Rio de Janeiro is one of the most vibrant cities on earth and unlike any other – I’m sharing my top 10 must see attractions with you as part of #ThrowbackThursday, though it’s hard to limit it to just 10!
1 – Beaches
Rio’s beaches are legendary – Copacabana, close to Sugar Loaf Mountain, is world renowned and stretches for four kilometers. The Copacabana Palace Hotel is a great place to sit and watch the sunset here. Ipanema is also famous thanks to the Girl from Ipanema song, and attracts a trendy, good looking crowd, whereas the adjoining upmarket area of Leblon tends to appeal to families. In the Barra area, Praia da Barra da Tijuca stretches over 12 glorious kilometers.
In health conscious Rio, there are plenty of places to work out on the beach!
2 – Christ the Redeemer
You won’t want to miss a trip on the cog train up to Christ the Redeemer or Corcovado. This Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ was created by Paul Landowski and stands 30 metres tall – that’s without including the 8 metre pedestal. The arms alone stretch 28 metres wide.
It really is an impressive sight and the symbol of Brazil worldwide. You’re never far away from it in Rio de Janeiro and it’s lit up at night. The statue was struck by lightning in 2008, suffering damage to the fingers and head, but has been restored since.
3 – Sugar Loaf Mountain
Another must-see, Sugar Loaf Mountain is particularly impressive at sunset so make sure to time your trip for a little before then. It’s a picturesque trip up in the two glass-walled cablecars to the top of this peak, 396 metres above the harbour. The name comes from the 16th century when blocks of sugar were placed in conical moulds of clay to be transported on ships. As these resembled the peak, so the mountain became known as Sugar Loaf.
The panoramic views from here are incredible – you may notice the little white dot slightly to the right of the picture on top of one of the peaks – that’s Christ the Redeemer, still visible from afar.
4 – Urban Rain Forest
Rio is quite unique in that it has an urban rain forest, right in the centre. The Tijuca Forest may well be the world’s largest urban forest, covering 32 square kilometres. It’s located in the mountainous area known as the Tijuca Massif and is actually a man-made reclamation of land on which coffee and sugar had previously been planted. Created by Major Manuel Gomes Archer in the 19th century to protect Rio’s water supply, it’s now home to hundreds of species of wildlife and plants. It was declared a National Park in 1961.
5 – Foodie Paradise
If you’re a foodie then you’ve come to the right place. Rio is famous for the high quality of its meats and churrascarias or barbecue restaurants such as Porcao. Here you pay a set rate and they then bring you round meat until you place your red token on the top to say “no”!
A visit to Confeitaria Colombo is a must if you have a sweet tooth. This grand cafe dates from the late 1800s and is a great place to sample a pastel de nata or custard tart whilst admiring the decor of stained glass windows and high ceilings.
6 -Lagoa, the lagoon
This stunning lagoon is encircled by a 7.5 kilometre path, popular with cyclists and runners. Lagoa itself is also the name of the neighbourhood, one of the most affluent in Rio and the third most expensive in South America. Nearby there are hiking trails where you can get a far-reaching view over the lagoon.
7 – The Culture
Rio has many interesting museums, including Museu de Arte do Rio which hosts regular exhibitions in a recently renovated space.
It’s definitely worth a visit to Copacabana Fort Museum if you’re in the area. Although it’s still an active military base, it is due to host the marathon swimming and triathlon events in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
8 – The Historical Centre
Mainly a commercial area, there are some stunning examples of Belle Epoque architecture to be seen here and several museums are close by.
9 – Nightlife
Rio is renowned for its nightlife and Lapa is the place to come if you want to experience Brazilian samba dancing. It can be hard to find a non-touristy place but Carioca da Gema is very authentic and has some excellent musicians performing. Whether a beginner or an expert, don’t hesitate to take to the dance floor.
10 – Wildlife
It’s very easy to spot marmoset monkeys – there are lots of them at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain and in Copacaban Fort. They originally lived on the Northeastern coast of Brazil but soon spread to Southeast Brazil and are now considered an invasive species there – cute though.
All in all, Rio de Janeiro is definitely worth a trip! Have you ever visited? What would you most like to see there?