Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide


The Rio de Janeiro coastline
The Rio de Janeiro coastline © Hank LeClair

Sultry street parades, golden beaches, forested mountains, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain, it's not hard to see why Rio de Janeiro is known as Cidade Maravilhosa or the Marvellous City. The exuberant cultural capital of Brazil is tucked between the mountains and the sea, creating an incredible skyline and sweeping views all round. Rio's beaches, including the famous Ipanema and Copacabana, draw visitors every day of the year thanks to the city's warm climate. The city also contains the biggest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca Forest, which was completely replanted during the second half of the 19th century.

The city pulses to the infectious beat of Brazilian music, with street parties all year round. However Rio's ever-popular annual carnival held before Lent, draws together all the city's inhabitants (known as Cariocas), from the very rich to the very poor, to take to the streets for the world's largest samba parade.

Rio is a sprawling city made up of 150 districts, each characterised by unique features. One of the most intriguing, Santa Teresa, is a winding maze of streets populated by artists and musicians, which is reached by taking an old tram across an ancient aqueduct called Arcos da Lapa. In the heart of Rio there are historic monuments and public buildings like the Municipal Theatre, the National Museum of Fine Art, the Itamaraty Palace, the National History Museum, and the National Library. There are also beautiful examples of religious architecture, such as the Sao Bento Monastery. No matter how long you spend exploring the city, it will always deliver new surprises.

To the north of the city is the Lakes region, which has more than 62 miles (100km) of beaches and salt-water lagoons, and is the site of the main tourist resorts of Búzios, Cabo Frio, Arrial do Cabo, Rio das Ostras, Marica, and Saquarema. Many other stunning natural areas and man-made attractions in Brazil are easily reached from Rio, which makes a fabulous travel base.