Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most spectacular cities in the world – see pictures. It is a natural harbour, and has good beaches surrounded by green mountains. After Sao Paulo, Rio, with six million people, is Brazil’s second most populous city and its best known city throughout the world. Rio’s climate is tropical, so summer months are humid.

Corcovado Mountain: Take a funicular through the Tijuca Rain Forest up to the iconic statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). The view of the city from this point is breathtaking. The reinforced concrete and soapstone statue was built 1931 and is the largest Art Deco statue in the world, although at 30 metres (98 feet) tall it is only the fifth largest statue of Jesus. Under the statue is the Chapel Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Our Lady of the Apparition), and you can get married or baptised there!

Rio is an extremely modern city, with most of its urban attractions conveniently placed in a compact area in the city centre. It has some superb buildings, including museums that perfectly present the vibrant Brazilian culture. The most important is the Museu Historico Nacional, which presents Brazil’s history, while the Museu do Indio focuses more on the fast-disappearing indigenous cultures of the country. Rio’s cuisine is a first-rate mix of European and African influences, and meat lovers will be in their element with restaurants serving some of the world’s finest steaks.

In 2014 the FIFA World Cup will be held in Brazil for the second time (the last was 64 years ago) and millions of fans and tourists are expected. The Maracana Stadium in Rio is one of the principal venues, and is being renovated along with arenas in 11 other cities. Surfing is part of the culture in Rio and you will see surf boards everywhere, although the sea conditions and the high density of surfers competing for the best waves mean it may not be the best place in the world to go surfing. There is sometimes hostility to outsiders which occasionally leads to fights, and some surfing groups are believed to be involved in the drugs trade. However Rio is a good place to learn Kite Surfing, though you need to go out of the city to find the schools.

Rio is of course most famous for its annual carnival – the greatest party in the world, held just before Lent every year. There is not just one parade but a number of different events to choose from, the most famous being the Cordao do Bola Preta, the traditional carnival parade in the city center, and the Samba School Parades in the Sambadrome. Visitors to the carnival are never disappointed. The atmosphere is incredible, the floats amazing and the people beautiful. Another big festival time is New Year’s Eve, when over two million people, mostly dressed in white, descend on Copacabana Beach to party the night away. They like to spray champagne around at midnight for good luck, so you may not want to wear your very best clothes! Travelers to Rio expect something very special and this amazing city fulfills each and every expectation.

To ensure a memorable and hassle-free experience, here are essential travel tips to unlock the marvels of Rio de Janeiro:

1. Embrace the Rhythm of Samba:

Rio de Janeiro beats to the rhythm of samba, a vibrant music and dance genre deeply ingrained in its cultural fabric. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the infectious energy of a samba show or even try your hand (or feet) at dancing during one of the city’s renowned street parties or “blocos.”

2. Prioritize Safety:

While Rio is undeniably enchanting, it’s essential to stay vigilant, especially in crowded tourist areas and at night. Avoid displaying expensive belongings, be cautious of your surroundings, and opt for reputable transportation services. Additionally, consider leaving valuables in your hotel safe and carrying only essentials when exploring the city.

3. Sample Local Delicacies:

Indulge your taste buds in Rio’s diverse culinary scene, where flavors from around the world converge with traditional Brazilian fare. Savor a hearty feijoada (black bean stew with pork), try coxinhas (deep-fried chicken croquettes), and quench your thirst with a refreshing caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaca, lime, sugar, and ice.

4. Explore Beyond the Tourist Hotspots:

While landmarks like Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain are must-see attractions, venture off the beaten path to discover Rio’s hidden gems. Explore the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa, wander through the botanical wonders of Jardim Botânico, or escape the urban hustle at Tijuca National Park, the world’s largest urban rainforest.

5. Embrace the Beach Culture:

No visit to Rio is complete without soaking up the sun on its legendary beaches. Join the vibrant beach scene at Copacabana or Ipanema, where you can lounge on golden sands, sip coconut water straight from the shell, and witness breathtaking sunsets against the backdrop of towering mountains.

6. Learn Basic Portuguese:

While English may be spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic Portuguese phrases can enhance your interactions with locals and demonstrate respect for their culture. Simple greetings like “bom dia” (good morning), “por favor” (please), and “obrigado/a” (thank you) can go a long way in fostering positive connections.

7. Embrace Carnival Spirit:

If your visit coincides with February or March, don’t miss the opportunity to experience Rio’s world-famous Carnival. Join the festivities as the city explodes with vibrant parades, elaborate costumes, and electrifying street parties, showcasing the heart and soul of Brazilian culture.

8. Stay Hydrated and Sunscreened:

Rio’s tropical climate means ample sunshine year-round. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially during outdoor activities, and protect your skin from the sun’s rays with sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.

9. Utilize Public Transportation:

Rio’s public transportation system, including buses and the metro, offers convenient and affordable ways to navigate the city. Consider purchasing a reloadable transport card for ease of travel, and embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rhythm of Rio’s streets.

10. Respect Local Customs:

Lastly, embrace Rio’s cultural diversity with an open mind and respectful attitude. Whether attending a religious ceremony, joining a capoeira circle, or engaging in conversation with locals, approach each experience with curiosity and appreciation for the rich tapestry of traditions that define this captivating city.

By heeding these travel tips, you’ll unlock the vibrant essence of Rio de Janeiro, forging unforgettable memories amidst its stunning landscapes, spirited culture, and warm hospitality. So pack your sense of adventure and get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through the Marvelous City. Viva Rio!