You can’t help but fall in love with Rio de Janeiro, the “Cidade Maravilhosa,” which literally translates to “Marvelous City.” This second largest city of Brazil is a romantic destination that’s endowed with a multitude of gorgeous, white-sand beaches, verdant mountains and other charismatic natural settings. The famous Ipanema Beach of the bossa nova song comes alive in front of your eyes, made livelier by vivacious locals and their colorful culture.
Though lazing on the beach is definitely most tempting, make no mistake that there’s more to the city than its beautiful beaches. There are colorful cultural carnivals gaily held in streets with bossa nova and samba music, colorfully costumed dancers, and fascinating local and foreign merrymakers. There is so much fun here at any time of the year, one great reason why tourists flock to this city.
To make a short list of the best reasons to visit Rio de Janeiro, check out this Touropia post, 10 Top Tourist Attractions in Rio de Janeiro
- Christ the Redeemer: Perched atop the 710 meter (2,330 feet) high peak of Corcovado Peak, the statue of “Cristo Redentor” stands with arms outstretched, gazing serenely out over the city. The Art Deco architecture is reflected in the structure being a major influence when it was built in 1922. Its concrete and soapstone statue is regarded the grandest statue designed in this genre. To get to the summit, visitors can take escalators or elevators.
- Copacabana: “… has a more active vibe than its equally famous neighbor. “Cariocas” or Rio locals keep the fun around here, with beach sports and hawker vending drinks and snacks. There is a long 4 km (2.5 mile) stretch of beach filled where locals and visitors love to stroll. It is filled with fishermen in the early morning selling their catch for sale and there’s the Fort Copacabana at one end.
- Ipanema: The beach made famous in the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s remains one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots today. It is so beautiful it never fails to land as among the world’s best beaches each year. It is located in the swanky Zona Sul (South Zone), between Leblon and Copacabana. The area between posts 11 and 12 is popular for families, while lone and other guests that prefer “privacy” favor the section near post 9.
- Sugarloaf Mountain: Rising 400 meters (1,300 feet) above the mouth of Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf mountain is a monolith of quartz and granite that visitors can crest via a glass-walled cable car known as a “bondinho” or “teleférico.” There is a cable car that service visitors every 20 minutes. The cable ride takes off from the base of the Babilônia hill to the peak of the Morro da Urca Hill, and then another cable car takes you to the highest point.
- Jardim Botanico: Located to the west of the Lagoa neighborhood, the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden, or Jardim Botanico, houses more than 8,000 species of plants. The garden is home to several monuments, a Japanese garden, 600 orchid species, and the Museu do Meio Ambiente.
The list also includes:
- Santa Teresa Neighborhood, which gives visitors the opportunity to take a peek back in time. This part of Rio has escaped modern updating and still has 9th-century lifestyle with its cobblestone streets and plantation mansions. The neighborhood sits on a knoll, watching over the harbor.
- Close to Santa Teresa is the Lapa Neighborhood, the nightlife zone, in Rio’s “red-light” district. The antiquated architecture spills over to Lapa. It is “lined with samba and choro bars, the music and dancing spills out into the street on weekend nights. The place is so charming with its antiquated architecture. Try the local cocktail made from sugarcane, the “caipirinha.”
- Trekkers and nature adventurers would love the Tijuca National Park, noted as among the largest urban forest in the world. The summit, the Pico de Tijuca offers a most stunning view of the city and the Guanabara Bay below. It is also celebrated for the 100-foot Cascatinha Waterfall and the murals in Mayrink Chapel painted by the renowned neo-realism painter Cândido Portinari.
- Maracanã Stadium is Rio’s most important and largest landmark as far as football is concerned. It can accommodate about 200,000 people in 1950 when it was inaugurated. These days, the capacity has been deliberately regulated for safety reasons, though it can still easily hold 80,000 spectators.
- If what you want is an exclusive and posh neighborhood, the Lagoa Neighborhood is for you. It is not only the most exclusive neighborhood in the affluent Zona Sul district but is the third-most expensive neighborhood in all of South America. One of the top attractions is the lagoon Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas with a 4-mile path around the waters and al fresco cafés and restaurants.
Rio de Janeiro spells F-U-N! Anyone who wants a lazy, laidback vacation will certainly find this city a great spot to spend idyllic days in. To the tune of their samba and bossa nova rhythms, you’ll be falling in love again with Rio de Janeiro and your special one. The Ipanema Beach is still a wonderful place to lounge and sunbathe, stroll and be seen. Welcome to Rio!