Rio is known as the samba capital of the world, and with the World Cup now underway, the iconic city is set for one big party. However, in between all the festivities and football triumphs, no visitor should set foot on the plane without checking out the city’s ultimate highlights.
This glorious crescent of golden sand, backed by its iconic mosaic promenade, is arguably one of the most famous beaches in the world – and you’re bound to see hordes of tourists and bronzed cariocas practising their footie skills in the sand over the next few months. The ideal time to come is early in the morning before the crowds arrive, where you can sit and watch the waves crashing onto the beach with a healthy acai smoothie in hand (an Amazonian berry packed with antioxidants). The perfect way to start the day.
Rio’s icon – Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer, atop Corcovado Mountain, is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – and a trip to Rio is not complete without a trip up to see it, and the view. Standing at 30 metres high, the sheer size of the art deco Christ the Redeemer statue never fails to amaze when standing beneath its vast outstretched arms. The views are pretty impressive too; you’ll be able to take in all the sights from Rio’s other famous beach – Ipanema – to the rounded Sugarloaf Mountain and the abundance of favelas clinging to the mountainsides.
A view for die for from Sugarloaf Mountain
Arguably my favourite moment from my stay in Rio was the view at the top of the conically-shaped Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset. I hopped on the cable car, which is divided into two stages: Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) to Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), at an altitude of 220 metres; then from Morro da Urca to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, at an altitude of 528 metres. When you reach the top you’re treated to 360-degree panoramic views of the city’s iconic coastal cityscape. I treated myself to a refreshing Brahma beer, just in time for sunset, and watched the city transform into a sea of twinkling lights. Magical.
Lively nights out
If you’ve read my previous post on Rio, you’ll know it was here that I suffered the worst hangover of my life… well it is not called Brazil’s Party City for nothing! Beach-side neighbourhoods, such as Leblon, Copacabana or Ipanema are ideal for a bite to eat and a fruity cocktail to start the evening. Lapa and Gamba are popular nightlife areas too, with plenty of samba, bossa nova, blue and jazz bars to dance the night away in. You’ll also find plenty of street kiosks too serving foot-long caipirinhas – the cocktail of Brazil, made with cachaca sugar cane rum (quite like a refreshing mojito; but beware – they’re stronger than you think!).