the view over Rio de Janeiro from the viewing platform is truly amazing from up here and even more so at sunset.
- Brazil is famous for its beaches and there are many fantastic ones both within the bay and further afield. Beach wear is obligatory as there are no topless beaches in Rio and many beaches are also popular with surfers and hang-gliders due to the high ocean waves. The botanical gardens (Jardim Botanico) contain a huge collection of plants from all over the world with some dating back nearly two hundred years. The gardens are a lush tranquil place to relax and you may even glimpse a monkey swinging above you while you’re there. If you like football then here you’ll find the largest football stadium (Maracanã) in South America and once the largest in the world. The stadium is currently going through renovations for when Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rio also becomes the first South American city to hold the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2016.
- But of course the most famous attraction in Rio de Janeiro is the endless music and dance Samba school parades that pass though the city on gigantic structures called Sambadromes during Rio carnival in February. If you’re not here during the carnival, then there are plenty of samba shows held at various venues throughout the city for a great experience of Rio music and dance.
EATING OUT & NIGHTLIFE IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio de Janeiro offers a great selection of culinary delights and also a great way of paying for them too. A good way to experience local food is through their ‘comida a kilo’ which are buffet-style restaurants that let you pay for the weight of the food on your plate. A popular Brazilian dish is feijoada, a black bean stew with chunks of meat, typically served with a selection of side dishes that could include rice, fried pork rind, roasted manioc or orange slices.
GETTING AROUND IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Buses in Rio de Janeiro are the cheapest way of getting around the city, although it can be a little confusing finding your way around the first time, so it is worth asking the hostel reception for the best route. The subway also offers a convenient mode of transport, but Rio taxis could be your best bet for ease of use, and they’re reasonably priced too. Just look out for the yellow cabs with a blue strip down the sides, which are the legal ones.