Local legend has it that God created the world in seven days – and then took an extra one just to create Rio de Janeiro – and it’s easy to see why when you visit the ‘City of Gods’.
Watched over by the Christ the Redeemer, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, Rio’s beauty and vibrancy will take your breath away. The iconic statue takes centre stage on the Corcovado mountain. 2,300ft above the sprawling oceanfront city.
From towering granite peaks to shiny skyscrapers, lush rainforests to golden beaches, the sprawling infamous Favelas (slums) to colonial architecture, and sunsets to all-night samba sessions, Rio is truly the city that has it all.
Cheer the sunset at Arpoador
Watching the sunset over the ocean in Rio is one of life’s most re-affirming experiences, a moment of supreme tranquillity as the buzz and thrust of day give way to the bump and grind of the city’s pulsing nightlife. Arpoador, the peninsula that separates Copacabana from Ipanema, offers the very best views. Turn your gaze to the east to see the surf roll in over Copacabana. While over to the west there are panoramic views across the bay to the Dois Irmãos mountains. Join in with the locals who cheer as the sun, now a fiery red ball against a crimson sky, kisses the water.
Create your own carnival
Carnival is the heartbeat of Rio’s year, but not being able to make it to the big event doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Carnival workshops will have you partying like a local with percussion and samba classes and even your own mini parade. Costumes are NOT optional.
Take flight over Rio
The mountains surrounding Rio make for stupendous views aplenty – but nothing quite matches seeing the city from the air. Head to the top of Pedra Bonita, 30 minutes from Copacabana, for a unique hang-gliding experience, swooping on the thermals before landing on São Conrado beach. This air-born experience offers a breath-taking panorama of the beaches, city and forests. No experience is necessary – you’ll ride tandem with a trained, safety-assured instructor.
Tuck into a food truck fest
Street food is big across the globe and even more so in Brazil where food truck festivals are a huge craze. Sample thick, caldinho de feijão (bean soup), pastel; a deep fried pastry that originates from Chinese spring rolls first brought over by immigrants; and açai na tigela, a fruity superfood originating in the rainforests of the Amazon. Food Park Carioca, near the famed Maracanã stadium, offers a permanent site with rustic benches and regular live music.
Give something back on a favela tour.
Take a guided tour of Rocinha, one of Rio’s sprawling shantytowns (favelas). A enormous collection of makeshift structures fashioned from wood scraps and daub that clings to the steep hillsides of Rio with incredible views over Ipanema Beach. Visit a community school and buy some handicraft souvenirs – this will help to raise all-important funds for projects that improve the lives of the people who call the Favela home.
Carnival Insider know-how
Set off for Sector 9 for the best views of Carnival. Visitors get a real VIP experience with a private entrance, dozens of food options and assigned seats. Even better, it’s located right next to the ‘drummers’ niche’ – the most heated and intense part of the carnival where the percussionists from each school try to outdo each other.
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