Following our travels to Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Madrid, Seoul, Rome, Tokyo, Cape Town, Brussels, and Mexico City, today Fotolia is putting the spotlight on one of the most legendary colorful and energetic cities in the world: Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
We asked our team there what tips they had for anyone looking to experience the art, culture, and partying that Rio is most renowned for.
What should be top of the list for visitors when visiting Rio?
The excitement starts before you even get off the plane in Rio. If you’re flying in on a clear day (and lets face it, this is Brazil, the sun is always shining) then you hopefully can catch a glimpse of one of Rio’s most famous landmarks; ‘Christ the Redeemer’. From its foundation in 1931 until 2010 it was the largest art deco structure in the world (only recently replaced by the ‘Christ the King ’statue in Poland).
Located atop of the 2,300 foot Corcovado Mountain it’s 98 feet high and one of the most recognizable structures in the world, built to symbolize the spirit of faith and happiness of the Carioca people (natives to Rio) and now a true icon of Brazil.
Getting there is an adventure in itself, via the Corcovado railway, built even before the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in 1884! Running through part of the Tijuca National Park, known as the ‘lungs of Rio’, it provides one of the most spectacular views over the city.
If you’re looking for stunning city views and one just isn’t enough then head to Sugarloaf Mountain, another iconic natural viewpoint overlooking the city, and named because of its resemblance to a piece of refined sugarloaf, a well-known Brazilian export.
One of the most famous destinations in Rio, that we cannot possibly leave out of this guide is the 4km stretch of beach that is Copacabana, possibly the most famous beach in the world!
It’s not just the beauty of the beach that makes it so popular but the atmosphere that envelops you.
From children playing football, surfers, volleyball players, bronzed sunbathers, and older residents all sharing the white sand with one another, it’s a fabulous place to sit and people watch. And – this being Brazil – it’s beach weather 365 days a year!
New Years Eve though is a recommended time to go – the 15-20 minutes firework display is one of the best in the world.
Where can you recommend to anyone looking for attractions slightly off the beaten track?
Jardim Botânico is a 200-year-old world famous botanical garden covering more than 137 hectares of land, and containing over 8,000 plant species – a tranquil spot in an otherwise rather hectic city. Stroll through rows of palms, marvel at the 600 species of orchids, or sit and relax next to the water laden with lilies.
If you’re looking to absorb some of Rio’s artistic treasures then the Museu de Arte Moderna is a must-visit. Situated in a modernist concrete building its surrounded by equally contemporary gardens built on an old landfill site. Many exhibits include works donated by Gilberto Chateaubriand, including paintings by Cândido Portinari, Tarsila do Amaral, and Lasar Segall.
If you prefer more traditional artwork, then head to the Museu Nacional das Belas Artes, the Museum of Fine Arts, considered to be one of the most important museums of Brazilian art and hosting over 20,000 sculptures, drawings and paintings. For those interested in Brazilian history the museum’s collections give a vivid account of this, ranging from African to Brazilian folklore, Flemish and Portuguese.
Rio has more than its fair share of fantastic places to view spectacular views of the city. Pedra da Gávea is less well known but as the world’s highest mountain that terminates directly in the sea, and at a height of 2,763 feet, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Climbing to the summit will take around two and a half hours, but that time will fly as every step reveals a different perspective or natural wonder. The view from the top is well worth the hike and includes views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest and the Rocinha Favela, one of the worlds largest.
Rio is probably best known for its carnival, but if you’re not able to visit during this world-renowned event then don’t worry as the carnival spirit is visible throughout the city every day.
The city’s Lapa district in the heart of the city center is a mecca for those intent on discovering the cultural nightlife. Filled with original architectural combinations, it’s a fantastic place to wander during the day. For instance, try the Metropolitan Cathedral, a conical modernist structure that can host a staggering 20,000 people.
But it’s in the evening when the area really comes alive – a meeting place for the city’s bohemians and intellectuals alike, there’s live Brazilian music in most bars and clubs, and it’s a truly unique experience.
Rio is already an amazing place to visit, but as a host city of the 2014 FIFA World Cup its certain to grow even more in popularity (and potentially give the home team an even better chance of winning!)
Check out our dedicated Rio gallery to give you more tastes of the many flavors of Rio.