Set between idyllic golden beaches, the sparkling blue of the Atlantic Ocean and towering mountains shrouded in lush tropical forest; it is easy to see why Rio de Janeiro is nicknamed the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ (‘The Marvellous City’) by locals and tourists alike.
Famed for a party atmosphere like no other city on earth, Rio offers travellers the opportunity to experience the unequalled joie de vivre of Brazilian quotidian life. From the pristine sands of Ipanema and Copacabana, the kaleidoscope colours of the charmingly chaotic favelas sprawled across the mountainside and the serene features of Christ the Redeemer perched atop Corcovado Mountain, Rio de Janeiro is a patchwork of such iconic sights that even the most well-travelled explorer cannot fail to be astounded by its beauty. Having long been the playgrounds of the rich and famous, Copacabana and Ipanema – the world’s most famous city beaches, are emblematic of the relaxed and carefree carioca lifestyle. Such is the majesty of the sunset over Ipanema beach that every night a crowd gathers on the rocky outcrops of the bay to applaud it. For those seeking activity, playing beach volleyball or joining in with a football match on the sand is the perfect way to spend an afternoon on the beach like a local, whilst for the sun-worshippers, there is no better place to be than in the sheltered bays of this magnificent urban coastal paradise.
Founded by Portuguese settlers in 1565, as one of Brazil’s oldest urban centres, Rio is also a city of enormous historic interest. Besides the exquisite Imperial Palace, famous for having once served as the seat of the Portuguese Monarchs living in exile during the Napoleonic Wars, Rio is home to an abundance of structures that tell the story of Brazil’s colourful history. From the crumbling walls of old Portuguese forts dotted along the Rio coastline, to the strikingly avant-garde Metropolitan Cathedral – Rio is a city in constant artistic and social evolution. Some of the highlights of the city include the Central do Brasil bank building, the colourful and bohemian Santa Teresa neighbourhood, the baroque Candelária Church and the stunning classical-looking Lapa arches. As the host of the most celebrated Carnival on the planet, Rio pulses to the rhythm of Samba music 365 days of the year and the Samba clubs in Lapa are well worth a visit. Truly a city that never sleeps, the nightlife here is unmatched by anywhere else in Brazil and drifting down the twisted streets of the old town you’ll be enveloped by the sounds of classic rock n roll, jazz, old-school bossa nova and the hip-hop beats of Rio’s dynamic urban music scene. Just outside of the city can be found the historic town of Petropolis whilst the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin is only found in the forests an hour from the city and is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts.
Whether it’s a relaxing beach break, a week of partying to the rhythms of the Samba clubs, catching a football match at the Maracanã, time spent exploring the exuberant nature of the city’s surroundings or a leisurely wander around the points of cultural interest; Rio de Janeiro has it all. Unmatched in terms of vistas and its festive spirit – The Marvellous City is simply impossible not to love.