Known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), this glimmering Brazilian metropolis has certainly earned its title. Resting at the mouth of a bay harbor, the city is lined with white-sand beaches, lush rainforests and surrounded by staggered green mountains. Rio de Janeiro boasts dramatic views from nearly every angle. From the slopes of Corcovado Mountain, you’ll admire the striking 125-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer, who overlooks Rio’s pristine beaches. And from the shores of Copacabana and Ipanema, you’ll admire the picture-perfect backdrop that has attracted Cariocas (native Brazilians born in Rio de Janeiro) and visitors alike for more than 500 years.
But there’s much more to Rio than scenic vistas, tropical rainforests and cerulean seas. Here, glitz, high fashion and a laid-back attitude dominate the city’s character. Stroll along Avenida Atlântica in Copa, and you’ll find a city brimming with bikini-clad beachgoers. The city is also known for its love of sport. From Maracana Stadium (home of the 2014 World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Games) to the volleyball courts of Flamengo Park, the city is alive with activity. At night, you’ll hear the soothing sounds of samba pulsating through the city streets in Lapa. And if you visit in February — just in time for Carnival — you’ll witness Brazil’s vibrant Portuguese masquerade that draws revelers from across the globe.
Note: Rio de Janeiro isn’t without its share of problems. Outside of tourist areas, the city includes large shantytowns, known as favelas, where about 130,000 people live in poverty. In recent years, large efforts have been made to rid the areas of crime, but some parts remain unsafe. There are also ongoing protests and demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro.