At once both a cinematic cityscape and a grimy urban front line, Rio de Janeiro, known as the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city), is nothing if not exhilarating. Flanked by gorgeous mountains, white-sand beaches and verdant rainforests fronting deep blue sea, Rio occupies one of the most spectacular settings of any metropolis in the world. Say “Rio” and mental images explode: the glittering skimpy costumes of Carnaval; the statue of Christ, arms outspread on the mountaintop; the beach at Ipanema; the rocky Sugarloaf; or the persistent rhythm of the samba.
From the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema to the tops of scenic outlooks of Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar to the dance halls, bars and open-air cafes that proliferate the city, cariocas live for the moment without a care in the world. This idea of paradise has enchanted visitors for centuries, and there are dozens of ways to be seduced. You can surf great breaks off Prainha, hike through Tijuca’s rainforests, sail across Guanabára, dance the night away in Lapa or just people-watch on Ipanema Beach.
Fortunately in Rio there’s much more beyond the glitter: historic neighborhoods, compelling architecture, wildlife and nature, dining nightspots, cafes, museums, and enclaves of rich and poor. In Rio, the more you explore, the more there is.
A city of some seven million and growing, Rio remains one ofBrazil’s media capitals, an important business center, andBrazil’s key tourist destination.
Corcovado Hill – Christ the Redeemer
The Christ of Corcovado was recently chosen as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The view from the toes of Rio’s mountain top Christ is spectacular: the mountains, the bay, and the city all lay revealed beneath your feet. It’s enough to give you a feeling of omniscience. The statue was intended to mark the 100th anniversary of Brazilian independence in 1922, but in true Carioca fashion it arrived a decade or so late in 1931. Access is via a steep narrow-gauge railway, followed by a pair of escalators that whisk you up to the base of the statue. Allow 2 hours round-trip.
Along with samba, beaches, and beautiful women, the Sugarloaf remains one of the original and enduringRio attractions. Deservedly so. Standing on its peak, the entire cidade maravilhosa lays at your feet: the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, the favelas of Babylonia, the Tijuca Forest, Christ the Redeemer on His mountain, the Bay of Guanabara, and the fortresses at the edge of far-off Niterói. It’s a truly beautiful sight. The cable car leaves every half-hour from 8am to 10pm daily, more frequently if there are enough people waiting.
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