When my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio…Rio de Janeiro!
December 22, 2010
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most exciting cities in the world. Any time of year, you’ll find something to do in Rio, from attending the world’s biggest party on New Year’s Eve, to catching a Brazilian soccer match. Very few cities in the world can offer visitors such an abundance of natural beauty as Rio de Janeiro. The splendor of its coastline and the greenery of its mountains and forests have been well preserved, despite the rapid urban growth. Affectionately known as the "Marvelous City" by locals, Rio is a cosmopolitan city nestled between stunning endless beaches and lush rainforest-topped mountains. Brazil’s friendly and vibrant Latin culture will allure you from the moment you arrive till the moment you leave.
What to Do
For those seeking some outdoor adventure, Rio boasts the largest urban rainforest in the world, the Tijuca Forest, located right in the middle of the city. There are numerous outdoor activities for enthusiasts of all levels, such as hiking, sea kayaking, and waterfall rappelling, to name but a few. If you desire a bit more adrenaline, then take a hike and a short rock climb to the top of Rio's famous Sugar Loaf Mountain, the most popular and well-known tourist attraction in Rio de Janeiro. The easiest way to get to Rio’s Sugar Loaf Mountain is via the tram system. Be sure to get there in the late afternoon to watch the sun setting over Rio, and of course, don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture the amazing, near heavenly, views to cherish forever.
Attracting over 300,000 visitors every year, another of Rio de Janeiro´s must-see sights is the 38-meter-high statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of the Corcovado mountain, meaning ‘hunchback’ in Portugese. Just West of the city center, and visible from great distances, it is accessed by a 20-minute train trip through the Tijuca Rain Forest. So not only do you get to see the landmark statue itself, but also witness first-hand the true beauty of the rainforest. From above the Corcovado you will have an incredible panoramic view of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Shopping may not be the first thing that comes to mind when vacationing in Rio, however there are plenty of shopping opportunities available. Rio de Janeiro has a variety of malls, open-air markets and many fine boutiques. Summer clothing made of natural fibers as well as leather goods and of course, swimwear, are items that can be purchased in Rio.
This is, no doubt, the most famous meeting point in Rio de Janeiro and one of the most celebrated beaches in the city – and the world! Named the ‘sexiest beach in the world’, you can mix and mingle with the local surfers and sun worshippers and experience the ‘beach culture’ of Rio. Its coastline includes “soccer-volley” courts, and fitness exercise equipment. It also hosts many events such as the Beach Volley World Championship. Every Sunday, the roadway closest to the beach is closed to motor vehicles and local residents and tourists use the opportunity to ride bikes, roller skate, skateboard, and walk along the ocean.
With plenty of drinking and snacks bars, it is the perfect and much appreciated place for a late-afternoon cold beer to cool off from working on your perfect tan. With historic forts at both ends, the beach’s 4-km stretch of sand extends from Avenida Princesa Isabel to the Copacabana fortress built in 1914. Copacabana hosts one of the most famous New Year’s Eve parties in the country, with fireworks and live music shows, attracting millions every year. Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Macy Gray, Rod Stewart and Lenny Kravitz are some of the big names that have performed on Copacabana beach. What’s more, 11 out of the 15 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups have taken place at this very site! History, fun and sun…what more can you ask for?
Rio de Janeiro’s best bars and nightclubs tend to be located in the districts in the South side of town, where all the artists, models and famous personalities live and work. Find yourself a Southern guide and forget about tomorrow as you dance the night away!
Baronetti (www.baronneti.com.br) is the most upscale and expensive nightclub in the district of Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. Most of the club’s regulars are the country’s finest and richest young men and women who are looking for a great time out. This nightclub doesn’t have a closing hour, open for as long as there are people inside. Don’t expect an early night; 5am is the appropriate hour to leave and head to the nearest Ipanema beach for a morning swim or snack.
Nuth (www.nuth.com.br) is one of the most highly recommended nightclubs in Rio. It’s located in the Lagoa district where all the artists and famous models live. At the Nuth club there is nothing that can stop those who are on a mission to have fun. The trendy crowd makes this one of the top places to go in Rio.
The Cariocas (the name associated with the local people) are very friendly with perfect strangers; so don’t be shy, join in the fun and excitement that Rio’s nightlife has to offer. There are places in Rio to satisfy any taste or age group. In the city, there are many good pubs, discos, and nightclubs worth considering. There are even movie houses and theaters for those who would rather pass the evening watching a show be it ballet or opera.
Where to Eat
Brazilian cuisine is to die for! Whether you are a meat, seafood, or veggie lover, you won't be disappointed. With Brazil being home to more than nine different nationalities, the traditional Brazilian food is just as diverse as the people. Italian, African, German and many other foreign foods have been adapted by the Brazilians and become a part of their traditional cooking. A Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse and Rio has many to choose from. Churrasco is the cooking style, which translates roughly from the Portuguese for 'barbecue'. Distinctly a South American style rotisserie, it owes its origins to the fireside roasts of the gaúchos of Southern Brazil, traditionally from the Pampa region.
LE PRÉ CATELAN in Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the best French restaurants in town and one of the most highly regarded in the Brazilian gastronomy circuit.
While in Rio, why not try a shot of Cachaça or Caipirinha (which is the Brazilian national drink and cocktail). At the Academia da Cachaça (www.academiadacachaca.com.br), for example, one can sample Cachaça, a Brazilian rum made from sugarcane, and other delicious alcoholic beverages as well.
Rio's Carnival Celebrations
Rio can truly say it boasts the biggest and most impressive parties in the world during the summer months of December-March because of New Year's and Carnival. In Brazil, this is a nationwide 4-day celebration that ends on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras. In Rio, the entire city flocks to the streets for invigorating parties with live Samba music that doesn't stop. You will find an intoxicating atmosphere wherever you go during Carnival whether it’s to the beach, bars, nightclubs or costume balls. The famous Carnival parade is the culmination of a year-long preparation of dance and musical performance with unbelievable floats and flashy colorful costumes. You must experience this cultural phenomenon at least once in your lifetime! Samba City, one of the newer tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro, is a great place to learn all there is to know about Carnival, from how the floats are constructed to learning how to dance the samba. Samba City is open year round, so you don’t have to wait until February to experience the beauty and splendor of Carnival.
Where to Stay
Copacabana Palace Hotel
The Copacabana Palace Hotel is one of the most elegant and appealing hotels in Rio. The impeccable service combined with the hotel’s nostalgic location on Copacabana Beach leaves a truly memorable impression. A legendary meeting place for Rio's high society, members of royal families, film stars, musicians, actors, actresses, sports stars as well as politicians and business leaders have come here for decades to enjoy and indulge in the fine cuisine, sumptuous service and sheer sophistication.
One visit to Rio is never enough to experience Brazil's exotic culture. Whether you’re traveling for the first time or a returning visitor, Rio de Janeiro will fulfill all of your expectations and you will find yourself wanting to come back for more!