Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil, famed for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, 38m Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado and for Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak with cable cars to its summit. The city is also known for its sprawling favelas (shanty towns). Its raucous Carnaval festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba dancers, is considered the world’s largest.
This is 10 reasons why Rio De Janeiro should be top of your bucket list:
1. Christ The Redeemer
As the city’s most iconic monument and the statue that represents Brazil throughout the world, a trip to see the Christ the Redeemer is a must-do for anyone’s travel list. Overlooking the city from the summit of the 2,330-foot (720-metre) high Corcovado mountain, Christ the Redeemer is the largest Art Deco statue in the world and provides astonishing panoramic views across Rio. It is the symbol of the city and, beyond that, of the whole Brazil. It is also a symbol of Christianity among the most important of the World. Christ the Redeemer is also an important tourist destination, with 600,000 visitors a year.
Try to get there as early as possible though to avoid the crowds and potentially have one of the seven wonders of the world all to yourself!
2. Copacabana Beach
Copacabana Beach is one of the most famous and most beautiful beaches in the world. The atmosphere is very vibrant and the people are colorful and fun loving. Brimming with authentic eats, lavish accommodations and the beautiful Avendia Atlantica sideway made of mosaic tiles, Copacabana Beach boasts much more than powdery sands. Recent visitors raved about the beach and said the people-watching is some of the best in the world.
3. The Carnival
It’s the main festivity in Brazil which earned the distinction of being “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The Rio Carnival starts on Friday until Tuesday or just a day shy of Ash Wednesday, a significant Catholic tradition which signal the start of Lent. If you really want to understand the question what is Carnival, head off to the Sambodromo particularly on Carnival Sunday and Monday to experience first-hand why this annual tradition is visited by millions of people from all the part of the world.
You really have to experience this one!
4. The Favelas
Rio de Janeiro is one of the only places in Brazil that visitors can go to a favela, and the south zone of the city has several options. The safest of them all is Vidigal that holds parties at the top of the community every weekend with both national and international DJs playing the best of funk, reggaeton, samba, and other genres. Rocinha has several favela tours that provide an eye-opening insight into life into favelas and helps to break down preconceptions and stereotypes.
5. Tijuca Forest
This stunning park contains the lush Floresta da Tijuca, one of the world’s largest urban forests, which carpets the hills and coastal mountains that cut through the center of the city. It also features the dramatic Serra de Carioca (Carioca Mountains), the awe-inspiring monolith of Pedra de Gavea, and the Cristo Redentor statue, which looms over the city from the top of Corcovado. Home to countless species of plants, birds and mammals, as well as waterfalls and natural springs, this peaceful forest, which covers 15 sq miles, is a little piece of paradise.
6. Learn to Samba
The Pedro do Sal (Rock of Salt) in Saúde offers among the most authentic ways of experiencing samba in Rio. This is a public space, with historical overtones from the slavery era, where people from Rio gather to enjoy life, dance and listen to good music while sipping a cold beer or a caipirinha. There is no entrance fee, just local artists going back to their roots, playing for free and offering people an opportunity to enjoy a nice time
7. Sugarloaf Mountain
Rio is a city of magnificent views and none are more breathtaking than those from the top of 1,312-ft. high granite and quart Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf) that sits at the mouth of Guanabara Bay. The mountain’s sides are shrouded in remnants of the forest that once covered the whole of Rio de Janeiro and which still provide refuge for marmosets, tanagers and numerous birds. These are a common sight on the trails that run around the monolith’s summit. Come early in the day or right after it has rained for the clearest air and best views from both the Sugar Loaf and its equally impressive monolithic neighbor – Morro da Urca.
8. The Maracanã Stadium
If you are a football fan then this is a must – possibly the most famous football stadia in the world, where some of the biggest legends of football have graced the turf!
The stadium holds the record for the largest attendance at a World Cup Final thanks to the 199,854 paying spectators who crammed into the stadium in 1950!
9. The Food
Full of cosmopolitan dining, Rio also has heaps of churrascarias, barbecue restaurants grilling everything from hearty steaks to succulent shellfish. You usually pay by the kilo, though some places do all-you-can-eat buffets for 30-40 real. You’ll find regional Brazilian fare, including the spicy African-flavoured food of Bahia, across Rio, plus feijoada. The national dish, this garlicky stew of meat, black beans and rice is traditionally eaten on Saturdays.
Ipanema itself is a friendly and cleaner suburb of Rio with bars; restaurants and shopping just a street back from the beachfront. It’s definitely a little but more upmarket comparatively to other parts of Rio that travellers tend to visit so the costs will be a little more. Still, it’s totally worth to be in this area of Rio as it evokes vibes of a mini pocket of a San Francisco. Skaters, bike riders and beach side football enthusiasts are sprawled around the beachfront. Add in a beautiful scenic backdrop of towering limestone rocks overlooking the ocean, Ipanema comes top of the tree for most visitors.
These are ten (of many) reasons why Rio De Janeiro is top of my bucketlist and why we’ve booked our trip to Brazil for early next year… we cannot wait!!
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