Rio de Janeiro
Think of Rio de Janeiro and you’ll no doubt picture the statue of Christ the Redeemer gazing over the city skyscrapers, across the blunt-nosed hills and out to the sparkling bright blue waters of the ocean. Read more.
Rio de Janeiro
Think of Rio de Janeiro and you’ll no doubt picture the statue of Christ the Redeemer gazing over the city skyscrapers, across the blunt-nosed hills and out to the sparkling bright blue waters of the ocean. The placid expression on his face however, belies the energy that buzzes in the metropolis below. With a setting that makes it one of the world’s most spectacular cities, and a strong cultural pulse, Rio will draw you in and stay with you long after you have left.
Founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, Rio grew strong on sugarcane exports, gold and diamonds. It was the capital of Brazil from 1822 until 1960 when the capital moved to Brasilia. It has since become a major industrial centre and remains a political, economic and cultural power. Explore its rich and varied past at the National History Museum and its artistic heritage at the fantastic Museum of Modern Art, or the spaceship-like Museum of Contemporary Art that hovers above Guanabara Bay.
Beaches and forest
Join Rio’s residents (known as Cariocas) and make your way to the city’s famous beaches. The most well known are Copacabana and Ipanema, where groups stake out a stretch on the white sand marked by posts. Recline and marvel at the array of bodies on display here: the buffed, the tanned, the leathery and the saggy. Watch energetic games of futvolei - Brazilian volleyball without hands - and sip a caipirinha from one of the many kiosks that line the beach.
There’s no shortage of spectacular outlooks in Rio, but if you’re only scaling one peak, make it Corcovado Mountain. Corcovado is the highest point in Tijuca National Park, which at 32 square kilometres is the largest urban rainforest in the world. It’s on Corcovado that the statue of Christ the Redeemer stands, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. If you’re feeling energetic you can tackle a two-hour hike up to the statue through Tijuca National Park starting at Parque Lage, a beautiful park with English-style gardens and a mansion that houses the School of Visual Arts. After the hike, relax in the tranquil Botanical gardens, where there are more than 6,000 indigenous and exotic varieties of flora and fauna.
Party, party, party
Samba is the heartbeat of Rio and nowhere will you feel it more strongly than in the bohemian neighbourhood of Lapa. Here bars, clubs and tapas bars line the streets. Head to the dance hall of Rio Scenarium, popular with locals and tourists alike for its unique setting over the three floors of an old colonial mansion. Time your visit to catch the Rio Carnaval, usually in February. Never a city to do things by halves, Rio lays it all out for this annual event, when millions flock to the streets to revel and watch the samba school floats dance by.
Where to Stay
Many hotels in Rio are concentrated around Zona Sul, comprising of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. These areas cater well to tourists with a plentitude of bars and eateries. Head to Flamengo or Catete for cheaper accommodation but a no less spectacular seaside location. The central financial area of Rio empties out at night, but uphill you’ll find vibrant, picturesque Santa Teresa. Here you can clatter across the suburb in the Bonde de Santa Teresa, an old street trolley.
Landmarks in Rio de Janeiro
- Rio de Janeiro Cathedral (194)
- Christ the Redeemer statue (20)
- Grumari Beach (20)
- Pasmado Viewpoint (334)
- Pedra Bonita (20)
- Leblon Beach (166)
- Barra da Tijuca (65)
- Nova Livraria Leonardo da Vinci (194)
- Bosque da Barra Park (20)
- Sugarloaf Mountain (20)
- Floriano Square (209)
- Teatro Municipal (203)
- National Historical Museum (200)