Highlights and main attractions of Rio de Janeiro

One of the world’s most iconic and captivating sights that is easily recognised from countless breathtaking picture postcard images, the harbour of Rio de Janeiro (also known as Guanabara Bay), is flanked by stunning monolithic mountains that contains the world’s most infamous beaches and – some would say - the most stunningly set metropolis on earth. Whilst not Brazil’s capital, it is easily the country’s most widely known and hotly debated city and also hosts the world’s most notorious street carnival and spectacle, which its beautiful inhabitants embrace with vibrancy and gusto. 

Nobody can deny the superabundant natural beauty and raw energy of Rio, which make it an obvious inclusion for itineraries to Latin America.

Where is Rio de Janerio?

Exploring world famous Rio

Located within the wider state of Rio de Janeiro, the city is divided into distinct areas, of which the coastal resorts of Copacabana and Ipanema are most popular with tourists. Here you can enjoy the sea breeze and rolling waves with the sun setting behind the popular Christ the Redeemer in Corcovado and jungle-backed mountains. The colonial centre of downtown Rio is filled with grand buildings, from where you can also take the traditional tram up to the bohemian district of Santa Teresa, with its mansions that exude faded glory.

Worthy of exploration is the Floresta da Tijuca – the largest urban rainforest in the world - with hundreds of rare species of plants and wildlife. It is also full of historical attractions, including the obvious Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado, which boasts panoramic views of the stunning harbour to the Mayrink Chapel. If the views at Corcovado impress, you may also wish to venture to Sugar Loaf Mountain, which is set 369 metres above Rio which spectacular views toward the popular beaches and across to Corcovado.  Alternatively, enjoy a hang-gliding experience from Barra da Tijuca which will give you another perspective of the glorious bay and its wonders. Nearby to here is the green Parque da Cidade, set on the edge of Gavéa, which heads into the Tijuca Forest and its 116 acres of greenery networked with walking paths.

Outside of the centre of Rio just two hours’ drive west along the Green Coast are lush forests, attractive colonial towns and fishing villages including Buzios and Paraty, as well as some truly special coastal hideaways and islands such as Ilha Grande, where some treks to wilderness beaches such as Lopes Mendes offer the chance to explore the more remote natural wilderness.

Accommodation in Rio is largely concentrated in Copacabana and Ipanema, but Santa Teresa is an alternative base. Copacabana Palace is without doubt the most infamous hotel in the city, and this art deco hotel directly overlooks the most famous beach in the world. The boutique Santa Teresa Hotel has tropical gardens and blends natural materials, right in the heart of the arty centre of this bohemian district.

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