RIO DE JANEIRO
Golden beaches and lush mountains, samba-fueled nightlife and spectacular football matches: Welcome to the Cidade Maravilhosa - Rio de Janeiro !!! It's a big beach city famous for its beautiful beaches and carnivals every year.
Copacabana, one of the best-known districts of Rio de Janeiro, has had its golden age come and go. However, recently, the area has shed some of its seedy bars and nightclubs, all the while remaining unimaginably beautiful, with its long coastline and rolling hills and its blue sky as a backdrop. Copacabana’s most obvious attraction is assuredly the beach, where everyone can enjoy some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. Whether visitors are looking for leisure – under a sun umbrella and indulging in a fresh caipirinha – or sport, in the form of beach volleyball, the sands here are the best place to be.
The Morro do Leme is a great place to catch some scenic views of Copacabana. Morro, meaning “small mountain”, borders Copacabana Beach at the Leme neighborhood end. There is a well-traveled path for hikers at the hill’s base, and an old military fort named Forte do Vigia at the top.
The Arpoador is one of the greatest places to surf and fish in Copacabana, but also a great place to view the sea and the coastline of Copacabana. Meaning “harpoon thrower” in Portuguese, this rock outcrop creates decent waves for surfers year-round. For those looking to stay dry, the sunset here is amazing, but try to get here on a weekday night, as many people visit on the weekend.
Seen from the peak of Pão de Açúcar, Rio is undoubtedly a Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City). There are many good times to make the ascent, but sunset on a clear day is the most rewarding. Two cable cars connect to the summit, 396m above Rio. At the top, the city unfolds beneath you, with Corcovado mountain and Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) off to the west, and Copacabana Beach to the south.
A visit to Pão de Açúcar is a must, but be prepared for heavy crowds. If possible, go first thing in the morning – and avoid going on cloudy days.
The first cable car ascends 220m to Morro da Urca. From here, you can see Baía de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay) and the winding coastline; on the ocean side of the mountain is Praia Vermelha. Morro da Urca has souvenir shops, snack bars (including an excellent fresh fruit and juice vendor) a high-end restaurant and a helipad (helicopter tours are possible).
The second cable car goes up to Pão de Açúcar. At the top, the city unfolds beneath you, with Corcovado mountain and Cristo Redentor off to the west, and Copacabana Beach to the south. If the breathtaking heights unsteady you, a drink stand serves caipirinhas and other drinks.
The two-stage cable cars depart every 20 minutes.
Standing atop Corcovado (which means ‘hunchback’), Cristo Redentor gazes out over Rio, a placid expression on his well-crafted face. The mountain rises straight up from the city to 710m, and at night the brightly lit 38m-high open-armed statue – all 1145 tons of him – is visible from nearly every part of the city.
The most popular way to reach the statue is to take the red narrow-gauge train that departs every 30 minutes, and takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the top. To reach the cog station, take any ‘Cosme Velho’ bus: you can take bus 583 from Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon.
The word ipanema is an indigenous word for ‘bad, dangerous waters’, which is not far off given the strong undertow and often oversized waves that crash onto the shore. Be careful, and swim only where locals do. The area is also known as Cemetério dos Elefantes because of the handful of old leftists, hippies and artists who sometimes hang out there. In front of Rua Farme de Amoedo is Praia Farme, the stomping ground for gay society.
The epicenter of Rio’s Carnaval, the Sambódromo was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1984. During the big parades, come for the fantastic views from the stands across elaborate floats, whirling dancers and pounding drum corps. The open-air arena received a makeover for the 2016 Olympics, with improved sight lines and a more symmetrical design in keeping with Niemeyer’s original vision.
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