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Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in Brazil. With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and towering mountains, it's no wonder the Marvelous City. So whether you're soaking up the sun on Copacabana Beach or hiking through Tijuca National Park, this city will dazzle and delight.
Rio de Janeiro is a city gem, boasting dramatic views from nearly every angle. From the slopes of Corcovado Mountain, you'll get breathtaking views. You'll see the city's 125-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer statue and its pristine beaches.
If you're lucky enough to find yourself on the shores of Copacabana or Ipanema, you'll be treated to a truly stunning sight. The stunning scenery has attracted locals and visitors alike for over 500 years.
However, Rio is more than just a pretty place. It's also a city full of glamor, fashion, and laid-back attitude. Just take a stroll down Avenida Atlântica in Copa, and see what we mean. The bikini-clad beachgoers are just the tip of the iceberg. The city is also passionate about sports. From the world-famous Maracana Stadium to the volleyball courts of Flamengo Park, there's always something going on.
After the sun sets, you'll start to hear the sounds of samba music emanating from the streets of Lapa. And if you're lucky enough to visit during Carnival season in February, you'll get to see first-hand the vibrant Portuguese masquerade that attracts people from all over the world.
Rio de Janeiro is what it is today due to its fascinating history. The first people to rule Rio were the Portuguese, who arrived on the 1st of January, 1502. So the name "Rio de Janeiro" means "River of January," and it got this name from the bay that forms the river's opening.
Rio's economy started to grow when sugarcane cultivation became more widespread. Then, they found diamonds and gold in the Minas Gerais region. This led to even more development in Rio, making it one of the most prosperous areas in Brazil.
Many European countries made efforts to take over the city after this discovery, and in 1763, the capital of the region changed from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. When Brazil soared to independence in 1889, the vibrant capital city of Rio held great promise. Major multinational companies continue to headquarters there, signifying the city's influential role in the Brazilian economy.
You'll want to head on down to Rio between December and March. The weather during this time is simply perfect for hitting the beach and enjoying all that Rio has to offer.
This vibrant city is home to Carnival, one of the most significant and most exciting events. From parades and street parties to balls and festivities, there's something for everyone at this four- to the five-day event leading up to Fat Tuesday.
However, since carnival season is one of the busiest times of the year, you may want to book your flight and hotel well in advance if you're looking for a comfortable place to stay.
Additionally, to avoid the scorching weather, visit during autumn or spring when the temperatures are more moderate. During the day, you can expect highs in the 70s and low 80s, and at night it will cool off into the 60s.
Here are some of the best places to visit and activities to enjoy in this fantastic city.
The beaches in Rio are so beautiful. People have written songs about them. Famous for its New Year's Eve party, tourists visit Copacabana the most. Or, if you're feeling like getting some sun, head over to Leblon or Ipanema in the South Zone. You'll fit in with the locals as they lounge on the beautiful white sands.
The Botanical Gardens
For some tranquility, make your way to the city's botanical gardens. Stroll along the pathways, take in nature's sights and sounds or join a free garden-guided tour. With over 8,000 plant species, this is a truly magical place to explore.
Highlights include an enchanted forest of 600 different orchids, a tranquil lake filled with water lilies, and a carnivorous greenhouse full of pitcher plants and Venus flytraps. The place gets super busy on weekends, so it might be better to come during the week.
If you want to learn how to samba, there's no better place than Rio de Janeiro. The city is full of great options for classes, and a favorite of many is Rio Samba Dancer. They offer classes for all levels, plus social outings to some of the best samba clubs in town.
If you're looking to escape the busy city life, Paquetá Island in Guanabara Bay is the perfect place to relax on the weekends. This idyllic island is mainly made up of beaches and charming colonial towns just a ferry ride away.
However, the only way to get around this island is by foot, bike, or good old-fashioned horsepower. And there's not a lot to do here — sometimes it's good to take a break from everything.
Arcos da Lapa district
For a place to let loose on a Friday night, Lapa is your spot. This vibrant neighborhood is packed with clubs, bars, and food stalls, and the famous Avenida Mem de Sá is the site of some epic street parties.
Additionally, enjoy some fantastic live music at Circo Voador. This open-air concert venue is the perfect spot to catch some of Brazil's best bands and artists in action.
You can also head to the Rio Scenarium to experience Rio's fantastic nightlife. This three-story club is sure to give you a night to remember. However, if clubbing isn't your scene, don't worry. The Arcos de Lapa (Lapa Arches) are nearby and make for a great photo op.
São Bento Monastery
This ancient Baroque church sits atop Morro de São Bentois (St. Benedict Hill) in the bustling metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. Built between 1617 and 1641, this colonial masterpiece will take your breath away!
From the outside, this place looks pretty unassuming. But once you step inside, you're hit with a bunch of luxury. The site is decked out in gold decorations, with wood carvings and paintings from famous artists.
To hear some traditional Gregorian chanting, attend mass at the monastery on Sunday. But remember to dress respectfully, as it is a place of worship.
Tijuca National Park
This sprawling 8,300-acre park is home to over 350 different species of reptiles, mammals, birds, and reptiles, including the lovely howler monkeys. These little critters only recently returned to the park after a 100-year hiatus, so be sure to say hello if you see them.
Also, you won't want to miss out on the Corcovado (Christo) and Tijuca Peak hikes. Although the climb up Corcovado can be steep, it's well worth it for the stunning views at the top. And the Tijuca Peak hike is a must-do for any nature lover, with its dense rainforest and waterfalls.
Furthermore, Niteroi and Guanabara Bay are two of the most beautiful places in Brazil, and visiting them is a must-do for any traveler. The best way to see these fantastic places is by hiking up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. The hike is relatively easy and only takes about two hours to complete. Plus, the entrance to the park is free.
The Cariocas, native Brazilians born and raised in Rio, are known for being friendly and hospitable, and they love nothing more than to entrain visitors. Cariocas are always up for a celebration, and they love to have a good time. Eat some delicious food, go dancing, and dress up in glittery costumes for Carnival.
Additionally, be sure to brush up on your Portuguese. While you'll find some English speakers near popular tourist areas, knowing a few key phrases in the local language is helpful.
If you want to fit in with the locals, pack your T-shirts, shorts, and cover-ups. Walking along the beaches here, you'll see that most people are dressed very casually. This is also true for the restaurants and shops along the Zona Sul district. However, you might spot some well-dressed in high-end stores.
Go for traditional dishes like feijoada or a pineapple and ham sandwich when eating out. And to blend in with the locals, grab an espresso at the end of your meal. Furthermore, the official currency of Brazil is the Brazilian Real (BRL).
For a delicious way to experience the best of Spanish cuisine? Then head to a rodizio restaurant. These eateries are similar to tapas restaurants and offer a great way to sample a variety of local snacks and dishes. Plus, you can eat all you want from the buffet selection.
The city also has plenty of health food shops that offer a wide variety of sandwiches and drinks. And since Rio has a wide array of Japanese cuisine, sushi is also super popular. So no matter what you're in the mood for, you'll be able to find the perfect restaurant in Brazil.
You certainly can't go to Brazil and not try feijoada. This delicious stew is made with various cuts of pork, black beans, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage. It's so hearty and filling that you'll be sure to enjoy every bite. And don't forget to try the brigadeiro and Pao de queijo while you're there - they're all famous Brazilian dishes worth trying.
Rio's Centro neighborhood is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. This vibrant area is home to the city's financial center and some of its most iconic landmarks. So whether you're looking to explore Rio's rich history or soak up the atmosphere of this lively neighborhood, Centro is sure to delight.
Zona Sul is another excellent place to visit to see some of Rio de Janeiro's most famous landmarks. Here you'll find the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. And don't forget to visit Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
Furthermore, Zona Oeste is a great place to live if you're looking for plenty of green space. The 2016 Olympics were held here, so it's a district on the rise. With plenty of great shopping and dining options, you'll never find yourself bored.
The best way to explore Rio is by foot or taxi. You can easily walk to major attractions like Lapa and Santa Teresa. Or, if you're looking to go to other popular sites and beaches, taxis are easy to hail on the main streets. However, it's best to take a taxi from the airport. It's an easy way to get to all the main attractions. Plus, it's safe too!
City buses are also a great way to get around, but be careful if you don't speak the language. Many bus routes go through Brazil's favelas, which can be dangerous. And if you're thinking of renting a car in this city, you might want to reconsider. Traffic is a nightmare, and the roads are full of confusing street signs and pedestrians.
Don't let paranoia ruin your stay in Rio. Don't worry too much about getting robbed. Petty theft is common here, but you shouldn't have any problems as long as you're careful.
And although Rio is generally a safe place to visit, there are some areas that you should avoid due to the high levels of drug-related violence. Most of this violence is concentrated in the favelas, so it's best to steer clear of these areas to stay safe.
Additionally, Praça Mauá and the area around it is not a safe place to be, especially at night. So you should be careful if you're in that area during the day. It's also not a good idea to walk by yourself in Parque do Flamengo at night.