The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, as well as a thriving beach culture at Copacabana and Ipanema Beach. The city’s vibrant energy culminates in its carnivalesque nightlife, while the nearby mountains offer a quiet jungle retreat.
You can understand why many assume Rio de Janeiro to be Brazil’s capital when you experience the buzz of the city. Take the Cosme Velho cable car to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain or admire the views from Christ the Redeemer before heading to Copacabana beach. Here, you’ll find locals playing beach football and sunbathing throughout the year. But perhaps the best time to visit Rio is in the weeks before Ash Wednesday – the time of the famous Rio Carnival. Alternatively, if samba isn’t your thing, Copacabana’s Bip Bip bar plays live bossa nova daily, while Bar Do Gomez serves ice-cold draught beers and the traditional sugarcane spirit known as cachaca.
The architecture of Rio often goes unnoticed but you’ll find many gems dotted around the city. Head to Largo de Boticano for neocolonial design or the 19th-century Parque Lage to gain a historical insight into old-time Brazil. The Museum of the Future highlights South America’s next generation of architects while the imposing Maracanã Stadium squeezes in over 100,000 football fans.