Rio de Janeiro is a magnificent city for travelers looking for a well-rounded experience of Brazil. Rio is more than a popular backdrop for countless movies. It’s home to iconic soccer players like Pelé, the popular Christ the Redeemer, the classic bossa nova, the most beautiful beaches in the world and the world’s most entertaining carnival. Rio de Janeiro’s laidback culture and natural beauty will leave a lasting impression to adventure seekers, soccer fans and history lovers making their way to Brazil for the World Cup.
Rio de Janeiro, The City of Yellow, Green, Blue Through and Through
In 1950, Brazil hosted the World Cup, which left the country heartbroken and disappointed when the championship title was awarded to Uruguay after the team won the final game by 1 point in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, the sport and the country of Brazil have drastically evolved, and locals are ecstatic to experience with visitors the fruits of their labor after more than 4 years of preparation for the 2014 World Cup. It all ends here in Rio de Janeiro, and only 1 team will win the title of 2014 FIFA World Cup champions.
Touring the Maracanã Stadium
It is here where soccer icon Pelé scored his 1,000th goal in 1969. The Maracanã Stadium first opened in 1950 to host the 1st World Cup in Brazil, which was also the 1st World Cup after the suspension of FIFA during World War II. The final match of the 2014 World Cup is scheduled to take place in Maracanã Stadium. It is the largest soccer stadium in South America, and it was once the largest in the world. Within the stadium, there is a museum with a Sidewalk Hall of Fame that displays the footprints of Brazil’s best soccer players. Visitors can literally put themselves in the shoes of the country’s most iconic players.
Hiking to Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer, the 98foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ, is the iconic symbol for Rio de Janeiro. It stands on top of the Corcovado mountain, which translates to “hunchback” in Portuguese. Corcovado is located in the Tijuca Forest. People can take an elevator or escalator up to the statue, but if visitors are capable, they should consider hiking up the 223 steps to the observation deck where they can experience panoramic views of the entire city..
Riding Up to Sugarloaf Mountain
One of the most popular attractions in Rio de Janeiro is taking a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain. The entire experience is broken into 2 trips. The 1st half takes visitors from Praia Vermelha to Morro da Urca. The 2nd half of the trip is a cable car ride from from Morro da Urca to Sugarloaf. Adventurous travelers can also go rock climbing on Sugarloaf and 2 nearby mountains. Once on top of the mountain, travelers have a 360-degree view of the city and an incredible photo opportunity.
Paragliding Over Rio de Janeiro
In Brazil, paragliding is a growing sport, and there are plenty of professional pilots that run guided groups through this adrenaline-pumping experience. A popular launching spot for paragliding is from the 2,756-foot-tall Pedra Bonita –which means “beautiful rock.” People brave enough to sign up to go flying through the air will be rewarded with postcard-perfect views.
The Setting of the Times of Bossa Nova
The music scene in Rio de Janeiro cannot be neglected when planning a trip; it is the birthplace of bossa nova, after all. Walk the streets and listen to the live music coming from bar bands playing songs like “The Girl From Ipanema.” Find a little unknown bar to sit down and take in the atmosphere created by smooth music.
In general, Rio de Janeiro has a very lively nightlife, and the city’s districts and neighborhoods attract a variety of different people. Santa Teresa is a picturesque district on a hill with plenty of ateliers, bars and restaurants. The Baixo Leblon district has been the meeting point for the young, hip crowd for decades; therefore, visitors should head here for the liveliest nightlife scene. Baixo Gávea is off the usual tourist trail, but the nightlife is filled with artists and younger locals. Lapa is historically known as the birthplace of bohemia, and it’s the ideal place to go if you want to sit down at a bar and listen to music.
Famous Beaches to Enjoy
It is inevitable that visitors immediately get drawn to the pristine beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Each beach is beautiful, but each also offers a different experience. Ipanema is a beach that is enjoyed by both tourists and locals. Prainha is known for both great waves and stretches of tranquil waters. Barra de Guaratiba is located on the ecological reserve and it is an area with gorgeous landscapes and rich gastronomy. Copacabana is one of the most famous beaches in the world, and it’s also where many of Brazil’s biggest parties take place. Leblon and Diabo are 2 more beaches that visitors should also visit during their stay in Rio de Janeiro.
Shopping and Relaxation
Rio de Janeiro is known for its street-side shops, especially in the South Zone of the city. Shops in Ipanema generally feature shops that sell local brands; whereas Leblon is the place to go for luxury or expensive shops. The Saara Market (Association of Friends of the Streets Surrounding Alfândega Road) has about 600 vendor stalls located in the center of Rio de Janeiro. And Feira Rip Antigo is most famous for its tourist appeal and its antiques fairs.
Lastly, there is no better way to unwind like getting pampered at a spa. Rio de Janeiro has some of the best spa treatments that will leave any stressed guest feeling rejuvenated. A great tip is pairing a spa treatment with a stay at a luxurious hotel. It’s a fantastic way to continue the serenity throughout the trip — especially if your favorite soccer team doesn’t fare well in the World Cup.
– By the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur)